Wednesday, January 25, 2012

How A Fluffy Movie Saved My Life

I'm writing this post in response to a question a friend of mine posted on Facebook; she asked bloggers what their goals are for their blogs.  I started to formulate a response, and quickly realized it would be too long-winded for a Facebook comment, because I have more than one blog, and more than one reason for each of them.  (It's probably even too long-winded for a blog post, but you can decide that for yourself.)

This blog was my first.  And I don't think I've ever confessed this here before, but I started it because of watching that epitome of "feel-good" (i.e., fluff) movies, Julie and Julia.  If you've seen it, then you know that it's based on the true story of a woman who started a blog and eventually became famous for it.

Well, I knew going in that there was little chance of fame in blogging these days, now that EVERYONE has a blog.  No, what convinced me to try it was what the Julie character said in the movie when she made the decision.  She said it would be a "regimen" for her, and she saw it as something that would fulfill her need to do something meaningful and creative.  This inspired me, because at the time, I had been living in Taos and working at Subway for about a year - it was one of the most miserable years of my life.  I was a lifelong writer who wasn't writing, and hadn't really since I'd finished my Master's in creative writing four years earlier.

For my Master's, my concentration was poetry, but I had always wanted to get into writing personal essays.  Blogging seemed like a great way to do that with the benefit of immediate gratification, just getting it out there and dropping the whole burden of "trying to get published," which graduate school had completely turned me off to.

So I started this blog, and proceeded to visit other people's blogs and leave comments.  Within a fairly short time, blogging completely and wonderfully exceeded my expectations.  I found myself part of an eclectic online community including (to name just a few) a young man who had been homeschooled, taught in Korea, then proceeded to get his bartender's license and his pilot's license more or less simultaneously; a male Buddhist kindergarten teacher in the Bay area who is married to the town's female mayor; an Australian storyteller-poet-naturalist; a glitzy woman entrepreneur in Dallas; a Scottish woman with equally passionate interests in cooking, photography, and literary pursuits of all kinds; and several spiritually-oriented women who sort of became my church.  One of those women I actually count now among my very closest friends, even though we've still never met in person. 

That in itself was fulfilling enough, but there was more.  Blogging gave me the confidence to think of myself as a writer again, so I started a writing business called Illuminated Manuscripts and created another blog for it.  I made business cards and brochures and joined the Taos Chamber of Commerce, and out of that, I got offered a job writing a weekly column for the Taos News, which I'm still writing today.  Other writing jobs came my way as well, and I have found myself living my childhood dream of writing for a living.

However, since I now had several clients and was no longer working at Subway, one might say I had a life, and blogging began to take up less and less of my time.  And anyone who blogs knows that if you don't do it on a pretty regular basis, the warm glowy sense of community begins to dissolve.  Less and less people comment on your blog, as you comment less and less on theirs, and after a while you just kind of lose touch altogether.  In the past year or so, I've posted here very infrequently, and hardly anyone comments anymore.  It sort of feels like a ghost town.  I miss those golden days, but that's okay.

The blog I started for Illuminated Manuscripts never really took off at all because I found myself with more than enough work without having to promote it.  I'm now about to expand my business' services and will be building a new website for it elsewhere.

My third blog came about when I decided to buy land off-grid and build an earthbag house on it.  Where my purpose for The Whole Blooming World was simply to be writing and sharing that writing, my purpose for Home Sweet Hive is more to document my project and connect with other people doing similar things.  It fascinates me to see that an entirely different group of bloggers has sprung up around me over there, although there are a couple of loyal readers that followed me over from this blog.

I know a lot of people blog for money, and I also know that if you want your business to grow online you should have a blog, but so far, blogging has had nothing to do with these things for me personally.  However, nowadays, I write the weekly blog for the business of one of my clients, and I've seen how it can be a whole different animal.  And once I get my new site up for Illuminated Manuscripts, I will be blogging regularly there for the sake of promoting my business.

Even though this blog has faded into the background of my life and there is little chance that will change in the foreseeable future, I know from time to time I'll still post here even if no one's reading it, because it's become for me a way to track and tell and change the story of my inner life.

If I hadn't watched Julie and Julia it's hard to imagine that my life would be as rich as it is today.  So there's a lot to be said for fluff.  For instance, milkweed is fluffy but plays several important roles: it remedies poison ivy, insulates, repels pests from plants in its vicinity, removes warts, and serves as the sole food source for monarch butterfly larvae.

But I guess some curmudgeons would consider butterflies "fluff" too.  Too bad for them.


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