This is an expanded version of the comment I wrote to her in reply:
Your musings definitely struck a chord with me, Deanna. You know I'm always interested to read writers writing about writing. Why do we do it? In what form? Who are we writing to, anyway? And do they care?
Unlike you, I’m only early on into my second year of blogging, so I’m not tired of it, or not usually; but I do go through down times when it feels stupid and worthless. Like you, plenty times I’ve been off-kilter and ambivalent about it.
I remember an old blogging pal told me that at those times I should at least post links to New York Times articles I like. He’s blogged every day for years and sees it somewhat like a spiritual practice, like meditation, something you do no matter how you feel or what response you get.
But do I ever recognize that desire you write about for instant and frequent responses on posts! And for deep engagement. Sometimes I feel deflated when those things don’t come on a regular basis. But since they don’t, blogging, oddly enough, is helping me withdraw from craving the approval of others like a drug.
I think learning to accept that I won't get--and don't need--constant applause or even acknowledgement is related to how you learned through blogging that your words weren’t sought-after gold. Our words are maybe more like mud we can craft into some vessel or dwelling or lumpy ashtray. Doesn't always draw much comment, once we're out of grade school...
So we, I, keep going on faith. Faith that, well, here, I found this quote on Krista's blog Thinkery:
“You have a duty and an obligation to write, not because you have ‘the truth’ and must share it with others, but because we need to discover truths and we need all the help we can get, yours included. You write because you have an obligation to do so (123).”
-– James E. Porter, Audience and Rhetoric: An Archaeological Composition of the Discourse Community, Prentice Hall, 1992.
Your question isn’t whether to write, but where to, where does the need to make mud bricks meet a need for mud bricks? And how does the writer know, if no one tells us? Blogging, like all writing, can be lonely, and we need a little inspiration, a little incoming water to make mud, or else we dry up.
Sometimes a spring bubbles out of the ground at our feet.
Just yesterday I got an e-mail out of the blue from a friend of a friend, whom I don’t know–I’m glad I didn’t delete it as spam! She wrote to say that she’s an avid reader of my blog but not a commenter and wanted to let me know my blog has made her laugh by day and brought comfort on some bumpy nights.
This message was like a voice from heaven saying, Keep shaping that mud!
In whatever form, whatever place you find to work and that works for you.
I've enjoyed your blog, Deanna, and I hope you do keep it up, but I get that the writer needs to find the right audience, and they to find her. Which happens, eventually …if everybody’s lucky. It’s great you’ve found a couple good places where you can collaborate.
I try to cultivate a sure and certain hope that in some way, telling our stories is one way of meeting–trying to meet–the mandate Jesus gave at the Passover meal we who follow the Western Christian calendar celebrate today, Maundy Thursday:
Love one another.
At the Passover feast, Jesus washed his friends' feet--and his betrayers'. (I posted a painting of this I love in the post below.)
I'm going to Mass tonight for my favorite service of the year. At my church, there are stations of hot water, towels, and little stools set up where everyone who wants to can participate in washing one another's feet. I kneel on the floor at your feet and wash them, then I take your place and some stranger washes mine.
To me, there's no better advertisement for liberation from self-importance than seeing a guy in a business suit kneeling at the feet of some teenager folded like a crane on his stool and then that teenager gently patting dry the papery feet of a fragile old woman, and so on through all possible forms of humanity, all with our feet of clay.
Writing can be like that.
You write to me and I'll write to you, and on the words go, down the line. Just gotta find the right line.