I blog because…

Today’s DP topic: Why do you blog?.  The question seems simple, but is loaded.

First I want to make the distinction between blogging and writing.  It’s easy to talk about why we write, but why, specifically, do we want to use this forum to share our ideas with the world?  What is the difference between writing publicly and privately?  (I’ve already talked about this here, I just think it’s a really fascinating conversation.)

I blog because I have this urge to get all these weird ideas that I have out into the world in a way that hopefully makes sense and is interesting enough that others can appreciate it.  The best is when other people read me and it makes them talk and think about the world differently.  I definitely like to challenge people’s assumptions about things.

Writing in general is the main way I exercise my brain, but when this morphs into connection, conversation, dialogue…I am blown away.  It’s so inspiring.  I love doing this face to face as well, but there is something so unique about conversing via the interwebs with virtual strangers.

I blog because I like to talk about myself and am not ashamed:  I mean come on, admit it, don’t we all?

Also, though, I like snooping.  I really like getting into other people’s heads, hearing about why you write, or, just making that guess myself based on some of the stuff you write about.

Here are 5 random picks of blogs I follow and why I like them.

  • I like Play Outdoors’ various details about how she came to blog, especially how blogging is good for writing about screwing up and laughing about it.
  • I like reading about hobbies that other people are passionate about, even if they are not things that I personally do (check out Stacey’s Knitting!).
  • I like how the act of blogging is an avenue to be admittedly self-involved but at the same time we are still offering this amazing gift to others.
  • I like how bloggers like Wisejourney  share bits and pieces about their own creative processes, including photos and tips about writing.
  • I admire bloggers like Knocked Over By a Feather for being so open and raw in writing of her struggles with depression and Fibromyalgia, while still keeping an awesome sense of humor.

It’s such a strange phenomena, being able to share our personal details with the world like this.  The ways that blogging can connect us (sometimes on a very personal level) and forms little communities with people we might never otherwise meet is just the coolest thing ever.


Daily Prompt: Rooms with Views, please

Today’s daily promptA genie has granted your wish to build your perfect space for reading and writing. What’s it like?

When I first read this, I couldn’t help but think that, with a few basic essentials, I could pretty much write in any kind of space.  For me, inspiration comes from a sense of place (eg: a sense of culture, a feeling), more than my immediate space (eg: the immediate aesthetics or locational coordinates).  So, this genie would grant me a year of writing rooms throughout the world.  In tow I would have a few clothes, some books, laptop (consistent internet access), tons of music (and speakers/headphones), a camera.  Pens, pencils, notebooks (obviously).  With these things, and somewhere (clean and warm) to eat/bathe/sleep, I could be almost anywhere.

My first stop is a hotel in Paros (Greece), a sparse, white-walled  open air bedroom with a huge, arched window overlooking the Mediterranean.   The room itself would not have to be very large, so long as it had plenty of natural light and the window opened to the warm ocean breezes.  A comfortable bed, a small writing desk, a comfy chair, a clawfoot bathtub.  Every day, I would roam the country roads and swim on the beach.  In the evenings, I’d eat olives and drink wine at the local beach bar (even if it is a little touristy).


My second stop: Paris (it might seem too obvious, but I could not resist).  This would be the quintessential Paris hotel room, a teeny, narrow, old, slightly stuffy room in a pension.  It must have a balcony, and a view of the narrow, odd-angled streets.  It would have a teeny, ugly old couch, the kind where the springs dig into your butt if you sit on it too long – which is OK because it’s really cool (it’s vintage, pea-green velour).  The bed is small, and the bedspread definitely involves brown flowers.

What makes up for the fact that the bathroom is shared is that at the bakery below the hotel, the-most-amazing-croissants-in-the-world are made, and I eat one every day for breakfast. The maid would be cranky at first, but she’d come every day, and she’d warm up as she understood that I tipped her well.  I would be so thankful to come home to a  clean room after a long day of meandering in museums, and photographing and interviewing anyone who looks interesting (because, you know, the genie would also grant me the ability to suddenly speak fluent French).

