Monday, January 25, 2010

Toward A New Perspective


I didn't post on Saturday.

Wait. You mean that fact didn't rock your world?

It sort of rocked mine.

Since I started blogging on November 2, I had posted every day - weekends, holidays, while on vacation - until Saturday. At first, I posted daily in order to get myself in the habit of daily writing. But then I caught the fever. Blogging fever.

Hello. My name is Kristen, and I am hot for blogging.

You see, I've never been all that good at the idea of low-intensity happiness. I tend to go overboard when I get excited about something. And the excitement I've felt for blogging has been intense: I love the community I have found here. I love talking to you and hearing what you have to say. I think about your words and your ideas. I think about mine while trying to do other things.

The problem, though, is that I'm not always as good at sustaining interest - and, ideally, passion - over a long period of time. In my life, I have been a dedicated yogi, a dedicated runner, a dedicated volunteer, a dedicated student of art history. I am none of those things now.

My love for blogging is such that I would feel it as a loss if my commitment flamed out. If my "passionate intensity" doesn't solidify into "conviction."

And so it occurred to me that I need to treat blogging like I treat the most important relationships in my life - the people with whom I have achieved this sustainable, low-intensity happiness: my family, my closest friends.

And to do that, I think, I need to get some perspective.

In Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows's The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Isola wants to be a detective in the fashion of Miss Marple:
I have been looking at a book about artists and how they size up a picture they want to paint. Say they want to concentrate on an orange - do they study the shape direct? No, they don't. They fool their eyes and stare at the banana beside it, or look at it upside down, between their legs. They see the orange in a brand-new way. It's called getting perspective. So, I am going to try a new way of looking - not upside down between my legs, but by not staring at anything direct or straight ahead. I can move my eyes slyly if I keep my lids lowered a bit. Practice this!!!
I am not an artist. But I want to be: A writer - a writer who writes about life. And I am going to try a new way of looking, too. Or maybe, more accurately, a new way of living. Like Isola, I am going to try to gain perspective by stepping aside every once in awhile from writing. To stoke the fires of my passion for writing by living, by seeing "in a brand-new way."

So, for now at least, I am going to follow the lead of Delia Lloyd of Real Delia and announce my intention to observe a secular Sabbath. A day off from blogging. A day I need to move closer toward low-intensity happiness. A day to live life instead of just writing about it.

A day for perspective.

How often do you blog? How did you arrive at a schedule that works for you?

Image: Photographer's Perspective by Bruce McKay via Flickr under a Creative Commons license.

24 comments:

  1. You were missed on Saturday. I blog when I want. If that is once a day, great! If that is three times a day, usually overkill but I do it anyway. If I want, I will schedule posts from one day to appear the next or later in the week.

    I do not have a schedule or a goal as to how many posts. I also don't have a topic/theme that is 100% in stone.

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  2. Good for you, Kristen. And thanks for the shout out! I have found it to be such a great change in my life (which I'll blog about, natch...) but I think you'll be so much happier for having done it. I'll raise a secular sabbath glass to you next week!

    Delia Lloyd
    www.realdelia.com

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  3. I find my desire is cyclical. Sometimes I have a lot to say, and other times I don't. But blogging awakened a desire to write that I didn't know existed. Before I often felt words and ideas crowding in my head. I guess I am a dunce to not realize they needed to be written down to get them out of there. Blogging fulfilled that need and made me a happier person.

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  4. "Low intensity happiness." A thoughtful and appropriate phrase. I think it is unusual, and unusually descriptive for what many of us would like in our lives.

    I have written every day - and posted - since June 2nd, when I began this entirely as a lark, an experiment, a way to learn, an ability to transfer my daily (journal) writing into something more free-form and thus change the ultra-introspective paradigm of decades of journaling. (It's obvious from my first few weeks of posting that I was all over the map, and assumed I was not read except by one or two friends.)

    And then it took on a life of its own. Excitement. More challenge. Community challenges, the sort I used to know years ago in an online poetry group. Community, so critical in a writer's isolation, in any isolation.

    I understand the need for perspective, for backing off, for living in order to write from a place of living. And also the necessity, for me, of the daily discipline. I pulled back considerably on Saturday as well, writing as I did in the beginning - allowing myself a certain amount of time and no more, Natalie Goldberg's approach to first thoughts waking, and then I closed the computer and stayed away until evening.

