The many flavours of blogging

I’ve really enjoyed reading through the comments on Thursday’s post — sweet Sylvia made a very good point in her comment that I wanted to follow up on. She said:

“i don’t believe there is only one recipe for blogging

people keep their blogs for different reasons {not necessary to write honestly about how their lives suck ;)}

some blogs are just pretty, or funny or have a great content, and some… don’t

can we just let them be as they are… without judgment?

after all, blogs are our own creations and we bloggers choose what we want to share.”

I agree that there definitely isn’t only one recipe for blogging, and thank goodness for that!

I’ll admit there was probably a wee bit of judgement in my post as I wrote it from an emotionally triggered place (I literally clicked away from the blogs and immediately bashed out my post in fifteen minutes flat) but on the whole, when it comes to the blog world and how i view it, there is no judgement — rather, there’s just an acute awareness of my own reactions.

Having made it to the other side of my bereavement journey (at peace with what happened while still honouring and cherishing the memories of the past) I’m now pretty self-aware, and I know that any time something out there causes a reaction in me — other people’s actions, words, events etc — it’s because there’s something in me that’s asking to be looked at. A reaction to a blog post about the bliss of being in love isn’t envy towards the blogger and her love life, but rather the recognition of a tender place inside me I’ve been pushing down and trying to ignore. The blogosphere — and the world at large — tends to hold up a mirror to what’s really going on inside us; the trick is to look inward to heal rather than outward to react.

On the other side of that, as I touched on in my last post, I find I’m sensitive to personal blogs that seem to have a particular agenda behind them — perhaps the blogger has reached a level of fame that means her blog reads more like a magazine, and her voice has changed as a result — and that’s not me being judge-y, simply being observe-y.* Blogs and bloggers evolve, and their reasons for blogging evolve too; we all have our different reasons for blogging and having the means to be able to share our stories is a gift I know I take for granted these days.

But I’m not just a blogger, I’m a blog reader too. The longer you hang out in the blogosphere the more finely attuned your blog radar becomes and you know the sort of blogs you resonate with and those you don’t. I subscribe to a lot of blogs in my Google Reader and read widely across the internet — I follow design blogs and business blogs and everything else in-between; there are blogs I enjoy visiting for quick shots of inspiration, and others that share a slice of life that I don’t experience myself. I follow friends and strangers, and love the richness and diversity i discover in my Reader every morning.

When it comes to personal blogs I appreciate the ones that have shades of grey between the black and the white, that acknowledge the ups and the downs in a way I can relate to. That’s how I like to write my own blog, so it makes sense that’s what I also like to read. And as so many of you mentioned in the comments, it’s all about finding the balance; this is a topic I’m really digging into for the guidebook, so I’m going to take my time to really do it justice — if we feel called to share aspects of our personal lives on our blogs, how do we do that in a real and authentic way without sounding whiny or spilling beans we probably shouldn’t?

As Sylvia noted, people write blogs for many different reasons, and there is something for everyone. Because blogging, really, is just like ice cream — there are so many different flavours to choose from. You might like butterscotch and caramel, while I prefer mint and cherry; they all taste good and sometimes I don’t mind a smidge of butterscotch, but mostly I prefer the mint. Some ice creams have too many sweet toppings on them — but some people like them better that way. And that’s cool with me — we don’t all have to hang out at the same gelateria.

Sometimes vanilla is what we crave; other times it’s double-whip-fudgetastic-marshmallow surprise with chocolate sprinkles.

Most of the time, though, I stick to mint.

* If you can name that pop culture reference then you’re as big a geek as me ;-)

31 responses
  1. Glad Doggett

    so wise! this is why I read blogs like yours: “any time something out there causes a reaction in me — other people’s actions, words, events etc — it’s because there’s something in me that’s asking to be looked at.”


  2. Emily

    These last two posts have been absolutely lovely! The content of this post in particular is really jiving with a lot of things I’ve been reading lately as I work on my own writing and developing my style of expression. Somewhere in this deep stack of books next to my computer, someone said that a writer is a kind of benevolent cannibal who eats the world. I can’t think of a more appropriate sentiment to frame your latest posts!

