Why do I blogger?

A friend of mine likes to point out, whenever he gets the chance, that blogging is a total waste of time. That friend, in case you’re curious, is Zipper Boy and I’m going to continue to keep his identity secret because he is still dating Zipper Girl might get back together with Zipper Girl ended up marrying a MUCH BETTER zipper.

He likes to send me links to stories in the Washington Post or the NY Times that illustrate why blogging is profoundly meaningless. Fruitless. A few days ago he shared with me this link to a story titled, “Blogs Falling in an Empty Forest.”

blogging

Zipper Boy once posted this image to my Facebook wall. Perhaps you’re familiar with motivational slogans from Despair, Inc. Zipper Boy loves these posters/calendars/T shirts/various defeatist keepsakes. I like the red mesa in the picture.

Since I have a relatively thick skin about these things, I usually take Zipper’s digs in stride, choosing instead to respond sarcastically to sarcasm with sarcasm. It’s a cerebral pissing contest that I briefly gave up for Lent.

But today I feel compelled to articulate why it is I blog Lance, not necessarily for Zipper Boy, who rarely visits this website and who confessed at lunch last Friday that he wants to start (of all things) a blog, but for myself and for other bloggers who might feel the same way.

I’m a ravenous and compulsive writer who kept a diary from ages 10 to 21. The diaries of course were private, as diaries are wont to be. However, every few entries I’d get a bug up my ass, and grow particularly fond of something I’d written and share it with my mother or my sisters.

As I opened the spiral notebook, covered in song lyrics torn from cassette tapes and stickers cranked out of gum ball machines, I knew I was breaking a diary oath regarded sacred by teenage girls for centuries. Who reads their diaries out loud to their mother? Who nags their sisters to sit still and suppress their gag reflexes during the melodramatic reading of a love poem, in which puppy love is compared to the flicker of a slow-burning candle?

Aspiring novelists perhaps.

But blogging is an entirely different beast, namely and obviously because it’s public – but also because it’s complicated. After spending the weekend redesigning the Lance I know now how complicated it can be. Forget the fact that you can upload photos and videos, link to other sites and tag entries. You can also manipulate design. I never thought I’d hack into HTML code, replace chunks of </?php and =_”top” with other </?php = _”top” gobblygook.

The art of keeping a diary has gotten so sophisticated that many fervent journal-keepers scoff at the hobby. They say it’s trendy. Rooted in fickle self-interest and unchecked hubris, penned by people suffering from delusions of grandeur who are on a quest to parlay their tedious monotonous existences into memoirs, reality TV shows, movie deals, or higher Facebook friend counts.

Much to the chagrin of TMZ, overexposing celebrities is becoming passé. A new brand of celebrity has risen: ordinary people overexposing themselves online. But who am I, a blogger, to criticize other bloggers? After all, I view the pastime entirely different now. Sort of.

I started this post to explain to my brain why I shouldn’t quit the Lance, why I should keep on truckin’ even though I’m convinced it’s distracting me from writing a novel.

I blog because I live far away from where I came from. Because my friends and family back in Western New York are curious about what I’ve been up to since I packed my life into an ‘87 Honda Civic and drove the Tennessee-Kentucky route to Florida. Because I miss these people and these people miss me. Because in some faraway text-based way my family and friends can connect with me through the Lance. Mostly, I blog for my mother, who reads every single one of these posts and whom I miss so much it hurts my heart just to type it. Some bloggers fear that their blogs will only be read by their mothers. I can only hope for so much.

I love writing so much that when I don’t do it, I get melancholy and morose, pent-up in ways only those suffering from constipation can relate. Writing for an audience keeps me on my toes, keeps me humbled, and this goes for newspaper writing as well. At least once a month I get an email from a retired copy editor on Longboat Key, who chides me repeatedly for my sloppy grammar. The last email I received was a full-blown lecture on my use of the word “shoe-in.” (Fyi: It’s shoo in and it’s an archaic term used to describe the perceived winner in a race, a word lazy journalists abuse on a regular basis.)

I blog because I work from home and miss interacting with coworkers. I’m a social bee. I love people. I love yakking and I love making people laugh. At every job I’ve ever had, I’ve been reprimanded for talking too much and being too loud and causing such a ruckus in the office that people fail to get their work done. I am an efficiency disease.