    I am, in fact, trying to return to my original intent. Discipline. Discovery. Spontaneity (with some exceptions). You are setting a fine example. But I shall continue to do so daily, while I can, because it is the calcium for my cranium, the iron flowing through my blood, the only North - true or not - in which I have ever believed.

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  5. You and I have talked about this and I am proud of you for taking a tiny step back. As you know, it was so hard for me to press pause a while back, but doing so was so incredibly good for me - and for my writing. It is wonderful and healthy to shift the spotlight to your life as life, not as material now and again. I think you will be amazed at what this does for your craft. And I think you will also be pleasantly surprised that your readers respect you for pursuing perspective and pressing pause from time to time.

    (One bone to pick: You *are* a writer. And a terrific one.)

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  6. I so get it Kristen! I think the thing about blogging is that it keeps moving, even if you stop. People keep posting, and it feels like you're easily forgettable if you don't show up in a reader one day. That's something I'm trying to get over (I'm an offender of sometimes posting simply to post... and that's just crazy). My other problem is I hate leaving anything up for longer than a day if I might not LOVE it... so I keep posting to outdo myself, and that's also crazy. Blogging certainly brings out our true selves ;)
    I love the discussions that you start. You're such a wonderful writer in this community!

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  7. I try to blog every day, also. Even if nothing more than to make myself write. However, since I started blogging, I've let many other interests(including writing projects)go to the wayside. I guess sometimes, we all need a day off!

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  8. No way! I try for 3-4 posts a week; otherwise, I have no life...and I have little enough life as it is :)

    It IS hard to stay away. I tell myself that if I blogged every day, my blog would look like this:

    Monday: Bitch and Whine
    Tuesday: Bitch and Whine
    Wednesday: Bitch and Whine
    Thurs.-Sunday: Ibid.

    (((hugs)))

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  9. Perhaps strangely, I come to this conversation from a different angle. When I started blogging I was a bit hesitant. I didn't want to post daily. I didn't want the fever. I didn't want the discipline of writing every day. I set a MWF schedule for myself because it seemed reasonable and sustainable; and setting this boundary at the outset has been the best decision I've made about my blog.

    I may sacrifice readership due to less frequent posting. But this forces me to keep from finding personal worth in my blog traffic stats; an important if not altogether easy byproduct.

    Balance, in any form, is never easy.

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  10. Kristen, I've just recently started poking around your blog, and so much of what you write resonates with me. SO much. (I thought of you today--picked up Olive Kitteredge at the library. Can't wait to dive in!)
    As for blogging fever, I'm not sure I ever caught it. I've never been an every day poster, and I've been SO hesitant to really go full force with it. I'm not sure why. Probably because I'm still trying to convince myself I write primarily to record memories for my children. (Which five minutes into blog you can see is obviously not the case.It's turned very much into a hobby that is "for me" more than for anyone else).
    Anyway, I'm with you on this writing, mothering journey. And if one thing is clear, it is that sharing this journey (even if just online!) with other like minded people is SUCH an encouragement.

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  11. I have tried and tried to make my blogging into some form of routine. I am pretty good at writing at night (after bedtime) and setting it to post in the morning.

    However, I still cannot write everyday. Events, babies, and life seems to argue with my desire. I must attend to my babies first.

    I really like this idea of a blogging break day. My sabbath is on Sunday, why not make it that day?

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  12. I am negotiating with myself on this very subject right now. Since all my blogs so far have been in song I don't ever post daily. Last February when i started I was posting one song a week. It was hard to keep up, and my listeners seemed overwhelmed by it. I settled on 2 songs a month.

    But, my readership suffers. People get bored going to check my blog and seeing that same song sitting there for the past 2 weeks. So now I am thinking about blogging about other peoples songs every other week so I at least post 4 times a month. I would love to know your thoughts.

    For me, I love your blog and every time I read it I find something that speaks to me. But I can't really keep up with reading it once a day. So, I enjoy it every time I read and I do appreciate that it is always fresh. In my opinion you ARE and artist.

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  13. i'm not that disciplined at all. i blog when something hits me, otherwise i feel like i'm forcing my writing process. there was a time last year when i was blogging daily, sometimes even twice a day. jackson was a baby with constant changes, and my blog was mainly about him. it has grown and taken on a new identity that has become more about me, and in so doing, i find myself only blogging when i really have something to say.

    i will say this... i am disciplined about reading other individual's blogs. i will do that daily, as i feel that i learn more about writing through reading.

