Why Do You Blog?

I’ve been asking myself this question, have come up with a couple of good answers, I think, and would like to hear your answers, too. If you don’t have your own weblog, you can answer the related question, “Why do you read other people’s blogs?”

I like to talk to people. When I was a kid, my idea of a party was to have a handful of friends over to sit in front of the fireplace and eat pizza and talk. In this regard, I haven’t changed at all. I like to discuss interesting things, things that people are excited about or passionate about, things that we see differently. I like to toss my ideas out there and bounce them off of other people to see how the ideas hold up. But I am a stay-at-home mom and a full time writer and I don’t get out much. I see my family every day. And other people occasionally. And other people that I can sit down and talk to about interesting things for hours at a time … maybe a couple of times a year.

For me, this weblog is my pizza party, sans pizza. (Sorry about that.) I’m always interested in writing, so that’s a constant topic. But it isn’t just a writing blog. I’m interested in and frequently worried by politics, so that goes in there. Some bits of my life — homeschooling, for example — occasionally go into the mix, as well as occasional shocking revelations like the fact that I’m actually middle-aged. (If you haven’t hit this one yet, believe me — it’s shocking when you get there.)

But as much as I like to talk and discuss, I don’t like to fight. I don’t enjoy reading flames, I don’t enjoy being furious, and I don’t like trolls. So I’ve set things up here so that those are things I don’t have to deal with. I’m here to have fun, to think, to toss out things that make other people think, to talk.

I know some people talk to people all day in unpleasant situations, and come home in a foul mood, and really want to blow off tensions they accumulated at work — and flaming people on the internet is a great way to do that. I know some people who simply like to fight. And some who enjoy causing trouble. They’re using the internet with different goals than mine, and while clearly they’re welcome to use it as they wish, when they’re in my space we’re not going to work out. And since it is my space, and since I know what I want to have here, I have no compunctions about kicking them out. After all, the internet is huge, and people who are looking for trouble can find what they’re looking for elsewhere. Whereas the only place that I can create the interesting ongoing all-subjects conversation I’m looking for is right here.

The interactivity of the weblog is its key feature for me. I blog because I like to talk to people, and at this point in my life, you’re the folks I’m talking to. If you imagine yourself in a long, low-ceilinged converted porch with a fireplace at one end, with the air a bit chilly and snow on the ground outside and the fire roaring, with very good pizza flowing in a constant stream, and with a lot of other interesting people sitting around talking to each other, you’ll have the atmosphere.

That’s what I’m looking for, and why I blog. How about you?

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About the author: Novelist, writing teacher, on a mission to reprint my out-of-print books and self-publish my new ones.

22 comments… add one
  • KatFeete Oct 22, 2003 @ 23:05

    I blog because I like telling stories. And I like the illusion of having an audience.

    I put almost nothing personal in my blog – it’s not written for friends; but at the same time it’s not wholly for me either, because none of my previous journals have lasted out the month. I write best for an audience, even (as is certainly the case with the blog) a largely hypothetical one. And mostly what I seem to do is pull one amusing or interesting thing out of my day and write a couple hundred words about it. Occasionally I rant, and I’ve been on a bit of a rampage with quizzes lately, but mostly I tell stories.

    I read other people’s blogs because I like *reading* stories almost as much as writing ’em.

  • E Lim Oct 22, 2003 @ 4:06

    This is the only blog I read. As stated in a previous entry, I love reading your blog because I find it very encouraging to me. I read about your struggles as a writer, and that pushes me to go on as a writer. I’m tempted to start my own, but I’m either too lazy to update one consistently, or I’m too private about some of my thoughts.

  • David Stone Oct 22, 2003 @ 3:45

    I don’t Blog. I just cruise other people’s Blogs looking for girls.
    Oh…did you say middle aged? Damn! 😉

    Seriously, I don’t read many Blogs with any sort of regularity except Holly’s and Sheila(Stardoc)’s.
    I started reading those because they are both written by full time professional writers and an amazing amount of useful snippets of information about writing and the writing life appear, even when the main topic isn’t specifically writing.
    Also, I like their books and it’s good to see how they are progressing and what’s coming next. And I like THEM, so it’s good to see how they are getting on in general.

  • Lelia Katherine Thomas Oct 22, 2003 @ 12:08

    I blog here…and for many reasons, I suppose. Some days I feel like I need to let out a good rant (oxymoron, there); other days, I need someone to listen to my depressed side; others, my humorous side. I also prefer blogs to real, handwritten journals because my thoughts tend to go far too quickly for my poor hand and pen; typing is the way for me.

    However, I believe the biggest reason I blog is because no one really knows me, not even my friends. How sad is that, right? I’m not very good at voicing problems or feelings (other than in some sarcastic remark!), so people learn who I truly am by reading my online journal entries.

