In September of 2006, I signed up for a Google ID and somehow also ended up with a blog of my own. I had no intention of writing a blog and this was the entirety of my first post:
“Not sure how I ended up with a blog, I didn’t ask for one. Blogger must think I have something to say here.
Blogger is mistaken.
Go read something else.”
And I meant it. I was not going to start blogging. I didn’t have time for that. I was convinced I had nothing to say, never mind knew anyone who would read it.
Pffft. As if that was going to stop me. A mere two weeks later, I wrote another post that began:
“All this white space has been bothering me, you know. It’s just sitting over here waiting for words. So I’m thinking maybe this blog is good for something after all.”
I would not have believed anyone who told me then I’d still be blogging ten years later. And enjoying it.
But I’ve been writing over here, on a somewhat regular basis, ever since. I switched to WordPress after three years with Google (best decision ever) and the stats say I’ve published 307, now 308 posts. Seems like way more than that. Then again, at an average of 1,000 words per post (yes, I do go on, and on, and on) that’s well over 300,000 words.
I’ve made friends, good friends, by way of this blog. And also by commenting on other blogs. Some of those friends have wandered off, as people do. Disinterest, busyness, death. The latter are the tough losses. The people who live on only in your memories. And your heart.
Margaret. Louis. Bryan.
Gone too soon.
But some of the people who have simply wandered off and no longer read my blog, or who do so only rarely, have remained good friends. A handful of them came to visit me, and each other, last week. We had lunch for five hours and it seemed too short. A few came bearing gifts, including this gorgeous orchid, which I have not yet (it’s only been a week) managed to kill.
The instructions say to give it three ice cubes, once a week. You’d think I’d be able to manage something that specific. Far more helpful than the advice “don’t overwater.” I’m cautiously optimistic.
After ten years of writing blog posts, I feel as if I should be able to impart some similarly specific advice or wisdom. Other than the obvious, “Don’t try to post every damn day, it will destroy your will to live.”
What makes for a successful blog? Hell, I don’t know. I stopped caring about the “success” of this blog so long ago, it’s not even a distant memory. That’s not why I do it.
My thoughts keep returning to Brené Brown and her TED talks about the power of vulnerability, and understanding shame, and how those things are important, even necessary, for creativity. For establishing connection.
And I think, if there’s any measure of success to communicating on the internet — via blogs or twitter or facebook, or even through fiction — it’s that. The connections you make with other people.
Speak your truth. Even if people ignore or disagree with you, maybe especially if they do. Be vulnerable. Find your connections.
And if the world gives you a blank space, fill it. Be courageous. Create the thing that only you can create. However long it takes.