Mirror, mirror …

Reflection seems to be the slicing theme of the last few days, and I find myself in that place, too.  My first week and a half of slicing has been interesting, has catapulted me from nearly silent to practically bursting with things to post.  I’m still awed by this sudden shift, this rediscovery of an ability to compose here that I was almost certain I’d lost.  I commented early in the week that my writing has being fueled by reading the writing of other slicers and by the comments others were leaving on my posts … and on how much of a V8 moment that was for me — the head-slap of realization that I hadn’t just stopped writing my own blog, I’d stopped finding/making time to read any of the blogs I love, to search out new blogs to read.  This online writing is a collaborative process — I share with readers, I am fed by other writers.  How else can it work?  If I were content to have this conversation only with myself, I wouldn’t choose to write online.  The first ten days of this year’s challenge have reminded me that I need all of the ingredients of blogging — writing, reading, commenting — if I have any hope of maintaining my presence here.

One thread emerging from the comments on my posts during this year’s challenge is how open I am about my weaknesses, how honestly I put myself on the page.  I will admit that those comments surprised me.  At first I just thought, “Well, of course that’s how I write,” because isn’t that the point of having the blog, isn’t that what everyone does?  But that really isn’t what everyone does, is it?  At the same time, I was surprised because I think the ways I share my flaws is pretty self-consciously done, careful to reveal and conceal at the same time.  I’m more than happy to point out a weakness here and there, but I hold back the really inciminating stuff … or I think I do, anyway!  One of my contributions to the conference was to lead a conversation with teachers and adult learners about blogging, and the subject of how much of yourself to share online came up.  I started talking about being careful with what you share and about privacy concerns and about there being no need for you to post all your private moments.  I realized that I pay attention to all of that … and then still go ahead and post things I would never have thought I’d post in a public forum.  I am thinking specifically of the times I’ve composed posts and realized I’d have to hold off hitting “publish” until I shared those stories with my family.  That’s only happened twice, but the fact that it’s happened at all is still surprising to me.  I get that it’s easier to share in this almost-anonymous way than to talk to the people who actually know us, but I think there’s more to this seeming openness/over-sharing of mine.  I have more to think about on this one.

My last reflection is about myself as a commenter.  I have serious insecurities about my ability to comment enough and comment well.  Does that sound silly?  Maybe it is.  But I think about it all the time.   There are so many writers in the challenge this year, I know I can’t possibly read everyone’s posts every day.  I thought I’d push myself to read at least five posts a day, but I’ve pushed myself further and have probably read ten to twelve posts a day.  It’s too much, time-wise, but it’s hard not to choose one more and one more and one more.  And, too, I want to jump around and read blogs I haven’t seen yet while at the same time keeping up with the blogs I already love and the newly-discovered loves I’ve found in the last ten days.  I feel guilty about not reading every post on every blog, but I’ve had to reconcile myself to just feeling that guilt because I just don’t have time for more.   And then there’s the issue of the quality of my comments.  The rush to read as many posts as possible limits the time I have to compose the kinds of comments I want to be leaving.  I’ve gotten it “right” here and there, but my track record isn’t great so far, so that’s one thing I want to work on in the rest of the month.  Maybe it means I have to read fewer posts so that I can leave better comments.  We’ll see.

I am feeling energized by the challenge so far.  I have so much to think about and several posts percolating as a result of the first ten days.  No matter what happens moving forward, the challenge has already been hugely successful for me.  Thanks, everyone!

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16 thoughts on “Mirror, mirror …

  1. Paul

    All good writing reveals and conceals, is honest and highly self-conscious. That’s because it’s an expression of what lies just beneath the bedrock of our essential nature as humans: paradox.

    I’m very glad to have come across your writing in the midst of the slice-o-rama. You blend up some pretty tasty glasses of V8. 🙂

  2. If only I could be half the writer…I have enjoyed your slices from the beginning of the challenge. I believe your day 3 SOL was the first one I had read and I was hooked. Your writing reminds me of Sloane Crosley. This is my first experience participating in any kind of writing community and I am learning so much from you and the other slicers. You have me thinking, laughing and staying up way to late!

    1. Thanks, Koreen! I’ve heard of but never actually read Sloane Crosley. I’ll have to check her out. The slicing community is strong and great to learn from. Sorry I’ve been keeping you up late!

  3. margaretsmn

    I like the line, “careful to conceal and reveal at the same time.” Committed as we are to telling the truth, it’s often impossible to put it all out there. This exercise for me through the writing, reading, and commenting has been a huge lesson in opening up, letting go. Freeing somehow. For a while I thought I was writing for myself, but now I realize I am writing for the universe. Daunting, isn’t it?

    1. Yes, we’re not writing for ourselves alone, are we? That’s one of the things I talked about at the conference. If we only wanted to be talking to ourselves, we’d write in our journals and not be online. The idea of having an audience is strange. It still weirds me out a little … but I’m glad the audience is there all the same!

  4. jee young

    I like how you wrote, “has catapulted me from nearly silent to practically bursting with things to post”. I feel the same way. The first week of this challenge I felt like I had so many things to post about! It has been a bit harder trying to find things to write about this week, but things are slowly coming up on the blog! 🙂 Thanks for sharing your reflections! I can definitely to a lot of what you wrote, especially feeling insecurity about the quality and quantity of comments.

    1. It’s still amazing to me how much I’ve written since the month began, after a year of fighting to get myself to the page on any kind of reqular basis. I’m still thinking about the commenting issue. The first year of my blog (2008) I tried to participate in a month-long commenting challenge … but it was super daunting and I dropped out pretty quickly. It made me see how serious commenting can be … still daunting to think about, but I want to push myself in that area.

  5. I looked for your blog this morning at the end of the line of comments. Secure that you would be there, just under the wire of midnight.
    Reveal and conceal.
    I don’t tell people where I live, or when my husband is away on business trips.
    When I reveal weaknesses, it is sort of like they get erased, and by sharing them, I am stronger.

    1. I, too, think that sharing my weaknesses is a way of owning and negating them all at once. Yes, I have these flaws, but they don’t make me “less than,” they are simple part of who I am.

      (Fingers crossed that I post earlier tonight!)

  6. Your reflection pushes my thinking. I see traces of my thoughts inside of yours and you’ve helped me grab hold and think more deeply about some of these. You are right — blogging is more than writing…it’s reading and commenting and writing.

    I, too, wish I could read and comment more.

    Thanks for writing this year. I’m blessed by your words.
    Ruth

    1. It’s interesting to me how completely I’d fallen into to negative feedback loop of thinking blogging was only (or mostly) about what I write and not about connecting on other blogs. These two weeks of the SOLS challenge have really reawakened me. I’m glad my writing reaches you, Ruth. I know your writing definitely resonates and sits with me.

  7. Do you have drafts of posts that you decided not to publish? I do They are just sitting there in my list. Not sure I will ever publish them but I felt like I had to write them. Your reflection mirrors many of my own thoughts. 🙂

    1. I have many unpublished drafts, but I think the reason they stay unpublished is my feeling that I haven’t quite figured out what I’m saying yet, haven’t found the “point” to the post. One of the things that’s been interesting to me about participating in the SOLS challenge is that sometimes (like last night) I just have to publish before the post is fully formed because I don’t want to miss a day of the challenge. With another couple of hours to revise, yesterday’s post would have been very different, I’m sure.

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