  3. Rhiannon

    I’ve been following along with this theme and donlike what sylvia wrote. In this constant reach to be “authentic” I ask myself if I am sharing too much or not enough. I’d say I do aim for authentic and don’t sugar coat things for the sake of appearances. But at the same time there are things I don’t feel like discussing on my blog – perhaps they involve other people or a situation is just too overwhelming to write about while it is happening.

    Everyone just has to find their own course. And like you said , if something inread makes me react in a particular way I know it means there is something there that I need to examine.

    Here’s to lots of blogs in all the flavours- Mine’s a pistachio with a little scoop of vanilla. :)

  4. Rhiannon

    That should of course read DO LIKE – little keyboard makes it hard sometimes !!

  5. Cassie

    I stumbled across your blog somewhat randomly, but I have really enjoyed reading it. I appreciate your rawness and your willingness to share your personal sorrows and joys. I especially appreciate your willingness to share your sorrows and your process of healing from such a great hurt. It is moving. So thank you! This post and the previous are challenging for anyone who blogs, even one who just dabbles in it, like me, because on some level, the blog should reflect who I am….and I am not perfect, I am not always happy, I like certain things, believe certain things, etc. I like the idea of my blog having depth, just as I have depth. That’s a really helpful paradigm to think through.

  6. Meg

    Super post! You have summed up two equally valid, contradictory and co-existing responses: on the one hand acknowledging and striking a balance between the dichotomy of is without us (in the old English sen) and how we respond within us and on the other hand personal tastes on the other hand.

  7. Kate

    As human beings it is perfectly natural to form judgements about everything around us. I find this modern aversion to judgements, as in “all judgements are bad” a bit of a pot-kettle-black situation. Ironically, it is as judgmental as the very thing it is criticizing. Please don’t censor yourself through fear of being judged judgemental! Your blog is a reflection of you as a wonderful and imperfect human being – like all of us.

  8. michelle

    i also read a lot of blogs…and i appreciated the candid nature of your previous post…which i stumbled on via another blogger. so i added you to my reader.

  9. Roxanne Galpin

    Well said. What I love about blogging is how it somehow teaches me about myself ~ reading those posts which trigger me emotionally, for example, and then discovering what it is, inside me that aroused itself.

  10. Laura Fragiacomo

    Oooh lovely and truthful debate: “The blogosphere — and the world at large — tends to hold up a mirror to what’s really going on inside us; the trick is to look inward to heal rather than outward to react.” Can I quote you on this? :-)

  11. Carol

    I’ve been thinking about the blogs that I read since your original post. On the whole, they are quite positive reads. Happy and inspirational. With the occasional bit of reality mixed in. On a personal level, my personality cannot cope with the constant negative. The whines. The complaints. I find it very draining. And I think that this world can be quite a dark and depressing place. After encountering another news item detailing another natural disaster where people have died. Or when I’ve had a crappy day myself. It is nice to know that I can escape online to a happy place. Even if it is part illusion. At the same time, I cannot abide overly new-age stuff, I usually end up rolling my eyes. I suppose it is about finding a balance and embracing what appeals to us on a personal level.

  12. Carol

    Maybe I’m just too English… which is why the New Age, remember by spirit, blah, blah stuff doesn’t overly appeal.

    But seriously, sometimes a shit day is just a shit day and not an opportunity for spiritual growth.

  13. EMC

    Grey’s Anatomy? (Dark and twisty – judgey and observey?) Lot’s of eee sounds there.

  14. susannah

    hee! nope, not Grey’s Anatomy — think a bit further back :)

  15. susannah

    “sometimes a shit day is just a shit day and not an opportunity for spiritual growth.” — absolutely!

  16. Alexis Zinkerman

    Yes, and I wish there were more books out there on different styles of blogging. Can’t wait for yours to be finished. We should skype on the many flavors of blogs and blogging some time.

  17. Steph

    Precisely Kate, precisely. We do judge, because judging takes many shapes, and there is nothing *that* terrible in it.

