What began years ago as a dabble, has become an obsession. When I’m away from home I spend more time blogging and conversing with blogmates, than I do emailing friends at home, and the argument that they can read my blog if they want to keep in touch is flimsy.
How did this addiction develop, and why do I indulge it? My first experience of blogging was with a small closed group, friends from the bush who used to go out every Sunday and paint with a glass of wine close by. When they scattered they decided to continue with virtual Sunday afternoons, maintaining the real paint and the real wine, and posting the results in the blogosphere. I was a friend of one of the group, who invited me to join. I became the token writer, and very prolific and diverse my writing was too, even only devoting a few Sunday hours to it: haiku, reviews, anecdotes based on stories of my mother’s life, photo essays. I learnt the importance of substantial comment there too, and a lot about art as I struggled to say something not too ignorant about their paintings and sketches. The commitment by everyone faded as life overtook us all, and Lomandra languishes.
My second foray into the land of blogging languishes too. It was a wordless photographic blog, with no visitors except myself, an occasional visitor when I want to scavenge a photo. I had a few good ideas that transplanted in part to morselsandscraps and snippetsandsnaps. The plant life of my south coast home was my photographic focus and I began to keep a monthly archive of plants spotted. I was interested in being a tourist on my own turf, and discovering the hinterlands of my normal routes around my territory, and there are some lovely discoveries in these hinterlands. I also did portrait galleries – many photos of the same plant. Not many posts altogether, but a record of a phase, the awakening of my interest in botany, and my first personal blog.
My current blogging career had an ignoble genesis: competition with my daughter. In 2011 she arrived in Warsaw after an eighteen-month cycling marathon from Tokyo, through central Asia, blogging all the way, don’t ask me how. Then she began to record her life as an expat in Warsaw. I was curious, and thought “If she can do it, why not me?”, failing to take into account the fact that she has done many things I wouldn’t even contemplate in my wildest dreams. Oh, and I also wanted to keep up the writing impetus from Lomandra days.
And so it began, that insidious controlled beginning of what has become a full-bodied addiction. Why do I do it? What are its pleasures? Why do I feel the need to audit and justify my time spent in the blogosphere? I swear that I began blogging with absolutely no thought of followers, or even readers. I wanted to write: a record of my days; occasional reviews of books, movies, and exhibitions; an ongoing tribute to the beautiful place where I live; whatever took my fancy. I wanted to craft my writing and shape my experiences. Photos gradually became a vital part of the blog, in fact sometimes they even cannibalised it. Occasionally friends and family read me, and very occasionally they would comment.
Then the whole scene changed. I met Christine in the blogosphere, a real world neighbour as well. It was fascinating to read her blog and see her vision of the world only about 20 kilometres from me up the coast. She commented thoughtfully and faithfully, and so a conversation began, which we continued over too few coffees and lunches. Through her, I encountered Jo and Gilly and Madhu, and the net spread – Jude, Paula, Pauline, Tish, Elissaveta, Sara, Suzanne, Sue, Desleyjane. Suddenly I’m sharing the worlds of women from England, India, Croatia, Australia, Bulgaria, Ethiopia, Portugal and Poland. I’m engrossed in their accounts of their culture, their travels, their food, their love of walking and plants, their families, their spiritual journeys, their adventures, their spectacular photos, their writing. Why wouldn’t I spend far too long every day talking to these women and being inspired by them? I learn, I’m challenged, I’m warmed by their affection. I ramble off checking out people in their blogging communities, and the day fades.
Each time I visit Warsaw I begin a new blog to store and share my experiences on the other side of the world. Blogging was my lifesaver when I was housebound for six weeks on my first visit, and that’s when I learnt most of what I know about blogging, just by poking around. One day when I dared to audit time spent in the blogosphere, I wrote ten comments; read eight new posts; had five sessions writing or working over new posts. That took me four and a half hours. And that horrified me a bit.
But whenever I have a crisis about the value of blogging, I seem to get an email from P, recently moved to a retirement village because of the state of her partner’s health, saying things like “your lovely blogs … still have the effect of centring me momentarily in the sanity of your worlds. I cling to them for sanity, for beguiling photography and lucid lovely writing. Its not the insanity here that gets me down. Its the inanity, it descends like a mental gloop or glug, suffocating flights of any fancies free.” Last night, my son said “I’ve read a few of your blogs. The ones about us of course, and the snow ones, but also the Nerrigundah road ones. I think I’ll read more.” To be known a bit more by my son is a pleasure indeed. And then of course there are the friendships in the blogosphere, the shared lives, the gentle jokes, the varied viewpoints, the warmth, the concern.
My son recently convinced me of the fascination of stats: he cycles using an app which tells him how far, how steep, how fast. So, a few stats since I began morselsandscraps in 2011. I’ve written 720 posts on my six blogs. Comments, written and received, have escalated from 376 on morselsandscraps over three years, to 2020 on snippetsandsnaps since August 2014. I now have a solid and dependable community of friends, with whom I talk frequently, and a richer life. Thank you, all my readers.