Why do I write a blog? Strangely, I had never asked myself that question until today. Each week, I agonize over the words that I should or shouldn’t share with you. On average I write 3-4 half blogs for every one that I actually complete, flitting from topic to topic, trying to find something that will flow and be meaningful. Something that is important to me, that will also be of benefit to you.
I write my blog in order to connect.
As I hit publish every week, I wonder if you will want to read the words that I’ve written. I wonder if they will help you, inspire you, or make you feel that you are not alone, even if it is just for one shining moment. In short, I reach out with my words, hoping that we can have a connection.
I have had weeks where only twenty people have read my blog, but that I have heard from nearly all of those people (whether through email, FB message, text or chatting on the street) and I feel that maybe what I did was enough.
I have had weeks where eighty people have read my blog, and I have heard nothing from anyone. Then I wonder, who are those eighty people? Were they annoyed, irritated, (or worse) apathetic to my words? Did those words actually matter?
As a writer, I want to put words into the world that will spark new ideas. I want to comfort, cajole, encourage and push my readers into being a little kinder, a little more open, a little more willing to interact with the world and bask in its glory. But, mostly, I want to connect. I want to hold my confusion and humanity out for you to see and I want you to understand that we’re all in this together.
This past weekend was Folk Fest, a time of nearly infinite connections and interactions. The one weekend in the year that reaffirms my trust in the inherent goodness of people. A time when community is a lived experience. A time when music flows through the air the way my blood flows through my veins and all seems right in the world.
I truly love Folk Fest and honestly feel that it feeds my soul, but I can also say that it is not a good place to need to write. When I signed up for the Flash Fiction challenge many months ago, I forgot to double check the dates and ended up with what I can only think of as an intense writing obstacle course.
I needed to write a story of one thousand words or less, within a 48 hour period of time (starting Friday at midnight). The story had to be in a specific genre, in a specific location and containing a specific object.
Saturday morning at 6am, I wandered a little way from the tent to get enough of an internet connection to collect my assignment. Thriller, a school bus, a milkshake. Standing on the dewy grass, in the early morning sun, my heart sank a little. A thriller? Really? I have not written a thriller before. Now, somehow, I needed to write one here, in the middle of a provincial park, surrounded by 50 000 or more people, with seven stages of music playing, avoiding the 30C sunshine, trying to be mindful of the four hours of battery life I had, juggling my wife and four kids, friends and all of those lovely people that I only see once a year at this musical celebration.
I can tell you, that the only reason I had a story that I managed to submit (with less than two minutes to go for the contest deadline) on Sunday night is because I had readers. My wife checked in periodically to find out how the story was progressing. My kids sat and gave me endless suggestions of what could happen next in my story, a friend helped me research how long a bus would take to sink in a river, and several other friends were waiting to read the story when it was done. This didn’t add pressure to my writing process. It added joy, it added connection.
I was at a workshop last year and the presenter was talking about kids who struggle and she said, “Instead of seeing their behaviour as attention seeking behaviour, see it as connection seeking behaviour.” And the Aha moment nearly blew my mind! I would like to visit every educator (and maybe anyone who has children in their care for any reason) in the world and whisper that phrase into their minds (along with telling them not to use ‘boys and girls’). I believe this is the magic ticket, not just to understanding kids, but to appreciating that they are actually just short humans. We all need not just to be seen, heard, loved or wanted. We all need to feel connected.
None of us want to feel like we are completely on our own. There is a reason why isolating someone is a form of torture, it is because we are pack animals who crave a place where we belong. We need each other. Even us introverts, who need our time alone still want to feel connected. Being alone and feeling alone are not the same experience. I am joyously alone at the moment, writing this to you, but I am tethered to my earthly existence by cords of family, friends, colleagues and readers.
There’s one other connection that I think is really important and possibly the most ignored of all connections and that is our connection to ourselves. We spend a lot of time coming, going, doing, working, cooking, cleaning, care-giving… I think we often forget to spend some time being. We need to sit down with the anxious, needy, annoying child buried in our own chests and spend a few precious minutes connecting to ourselves and our own needs. I know when I take the time to do this, to really be with myself taking care of my own needs, there is a lot more of me to connect with everyone else.
So, why do I blog? I blog for you and me, for our commonalities and our differences. I blog so we can interact and relate. Thank you for coming and connecting with me, you make my blog worthwhile.
My writing assistants.