    Great question, by the way.

  • Jim W Oct 21, 2003 @ 21:53

    I guess I don’t do blogs normally. The only "blog" that is called a blog that I read regularly is yours; I also read Jerry Pournelle’s web site and the Boortz news, but Jerry doesn’t consider himself a blogger (though others have called him the first blogger 🙂 and Boortz’s (say that three times fast 😉 is tied to his daily radio show.

    I read your blog because (a) you’re a friend; (b) you’re a totally fascinating writer at any and all times; and (c) because through Forward Motion you are an inspiration and a mentor (though admittedly I’ve done very little with FM proper through the years. Which doesn’t mean it hasn’t been effective, but your thoughts have helped me in other ways outside my fiction writing interest — which, while an important dream to me, has always been subservient to other dreams 🙂 (I know, I know, I need to get more work done on that inertialess drive 🙂

    But interacting here is also a way to keep me rooted socially which doesn’t involve running off and leaving the kids alone at home most evenings. Thank you for encouraging it 🙂

  • Jean Oct 21, 2003 @ 21:38

    Oh, and I remember pizza at your place oh-so-many years ago. I remember we had a blast, but I can’t remember the details. Can you?

    (And for those of you who weren’t there, we were all sober. I can’t speak for Holly, but for some reason, I never cared one way or another for alcohol. I didn’t consume on any kind of a basis until I was in my late twenties.)

  • Sandra Oct 21, 2003 @ 20:26

    I just started a blog, primarily to pratice technical writing. Goober, but it gives me a reason to learn new techie stuff and try to regurgitate it in a reasonable form.

    I’ve considered blogging like you and Sheila do, but alas, there just isn’t enough going on to make interesting entries for others to read.

    I read a couple of blogs for the interesting content, and a couple of others for the tech/nerd content.

    Sandra

  • Ann Oct 21, 2003 @ 20:10

    I started blogging because I had a friend who I hardly ever saw online, but kept one and insisted I do the same so he could keep tabs on me.

    That’s still pretty much why I blog. Sometimes I use it to rant, but that’s pretty rare. Usually I just use it to follow my day to day things (college and reading). I’ve been informed by someone that I have "the most boring blog."

    Then again, I was recently told by some FMers that they liked my writing posts and some even found them helpful. So I feel a lot better knowing some people appreciate my posts. But mostly I just post to unload and occasionally update people I wish I had more time to chat with.

    Sometimes I put in insights and commentaries, but they’ve been rare lately. The boring comment hit me more than it should have, and since then I’ve had problems blogging.

  • Rick Oct 21, 2003 @ 19:41

    Because I’ve been hard-pressed to find such an assortment of friends in real life.

    Because I need to keep a journal of some sort (to preserve my psychological health) and I type a million types faster than I write by hand.

    Because while people can use the internet to hurt each other, they can use it to help, too.

    Because like you, my idea of a party is very small and private.

  • Hasdiel Oct 21, 2003 @ 17:36

    Why do I blog?
    It’s a bit strange, because I have never kept a diary… But I wanted my friends to hear about me, without spending a lot of money in phone calls… And then I found it was a way to share ideas and feelings with other people. Er, and it helps that I’m quite talkative :p

    And that’s why I read other people’s blogs. To know how they think, which things worry them…
    To see how other minds work.

  • Jean Oct 21, 2003 @ 16:52

    Why do I blog? I had to go back and see why I started. Here’s the first entry of the polar blog:

    "Sniffing the air…sniff…sniff…sniff. Stretching toes and smoothing fur. Hmmm. Keyboards are not made for my paws. I’m going to have to get Her to find me a custom keyboard. Fortunately, my claws are just the right size, but I must be careful not to penetrate the keycaps (this would be bad, She tells me). Hi. I’m a polar bear, and, with the help of Her, I’ll be chronicling my life in human society without the benefit of a moat."

    It’s an idea I’ve had for awhile. I didn’t know if anyone would be interested in it or not, so I threw the blog out there to develop the character and see if anyone else would want to read it. It seems like a couple people do.

    Then, about a month later, I decided there were some things I might want to say that didn’t come from a polar bear–I didn’t want to take Inuit too far out of character. That’s when I realized blogger would let me create more blogs, so I did. Here’s the first entry from twilightnotes:

    "This is an experiment. Odd little things will be jotted into the spaces you find here, and they may or may not make sense. This is fine. Don’t bother stopping by if you find nothing of interest. If you do…well, come on back."

    And that’s really what it is. Odd little things jotted into the blog.

