Monday, December 17, 2007

What to write about, and why

I've spent a lot of time today thinking about what is appropriate to blog, and why. Much of what has happened with me in the last few days have just been too personal to be blog material: family finances, spiritual/religious work, working some issues out in my marriage, etc.

This led me to wonder what the lines are about "bloggability" and how I've set them.

I know that talking about spiritual work (for example) seems on the one hand fine and on the other complicated. I talk a bit about Qi Gong, but that practice can easily be interpreted to be a "health" pursuit -- the way many people view Tai Chi or Yoga. And talking about the sweat lodge (inipi) or any of the other Lakotah ceremonies we participate in begs so much discussion and back-story that I often just pass over those opportunities.

I will probably do a post about blood-quantum and Lakotah ceremonies, but that is some seriously touchy stuff, which might be best left for face to face discussion. I just haven't decided as of yet.

I like writing whenever I can create humor out of a situation. I love humor in many forms, and I think it's eminently healthy. Maybe I've just had a few humorless days, and what would have been perfectly bloggable last week seems a bit flat today.

There's always crappy world situations to blog about... research teams in Antarctica having "beach parties" in shorts and t-shirts because it's so warm, and then getting burned all to hell because of the lack of ozone; a worrying trend in U.S. policing where severe overkill and violence are used in response to easy-to-solve situations; food prices getting jacked by agri-business and their damned lobbying, mixed with "terminator" seeds that keep farmers from being able to gather their own seed for the next year. That list goes on and on, and just didn't feel like stuff I wanted to get into today.

It seems, some days, that it would be easier if I had no thought whatsoever about what goes out onto the blog and just write about absolutely everything in my life. It would definitely up the quantity of writing here some of the time, but as some famous professional bloggers know, there are lines are best uncrossed (she lost her job over a blog).

There are so many stories generated by our street full of interesting, intelligent, weird, and culturally diverse neighbors that I just pass over for fear of inadvertently souring one of these relationships. I'm known to occasionally share completely inappropriate information -- the main story being how I inadvertently outed someone as gay by making the bad assumption that if I had known for years, surely their parents did too. That's not a feeling I'd like to repeat, frankly.

So instead of finding an actual subject, I'll contemplate my navel publicly -- that passes, doesn't it?

Enjoy candor wherever you can find it,



I-am-what-I-am Farmhand said...

Do you care about it? Does it illuminate your life? Should/can it be made public? Do you think others willvalue it? Is there value to you in writing about it?

Blogs are as much about the blogger -- a reflection of who they are -- as they are about the topic du jour.

Just be yourself.

Shocho said...

The important thing is not what you blog, but that you set your own guidelines. Everyone has a comfort zone, and like all rules, you can break those, but you need to know when that happens. I don't usually blog about personal things, but I have on rare occasions. The outpouring of support can be very helpful in a difficult time. I blogged about my horrendous MRI experience just to share it with somebody. I blogged about getting laid off for the first time in my life. These are outside my usual rules, but sometimes it's good to stretch.

andy said...

I always thoroughly enjoy the humor posts, and I think those are very appropriate.

Laughter = good.

Trappin' Pat said...

Back in 1999 we had a beach party on a sand dune in Taylor Valley, Antarctica. It was a NW facing dune and it was 8PM so the dune was facing the sun. A few people stripped to shorts but I only went down to bear chest. The temp was a balmy 33°, no wind, sunny, 0% humidity—more-or-less a stunt to have some cocktails (with 2,000 year old glacier ice) and get some funny photographs—not a global warming indicator. In the middle of winter SOME people drop through the ice for a dunk in the ocean—a cabin fever stunt.

BTW Lake Vanda in one of the dry valleys is ice covered and thermally horizontally stable (little vertical conduction), divers drop through ice at the top and at the bottom are in 70° water!! (The lakes store solar energy and collect geothermal heat.) Antarctica is full of such curiosities.

As for what to blob about—sock it to me with the Nasty details!

Bpaul said...

Mr. Pat sir,

Some of your exploits are so testosterone-laden that I am humbled in your presence sir.

You really have had a fantastic life so far, in all seriousness. From mountain gorillas to the antarctic, to kayaking in Baja -- I think you have made some excellent decisions, and I'm always happy to hear your stories.

You will be an unbelievably difficult father to impress (speaking of your daughter's suitors), and an incredible storyteller of a grandpa.

Bpaul said...

I want to thank the elder statesmen of my blogosphere for their commentary as well. The first-hand account of Antarctica got me spinning, but I want ya'll to know you are appreciated and thanks for the kind words.

Trappin' Pat said...

Gee Shucks, I'm mostly just lucky and up for an adventure.

Anonymous said...

I figure if I get out a bed, some one wants to read about it...

I too have crossed that fine line but ya know, it all works out. Sometimes a glimpse of the personality behind the blog can be endearing.
I never name surf spots though....

Bpaul said...

Nor do I mention mushrooming or fly fishing, clamming, or musseling spots.

Very true.

CtheG said...

I actually just edited out all the "personal" blog entries the other day after deciding to launch my photography workshops and fine art full force. I want people to see my work and my personality but not necessarily the more personal photos and entries. It felt like I cut an arm off when I deleted them. It was a very strange feeling. I printed the posts first so I have copies. But they feel like journal entries, and that isn't really what I want my potential clients to read. Just what I want BP to read. So maybe I send BP e-mails instead. But I have been going through the same thing. And even though I made that choice I still feel strange about it. I want to still be "me" which is down to earth and "real". And now I am editing, so that is strange.

Bpaul said...

You are being clear, and that's never a bad thing. That blog has a more specific function than this one does, and your action accounts for that.

I am certainly not going to turn down photo essays in my inbox :-)

Shocho said...

Do it Brandon Style: Make one kick ass blog and if you have more to share, even with a select few, make another blog! That's where he puts his cats so I don't have to look at them. :)

matt_stansberry said...

Great post BP... Good writing and it's definitely food for thought.

I don't always think about why. Typically for me, it's enough to just get it out there -- especially on the Upstream blog. It's mostly a vehicle for my photos. Once in a while I have a semi-interesting story.

Kind of funny -- I spend a ton of time thinking about the "why" of writing in my day job as a tech journalist. I have to ask "why would someone want to read this" all of the time, for myself and my writers. I guess I get burnt out on that by the time I get to the blogs.