I did not want to start a blog. The idea made me uncomfortable – not only did blogging mean I had to let other people read what I had written, but it also meant I had to make some semblance of sense. I thought I had to sell myself, a concept I hated. I thought I had to tailor the things I wrote to an audience – some unidentified conglomeration of people, people who could reject everything I said or, perhaps more frightening, love everything I said.
I didn’t want to blog at all.
But I’ve realized, throughout this 9-month journey (and if you just tuned in to what you’re reading, no, I am not talking about the 9-month journey you’re thinking of), that blogging is not about other people. I don’t write for the people who read my poems and thoughts. I am stunningly blessed and humbled that people do read my thoughts and respond and say kind and amazing things about me and about what I write – but I don’t write it for them. If I write something for someone, I give it to that person. But blogging isn’t about me, either. I do write because it’s part of me; it’s in my bones and my blood and my heart, and I can’t think clearly unless I see my words. But I don’t blog to sell myself, or to affirm my thoughts, or to seek praise or understanding. I know that I’m not always clear; I am often abstract and vague and I come up with more questions than answers. And I know that people read what I write and come up with completely different conclusions than I intended or even thought of – and I love that. I love that the words I write can mean something different for someone else. That shows that they aren’t my words in the first place. It shows that in spite of all that I am, the Lord still uses me.
I’ve come to understand that I wasn’t wary of blogging itself; I was wary of adding something meaningless to the conversation. You see, I work in the writing center at my university, and one of the big ideas we talk about is writing as conversation. When a student writes a research paper, she’s adding to this massive academic conversation that has been going on for centuries and will continue to exist long after her paper has decomposed. In the same way, authors add to conversations about big questions, philosophical ideas, or fairy tale stories. Writing is just the way we converse across the generations, across the miles, across worlds. And the internet is part of our world, it’s part of the way we communicate. But there is so much nothingness to the internet conversation. Granted, there is an immense amount of thoughtfulness, creativity, and light in this part of our conversation; but there are also piles and piles of empty words to sift through. Bloggers who buy followers, artists who put their craft second and their fan-base first, individuals who choose to sell mediocre ideas to people rather than invest in the ideas they’re passionate about. Empty words. And I didn’t want my words to become empty.
The coolest thing happened. When I decided to be different, to choose to be who I am and allow God to work in whatever way He wanted, the fear dropped away and I ran out of excuses. I stopped fearing meaninglessness. I even got a little better at handling compliments and affirmation and encouragement. I’m getting there. My words still feel inadequate – and they should. My words can never be enough to communicate the vastness of God or the beauty of autumn nights or the fluttery feeling you get in your stomach when you think about the future or the way you’re blessed. I can’t caption Creation.
But I also can’t let my inability keep me from writing anyway. No matter how exhausted I might be.
Because here is where my head is now: nine months ago, I didn’t want a blog. Then I started to write and God worked in me to refocus my heart on Him. But this semester, things are a bit more challenging. As part of some of my classes, I am now responsible for three additional blogs, plus this personal one. Two of the blogs are for a virtual communication class, and one is for an advocacy class. The virtual communication blogs are very much focused on “selling” ideas, an organization, myself. Of course, we’re told to go about it in a Christ-centered way – we’re meant to be authentic, relational, quality – all while churning out a high volume of posts, attracting followers, conforming to a short-attention-span culture. The blog for my advocacy class is less follower-focused, but the concept is still similar: create for your audience. And everything in me screeches to a halt in protest. This is everything I didn’t want.
I see huge value in social media as a tool for companies and organizations. There is definitely an opportunity to use social media to promote ideas and products. But there is still some wall within me, something telling me that this isn’t right, that it can’t make sense to use my words as tools on one platform and then come back here and let my words be used by the Lord.
Is there a difference? Am I thinking too much (which is, admittedly, highly probable)? Maybe there isn’t a delineation. I know the Lord uses everything, whether the small-c creator is aware of it or not, but I still don’t understand why it seems like it doesn’t line up. These class blogs are all about learning to be effective online communicators, but there is theory and strategy and some veiled sort of manipulation in that. And on this blog, I don’t plan or strategize. I write. I fall apart on this (metaphorical) paper, or I come back together again. I ask questions and get lost and find pieces of myself and of God. Isn’t that effective? Is “effectiveness” my goal?
This is one of those posts that just has to end. I could search for answers, but maybe I just need to let my thoughts sit. I would love to hear yours as well.
This is truly the most un-Courtney-ish blog post I’ve ever written. I need to write some poems or something.