  18. Lee

    I love your blog Susannah, it’s honesty,it’s creativity, and generally the way you look at things, and i think this last post hit a nail quite squarley on its head.
    “Sometimes a shit day is just a shit day….” so very true.
    I would rather read how someone, like Susannah, is processing and dealing with things, truly and honestly, than someone whose every move is a learning experience.
    It helps me feel that i’m not the only one that feels like that, and maybe gives me an idea of how to deal with ‘it’ in a different way.
    I agree with you Susannah, carry on as before.

  19. Yeti

    I have it on good authority (my mother in law) that it’s Buffy…I don’t argue with the M-i-L, so I won;t tell her if it’s wrong lol!

  20. susannah

    Yes!!!!!!! From Season six :-D

  21. meg manion silliker

    this is exactly why i follow your blog – because you are so very observey and truey and honesty and fabulousy and so much more than vanilla. xo m.

  22. Beryl

    I have been an avid blog stalker of yours for years and don’t really ever feel compelled to comment. But these past two posts have been incredible and have really forced me to take a deep look inside myself as a person, writer, blogger an define how I see the world and how I want to portray my perspective in my own blog. Thanks for the spark of inspiration this week on my own creative process:

  23. Heather

    Great post! This comes at a perfect time for me, such food for thought. I have been blogging for a while now and I feel I am getting sort of disenchanted with it really. I am working on the mix of what I want to bring, it’s about living an inspired life, creative life and empowered life.. But with in that at times are struggle, and I am working on a way to express that with out sounding bitter, whiney or anything like that.. I think I will give that a shot and come from the heart.. Thanks!

  24. Rhonda

    YES!!! That’s me!!! I like vanilla. But I want to be so much more than vanilla!!!

  25. Karen D

    I have been keeping my blog up for a way for me to be creative, even if it is just sharing a few pics or words about my life. I do feel sometimes when I am down that I shouldn’t share because who wants to read that but I have overcome that and just share what’s real for me in that moment and if I have had a bad run for a few months or so my blog will reflect that, I find it hard to be phony.. I just might write less.. but I find there is someone always out there who wants to hear your story…
    i personally resonate with your style of writing/blogging..


  26. Lisa

    Great post. I like to blog and I have been a blog reader more so. I appreciate all types of blogs, but I seem to connect a bit more to ones where you get a “sense of real” about the person. It promotes more of a connection to what they write, how they live, and feel in the world. Even though I have not commented often on your posts, I love to read your blog and have read it for years. I have found it very hard to blog and open myself up in my posts. But it is reading blogs such as this one, that makes it a little more comforting to put myself out there.

  27. Ella

    I think some blogs are not meant to be personal. But I personally do prefer the ones that are.

    In fact, I actually wish I could write more freely on my blog but I know that my family reads it so I have to be careful…

    Maybe an anonymous blog would solve this issue but I don’t know…

  28. Anna

    I sometimes feel slightly uncomfortable when I read the blogs of the super happy, super sorted, positively positive bloggers. On one level it makes me feel inadequate but on another I think I’m questioning the authenticity of their posts. I’m all for the good times, the successes and the positive vibe but life is so much more than that. XXX

  29. EMC

    There is something about blogs that make me feel a bit of an underachiever generally. I see a photography blog and think, ooh I like photography, I take pictures, maybe I should blog them? Ditto for drawing or cooking or… but then I feel like I would have to devote myself to the blog in a way I’m not sure I’m comfortable with (never been a good journaler) and the pressure would be there to make it as good as possible, to get followers, to create a platform and it would turn into one more area in my life where I’m just not achieving enough. I don’t need that! see above. So for now, I make myself satisfied by reading (And being jealous of!) other people’s blogs, people whose lives seem ever so more together than mine. Which is why – contrary to what you probably think, or maybe you just don’t care – that it’s refreshing and more than a little reassuring that your blog occasionally features posts like the two previous. And I CAN’T BELIEVE I missed that Buffy reference! My God. I was a Buffy freak back int day.

  30. Francesca

    Yes! Buffy – great post geek-sister. And it’s always good for us all to consider the honesty of our voice. xo

  31. Cynthia

    I just started a new blogging venture. I thought I had become too personal while blogging. But I know that there has to be a balance.

    My new blog is fueled by the idea that we all have one voice and to use it. But I know that one voice isn’t always going to be super happy joyful. I want to be real.

    Thanks for what you’ve written here.

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