To Blog or Not to Blog

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I have been blogging now for almost two and a half years. As a writer, I wasn’t sure about this thing called a “blog” (short for “web log,” something like an online diary) and I’m still not sure. It’s really no different from a weekly column but my editor urged me not to make it like my Mary’s Farm essays — just jot down something quick, he recommended. That was harder than one might think. It reminded me of when they cut the maximum number of words in my column from 750 to 550. I believe it was Blaise Pascale who said, “I would have written you a shorter letter but I didn’t have time.”* Crafting a certain number of words into a fixed space can be challenging — that is, if you want your words to make sense and have resonance. But blogging freed me of that — the online format allows for a seemingly unlimited number of words. But then, I’m told, people don’t want to read anything very long. Not online, anyway. Hmmm, what could that mean for the future of e-books? While all these considerations were emerging, I kept on blogging, just about things that were happening here, on this particular place known to locals as Mary’s Farm but which has been mine for some thirteen years now. A lot has happened during my tenancy here.

Even as I wrote, I kept wondering what constituted a blog. How was it different from an essay? I’m still not sure I know. I occasionally read other blogs but I confess I’m not a big blog fan. I don’t read much online. That is a personal choice, even though I accept that the future of all reading lies online. I like a book in my hand but more and more, the delivery system for those words is and will be electronic. Many advantages! Save paper. Save money. Conserve landfill space. Sounds like perfect Yankee frugality to me. But, alas, I love the tactile experience of the printed word, the feel and smell of the paper and of the ink — even though I’m now a blogger, an intimate member of the electronic world. Sometimes not everything makes sense.

And then there was the issue of what is appropriate to blog about. It’s supposed to be about all the little seemingly insignificant things that happen. I like nature — I’m surrounded by it and experience some fantastic shows of blizzards, shooting stars, northern lights, lightning storms, and rainbows. All that seems appropriate for my blog. And I like to cook, I just discovered a great new recipe last night for butternut squash lasagna, a recipe I might share. That also seems like a natural. But then there are other things that concern me. The political paralysis this nation is experiencing. I probably ought not to get into politics, good way to make enemies. Recently, I experienced a recurrence of Lyme Disease which has been painful and distressing. Do I write about that on my blog? Probably not appropriate, if for no other reason than that once I get onto the topic of Lyme Disease, I find it hard to stop. So I would limit my words to telling about my extreme discomfort and my disappointment that it has returned, which is the real reason I have not been blogging very often recently.

But the best part about blogging is its lightning speed. This is a phenomenon of the electronic age. In the past, writing magazine articles or essays, one sets to work on a piece and labors over the facts, the words, the phrases, everything that makes up a good piece of writing. Sometimes the entire process takes months and then there is even more of a time lag while the printing takes place. Between the time I write what I write and the time readers read what I wrote, sometimes as much as a year can go by. Then people respond. It’s somehow a muted experience, to have a reaction so far removed from when I was so deeply involved in the subject. Thinking about it now, that system seems almost medieval. With the blog, I write it and post it. Done. With few exceptions, I write a blog, read it over for any grammatical or spelling errors and then post on the website from here inside my farmhouse. That in itself is revolutionary. No editors see it. No proofreaders comb it for mistakes. No fact checkers sniff around for errors or contradictions in fact. Out it goes, completely unfiltered. And then, sometimes in the same day, readers respond. This is what is exciting about a blog. It becomes more of a conversation, an exchange of thoughts and ideas. It’s alive. I love that immediacy. I think I’ll keep blogging. Maybe someday I’ll actually get used to reading online.

*I always thought that Mark Twain had said that but I just went on Google and found that both Twain and TS Eliot are sometimes given credit for those words but instead it was Pascale. So easy now to find out practically anything — score another one for the revolution!

  • Edie,
    I have been reading Yankee for over thirty years. Your essay is almost always the first thing I turn to each issue. Writing is on of my passions and your pieces are the kind of writing I enjoy. Some would say my professional life affords me an area ripe to write about, but instead what I enjoy writing about is the wonder of everyday life such as observations on family, friends relationships and nature. Another I enjoy is Heather Lende. Both of you inspire me and I have learned a great deal by reading your eassys. I at often most at peace while writing about the seemingly mundane phenomenon of life. Please keep writing; everyone has a good story.

    BTW – I go by Joe; it’s a story best shared later.

  • I, too, struggle with the changing face of written communication. Blogs I tolerate – particularly yours – but I don’t do one nor do I have any intention of Facebooking or Twittering. Life is too short to waste time (my terminology, of course) on such frivolity (again, my terminology). I do disagree with you, however, that the printed page will disappear – at least not for a good long time. I detest reading books or longer articles online, and I think there are enough like minded people to keep the printed page going for many years! I do enjoy your work, though, either in printed form or online – so keep up the good work!

  • A re-read tells me your are not restricted to word count so get and stay well and write a away as your heart desires. As the old saw goes, “You write? What a coincidence, I read!”

  • Mary’s Farm Essays were always a treat. Tell your editor to stuff it and write them anyway. A good read is not measured by the count of words but by the quality of the crafted result.
    A loyal fan.

  • Anonymous

    Hello Ruth!
    Here is the information you requested.

    Great Northern Barns ? 182 Grafton Tpk. Rd. Canaan, NH 03741 ? 603-523-7134 ? info@greatnorthernbarns.com

    When I looked them up, I noticed my barn is still posted on their site — The Dublin. So nice to see it again, even if on cyber.
    Good luck and long life to all barns,
    P.S. White hairs unite!

  • Anonymous

    So pleased to find Yankee on this THING—at my age things happen SLOW— and You Mary– I attempted to comment a few weeks ago I had noticed the white hair—course my hair has been white FOREVER. We stopped in there a few years ago on a trip to Maine–I asked for you but you were off on a story. I do enjoy your writing or blogging now I guess. I’m wondering if by chance you could put me in touch with the Business that took your barn down. My daughter Julie is on the Bixby Farm—the barn just stands there—of no use to anyone. I probably won’t see it fall down but the rest of the family is still around. Probably built after Civil War– with the hand hewed beams etc—-.Thanx Ruth (Bixby) Bray rmb2@stny.rr.com

  • Missed you while you weren’t blogging. Glad you decided to continue and hope you’ll feel better soon.


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