I’ve been thinking a lot about my “job” as a blogger (not a big surprise given my last post, eh?). I’ve been trying to pay attention to how I spend my time, how I balance writing with my other responsibilities and priorities, what about blogging fills me with energy and joy (and what brings out my petty insecurities), how I could improve, how I can work toward building something meaningful.
One of the things I’ve always loved about blogging is the community — the remarkable connection between the people who write and read online. But as my writing work got busier, my dips into the community grew less frequent. Blog comments, which I loved reading throughout the day, would sometimes wait several days for a response. Weeks, then months would go by between feed readings. My daily social media habit scratched my conversational itch, but it doesn’t replace speaking directly with writers and readers on blogs. My joy and satisfaction as a blogger is directly connected to how much I participate in our community, both as a talker and as a listener.
When I say “community,” I’m not talking about the general notion of like-minded people coming together. I’m talking about the specific, tangible community that has grown up and around the blogosphere. The friendships that have grown, the support networks that have formed, the soulmates found, the lives changed. The more I feel that swirl of humanity, the more I’m inspired to contribute.
You know how, when you start paying attention to something, it suddenly appears everywhere? My silliest but most specific example was when, years ago, we were in the market for a new car. I casually thought a Subaru Legacy might work (perhaps a nice, green one)…and suddenly every person in Portland was driving a Subaru Legacy. A green one. Green Subaru Legacies drove down my street and parked next to me at the grocery store. They passed me on the freeway and idled in the school pickup line. Green Subaru Legacies were everywhere. It was weird.
In recent weeks, it seemed every time I opened my computer I was witness to yet another remarkable moment in our community. Amit Gupta (who I told you about in November) found a marrow donor. A couple we’ve all come to know and care about over the years is separating. A beloved blogger is very ill. Another beloved blogger is accepting an award for her work. A mother’s effort to bring her son’s killers to justice has resulted in a Dateline investigation. A fire destroyed a family’s home and belongings, and, in about 12 hours, our community raised $10,000 to help them rebuild their lives.
I’m struck by how grateful I am to be a part of this big something; privileged to hear these stories, maybe even able to offer help or support. When I read and respond to comments here and at Parent Hacks, everything I love about blogging comes rushing out.
I guess I’m just trying to say that I’m so glad to be part of this big something with you. You — the writers and the readers that have turned a bunch of networked hard drives into a place we can call home.
Marie LeBaron’s guest post on Blogstar inspired me to write this. When I read it I couldn’t help nodding and smiling throughout the entire thing. I don’t think any of us ever expected the gift of friendship and community that would come with blogging.
Update: Susan Niebur (Toddler Planet, @whymommy) passed away on February 6, 2012. Donations to the Inflammatory Breast Cancer Research Foundation are being collected in her name. My sympathies to all who loved and were touched by Susan.