Friday 8 June 2007

Why We Really Blog

The more I blog, the more fascinated I become by the process. I’ll be very honest, when I first started I saw it merely as a very outside chance of helping to sell my house. Country Living readers were my ideal audience of prospective buyers and as the site (insanely) didn’t offer an on-line Houses for Sale section and I wasn’t allowed by the chatroom rules to yell ‘BUY MY HOUSE’ I figured blogging might be a subtle way of finding a buyer. Too subtle by far of course because I didn’t get one single viewing out of it! I suspect I wasn’t the only one who started blogging with ulterior motives. Obviously lots entered the competition, hoping for a slot in a magazine (though let’s not linger there, eh?). Others, I would imagine, hoped a blog might highlight a business. I’d love to know (honestly) why you all started blogging.

But, if I didn’t find a buyer, I most certainly found a heck of a lot more. Just as I think so many of you did. I’m a lousy diary keeper – my handwritten diaries are just jotted notes – ‘did this, did that, read this, watched that’….there is no poetry, so soul. When James grows up he will be horrified to discover that, for the first few months of his life, his demented mother kept a note of every single ounce of fluid taken and every bowel movement passed. For years I kept a dream diary but that reads like the diary of a total madwoman scrabbling in her attic. The joke is that, in my work, I frequently exhort people to ‘write out their feelings’, to ‘keep a journal’, to ‘write letters – you don’t need to send them’. Yet I never once took my own advice. I argued that writing as therapy wasn’t ideal for one who earned her living with words. I used to paint instead. Now I can’t seem to paint but, curiously, blogging has let me write.
I find that both writing and reading blogs has a very intense psychological effect. Reading other people’s experiences (particularly when they – as so often happens – mirror your own past experiences) can plug you straight into confrontation with forgotten or suppressed emotions. And I notice that, as I wrote that last sentence, I have slid conveniently into the second person (rather than the first!).

Starting with a blank page is also incredibly powerful. What will your fingers (my fingers?) type? What will splurge out? I am becoming more aware that writing about deeply personal issues becomes much easier when you don’t physically know the people. I have not become involved with any on-line communities before this one (except for a brief period nine years ago when I joined a US-initiated forum for expecting ‘moms’) so do not know if the hugely high level of support here is common or unusual. It seems unusual to me. Sometimes, when I read a seriously kind or insightful comment, I find myself sobbing over my laptop….. wonderful cathartic tears that otherwise would not surface.

I have become far more aware of my own thought processes while writing. I am realising that my tendency, when things start veering towards the very personal, is to make a joke, to turn it into a funny story. I am not sure I have the sheer guts to tell it just as it is, the way so many of you do. But maybe I will….one day further down the line with this curious form of on-line therapy.

I’m also in wonder at the way the blogs and the purplecoo site inspire me – not just with recipes and gardening hints and so on, but also with the sheer courage and guts of people, the fighting spirit, the against all odds stories. On that note, I’d just like to say that if anyone hasn’t read HerontheHill’s post about her local school closing – please go to the blog link on the right of this….and sign the petition for Downing Street. Rural communities really do need local schools and if we can help to save this one, then blogging really does have a deeply therapeutic purpose, on a community level, not just a personal one.

Thank you all – for everything.
btw, the pic is taken from an incredible spa in Austria - Viva-Mayr.....


Faith said...

Oh Jane, how I love your honesty!

Well you asked, so I will say honestly why I started blogging. I had read CL a few times but didnt buy it on any regular basis. The competition issue attracted me - I think it had a red gingham table cloth on the cover, and I love gingham, so I bought it. I saw the competition (ha ha) and thought - not so much that I would win but that it would be something to do. I was in a very low mental state and was desperately trying to pull myself up. It may have been hormonal (menopause stuff), it may have been to do with problems between Hub3 and myself - much of which is imagined and 'over-thought' by me. Anyway, I set myself a target. I will blog every day - about something, about nothing, but I will DO IT! So i did. I think i blogged consecutively for 70 or more days before THE END and found, like you, lovely people who turned into lovely purplecoo people. I have been on forums before - two in partcular. I revealed too much about myself and was ostracised (spelling?) so am more wary now. I don't know why I blog now. I've always liked anything to do with writing - pens, pencils, paper, typing, post boxes.Looking forward to see other people's honest reasons.

Suffolkmum said...

My reason for blogging was purely to have a go at the competition. Never thought I seriously stood a chance, but to get on a longlist was a goal. A day's idle fancy has turned into something I can't do without now. I love the way you write about the effect of blogging on you - I kept wanting to interrupt and say 'me too!' BTW - the only other forum I've ever been on was 'pregnancy today', a US forum that I got mildly involved in when pregnant with James - wasn't the same one by any chance was it? I'm still in email contact with a couple of people from it.

Anonymous said...

What a fabulous blog. I'm sure it's so true that we all have a reason for writing down thoughts, some reasons of which will probably be much more complex than others. My reason for blogging was because I love to write. A friend told me about it and recommended I start and so I gave it a go. It's become such a large part of my life. Purple Coo have welcomed me and I am slowly acquiring a small of following of regular bloggers. I have been trying to get published for some time, having written a ghost novel together with several short stories but as yet my writing hasn't made an impact but when people (who you don't know) have read my blogs and made comments, it makes me smile, it makes me realise that my writing is being appreciated and the more I blog the more chance I may have of once day achieving my goal. Crystal x

Pipany said...

Hi Jane and good question. I thought I had started blogging because of the competition and yet now I realise that it was nothing to do with it. Am embarassed to say I think I was lonely (squirms in disgust!). I was floundering around in the exhaustion peculiar to relatively new mothers, hardly knowing where one day began and another ended. I could not make a decision or drink a cup of tea, so wiped was I and (of course) so sure I was the only one to feel this way - oh, how wonderful those hormones are!!! What I hoped for was some contact with people who shared some interests or could make me laugh; I discovered this and more. My love of writing returned despite a block lasting over ten years and, more importantly, I was able to step away from the tiredness and step inside the worlds inhabited by all of you. It helped...lots. Like you, the process of blogging fascinates me(still a little academic hidden away somewhere in that befuddled brain!) and the friends made are as important as the real ones I see regularly. Oops, gone on too long. xxx

Maggie Christie said...

I started blogging because of you! I went on to the CL site last year (I have subscribed to CL for years) and read your Desperate Diary and the other blogs and thought, "I could have a go at that!" I was seduced by the idea of recording a whole year on my smallholding in words and pictures and decided that the CL blogs would be a good place to do it. Then lightning hit my computer and, eight weeks later, back with a spanking new Dell, I wrote my first blog and headed to the CL pages to post it, only to discover A Competition! Of course I joined in and it was fun (until the end, blah blah blah etc). I think CCW is even better, I love having my own page that I can tinker about with (once a sub, always a sub) and it has made me make time for writing again. I enjoy reading everyone's blogs (some make me smile, others have moved me to tears) and the fact that I can skip from a Scottish island, to France, over to New York, then back for a quick look in on Exmoor and home to Wales, all in the space of a few clicks of the mouse. Am I addicted? Oh dear me, yes!

Bluestocking Mum said...

Do you know Jane, I ditto everything you say. You always manage to write exactly what I think but could never say so succinctly.

I started blogging for the competition, or at least I thought I did.

I suspect we can both now see, with hindsight I was blogging for something far more...somebody to talk to? cleanse my find some answers to air some things that I had never find find some peace...

...Who knows what I was looking for. Who knows whether I will ever find it...
But I truly believe things happen for a reason. And there was some reason that I should have found my fellow bloggers and be able to share my journey with people I trust.

warm wishes

Elizabeth Musgrave said...

I've read CL for years and I started because of the competition. I then very quickly, as you know, found that I wanted/needed to write about my brush with cancer and was firstly surprised and then very touched and moved by other people's interest and support. I do quite a good line in cheery self sufficiency so I had done most of my recovery by myself or with my wonderful family.