    I wrote a daily journal through most of high school and my first year of college, and then it faded away sometime after that. I typed poetry all through high school, but I don’t think anyone read it (several years ago, Mom said I was a good writer, so who knows where she learned that…I didn’t challenge her on it). As a strong introvert, my favorite place to be in high school when I wasn’t playing one of the many sports or fulfilling my church youth group obligations was closed securely in my room–alone.

    As I remain a strong introvert, my favorite place to be is home alone, holed up in my den typing away on the computers or sprawled out somewhere reading one of several books. This does make a marriage challenging, but we work through it. But the thing is, on line interaction is an interesting thing to me, and I enjoy it. I’ve met many fine people on line (back in BBS days, I met some on line people in person) through the years, so I guess my on line "life" frees the part of me that’s uncomfortable dealing with people in person.

    I recently committed to journaling again. I keep a paper journal–words sometimes flow better there, but I don’t worry about a particular special pen. For years, Zebra’s worked well. Lately I’ve been using whatever tradeshow pen I grab that writes well. I don’t use fancy notebooks–the latest iteration is Mead Five-Star paper bound college composition books. (But I can see why someone would be drawn to a special book and pen for their jottings.)

    As for the blogs, since I’ve decided to write, they’re a venue to see if anyone might want to read what I have to say, but I don’t work too hard to attract a particular audience. I haven’t told family I have them up, so I don’t use them as a way to keep in touch. I believe I did mention polar blog to a couple people, but I haven’t said anything about either blog to anyone in person for months–mostly because the only people I talk to are people at work, and I don’t figure they’re all that interested.

    I guess that’s enough for now.

  • Humaira Oct 21, 2003 @ 14:42

    I’ve always had a diary ever since I was 9 or 10. Anyways, I never get time to write in my paper one anymore and somehow I discovered blogging. I hand coded my first couple of blogs and used Blogger. When I bought my own domain I used Greymatter because MT hates me and is too highend for my simple needs.

    I love Blogging because I have wonderful people who come and tell me it’ll be OK, to sympathise with me and generally as you say to have virtual pizza with.

    I could talk the ear of anyone and generally my blogs are mundane and boring, but somehow people keep coming back! I actually discovered my online best friend through her blog. She was just so hilarious!

    Hmmm…see? I can talk the ear off anyone and because I’m nosy. It’s intriguing to see a real Pro writer blog. And I love reading about your life and how you’re doing with the books. Cos it helps me to see that even real writers have bad days.

    So yeah. I’ll shut up now!

  • Carmen Hudson Oct 21, 2003 @ 13:54

    I blog because its like sending out a mass email…/and/ carrying on a big onrunning conversation. I’m a single mom and most of my friends live thousands of miles away. With the blog I feel like they’re right there, talking to me, both as I write mine and read theirs.

    As for reading your blog, Holly, its because you’ve always got something worth reading. Heck, I like the pizza analogy. I’d love to be invited to one of your pizza parties, even if I’d be one of the quietest people there. ;> I guess because this is probably the closest I’ll get to meeting you and getting to know you. (Now doesn’t that just sound all gushy fangirl. Oh well).

  • Scott Oct 21, 2003 @ 13:30

    I don’t blog. Yet.

    Why do I read Holly’s blog? We knew each other a long time ago (VERY long now that we’re both over 40) and this is a way of looking back and ahead at the same time. Not that I’m two-faced, heck I wasn’t born in January or anything. And I’ve always been fascinated by the creative process – not being particulary creative myself. I’m the guy who watches every DVD with the director’s commentery playing. So getting a glimpse into Holly’s methods AND sharing some interesting stuff – it’s a win-win for me.

  • Andi Oct 21, 2003 @ 12:42

    Why do I blog?
    Mostly it’s because it’s an easy way to keep friends and relatives abreast of what’s going on with me – and it’s a lot easier than sending out daily mass e-mails (and people appreciate it more). It’s also a great way to get something off my shoulders and out of my head before it can really sink in. Problems or things come up, and the blog lets me release my frustration before it can build (most times, anyway). The people I’m around physically and see on a regular basis appreciate that. *-*

    My other blog is a way for me to essay things I feel strongly about. If they irritate some people, oh, well – they’ll live (no one’s forced to read them). It’s fun to actually go back and read my own essays and see what I said. And it lets people who don’t know me well get some insight on who I actually am without actually meeting me. *-* (Whether that’s good or bad is subjective, I guess)

    I read them to keep up with what’s going on with other people – especially people I don’t talk to on a regular basis. I like to know what’s going on with them, but finding the time to sit down and talk to each person is never going to happen. I don’t why (or even if) people read mine. I guess for the same reasons.

  • Linda Sprinkle Oct 21, 2003 @ 12:29

    I read blogs for two reasons. First, like a lot of other people here, I’m fascinated by other people and their lives. I think that goes with the territory of being a writer.

