It has been almost a year since my last blog post. There are very good reasons for that, that I don't wish to share here, but I thought today deserved a closing chapter. I noticed that, as of this hour, there have been 100,438 views of my blog since I started it on August 6, 2007. I am surprised and pleased about that amount but also realistic. My writing has improved over the course of my posts, but I'm pretty sure that isn't the reason there are over 100,000 views. My experience in Qatar has a lot to do with most of the hits on some of my entries. It was an interesting adventure living in the Middle East and writing about my interactions with a first ever (and probably last) expat assignment. I've often been good at noticing the subtle ironies of a situation, so Doha was this observer's dream. I found a lot of writing material, and as I look at the stats of my posts, those are definitely the ones capturing the most attention.
But I certainly didn't start my blog so I could write about the up-and-coming star of the Middle East, Qatar. If someone would have told me that day that in a year's time I would be recording my thoughts on smelly camels, crazy drivers, and the plight of the immigrant work force in the tiny country of Qatar, I would have said they were speaking of impossibilities, but that is exactly what happened.
Before that though, I wanted to awaken my long ago writing skills of my college days. My blog began with a desire to write again and have some small audience to speak to. I wanted to express my voice in a way I seldom have the opportunity to do in a verbal setting. Thank you to those of you who have been reading from the beginning. You are kind and have such brilliant taste about what you spend your time with! ;)
So to commemorate this writing adventure and those readers who have carved out time to validate my offerings, I would like to sum up some of the learning that has taken place in my heart, as well as my head as I have blogged. If I could go back and speak to myself on that blog kick-off day, I would have a lot of advice, a lot of warnings, and a lot of compassion for the internet novice I was.
That was then . . . .
Your excitement in starting this writing adventure is well-placed and worthwhile. Make sure you enjoy every minute of putting your thoughts out there on the internet, and make sure you have something worth reading about. Here are some points to ponder, wisdom of a seasoned blogger, that you might want to consider each time you sit down to post.
1. Publishing your writing comes with risks.
2. Writing creates decisions, opinions, and passions in a writer AND in a reader. They are necessary and important on both sides, but not always embraced, understood, or praised by the readers who are removed and hidden by the invisible internet curtain. Blog writing is a performance of one that captures a few moments of clarity and insight but prolongs or even denies the inevitable audience reaction in a painfully tormenting way at times. And the reactions are not always universal applause.
3. Just like a wailing baby's cry in a movie theater can disrupt a contented, thoroughly entertained audience, a strident writing piece (or any piece for that matter) can disturb tranquil reader/writer relationships and cause discord that often can't be harmonized ever again. Retractions are part of a writer's job and can smooth some flustered feathers so forgiveness can be forthcoming. So you might want to consider keeping some of those powerful posts to yourself - posts that speak truth and ahh-ha moments to your own soul but are misunderstood and used as relationship walls for others. That is why on this blog wrap-up day you will have many writing revelations in cold storage.
4. Even though one of the purposes of your blog is to allow others to know you better, they might not be ready for that all at once. Just like you often say awkward things in social situations, some of your blog pieces will make readers uncomfortable. That's okay though. Make sure you include humorous, life-flavored pieces more often than the internal dialogue ones. Let your readers see your lighter side. They might not understand that either, but at least you will be developing your different writing voices.
5. The risks are worth it, so get writing, and always remember your audience.
I've now come to a phase in my life where I need less of an audience and more of an internal coach who can be kind and gentle to my aging self. Opening up on the internet brought me a lot of joy, but now it is time to find other joys that are not so public, joys that are more bittersweet and more precious than my writing skills can describe.
. . . this is now.