Megablogging: the State of the Blog

8:20 pm – Sunday night. I’m completely exhausted. Wiped out is an understatement. I got up at an hour that begins with a “6” (after having gone to bed at an hour that beings with a 1… even if you’re on a 24 hour clock) in order to do the Walk for Hunger. Generally I’d rather walk against hunger, but I figured this was the year I’d finally join the faithful footsoldiers at my church. I thought a 10 mile walk would be no problem. Heck, I did 6.5 miles on Wednesday without feeling anything more than I’d had a good walk. I didn’t reckon how much harder it would be to do it all at once, in a huge lugubrious pack of people, on asphalt, in cold 50 degree winds in the overcast. I won’t pretend otherwise – the 11.5 miles I did this morning kicked my butt.

So by the time kid-bedtime rolled around, my lack of bloggedness was a weight on my shoulders. I mean, I know I don’t get paid for this. I know it’s not really that important. But I have made a commitment to 11 am on Mondays and by gum I try really hard to keep it.

I haven't done so badly in keeping my commitment
I haven’t done so badly in keeping my commitment

Anyway, so I was brushing my teeth and thinking about what kind of blog post I should do today. My posts fall into one of about four genres. I was trying to figure out which one I had both a topic and energy for. Here are the general genres:

1) The autobiographical update
This is the easiest one to write. Sometimes when I’m really tired this is just a list of all the random post-its I stick in my head with with a note saying “possible blog post”. It’s more or less a collection of extended Facebook updates about my life. If I had to guess, I’d guess this kind of post is interesting to my mother and the nice lady from Minnesota who reads everything I write. And frankly, I’m not so sure about my mom. But this kind of post does serve a useful purpose. This blog is my journal. I could never prioritize a journal written for an unknown audience the way I prioritize my conversations with you. (In fact many of my old paper journals go on for pages pondering on what possible audience would ever be interested in reading about my deepest thoughts. Given that they’re adolescent drivel, this was a good question to be asking.) I deeply value capturing the meaningful moments and stories of my life. I preserve precious memories here. But I recognize that these posts are not riveting, and usually try to work harder to make the same information into a better written post.

2) Stuff I’ve learned
These sorts of posts are hard to write, but worthwhile for me. I usually pull together some sort of research I’ve been doing into the equivalent of a report. In the last two or three years, these have been almost entirely focused on Stoneham, my adoptive home town. As I’ve gotten a clue about the situation here, I’ve discovered how hard it is to develop an informed opinion without knowing people, and I’ve tried to share what information I’ve unearthed in a more public environment. I much prefer talking about the wolf attacks or the latest awesome thing I read in Silas Dean’s history than to wade into politics, but the political information is probably rather more useful.

3) The Perspective Piece
This is probably the kind of writing I consider to be the core of my blog. I take a moment in my life – really, I try to take the things I’ve been thinking about – and go in depth on them. This is where parenting, mortality, faith, why I can’t listen to NPR anymore, and how I feel about hiking all come out. I use the occasions of my life to talk about what that living means to me. At its best, I have a chance to work through the difficult thoughts. I actually find it really hard when the concepts I’m working through are things I can’t share with you – like a relationship that needs hard thinking, or anything about work. I have never talked much about work here, not because it’s not important to me but because I think discretion is the better part of wisdom for a hobbyist blogger. Looking at my recent posts, I’m not actually sure I do this kind of post as much as I think I do.

4) Big Concepts
These are the posts I aspire to; the ones I secretly hope will go viral. (Hint: they haven’t. I’ve only had one post go viral in the 13+ years I’ve been blogging, and that was about a tv show, which is ironic given how little tv I watch.) These are the posts where I feel like I’m really saying something meaningful. I hope to contribute a small voice to the great conversation across generations of writers about what it means to be a human. I don’t write very many of these, and they rarely get a lot of comments.

My tooth-brushing self, cycling through these known tropes, wondered which one you wanted to read, and whether you’d be annoyed at yet another autobiographical list of “stuff that happened” a la option 1. I thought “Hey, WordPress has a poll function! I could just, you know ask them. All I’d have to do is spend about 1000 words explaining the tropes to them, and then, well, I’d have my post!”

So, beloved friends, which is your favorite kind of MTP post?

Saunter Against Hunger

As the economic crisis grows, I’m getting increasingly concerned about hunger — in America and across the world. I can only imagine how devastating it might be to swallow your pride (the only meal of the day) and ask for food help, only to be told there is none.

My church has always had a fantastic team participating in the Walk for Hunger this Sunday. We’ve never done it, but inspired by examples of other young families participating, I thought the Flynns would give it a shot. (The great sacrifice will be just how early it starts in the morning!) Given that one of the participants can’t even crawl, and one of them is three years old and highly distractable, it’s likely to be more of a saunter (we probably won’t make it all 20 — and by probably I mean certainly. I think 2 miles would be an accomplishment). And really, I’m sauntering AGAINST hunger, not for it.

So please support the Flynns Saunter Against Hunger by going to this site and making your pledge: