Ode To My Blog

How do I miss thee? Gasp! Let me count the ways.
I miss thee to the deep, the space, and skies
My soul can reach as I strain for my prize,
For the ends of thought and ideal phrasings.
I love thee with the ease of every day’s vernacular
In most quiet need to velvet utterance on devilish wings.
I love thee unreservedly, be thy taskmaster or a friend avuncular
Through the days thou art my handmaiden of laughter.
I love thee like my child; I feed thee tenderly
And when I can’t I begin to starve; breath labors.
Oh, if time were more giving, more patient
I might dance another dance and sing what hides latent.
I miss thee that loss fills my well of joy with gravel
A week feels like two, two fortnights like four.
Parched, I am run aground on a lone shore
‘Til time should stall and bid the ink on my paper travel.

May Elizabeth Barrett Browning forgive me in her grave.

The Writing Process: Color

mosaicI noticed something about the colors of the words that streamed from my head when I started blogging two years ago. The spectrum had many light, bright hues. Looking back at the single young woman from this side of time, I was a little startled at the levity in the beloved writing that I had picked up again. Because for much of my life, I wrote from a very dark place.

There is a creative force to the darkness, hence the archetypal artist whose work is an expression of his inner drama. In high school when my writing was a way of repainting and processing grief and anger, I was drawn to poets and writers like Sylvia Plath who spoke out of emptiness and flat despair. As my faith and hope in God grew into my 20s, I recognized a troubling truth. While my work was reflecting more light, an enduring spirit of despondency continued to inspire my art in both poetry and song composition.

And I didn’t mind.

I was tasting the addictiveness of writing under darker influences. The dynamic is fascinating to me. But it was remarkable that after a decade of sporadic writing that had gathered dust, I saw the sun on my words. I don’t think the glad divergence could be distilled down to my faith, which was in many ways stronger in my younger days. Deep faith, in any case, does not leave us immune from crippling self-talk or depression, as many spiritual giants in Christian history have shown. Nor could it be a straight matter of the joy I have experienced with my family through my 30s because life has been imperfect there, too. It is more the rawness, the edginess the Great Potter has abraded and sanded of my spirit. The keen knowledge of my own weaknesses and the awareness that everyone is a work in progress so I can relax and forgive and enjoy my life more was the posture from which I started to blog. I now feel it was a cop-out to depend on the spirit of encumberance to fuel my creativity. Certainly life is a mosaic of the great occasions of surprise, happiness, and pain and it is the helpless business of the artist to paint these colors in his chosen medium. But I no longer gravitate to the dark hues in my storytelling – because I don’t have to. I have found myself enjoying the beauty, redemption, transformation of my art as I discover these very elements in the poetry of life.

Readers’ Choice

Please respect my wishes. I. Do. Not. Want. Your. Like. On. This. Can I be any clearer, well-meaning friends? Tell you what. I will let you know when I really want it. I’ve hidden the button under the post so please don’t go tapping it on your Reader.

We’re not done with beauty. But on the heels of the party the neighbors complained about, I wanted to take the occasion to ask: What are some kinds of posts you would like to see more of here? We’ve talked about dreams, persistence, hope, death, loss, love, shame, fear, faith, parenting, achievement, money, childhood, race, culture, identity, belonging. There are the posts on clear writing and effective blogging, my helpless series on men and women, the behind-the-scenes exchanges between Mr. and Mrs. Wayfarer, dialogue between Mom and Boy – the blog plaited with poetry, with a touch of song (and dance). You seem to enjoy how I’ve used series to kaleidoscope through a topic. Thanks for welcoming our guest writers. One said that her blood froze every time she saw mail from me (laden with the edits). Wahahaha. Let’s just say your spirited support smooths things over. So suggestions and requests? You’re welcome to help steer the ship.

Come To My Party: Please RSVP

So we just talked about dancing. I waited to celebrate the 100,000 views I broke Valentine’s week with the 10,000 follows that were on their way. It’s not a medal or the Ph.D. from my alternative life but here I am. I’ll take it.

The show is 45 seconds. You know Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive? Mr. Wayfarer played it and I went with it. Here’s what I’m acting out:

Turn around now. You’re not welcome anymore.
You’re the one who tried to hurt me with goodbye.
Do you think I’d crumble, did you think I’d lay down and die?
No, not I, I will survive. Long as I know how to love I know I’ll stay alive.
I’ve got all my life to live and all my love to give. I’ll survive. I, I, I will survive.

It took all my strength not to fall apart, trying without my mind
to mend my broken heart. I spent so many nights feeling sorry for myself,
how I cried. But now I hold my head up high. And you see me, somebody new.
I’m not that lonely little person who’s still in love with you.
Now you come dropping in, expecting me to be free.