Blogging has kept me social from 9 to 5 on a weekday, when I’m sitting in my little home office with the pug sawing logs at my feet. Blogging has introduced me to awesome and lovely ladies. I say ladies because for the most part, I’ve befriended women via blogging (minus Jack from Delilah + Jack, the lovable and adventurous Canadian couple currently backpacking through Eastern Europe.)

There’s Tabitha, a loyal commenter whom I recently mailed a cloth book cover to so she can properly conceal her chick lit-reading material on the DC subways. She said she was afraid snooty political whores might judge her for poring over Confessions of a Shopaholic, so she started wrapping the covers of her books in gift wrap.

There’s Jill from Modern Mommy Blog, who once devoted an entire post to plugging my Lance, who has a little girl named Eva and an impressive appetite for politics. It’s because of Jill that I started using organic household cleaners and learned that Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer didn’t see the harm in a 13-year-old girl getting strip-searched at school.

And then there’s Sara and Mirella, hysterical girls with enviable funny bones. Every so often Sara drops me an email that causes me to whiz in my pants. The first time I read her blog I saw that she had posted a picture of a cake shaped like two tits. The boob cake immediately held my fruit-fly-attention span as my mom baked many boob cakes for deserving men (and women) when I was growing up. Sara and I have so much in common we send each other serendipitous you’ve-got-to-be-fucking-kidding-me vibes over the Internet.

My Lance readers have filled the coworker-void. When Joe talks about his day at the office, I brief him on the status of Sarah Schlothan Christensen’s amniotic sac.

Admittedly, I don’t read a lot of blogs. Many bloggers read dozens of blogs a day, leaving thoughtful comments that in turn garner a devoted readership with similar commenting habits. During the first six months of this blog’s existence, I didn’t read a single blog. I didn’t even know what Dooce was, other than something you drop in a toilet.

As a result, I can list and describe all my readers in three paragraphs, which is OK.

I blog because my sister’s best friend Carrie relates to my posts. Because she’s 22 and at a point in her life when growing pains start to really hurt, and breakups start to really suck, and friends start to move away and life starts to get big and serious. I blog because every time I revisit an old post, I’m revisiting old emotions and familiar reactions. I blog because I forget a lot. I blog because keeping a diary, public or otherwise, serves me well. It’s interesting how much and how little my perspective changes.

I don’t blog to make money or to pad my resumé. I don’t blog to air daily minutia or personal details. I save that for my mother and Ro.

Every time I start a post I aim to find the white space between what someone might like to read and what I might like to write. Every writer I know aims to do that space justice, and in that respect blogging is the ultimate exercise in writing. I treat this thing with the same discipline I treat paying stories, a tendency that has its pluses and minuses. No matter what, I find comfort in the fact that I can be more crass. More indulgent. More introspective. More ridiculous.

Blogging has taught me the art of self-discipline and forced me to pursue other things that require self-discipline. I created Lance to occupy my time while Joe was asleep and to develop a rhythm I hoped would carry over into novel-writing, which leads me to where I’m at right now, fresh from yoga class, staring at a fortune I pulled from a cookie 10 years ago, remembering how stoked I was to have picked a cookie with this prophecy: ”You are a lover of words. Someday you will write a book.”

Fortune cookies. Damn them for being so positive.

I promise I wont quit Lance, if you promise to read my book even if it is self-published and held together with binder clips.

Also, I hope you like the new site! I thought it was time for an upgrade.

PS. Top photo by Fenchurch. For her Flickr photostream click here.

Comments

  1. says

    What a beautiful post and a beautiful Lance. I don’t even know how I found you, but I am so glad that I did. As an English teacher and a pretty new blogger, I couldn’t agree more. Thanks for sharing. You really have a gift. :)

  2. says

    OH! I love the new look!
    I promise, promise, promise to read your book! :o)

    I’m so glad that our blog paths crossed (through Sara, of course!) I love reading everything that you have to say, and though it may sound weird (and it’s totally okay to admit if you think it’s weird because I already know I’m strange), your writing has been inspirational to me. I’m not sure if I can explain it any better than just that.

