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!