What would make you come back for more?
I haven’t asked you that question before. I’ve asked you how frequently you want me to post (and that was almost 10 years ago when I was posting every single day), but I didn’t ask you what you’d like to read. Why not?
This early morning, as I journaled, I reflected on something my friend and workout partner Connie had said as we prepared to lift weights. I’d jotted down something like this (parenthetical remarks added for your benefit; God already knew 😉 ):
As Connie and I worked out on Friday, the conversation led me to my “Sexual Harassment” blog post (written about working from home with my sexually harassing husband).
“It was one of my funny ones,” I told her.
“Those are the ones I like,” she responded. (Connie used to be my biggest fan and frequent commenter — and often the topic of my posts, actually.)
I miss writing the funny ones. I do weave humor into my posts, but most of them, at least lately, are a spiritual lesson based on an experience.
Am I going in the right direction in my blogging?
At that moment I stopped journaling because I needed to use the bathroom. I took a couple of steps only to squish something with my left foot. What? I lifted my Croc and found a mass of brown — was that cat poop? — smashed into the sole.
Argh. I gave the bottom of my shoe the sniff test. Yes, cat poop. Seven feet from the litter box on a red welcome mat at the entrance of the den. Not a “welcome to my litter box” or “please, feel free to poop here” mat. Just a wordless, red, cushy carpet to collect any debris from your feet before walking on the wood flooring. Not deposit cat debris on your feet as you leave the room.
Thank you very little, Tori the Cat.
Missing my target?
I cleaned the carpet and my Croc, did my own business in my human litter box (the toilet), and then indignantly returned to my journaled prayer time.
Dear Father, thank you for this quiet time this morning. What do you want to say to me today?
Dear Sara, sometimes — like Tori the Cat — we do our duty but miss our target. Sometimes someone else has to do the cleanup for our mistake. Sometimes it truly stinks. Love anyway. Keep trying, anyway. (I was unclear whether he meant me or someone else.)
Why not ask your readers what they want to read? (Oh, I guess he did mean me.) Why they do read? Or why do they follow you? I know this makes you feel uncomfortable.
Frankly, writing sometimes makes me feel uncomfortable. Even though my passion is writing. I feel compelled to write — so much so that any spare time I have before work or on a lunch break or on the weekend or vacation I forfeit to writing.
But some days, I want to busy myself so I can’t write. It feels almost like a relief to not write — but much like the feeling you’d have when your teacher postpones the test for a day or a big decision is put off until the next committee meeting. The relief is short-lived.
And then I realize that I’ve squandered yet another allotted writing hour away, an hour I won’t get back, and I get mad at myself.
Who are you and why do I write?
Half of the issue is that I don’t know who you are or what you want to read. Another half is that I don’t know how I can best serve you — or even if my writing serves you in some way. And the last half is that I also want to write books on the side — so not just blog posts but books traditionally published, hardback, paperback, e-books. (I realize my math is a bit off.)
I also want a clean house and fit body and prefer to prepare my own meals. Something’s got to give.
Right now, I’m the one giving — and it’s hard to know if I’m giving you what you want and need.
However, in my efforts to provide something of substance, I’ve gotten a bit preachy or teachy, perhaps long-winded. I’ve heard from numerous sources that I should be all about serving my readers, that my writings should have a specific purpose or a takeaway for you. And much of what I share with you is what amazes me or is a new realization.
But I did that before when I just shared snippets of my life that made you laugh or cry or feel me. Because you need to laugh or cry or share the comfort that someone else feels you, too.
One of my friends who had the audacity to move to California called me the other day. It felt like a counseling call. She asked; I answered. I just didn’t have a couch or a box of tissues at hand. Or her, actually, except through my phone.
She listened while I lamented my, I don’t know, blog confusion? And she said my storytelling — previously — was like doing life together. Like sitting with smoothies from the Shake Shop and saying, “Oh my gosh, let me tell you what happened” before launching into a story that allowed her to make her own connections to truths and lessons.
“You’re touching far more people than you think,” she concluded.
Back on target
I followed that call with a webinar a day later on writing personal essays effectively. It was one of the best webinars I’ve ever watched. (Usually, I get distracted by other active tabs on my computer and benefit little from what is being shared.) In the Q&A that followed, a writer asked if she had to choose one topic or area to create a brand, to provide some consistency to her readers.
“You are the consistency,” the speaker replied. “I imagine the reader likes you, your style of writing, the way you think. The reader follows you for you.”
“Oh, Sara!!! I soaked up every word of that article. I am convinced you could write about a rock and it would still be extremely interesting.”
So, my dear readers, I assume you read me for me — and because my life stories often do point to THE Rock (Jesus) even if I’m not throwing down Scripture verses and preaching. I resume storytelling with the hope that you find something of benefit in it. And if you want to answer my title questions, I would love to meet you and learn what makes you read me. Please do.
(My California friend also said she reads thousands of blogs but responds to zero of them — because posting publicly makes her nervous. So if you can’t comment, please privately email me at [email protected].)
My guess is I’m back on target — because Tori the Cat hasn’t missed the litterbox again. 😉
And so I put my (clean!) welcome mat out for you.
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