A sudden realization that the last post on this site was more than 20 days ago sent me into a spin of worry. Not that it is that hard for me to find worry in my day since I’ve always been more type A than B, but the key source of concern was more about losing the chance to keep the audience that I have and gain new readers than it was about losing track of time. I think that is not quite the most productive perspective. After all, some writers may not have published prolifically but still have success. Some writers generate an enormous amount of work at a steady clip to major success or only moderate acknowledgement.
The key question for any creative person should be less about numbers and more about substance. Even though I was posting rather steadily up until this last month, not all of my work was acknowledged or commented on or even liked at times. It was the content of a post that caught attention rather than my just being out there. Now, yes, quantity and quality are the way to go if you want to stand out. It’s like branding. Get everyone used to seeing you and then they think of you on their own. But, as I brand myself, what is it that I want remembered?
I want to be remembered for posts worth reading. And if that means that sometimes there is a long gap in time between them, then that only means that I am embracing other endeavors in my life and storing up the experiences to share when I am in the right frame of mind and am able to offer my complete attention to my readers.
Ask yourself this as well: Does silence or stillness represent a lack of productivity? Or is it simply a sign of someone at rest and recharging, making ready for future creativity?
There is a substantial difference between journaling and blogging. Some may disagree and say that the only difference between the two is the medium. One opens a notebook or lovely bound blank text created for the very purpose of personal record keeping or one signs on and types into an electronic template of semi-personal design such as WordPress offers. I’ll accept that argument on the surface; but, what blogging offers, is the chance to Immediately share what you are most passionate about and in a form that acknowledges the presence of a reader.
Journaling, as I see it, is very personal and rather random at times. There is no need to worry about physical presentation or proofing because you are the only audience that must interact with the text. Perhaps your descendants may inherit these books and care to read them, but they are not the same audience as the online and blogging community who do not know you and may very well not find your idiosyncratic shorthand or random punctuation endearing. Leave that to those who want a personal connection to you or scholars studying your method of constructing narratives. I am thinking of the Alcotts (as in Louis May, author of Little Women) and the family’s regular discipline of journaling. These journals, their letters, their early works, etc. all serve to enlighten us as to how someone like Louis May developed her skills and her interests. We find out that the need for income as well as artistic output sat on each of her shoulders driving her on.
Now, does the average reader want to read these entries and letters every day? Not really. These are supporting material rather than primary areas of interest for many people. Do we want to read formally presented works that are as ponderous, belabored, and stylized as the works of her often-ridiculed father, Amos Bronson Alcott? No. I’m not saying their private writings or public failures don’t have importance in American history or literary studies. In this family’s case, they also have a substantial place in the study of Transcendentalism. But not all of the family’s writings are of themselves enticing reads for the casual observer.
So, I stand for blogging as a form that is conscious of an audience and responsible for producing well-planned work ready for interaction, while journaling is the private process of drafting ideas or pouring forth observations and reactions or plans that have no need of a formula or obligation to an audience.
If you are interested in reading about Louisa May Alcott and her family, I recommend Eden’s Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father by John Matteson. While it often belies the author’s bias in favor of A.B. Alcott, the text is an excellent introduction to the family and the American embrasure of Transcendentalism. For scholarly essays on the subject, I recommend searching JSTOR. Check with your library to see if they have a subscription to this database. As always, avoid treating Wikipedia as anything other than a starting point offering tertiary materials that my not be accurate at all times. Primary and secondary sources are what you want.