I carry on now because I have discovered real pleasure in the act of writing and there seems more point in it somehow if others are reading what you say and responding. Also like pipany I think rural and even family life can be quite solitary. Mostly I am very happy with that, but reading funny, astute, moving and just so spot on comments and blogs from other people feels like a real privilege and connection. I have never done anything like this before. I also like the mix of ages and stages of life - really would miss it now.

toady said...

Reasons , reasons. I found the CL site and just thought I'd have a go because I realised that the old grey matter needed a good shake up. I was finding that I was having to check spellings and grammar that used to come naturally. And of course I was feeling quite isolated with the Old Black Dog making a reappearance. Then of course it's turned into something much, much more. As I said to Crystal Jigsaw you find yourself laughing out loud one minute and reaching for the tissues the next and you can always guarantee there's somebody about. I just love it.

Zoë said...

One day I will blog.... when I find who I am , and have something interesting to write. Unless you need an insomnia cure?

Iota said...

I started blogging because I thought "surely there must be a like-minded British woman here in the Midwest with whom I can have a giggle, and I'm not going to meet her in person, distances being what they are, so maybe I'll meet her online. Also, I realised that my need to write might be greater than my existing friends' need to read and respond (one of them described me as a "dauntingly good" e-mail correspondent).

CAMILLA said...

Dearest Jane,
I used to subscribe to Country Living since 1985, I believe this was the year when Magazine first came out, and it was the first permanent year of living in the country. I saw the advert in mag, which said about Competition, so at first I thought I would have a go, but then got a tad anxious, as thought I would not have enough time on my hands if chosen (NO HALO, I PROMISE), and was thinking what do I write about, know nothing about sheep, cows, bees, hens, pigs. So, because I love writing so much, I decided to stay blogging, I think you were the first one Jane that drew my eye to your blog, just completely wonderful, your blogs were/are simply amazing, and to this day cannot fathom out why you were not on the top of that shortlist. At the time,I remember saying that I did not think that I was capable of entering the competition because I perhaps was not good enough. Another member had said that my comments were a little self centered, but I had not intended it to be, it is just how I felt at the time. Anyway darling girl, at least you have sold now, but beastly that you were messed about so much with Agents etc.,things are going to get better for you now, and I am looking forward to lots of fun and frolics at your new abode.

Pondside said...

Good morning Jane. What a good question, and one I've asked myself too. I enjoyed CL and used to get it from the library or buy it on the odd occasion that it showed up in a book store here. I began reading the blogs and got hooked, but didn't blog until the competition closed. I think I began blogging because it seemed an easy way to start to write. I'd always wanted to write about things that I found important but (aside from ranting Letters to the Editor) had never had a venue. I work in a helping profession and am the oldest sibling in a family of very high-energy musicians, writers and politicians. I do a lot of active listening, supporting and facilitating. Friends often comment 'you're so quiet/different from your family/such a good listener..' Sometimes I guess I just want to be the one listened to. When I blog on the Purple coo site I really feel as though I have a voice - someone listens without interrupting and sometimes what I write means something to someone else. What a lot of selfish reasons!
I don't know about other sites and what they're like. Would it be as much fun if I met you all? I don't know - in some ways I think I'd really like that but then I might start writing for all of you, and I'm still writing for me. What I write isn't usually very deep or soul-searching, but that's just what comes up on the page - when I sit here thinking before I write, or when I read others' blogs I find I go deep for myself and sometimes like you, I cry over my keyboard.
Thanks for asking, and thanks for reading.

countrymousie said...

Hi Jane - the question we all ask ourselves.
I started purely because of the competition. I write a lot for a living, not published stuff except letters, poems etc in press now and again.I compile CV's, articles, etc. A friend showed me the mag and said "you could do that blindfold". You are amusing - you could liven them up!! She does tend to go over the top!!!
So I had a go, had no idea that others were blogging well before me - just bought CL one day and started blogging the next. Quickly realized I was outclassed by others!! Still, I had some fun - until that dreaded day of the short list - then I was incensed.
Never blogged before, and don't do it elsewhere.
I come from a family of diarists - my aunt kept the most wonderful illustrated country diaries. Father keeps his farming diary. I keep nothing.
I have travelled the world and only kept memories and photo's. A great regret.
I could not in a million years imagine where that first "Confession" about my HRT patch in the church yard would lead. Perhaps I could show my patch and the badge in the naked calendar!!
I love all the things you all seem to love yet I never seem to have come across such like minded people in reality. I knew I couldnt be alone, but it feels like I have found the friends I never found at School/College.
I was a bit of a swot, and no one likes a smart arse!!
I fit in well here - love mousie

CAMILLA said...