    So glad you’re keeping up with Lancing! I look forward to being a follower for as long as you’re here!

  3. says

    i think i prefer the self-published, binder-clip books to those that are all fancy and professionally bound. :)

  4. Carrie says

    I will be sending you the bill for replacing my keyboard thanks to the tears that spilled onto it reading this g** damn blog.

    You are something else heid – the shoutout made me smile :)

    Keep blogging. Keep writing.
    P.s. I Best get a SIGNED copy of your book when it’s done!!!

    CANNOT WAIT TO SEE YOU GIRLSSSS!!!!!

    xoxoxo

  5. says

    I love love *LOVE* the new design! (I’m sure Lance does too). Also, I’m very impressed that you could do any of the gobblygook on your own. If I had to figure any of that stuff out, the next post would basically be “Once upon a time there was a girl. Sadly, she is no longer, for HTML has eaten her alive. The end.”

    What a blessing to have a mom who wants to read your blog =) The mothership just went up a notch or two in my esteem.

    Also, you can tell Joe that my amniotic sac is doing well. It says hello.

  6. says

    I’m hoping the day never comes when my mom wants to read my blog. One time she looked at it while she was in my office and wasn’t happy that I had posted a picture of her bent over working in her garden. She was not amused! (oopsie)

  7. says

    I, for one, am glad that you blog. What would I do without my dose of Lance? (I was going to say my daily dose but since I’ve been a total slacker for like two weeks, I can’t rightfully say that. It’s not you, it’s me. I’ll explain later.)

    ps – glad you joined the darkside and moved to WordPress. Hallelujah!

  8. says

    ps – I just wanted to say that I know what you mean about blogging buddies. I seriously love hearing from you and my other online friends. Even when I don’t write back right away, I am thinking of you and hoping everything is going well. So yes, blogging definitely fills a need, several in fact.

  9. says

    I love reading Lance and am so happy he decided to stick around!
    You are one of the coolest girls I know and I am so happy to have a mention in this post. You made my day, my week, my month, my year, my decade, my life.
    Have you told us what this book is going to be about? I am very curious.

  10. mothership says

    It’s 1:00am…the house is quiet. Your sister & Brian are home from their 2nd Wal-mart run. All are sound asleep. Even the 2 pugs! I finally got a moment to get on-line and and catch up on your last few entries. I haven’t had the need to keep checking your lance several times in my day because I got the real deal right here with me. It feels wonderful to have you and your sisters all home with me again. The noise, the craziness, the laugh your ass off til your face hurts moments I have missed. Our house turns into a home when I have my girls around to enjoy. Heidi thank you for deciding to continue your posts. They keep me going, along with your dog walking & trips to Sarasota phone calls. When I hear parents say that after their children moved out of their homes they rarely hear from them or they only get called when they need something I can’t even relate to it. That is something I hope to never experience. Sarah you say Heidi is blessed….well I too am. For I have 3 of the most considerate,loving daughters who also are my 3 best friends. I am so proud to be your mothership! Kudos to you Heidi,Holly,Brian & Rose for completing 62.5 miles for a very worthy cause, you have done me proud! Your contributions to Roswell are very much appreciated by many. OK enough said…bedtime for this mother as I have a bridal shower to give my girl tomorrow….wait it’s already tomorrow….Goodnight.

  11. heidi says

    Of course you’d get a shout-out, Jill. You’re a solid blogging buddy and a good mom. Everyone’s positive feedback is so motivating. Making Carrie cry is even more so.

  12. says

    Well, I for one am glad you are still with it. And congrats on the re-design — I meant to tell you at Phil’s bday. I’m not really sure why I blog. I think it definitely wastes my time. But, then again, the best things in life are perceived “wastes of time.”

  13. Brandy says

    1. I LOVE the title to this entry. 2. Even if I find it boring, I promise to read your printed at home held together with paper clip book, that’s if I get a copy.
    I enjoy reading this Lance/blog/public diary. I think it’s a way for me to be connected to home even though you current reside 1,200 from “home”; and despite the fact we were “friendly”, amicable, tolerated <— I think that may describe it there each other in school …… I'm sure this just sounds stupid, I know what I mean even if I can't get my point across

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