Did you have an imaginary friend when you were a kid? I mean, like one that your parents probably still remember?
I had a cast of imaginary friends. They had names, families, background stories, and I talked to them all of the time. These imaginary friends had tea with me, played ball with me, went on walks, listened to stories, and anything else I happened to be doing. I remember them more clearly than I remember a single kid from kindergarten or first grade. Or even 5th grade. It’s a little embarrassing, but I hung out with these imaginary friends until I was 12 or 13 years old. By that time, I was talking to them about stuff I’d read, stuff I was learning at school, people I was meeting and things that made me worry.
Eventually, too many people thought it was too weird that I went in the backyard and talked to myself all the time. But I still needed a way to process things, and so I started filling up notebooks. While I didn’t actually address the stuff I was writing to anyone, journaling took the place of my imaginary friends and gave me a way to filter the world. Even today, writing is a way for me to decide where I fit into the scheme of things and how I feel about events, people, places, and the world in general.
You might imagine, then, that maintaining a blog is almost natural for me. But, it is actually pretty difficult to distill my unfiltered thoughts into posts that might be useful or interesting to other people, and despite how personal blogging can be, you click the publish button in order to share something. With other people. If you didn’t have an audience in mind, you wouldn’t publish your writing.
There are lots of reasons to maintain a blog. Smiling Tree Writing sometimes serves as a portfolio, so that prospective clients can see that I can put nouns and verbs together properly – and when you are talking to prospective clients, you need to be sure you approach them differently than you would your imaginary friends. It is also a place to share my thoughts on owning a small business, the business of writing, and the lessons I am learning. For the last few months, I have been a member of a Facebook group of people from the Chattanooga area who maintain blogs, too. The group has diverse reasons for blogging, and it has been quite a lot of fun getting to know other bloggers and learning about their processes. I wanted to share links to a few of them.
These links are not in any particular order, as it would entirely impossible to rank these blogs:
1. Chanté Newcomb writes at Chante.me, mostly about topics related to internet marketing and social media. I feel pretty lucky to have such a great resource who is willing to meet me for coffee or lunch just about any time. If you keep up with online trends, you should definitely be reading Chanté’s blog.
2. No list of blogs would be complete without a few foodies, would it? There are a few in our group, and Mary Hamaker shares her culinary adventures in a cool blog called Chattavore. I love that Mary does reviews, shares her farmers market adventures, gives us recipes, and writes reviews of local restaurants. There is at least one other food blogger in our group, VignettesFromMyFork, and my apologies if I missed anyone else!
3. Just as we need the foodies to keep our bellies full, we need the moms to remind us how much fun it is to raise kids. Mommyboots is a great place to share the roller coaster ride. There are photos of cute kids, honest discussions of the ups and downs that make up the life of a mom. StuffParentsNeed offers product reviews, features giveaways, and posts about the lives of parents, and ThatMommysLife shares the perspective of a mom of three.
4. I am always grateful when there is a post at TennesseeTicket, because it helps me wade through the murky waters of politics – both local and statewide. I glad someone writes about it!
5. Some blogs defy description, and so it is with the one maintained by the member of our Facebook group who does not actually use Facebook. Madame Sunday at ModernSauce will make you smile, gag, and literally laugh out loud. Her posts touch on design, life, and fashion, and pretty much anything else that Madame feels like writing about.
6. Several members of our group write for or about their businesses and work. It’s really interesting to get some insight into how people with different careers feel about what they do.
InsideAReportersNotebook is written by a local TV news reporter, both DwightHuntersPosterous and RedLipsandAcademics give us an idea of what it is like to work in higher education, while NeosCreations and FitForAQueenBoutique are retail establishments where the owner blogs. Our group also includes ThePaperDoll, a professional organizer who writes posts that are wonderfully helpful to the less organized among us, and TheBarlewBlog shares information and thoughts about urban living and architecture.
7. Two of our members write about life in Chattanooga specifically. One of them is a newcomer who had a great idea for meeting the residents of Chattanooga and, he writes about his adventures at NewChattanooga. The other is a returning resident who writes about living in a house that once belonged to her grandmother, while rediscovering her home town at _Emily_Rose. *Edit* I left a third blogger out of this category! Apologies to Tony Burgess who writes about whatever catches his attention – and it is often life in Chattanooga – at Tony Burgess, a Geek for Life.
8. From work to hobbies to life, the list wouldn’t be complete without touching on the spiritual side of things, and we have members who do that as well. The Journey Is an Adventure; I Am an Alien is the place where one blogger shares her musings as she pursues a Master’s of Divinity degree, and AShiftInPerspective is written by a minister who has two decades of experience.
There are other members of the group, who write about other topics. The thing that is amazing about this list, and about the group, and about blogging in general, is that there is such and amazing range of topics, and personalities and that they are all appealing. If you’d asked me two years ago about my interest in politics or organizing your answer would have been a blank stare. Now, I am armed with a little information and find that I really enjoy learning about both topics – as well as the others on the list.
So, are you a member of a blogging or writing group, either locally or virtually? Do you find it a distraction or something that really contributes to your writing?