My Blog is, Firstly, For Me

An article in the NYTimes online today attempts to determine why people blog when they should be doing things like “homework and swim practice, or perhaps even housework and parenting.” Their determination is that bloggers assume that just the act of starting a blog will provide an instant audience, followed by fortune and/or fame. While I guess we all consider those possibilities as part of the growing pains of blogging, I think that it’s a shallow assessment to deduce we’re only in it for the glory.

When a blogger stops blogging, says real writer Douglas Quenqua, it’s often from either disillusionment or too much notoriety, though “a few – gasp – actually decide to reclaim some smidgen of personal privacy.” I’ve often questioned my need for an audience, in my why-yes-they-do-exist-kthx moments of private contemplation. I started blogging in 2002 on LiveJournal, and for a year suffered the pangs of alienation as I learned how to use the blogging platform as more than a space to post quizzes. In 2003, I started a second LJ for my relationship with Meridjet, and it went so much better that I killed the first LJ out of embarrassment. For about a year thereafter, I compulsively posted about my budding understanding of kink, peppered with too many sexual details and too many nudie icons. Then, at last, I began to find my footing, and blogging became less for the audience and more for me.

As often happens once we turn our attention away from our need to make impressive impressions on people toward the much more satisfying effort to be who we are, it was then that the audience began to manifest. I never really had a plan, even from the beginning, for what my blog would cover. It was never a schematic, and any effort I’ve ever made toward regulating even a portion of my content has been very short lived – witness the rise and immediate fall of “Blog Days” last year. But in 2005, after three years blogging, the rise of my audience began to keep pace with, then to surpass, the rise in the use of my blog for my own purposes. Blogging became a version of therapy.

LiveJournal, unfortunately, has a propensity for drama, born I think out of the attitudes intrinsic to keeping a “friends list.” People on your friends list begin to read between the lines, making assumptions about the targets of your opinions and taking issue with your right to post about your feelings, lest those feelings reflect poorly on them. Opposite the drama at the other end of the spectrum are the assumptions of people who never post anything, yet read everything you write. These folks feel they know you, and then when they comment for perhaps the first time (or in one of 2-3 comments per year), wonder why you don’t respond warmly to their advice or criticism. They know you, so you should know them, right? These problems, and more, led to finding a neutral space to blog in.

I played with the idea of blogging privately. I tried written diaries, private posts to LJ, journaling programs that kept the entries on my computer in a password protected file. But private journals didn’t do it for me. I felt the need to be heard. Confessing something to a dead line (so to speak) gives all the satisfaction of singing to an empty hall, or so I imagine. Enter WordPress, and the revamping of this website to accommodate my blog. Enter, also, a few more bumps in the road.

My immediate assumption was that my “real” LiveJournal friends would automatically follow me by at least adding my RSS feed to their friends list, so they could read me just as easily as before. Rude awakening number one: A lot of people have a resistance to adding RSS feeds, evidently, even if they’re no more difficult to add than another journal. Rude awakening number two: People don’t like to comment in public blogs as much, because those comments are also public and they might get unexpected fallout from leaving comments. Thankfully, I had been through two other personal journal startups and two community startups, so I knew how to handle the silence that greeted my first few posts. It didn’t make those non-attending friends any easier to accept, but it allowed me to have faith that eventually, I’d have someone reading.

The next stumbling block was my brief and fairly mortifying efforts to monetize the blog. I’m still making the rare foray into ads, when I find something I can get behind, but it still leaves a bad taste in my mouth to have ads at all – to the point that I’ve even buried the ads for my own services into rear pages. Based on the people who’ve been surprised by some of the content I’ve pointed them to, not many people notice those links at the very top of these pages, leading to inner sections of the site, sections offering what I consider to be premium content and/or content useful to everyone.

It comes down to this, in the end, this bullet list of the ways and means of Sheta’s blog, up to now:

  • This blog is for me to express myself. I am brutally honest in it, and rarely pull punches (even those aimed at myself).
  • The audience that naturally occurred over the past five years has its own reasons for being here, and I try to accommodate those expectations as long as any accommodations are honest and not manufactured simply for the attention.
  • From the blog grew the audience. From the audience grew the work. The work is, to put it not so succinctly, “Sheta knows about spirit companions, so Sheta tries to help other people with them.” From the work grew the purpose – to get that information out to as many people as I can, so those who need it can find it. My way is not the one true way, but it is A true way.
  • From the purpose grew the brand. A “brand” is something that encompasses the work and the purpose. I’ve come to be known and identified with the work and the purpose, within the small circle of humanity that I serve. This is the brand. It makes me precisely zero dollars on any real level, though I do receive the rare donation.
  • I’ve found that marketing myself usually doesn’t sit well with me. I continue to make efforts to do so at times, seeking various means that don’t insult my audience or my integrity. The newsletter is one of these, but still makes me zero dollars. I may very well make zero dollars until the end of time. As long as I’m surviving and still interacting, that’s fine. (But I will keep trying, off and on, to find that happy middle ground that doesn’t waver in integrity, yet still somehow manages to make me a little cash.)
  • From the brand came the magazine, Rending the Veil, the contacts, the job with Immanion Press (which makes me about $60 a year right now, big bucks), more contacts, and soon, the book. It’s not going to be a living wage, probably ever, but it gives me a feeling of deep personal satisfaction and an identity I can respect. It makes me feel I’ve accomplished something in a field that matters to me.