Good morning dear Jane,
Forgive me if I have missed it, but did you decide to take on Ruby, or has Asbo Jack said that he should be the only one HEAD OF HOUSEHOLD!

@themill said...

I'd never heard of blogging until I read about the competition and as with all things serendipitous, a friend told me about WITN, the same day. I was so incensed by what she was saying about us all 'oop north'I thought I'd do my own on the CL site. Not for one moment did I think I would win, but neither did I expect to find a community of such supportive, like minded souls. The competition, Purplecoo, CCW - serendipity at its best!


Fascinating reading all your reasons! What a great question, Jane!

A friend suggested I start a blog, actually. When I first moved to the country I didn't know many people, so I used to send her long, rambling emails that were a bit like my blogs, I suppose. I'm also trying (bit of a euphamism) to write a novel, and I reasoned the discipline of blogging might help. (Not sure it has, by the way - I'm hardly spending any time on my book, and far to much blogging!)

I'm really enjoying being part of this community, though, and love following the ups and downs of everyone else's lives. Like Pondside, I've always been considered a "good listener", and rarely take the opportunity to talk about myself in real life. So blogging has become a bit of a self-indulgent release-valve for me.

Westerwitch/Headmistress said...

I am a writer of sorts - lasped and avoiding it - in case . . well daren't go there. So joined CL and started Blogging using the competition as my motivation . . . found that I can still write and still really enjoy. Found the way I write is still there. Can't plan it - just start and it takes on a life of its own - very scary . . .which is why I stopped in the first place. . . . then well things happened and here we all are . . . .I am running abit scared of blogging again - and am genuinly busy keeping things going - but . .Plus now the site has taken on a life of its own and every blog has a potential to help people even more than before . . . with laughter, tears and support. So the blogging started to help myself and now . . . we are all helping each other . . . who knows where we go from here - exciting . . . and the new site is virtually ready to test.

Cait O'Connor said...

I have read CL since it first came out. I was (and still am) doing an Open College of the Arts course in Creative Writing and one of the assignments was to write a diary for a while. It was a country life/ nature diary of sorts (you can read it on my blog - the very first stuff). When she returned it my tutor said she liked it and I should keep it up. Others read it too and also liked it and as this coincided with the competition in CL I thought I would kill two birds and carried it on as a competition entry. First I became hooked and then, by the end, incensed. Moved over here and well you know all the rest. For my course I am meant to be working on my 'life story' and I am afraid I am spending far too much time a-blogging. But the friends I have made are truly amazing. I think, like most things, it was meant to happen and I hope it will continue and not just fizzle out. I feel I have found kindred spirits of all ages. I love writing and I love my new friends. There are worse addictions aren't there?

DevonLife said...

morning Jane. well i too started blogging for the competition. but soon got drawn in. I've been crap recently because I'm trying to spend every moment of my life in the garden, but I think I blog to write for myself, as opposed to writing about corporate restructuring, the latest lipstick or some new wine vintage. and knitting of course.

Oh, like a lot of other coo'ers I've dreamed of being a novelist all my life. Have tiny hand made hand-written books from when I was still in pigtails, but have never had the application to actually try and make it happen. Oh yes, and probably talent. Never forget talent.

Jaynebeth said...

I blogged originally at CL like so many others.

When I blog I'm actually inviting interaction - trading funny/sad/snappy/silly stories with others.

bodran... said...

I had a purely ulterior motive!!
To get my business some advertisment..
I was really nervouse about blogging and my first 12 are so stilted, i was one of the first regulars and i thought everyboby may be quite snooty or pretencious and not really countryfied at all and would want to talk chintz and dahlias! What a pleasant surprise when we started to connect, and i'd miss you all terribly if i had to stop..but i am so glad we are here and not on CL it always felt as if there were boundaries you couldnt cross without critsism .. thanks PC xxxx

Un Peu Loufoque said...