    Second, like you, Holly, I’m pretty isolated. Most of my conversations, outside of those with my family, are online. I’m an extrovert and I need regular contact with people. The various forums, chat rooms, and weblogs I’ve become involved with over the past couple of years saved me from clinical depression caused by the extreme isolation I’ve been stuck with.

    We’re moving back to San Jose as soon after our lease is up as we can. It just depends on when someone moves out of the apartment complex we want to move into. I can’t wait to get back into singing and bell choir again. And to take more art, photography, and computer graphics classes. I miss having regular contact with people. I miss being able to throw small dinner parties. I’d like to balance the online community with face-to-face time with other people. And I’m thinking of starting a weblog after we move because I actually might have something to talk about. 🙂

  • Catherine Oct 21, 2003 @ 10:54

    I don’t blog due to lack of time but I do journal in emails to friends and save copies…mostly becuase he folks I write to are interested in different things and I do it about once a month. I, too, love to talk with folks and don’t get much opportunity.

    I read other people’s blogs (the few I do read found through FM) because they write as if having a conversation about the things that concern them. So it interests me to get the backstory on a few authors’ lives and also to find some like minded individuals. The web is great for finding a virtual community when you don’t have time to be in a physical one…

  • Shermel Oct 21, 2003 @ 9:52

    I always wanted to keep a diary. A big leather book with gold trim, which I would write in using an expensive pen (I know, it sounds silly. It didn’t when I was fifteen). I started a few, always at the beginning of the year and always good intentions of making a records that I can look back on in a few years time and think "Oh god, what was I thinking." It never worked. After the first couple of weeks I’d get bored, I make an entry every few days and eventually I gave up.

    I’ve had my live journal for about six months. I write in it every day, even if I don’t have much to say. I keep little morsels of things that I think are funny, interesting or I would like to remember. I think the reason I keep up with it is I have an audience. A small one, but it’s an audience none the less. I feel as if I am talking to someone in a dear diary kind of way, but because it’s real people I don’t feel so silly.

    I read other blogs because I’m nosey, very nosey. I am interested in what other people have to say about even the most mundane things (although I tend to avoid blogs that whine about how awful the owners life is). I have no idea why people read mine.

  • Sheila Oct 21, 2003 @ 8:59

    I started blogging as a one-year experiment to move my one of my paper journals online, experiment with the medium and give people a little window into the daily life of a pro writer. I was supposed to cut it out last November, but by then I was addicted.

    Now it’s like having a tea party every day. There are regulars who stop in to make me laugh. There are idiots who crash my party and try to wreck the good china. I really never know who will show up, but it’s never dull.

    I read other people’s weblogs to look into their windows and see what’s happening. Must be the closet voyeur inside me, but like Krista I find other people’s lives fascinating.

  • Jo Witham Oct 21, 2003 @ 8:53

    Why do I make a daily effort to read your comments, Holly? I respect you as a writer and mentor, enjoy your stories and feel that you are someone that can understand my struggles to write and relate to others through my stories. I found that I started reading you on a regular basis when, within a month of each other, my two best friends moved away (no more pizza without a major flight – when they moved, they really moved!) and I had no one to relate to in a writing fashion, much less a friendship one. I wish I could send you a digital pizza, so that we could set down in front of the fire and shoot the breeze about the issues our characters put us in. Thanks for being there when I need you, which seems to be every day.

  • Kellie Oct 21, 2003 @ 8:53

    I started blogging at first to keep my family and in-laws up to date on the normal, mundane, and occasionally exciting doings of my life and my husband’s. As I’m a writer as well, I tend to blog about that for my own benefit (helps seeing my goals and ideas about that stuff in "print"; it also helps knowing others will see it and possibly hold me to it). I also find that blogging is a bit of a better way to rant about something than commandeering a discussion at work or the like. So I vent there when I need to.

    And I read for about the same reason as Krista. I like to get an idea of who else is out there in this world. Blogging and reading blogs is my way of connecting in a cyber world that seems to be getting more distant.

  • Krista Oct 21, 2003 @ 7:57

    Good questions.

    Why do I blog? The fact of the matter is I’m a talker, too. I love conversation. I usually have an opinion on everything. Doesn’t mean I’m always right or even in the ballpark. But an opinion I certainly have. Of course…getting this opinion onto my blog seems to be a bit of a problem. Worst blogger award right here, if you please.

    As for why do I read other people’s blogs? Well. I’m nosy. I want to know what’s going on in other people’s lives, what thoughts they have. Reading someone’s blog gives me a glimpse into their personality. I guess it’s a bit like cyber-spying! 😮

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