The blog continues to be a means of coping with myself, of processing stuff I wouldn’t ever want to force on anyone (unlike ten years ago, when I was a horribly heavy “friend”) while maintaining the illusion or feeling of being heard, which allows me to experience relief and understanding. Maybe I’m really only read by 8 or 10 people, despite the >300 subscribed to my RSS feed (when the Netvibes numbers aren’t dropping off the count, as they have been lately – again), but I feel heard and this helps me move through my issues and onward.

Processing my own crap while helping others with their spiritual endeavors, and I mean really helping them, is all I could ever ask for. I’m very grateful for the 8 or 10 commenters I have, who offer their support and care. I may never quit blogging; I don’t know. If my “notoriety” gets ridiculous, I may have to find an alternative method, but right now I don’t see that happening. Blogging, journaling really, is important to me because it’s helped me hone myself into something I can stomach. I can’t think of a better reason to keep doing it. That, and posting the occasional recipe. ;)

Sheta Kaey About Sheta Kaey

I teach people to perceive, communicate, and work with spirits. Beyond that, I'm kinda normal.

Sometimes I write things. Sometimes I edit things. Sometimes, people even see them.

Comments

  1. The NYT doesn’t know what their printing about. Blogging is actually an effective form of therapy. So you keep blogging. If it’s helping you out, then it’s what is working for you. :D

  2. I do it as a form of therapy for the crap I don’t want to thrust on others–then feel guilty for doing it there!

    Lily´s last blog post..People who really just need to die for the sake of the rest of us

  3. For what it’s worth, my lj is a tracker for life, the blog is writing practice. I still have issue getting my thoughts into written/typed words and I leave out more than I ever speak of.
    Though in the past lj has been great therapy.

    • I do wish there was an easier way to keep track of the blogs I want to read. I’m going to have to break down and add them to this firefox plugin I snagged, and then remember to use it. It’s been on here about 2 weeks but I keep forgetting. It’s evidently called “Yoono.” I’ll get it together, I will! :)

      LJ was great therapy for a long time. But they really lost my trust during all the re-sale crap, and though I still keep a paid account, I don’t make it over there nearly often enough to keep up with things. Even adding the RSS feed, I don’t know if I’ll be able to view locked posts. I’ve never tried it.

      • I’ve been less than pleased with lj, but at this point I’ve got my readings centralized there. If I can move stuff part and parcel to DW I might do that.

        On another note, I just noticed the DTBD group getting bigger. Woot! Love how word of mouth can work that way.

        • Yeah, it’s still getting new members, though some of the older ones I think have stopped using the banner. *shrug* I don’t even care, anymore, really. lol. My affection is a fickle thing these days. ;)

          Dreamwidth has a superior import tool — it even imports comments, linking to the LJs, not to DWJs. I haven’t spent much time there yet but I did get my LJ imported up to whatever date it was when I did it.

  4. Makes sense to me. I tend to think of blogs as falling into one of two categories; personal and I guess you could say public or commercial. I think of yours as a personal blog. I read it not really because I’m interested in spirit companions but because I’m interested in Sheta. By contrast, I read Erin Pavlina’s blog because I’m interested in psychic phenomena, not necessarily in Erin.

    Also, this post reminded me that I have a Dreamwidth journal now that I’m actually trying to update with my life and stuff like that: http://clare-dragonfly.dreamwidth.org

    • Feel free to gank the icon. :)

      I’m glad you’re interested in Sheta. lol. That is always nice to hear. :)

      I really need to start posting in DW too.

      • Oh, I just looked at my circle and realized you’re subscribed to my journal already. Haha. Well, consider it a reminder ;)

        :;ganks icon::

  5. I blog for a long time already too, therefore it was interesting to read your story . You inspired me to try to make the similar overview of my activity. Thank you.

    I blog because I am alive … the above sounds like a tub-thumbing, but that’s the truth – while blogging I have no time to think about my disability and the killing sense of personal needlessness consequent on my forced doing nothing except looking through the window…
    I feel myself like real participant of life’s fiesta and that’s sweet indeed to share one’s belief publicly (to release oneself from apathy and to exchange self pity to care with other…
    My concrete earnings through blogging look humbler : I have learned English a bit and can talk in the language I don’t hear on a street .That’s all … literally.

    Tomas´s last blog post..morsel of hope

    • Hi Tomas,

      Your comments are always thoughtful and interesting, and I enjoy reading your use of English. It’s sometimes difficult to understand but the effort your are giving it is very clear. You are learning some difficult words! :)

      I’m not familiar with the phrase “tub-thumbing.” What does that mean? What disability do you have? I should visit your blog — I have been very lax at visiting the blogs I want to read, because I am so busy. It can be frustrating.

      I’m pleased you find the blog inspiring. :)

  6. I always thought that people who think that people blog only for “attention” or fame are missing the point. A lot of people like to write because they love writing and others like to share things online for therapy like others said or for a sense of sharing yourself with others. “Stuff” blogs are fun too though. :)

    It’s kind of like people who think that those who take part in http://www.NaNoWriMo.org do it thinking that it makes them awesome or “like Stephen King” when really most people just do it because they love writing and want to practice or have fun.

    • Agreed. :) Though I’ve never attempted to write fiction, I did try to use NaNoWriMo a few years ago to keep me focused on writing. Didn’t work. lol

      It’s pretty hard to get famous by writing. I suppose niche authors (including occult) find it easier to at least gain name recognition, since the book pool is smaller. But anyone who thinks they’re going to be the next Stephen King is delusional — even Stephen King didn’t think he was going to be this enormous. It’s largely a fluke. Being prolific doesn’t hurt, either.

  7. Writing is definetly a form of insight and development. I think that is evident, in however it is used, even for commercial purposes.
    .-= Ana´s last blog ..Succumb Awareness =-.

  8. Spacer. Ignore.

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