MY sister kept pestering me to look at the Cl website and enter the blogging competition. I used to buy the magazine avidly at the beginning from its first issue and rather gauche twee footsteps until I got bored with it and it grew up to be full of set up shots impossible people with perfect lives and thousands of adverts.

Eventually I bought a copy of the CL with the blog comp in it and thoght well, why not, give it a go. I love writing, you can't get more rural than where we are and perhaps the French angle will give it an added zest and appeal.

I found that blogging every day gave me a discipline I was lacking in everyday life and a chance to chat to people in my mother tongue. Far safer to chat long distance to a stranger than to speak face to face when you are shy like me!

Then Un Peu Loufoque emerged followed by Madame Grognonne and the rest of the family just sort of took over. Several people have said "oh get her to do that or this or go here or there" but I can't she is so bloody minded and pig headed that she does as she pleases so I suppose in a way she has become real.

I enjoy blogging. although I don't think my blogs are really blogs as such more chapters in a very very long winded book perhaps! I enjoy most of all peoples comments, having always been told, by my mother bless her,I have no sense of humour and having very littel confidence in myself ,I get great reassurance from making peole laugh. I think I partly started for the approval and now I honestly don't think I have any choice in the matter.

I must aslo admit to being rather wary and over-awed at first by the number of "real writers" on here and always suspect that when you ask a wuestion you may be researching an article on the topic! Moi? Paranoid? Of course I am!!!

snailbeachshepherdess said...

Well I think I may have the weirdest reason for blogging..physiotherapy.. for a right arm that was at the wrong angle and a need to get keyboard skills back up to speed ..otherwise I would not be able to resume my job.
love writing anyway..and have loved the experience and places this site has taken me...couldn't stop now even if I wanted to!

patsy said...

Yes many of the reasons above resonate with me too - a chance to get a few things off my chest, a confessional, some stories yet to appear which I don't want to keep to myself, thoughts on life as I blunder through, trying to be a good enough mum.
Also I like the way the CCW site has developed with bloggers generally having a knowledge of the countryside but comments by no means restricted to animals, gardens or children!
My other good reason for blogging is that it is an excellent dietary aid! It gets me out of the kitchen to my study and stops me raiding the fridge. Can't type with an apple in one hand and a lump of cheese in the other!

Holy Way said...

I started blogging to brighten up Tumblings morning - he was blogging for the competition and I loved reading his blogs. I can write sometimes after midnight. He writes first thing in the morning!

I wanted to write about love because our life is such a physical /emotional struggle that I wanted to focus on the truth - the love we live with despite the struggles. Then he encouraged me to post one. Unfortunately it is so hard to use the computer regularly and for me to think, that I cannot sustain it - it is so lovely to read others interesting and moving blogs and so encouraging to comment on others blogs and get some back too -to feel the real warmth and caring that is here.

Thanks Jane - your blogs are beautiful and so wonderful to read when able. Bless you and especially your new when you get there!!

MG said...

That link in your post to HerOnThe Hill's post on our campaign blog (Village Schools - Superb or Superfluous?) is incorrect. This is the correct link. Thanks for posting the link to the online petition, too.

Urban Chick said...

it's hard to know exactly what it is that compels me (us) to record stories and snippets from everyday life but i remember the minute i heard about 'blogging', i knew in an instant it was for me

i have always loved writing - writing letters (i had penfriends galore as a young girl), and i guess you could say that writing was a large element of my remunerated employment of yesteryear

but what i had never anticipated was the friendship it would bring me - i email a great many of my blogging buddies behind the scenes

i've met quite a few now and it's given me a window on some worlds i had very little experience of

some of my new friends live overseas but we've sent each other little packages and presents

i am quite involved in a few other online communities and one in particular (a parenting website) blows me away daily with the level of support its users offer each other

i'm fascinated by these online communities of interest, as well as blogging and their huge force for good

such a shame therefore that so much of what the mainstream media writes about the internet is all porn and paedophilia

ok, must stop rambling now!