Although I have not always thought of myself as a writer, I have always been one. I have Holly Hobby diaries recording the events of my life – who I liked, where I had ridden my bike, what Nanny Keenan had cooked for Sunday dinner, what my older sister and cousin said, and who had made me mad. My Hobbit journal details all of the food I ate, provides detailed descriptions of places, people and events as I traveled through Europe after graduating from high school. There are many diaries and variations through-out the years. I wrote letters to my best friends about my siblings, the chores I had to do, and how sick I had to watch Days of Our Lives EVERYDAY with my step-mother during bright and sunny California days. I detailed my life for my Mom when I was away and wrote of my aspirations.
I understood the power of the written word at an early age. I have letters and cards with words of love and affirmation. My father used to write me letters from the hotel he was staying at when he was presenting at conferences and on vacations. I would formulate future travel plans based on the postcards I liked best. I have letters dripping with anger and mean-spirited intent – the dark underbelly of the acrimonious divorce of my parents.
As I got older, writing became a vehicle to explore my feelings and my thoughts. In many cases it became a coping strategy. In the midst of family conflict, I would go sit on Ventura Beach or in The Sierras and write until long after the sun had disappeared. I would also sit at a log on Jericho Beach or Spanish Banks and detail the gloriousness of life. It continued to be a mechanism to facilitate coping as a wife, a mother, and a daughter watching the denouement of my parents lives.
An opportunity to teach practising Chinese teachers at The Fuyang Bureau of Education came up right after my Mom died. I did my family and went off to China to document life. I had no interest in exploring my very raw emotion. I started my first travel blog. I got two pieces of feedback immediately. One came from my step-mother noting how embarrassed I must be having spelt the word “massage” wrong – an “e” rather “a”. The other feedback came from my good friend, Jan Wells. She commented that she loved reading about my adventures in China, and she loved my style and skill at writing. In fact, she kept it on her desk top and read it with the newspaper every morning.
As with children, a little encouragement goes a long way. I became a blogger. Travel blogs. Food blogs. Blog posts instead of newsletters for parents in my schools. And then I roomed with Rosa Fazio @Collabtime at the Vancouver Elementary Principal / Vice Principal Association Conference co-sponsored with the VSB. Rosa introduced me to the Twittersphere. This was my advent into connecting with like-minded professionals online. The retweet grew into participation in TwitterChats and then developing online relationships. Then reading articles from the people I connected with online, replaced subscriptions to professional journals. Recommendations for professional books to read came from my online professional learning committee. Like-minded educators in the Lower Mainland would come together at Edvents and other face to face meetings of the mind. The desire to chew on the ideas, formulate an understanding and engage others in the conversation emerged. I wanted a Book Club online. This was my advent in to the professional blog. It precipitated a different type of writing that incorporated aspects of writing for my thesis and other university course along with all of the other writing I had been doing over the course of my life .
Writing a professional blog may have similarities with Book Club, but there are no like-minded friends to finish the sentence for you. You have to write down your ideas with enough context for the reader to understand your thought processes. It requires a grasp of your topic and that you’ve had enough reflection time to fully formulate your ideas. You need to develop the skills to consider who your audience is, and strategies of how to engage them. Blogging also forces you to rely less on spell-check and to develop your editorial skills. Or just come to terms with being less than perfect!
I have had many of my colleagues tell me they don’t have time to blog. Certainly not all people are writers or readers or talkers. I am all three so it works for me. For me, blogging allows me to reflect of what I reading, what I am living, and the discussions I’m having. It pushes the card on considering things from a different angle. Best case scenario, someone responds with a comment, a question, or a conversation. We all do what works for us! Blogging makes me better.