Now I’m saving all my lovin’ for someone who’s loving me.
Go on now, walk out the door. Turn around now, you’re not welcome anymore.
You’re the one who tried to hurt me with goodbye.
Think I’d might crumble, did you think I’d lay down and die?
No, not I, I will survive. Long as I know how to love I know I’ll stay alive.

But we hit a wall with the copyright and had to use a different song – not the one our son was drumming to.

Please rsvp and join the party.

Thank you doesn’t quite seem to cut it. But let me try. Deep appreciation to my most loyal likers and commenters and the quiet readers who haven’t missed a post. Thanks to those who’ve been with me from the start as well as those who find themselves coming back. Thank you to my newest readers and lastly, gratitude always to my husband and son who’ve let me be who I more fully am on the holistic journey.

 

 

 

Blogitis

Holisticpedia: [Blog-eye-tis] Blog withdrawal refers to a group of symptoms that may trigger from prolonged hiatus in posting after sustained blogging. There is no way to predict how an individual will respond in the abstinence. If you plan to break for a month after blogging drunkenly for a minimum of a year, you should consult a health care practitioner before going cold turkey or locate a support group near you.

Days 1-5
Brain has yet to process the trying spell ahead. It is still feeding off the sugar of the comments from the last post and is feeling okay enough.

Days 6-12
Brain knows something is up. Headache and mild agitation.

Days 13-21
Irritability coupled with mood swings, anxiety, paleness, increased appetite and caloric intake. Seeks comfort food, craves alcohol.

Days 22-28
Shakes, sweating, failing blood pressure, chest pain. Bad dreams (that you have forgotten your WordPress password and are calling out to your readers, the screen impermeable against silent shouts).

Days 29 – Day You’re Kidding Me.
Call 911.

 

My Vows…To You

Vows3I, Holistic Wayfarer, take thee [Insert name], to be my WordPress-registered partner. In the presence of God, our family and friends, I pledge to thee my abiding support in sickness and in health, in the homeschooling and holiday breaks (well, more during the breaks), for richer for poorer ~ no matter your blog size ~ in joy as well as in sorrow. I promise to support you in your goals, to honor and respect you, to laugh and cry with you, and value every like and comment ’til you should unfollow and do us part.

I’m Not Ready to Die

Dear God,

You caught that I’m not feeling too great but please don’t seize the occasion to take me home. At least let me get my Valentine’s series out. It’s not like you need me. Far better writers over there. And once I’ve arrived, I won’t be going anywhere, right? No hurry, no hurry.

——————

Dear Reader,

I think I’ve bought some time. Please be patient. If it’s been a while, you know I’ll visit back. Comments closed so I don’t fall behind even more on those.

Love,
HW

I Challenge You

Make me cry
Make me wonder
Give me chills, my
assumptions sunder.

Make me bellyache
and slap my lap, not
wince. Convince
me you’re the real deal.

Mix me a drink
Hold the sugar. I have
expensive taste, please –
richer, fuller

Teach me something high
or low, so much I don’t know
We don’t have to be in sync
but do make me think.

Quick! Erase the cliché
Wayfarer’s on her way
Oh mercy: rain…heaven’s tears?
She’s had it up to her ears.

Easy on the adverbs
Her sensibilities disturb
Impress or bless, but don’t bore her
when she’s willing to concur and confer.

But no one’s responding, you lament
Well, compel HW to comment.
Learn from her, this poem her worst yet
but see here the footprints of those who tread.

There is hope for all. Turn
around, if you’ve hit a wall.
If you knew how busy she is, this
challenge you wouldn’t dismiss.

Don’t post just to post. Wait
’til you can give your utmost.
Oh, don’t ring hollow
if you want her follow.

Seven Mental Habits of Highly Effective Bloggers

1. Think big.
I really have to start living the the way I’ve come to blog. On unsure terrain in those early days, I put out safe posts, ones within my interests. On homeschooling, for example. I felt assured I was “doing the right thing” looking like other bloggers. But gradually, I began to tap deeper into the ideas that really grabbed me. Last year, blogging stopped being a train of posts I shot out one at a time wondering what I’d write about next. Rather than post linearly, I started architecting this blog, figuring out how many floors (that is, topics) I would erect in the next six months, going backward to furnish the rooms (the posts for each topic). The blueprinting gave me direction, control, and purpose. But I didn’t stay bound to these plans. Plenty of posts arose from whimsy and those moments where life happen.

2. Stay flexible.
Stay tuned to your hot topics and see what you can do with them. Moving into 2014, I watched the post on Black Santa generate enthusiastic discussion and was reminded that everyone has something to say about race. It is, after all, as close to home as you can get. So I bit the bullet and launched the ambitious Race Around the World. The cultural tapestry we pieced together those 80 days gave way to more series. On class, identity, belonging, guilt, shame, money, opportunity, hope.