Photo from the Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

My third stop: Old Havana, where the walls are peeling and textured, leaking out layers upon layers of mysterious history.   Oh to roam the streets and soak up the warmth of the music, watch old men playing chess in the park, take photos of castles and fortresses.  Revel in the colors, the building-shapes and textures.  Walk along the ocean, find cats in narrow alleys.

Rum! Cars! Cigars!

Oh, I haven’t described my room yet (I got a little excited).  Well, so long as it had a fan/A/C, a half decent bed and hot water, I really wouldn’t care.  A bar/restaurant downstairs, yes, that would have to happen.

The room is not important, but the hotel would come with a hot man that is ready to teach me Spanish and take me out dancing every night.  He’d introduce me to some local icons, some friends of his, bring me to the secret music and dance hotspots.  So, he’d generally be at my beck and call, keep me company and teach me everything there is to know about the culture without expecting anything in return.  Is that too much to ask? 😉

Photo from the Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

So those are my first three stops..where to next?  There would be so much more to this, stories and experiences (that weren’t all pretty) that would spring from each moment, walk, person, store, bar, stop.

Oh, and a bonus of staying in a succession of hotels:  daily housekeeping!  A year off of cleaning sheets, of washing floors and vacuuming.  That would allow time for much more writing.

Well, just imagining this was as close to the dream that I’m going to get to for now, and I have to say that it’s been pretty fun.

No cross to bear

Daily Prompt: Un/Faithful

Couldn't help but add some humor into this relatively heavy topic. :)
Couldn’t help but add some humor into this relatively heavy topic. 🙂

Having been raised atheist, I have had to learn about the deeper meaning and contexts of faith, and how it applies to my life, for myself and by myself.  Noone ever told me what to think, so I was forced to find that light in the dark on my own.

One of the biggest influences on my perception of the concept of faith was the novel A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving.  In typical Irving fashion, Christianity, spirituality and faith are key themes running through the novel and shaping central character development.

I don’t think that it’s possible to develop any character (fictional or real) without some exploration of faith and what it means to your life.   It is so important to examine what you believe in, and why, and to know the difference between the stories you’ve been told, the stories you tell yourself, and what you believe to be good and right and true.

Reading the novel was a huge turning point in my life because it demonstrates (via Irving’s deliciously descriptive dark humour, vivid imagery, and twisted characters) how we can actually have faith without religion!

Now this seems so obvious, but at the time it was huge for me because before then, I always thought that the notion of faith was purely a religious reference: either you believe in ‘God’ or you don’t, and that is your ‘faith’.  The term is so often associated with organized religion that it wasn’t until reading the novel that I understood completely that the concept did not need to hold any religious significance.   We can actually believe as deeply in ourselves as we can ascribe that kind of belief to an external being or organization or scripture!

At the same time, the way in which it does have significance for a religious person is not that different from the way in which non-religious people do.   The faith that people refer to in terms of a ‘God’ is also connected to a feeling, or a knowing ‘in your heart.’  It doesn’t matter if the ‘knowing’ is connected to a sense that god does or doesn’t ‘exist’, it’s just that knowing that is the faith.  So this is a key theme that runs through all forms of spirituality.

The notion of faith is very similar no matter which story you are telling.  To me it means that the heart or soul knows something that can’t really be explained.  It may develop from a belief, experience, or feeling but it’s just something that you know.   

The part that many organized (Western) religions miss, though, or maybe don’t focus on enough  is the concept of looking inward first, having faith in self first, and then looking outward to ‘god.’  They place more emphasis on specific external ‘things’ to define their faith, rather than coming at it from the heart, and that is where problems arise.

The thing that some religions do negatively (in my opinion) is that they sometimes associate the idea of a faith with heaviness, with darkness.  Faith should be about believing in light.  Faith is not about burdens, or darkness, or guilt, or fear.  It is the opposite of fear.

I still find myself stumbling around sometimes, searching for the light within, and some days the fire burns stronger than others.  But then I try to remember that living a great life requires taking leaps of faith, leaps that won’t happen without unwavering faith in yourself.