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  14. When I first started blogging I decided to blog 6 days a week, taking Sunday off. Not for religious reasons, mind you, but because that's a day I know EVERYONE is home and less of a chance to catch any peace/quiet. I'm glad I set that 'standard' for myself from the very beginning. It allows to some breathing room but still encourages me to have a strong writing routine.

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  15. OK Mommy Blogger... I am an old mother, one of them! I love hear all thee voices from such talented people. It's so difficult to be a Mom and an artist...yes, YOU ARE AN ARTIST!

    I love your posts. And I love the comments you are getting.

    Just wait until your kids are getting ready to leave home...you'll have lots of things to talk about!

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  16. I think it's great that you endeavor to write everyday, because as they say, "If you don't use it, you lose it." Writing is a muscle you need to keep toned. But I also know what you mean about thinking about writing before even writing, and seeing your life through a public domain. It means you don't experience things fully because you're thinking about how to frame it in another context. I also need to work on that.

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  17. Kristen, I so relate to this because I, too, tend to throw myself into things -- all things -- with reckless abandon, but have a hard time sustaining the energy. And then I crash. And then I have to recalibrate. We made the decision to blog M-F, which we do without fail, but I'm lucky to have a partner to split the load with. Two or three days a week are doable (although I FEEL the difference between the two and three day weeks, even though it's only the difference of a day), but much more than that and the well is dry. At least for me.

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  18. First of all, you are an amazing writer! I think it's very sane to take a day off. I started doing every day, but after a month I went to 6 days, then 5. Now I do 4, but I can see doing 3. I am trying to work on my novel as well, and keep the blog interesting and well written. I'm amazed at people who post 5 or more times a week, especially with the quality you bring to it!!

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  19. Talk about pitch perfect writing! So refreshing to know that I have a kindred spirit out there. From: I've never been all that good at the idea of low-intensity happiness. I tend to go overboard when I get excited about something ... To: The problem, though, is that I'm not always as good at sustaining interest - and, ideally, passion - over a long period of time -- your words are a mirror. I like to believe that bursts of passion are worthwhile even if they aren't sustained. But I, too, am seeking conviction, especially when it comes to my writing. Commitment. Purpose. Something that doesn't peter out over time. Hopefully, this journey into the blogosphere will be that for both of us!

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  20. Your blog is amazing, Kristen and I would read it if you posted 7 days a week or 1. I post about 4 to 5 days a week, but a couple of those posts are usually just one liners that my husband or toddlers say that I think is funny, or a piece of jewelry I love, or a piece of home decor I think is amazing - which makes for an 'easy' writing day.

    Good Luck, Kirsten!

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  21. Hi Kristen,
    I'm always amazed at the people who post daily, though I love reading them. My schedule is every other day though I normally end up with three blog posts a week. It's a big job writing and editing the posts and finding appropriate free clip art to post. Sometimes it takes me more time to find the picture than it does to write!

    But, again, that doesn't mean I don't want to hear from YOU everyday, though I don't blame you for skipping. Signing onto my blogspot account and checking up on my friends is an important part of my day. If no one wrote, I'd miss them all.

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  22. Great post! I've been blogging for over a year, but with a new baby in that year, there hasn't been as much time as I would like. Now that we've settled into a routine, I try to blog a couple of times a week. Like you I love to read the blogs of others, I'm insipired by them, they fuel my thought and make me feel normal. Like you too, I tend to "overpassion" my interests. I struggle to find balance with the things that I LOVE to do and the things that I NEED to do.

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  23. I am also hot for blogging. For a really long time I blogged nearly every single day. Slowly it sort of evolved into a every other, or every few days thing. I don't have a schedule. I post when something inspires me to write. But every once in a while when I haven't posted for a few days, I get antsy and feel like something, anything has to go up. This is my current situation, as I have not blogged since Friday. Oy.

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  24. I'm still trying to figure out what works for me and blogging. I miss it but have to stay away for now. Too many other fish in the fryer. And like you were saying about the magical moments, I feel very protective of my time and mind. I have been distracted lately, good distractions, important ones, but I looked at my boys today and thought maybe I need to scale back a few more things. I can't miss the magic.

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