3. Stay happily discontent whether it’s wanting more out of your content or your subscriber base.
We never arrive, do we? And success, especially in cyberland, is an endless stretch of horizon. A word on unfollows. I’ve seen funny posts with bloggers screeching that they lost three followers. I value every reader, especially the active supporters, but feel dependent on none. You will get unfollows. It’s the ease and democracy of blogosphere where people come and go. Don’t pin desperate hopes on anyone. Set your sights higher, and higher still. I tend not to reach out to readers who seemed to have stepped away. I don’t want to obligate them to visit if they’ve moved on, though I often discover life pulled them away for a season. Or WordPress wiped me off their radar, an unfortunate glitch in our system.

4. Don’t play it safe.
The empty post page is a blank check I write myself. Create opportunity, for yourself as well as others, which can birth more opportunities. Twenty-two months ago I never imagined I’d host a forum where a worldwide community of artists and thinkers could share their history, fears, and dreams. Blogs are a safe place to test the boundaries that in life you may not be able to play with. Experiment, try new projects. You’re limited only by fear and imagination. Staying static is like painting your whole blog one color and keeping it that way.

5. Remember how small you are in blogging and in life.
There’s always someone with more readers, someone faster, smarter, more talented and savvy. You’re not all that, and neither am I. That’s why I try to keep it real. For all the rewriting I do here, I don’t want to end up editing my image when you’re coming to me with a level of trust in my honesty.

zimbio.com

zimbio.com

6. Know how big you can be.
Not only are quantity and quality not mutually exclusive, they can feed one another. Have you thought about why it is you want to grow your readership? The answer can be more meaningful and fulfilling than your own popularity, your ego. There is a satisfaction that comes from resonating with a larger crowd, degrees of insight and perspective a larger following can offer. You expand possibilities for yourself, viewers, and your community.

7. Know why you’re here.
I got chills watching him carve in the sky the triple somersault and half-twist before slipping clean into the water. Last summer, the commentator said of Gary Hunt who was known for his inventive cliff diving, “He knows exactly why he’s in the air.” The power, the grace. The hours and hours Hunt devoted in the search for his best self. In the writing, dreaming, collaborating, I’m exploring my capacity as an artist and a community builder. I create something bigger than me, something that extends beyond the bounds of my own life. The extraordinary discussions, synergy, stats were not my goals but the unexpected payoff of one simple purpose: excellence. I’ll never be a medalist but my blog is where I test my reach, and enjoy visible and lasting rewards for the time I put in. Know why you’re in the air and why you want to get there. Doesn’t have to be serious or profound but if you don’t know why you’re here, we don’t either.

 

But Everybody’s Doing It

This happens not to be how I view my blogging but this metaphor is built into every one of our blogs. You’ve all done sales. Every time you’ve recommended a book, movie, or restaurant, you were doing it. And every referral of yours that someone’s followed through on showed either your delivery was good or the product sold itself. Well, here you are self-employed as a blogger, your currency not dollars and cents but time. So why isn’t your blog growing as you’d like?

1. They don’t know you’re there.
I’ve seen you put up 800, 1200 impassioned words and I’d love to see you earn more than four likes. You obviously care about your blog. It looks good. You’re open for business. But it sure is quiet. If your livelihood were at stake, what would you have made sure to do before the Grand Opening and kept up? Right, advertise. I didn’t think this needed to be said again but are you visiting and engaging bloggers? Do better than I did. When I stepped out on WordPress, it was just my nose pressed to my words. I didn’t know to look up. Twenty-one months later, giving to get is how I neither blog nor live but if you’re offering decent material, Natural Cyber Law says you should enjoy some support back.

2. But they’re not buying.
There is a sense in which we’re all peddling our blog and asking passersby for their time. Our FOLLOW ME button betrays us in this hope. If your business plateaus, what do you do? The question really is what should you do differently? You change the marketing, move, rethink your niche or product. The product would be the last thing you touch in blogging because there are so many of us out here that a decent presentation should connect you with like-minded viewers. Through the wide range of topics I have covered, my offering comes down to my writing. My product – though I wrinkle my nose to say it that way – is every word I lay as carefully as a mother does her newborn in his cradle. If the idea of sales is too crass for you as it threatens to be for me, think of sponsorships. Sales is really the business of eliciting support for merchandise, service, or information, and sponsorships seek patronage usually on a larger scale or for artistic enterprises. Whether small or big, quantitative, or qualitative, patronage is payment in various forms for work considered worthy. In blogging, what you’re asking of us is our time. You either convince us you’ll make it worth our while or you don’t.

3. There’s nothing in it for them.
Remember, you’re not filling a private journal but seeking an audience. You scribble away zealously. You really want to write this, share that. But will it grab us? If you were someone else and stumbled on your blog, would you be impressed? Would you follow? I’m not talking about subscribing to your own blog to raise the count. I’m asking if you’d find any amusement, entertainment, beauty, insight, inspiration, intrigue, laughs, provocation, stimulation, information that’ll make you want more on that blog. Leave you actually looking forward to more.