The School Cafeteria Diaries

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Hypothetically speaking:

Blogger A. recently had a long email conversation with  Blogger B.   After reading through the correspondence several times A. decided to share parts of our their conversation.  Bits of this conversation may resonate with some of you.

Blogger A. had weaned herself from the info-crack machine and was able to get productive and creative with that extra time.  Blogger B. asked A. about this process and shared some craft/blogging angst that she had been experiencing.  Blogger B. –  “Your January has been so productive, and I’m just trying to get in a better place emotionally around craft-blogging.  I find I’m still on my meandering creative journey and still searching for the purpose of my on-line existence – what’s the purpose of my blog?  What am I hoping to get out of my blogging, creatively?  Why have I become so emotionally attached to blogs that they affect me sometimes in a very negative way?  For example, I love Blogger C.’s blog, and Blogger C. herself, but her recent interviews with artists sent me off the deep end emotionally.  It’s silly, but I felt like the outcast from the popular girls’ table in the school cafeteria.  I know it’s silly to feel that way because I know what I make isn’t anywhere in the league of the makers she featured, (editors note:  Blogger A. does not agree with Blogger B.’s self assessment here, but A. digresses) but that overwhelming emotion was there nonetheless, and boy was it a creativity killer.  I’m also trying to figure out why I have this compelling urge to create things with my hands from cloth and paper?  and need those things to be well made and pleasing to others?”

Blogger A. responds – “I’m still struggling with every issue you brought up.  As a way to help me sort it out though I’m starting to ask myself similar question as those you brought up.  Such as “Do I want to spend all of my free time on the computer looking at other people’s creations or do I just want to be creating?  Is my blog for me or is it for other people?  Why did I start blogging in the first place, and are those reasons still valid and important to me?  Who in blogland do I want to maintain contact with (this is a constant struggle, because I’ve made a lot of connections that feel genuine and important.  However, just like face to face friendships it takes a lot of time, and it’s impossible to keep all of the balls in the air!)  Do I want to zoom through my blog list or take the time to pay attention to a few?  That last one depends on my emotional landscape at the time, and which blogs I think might leave me feeling inadequate.  And if I’m honest with myself – 2008 feels like the most selfish year of my life, and because of blogland I’ve neglected quite a lot around here.”

Blogger A. continues (because she’s wordy like that), “When you spoke of feeling like the outcast from the popular girls’ table it hit me like a ton of bricks.  I go through those same emotions every few weeks!  When it feels like everyone else I know is being interviewed or opening their own etsy shop or fielding oodles of comments on their blog/flickr.  I think emotionally it’s a harder fall after I’ve had something well received and I’m emotionally elated only to come back down to earth hard the very next week.  And that part feels very unhealthy to me!  The thing is, if the girl at the outcast table came to me for advice I would tell her to forget about it, stop pinning her emotional and creative energy on outside, perceived, acceptance or rejection.  She would be wise to understand that blogs are not static, they are constantly in flux.  The hit tutorial, or photo, or craft, or brilliant post of today will be replaced just as quickly by something new tomorrow.  So she would be better off listening to herself and her own guiding instincts.  I’d tell her that yes I understand how important it is to get feedback and validation from others.  That many of us wouldn’t be pushing ourselves or challenging ourselves if we didn’t have this forum for sharing.  For example would I really feel the need to buy that Nikon D60 if I weren’t photo sharing?  It all needs to be kept in context though.  And one more thought little outcast girl.  Not that I think my blog is all that, but I wonder if other people feel the same way about my blog, and B.’s blog too.  That when we link, and reference so many things, or display our creations do other people feel like the outcasts, etc.  It makes me sad because that would never be my intention.  It’s probably not the intention of Bloggers A-Z either.”

Just a few more thoughts from A.  If you are feeling like you are sitting lonely at the loser’s table – 1.)  You are not alone.  2.)  Not only are blogs in a constant state of flux, but there are new blogs popping up daily.  Come on, if an ad for an Oscar Meyer product can use the words “Blog-worthy” then you know everyone and their dog has a blog, and it is IMPOSSIBLE to keep up with everyone.  3.)  Blog because you enjoy it and for the reasons you want.  (think about looking back in a year, what things do you want to look back on in your space.)  4.)  Blogging feels like a competition sometimes, but it’s NOT!  Don’t forget your real life in the real world!  5.)  Think about all of the movies about the “populars” and the “dweebs”.  Realizing that most people are rooting for the “dweebs”!  Take it from Blogger A. who has been a “dweeb” most of her life.

For a more academic look at this topic go here, and for a bunny trail related to some of this go here.

19 Comments Add yours

  1. Leslie says:

    Very interesting! I don’t know if I’ve felt like an outcast but I often feel like I’m not “keeping up” with my blog. My posting is more and more infrequent as I spend more time on flickr now, but I can’t seem to let the blog go. Sigh. I hear you about the time for crafting and creating, too. I know I’d have more time for creating if I stopped drooling over other people’s lovely creations! On the other hand, I’m inspired to try new things and I get ideas from what others are doing. Seems like a Catch 22, doesn’t it?

  2. simplyblogged says:

    Interesting post. I don’t know if I ever feel like an outcast because I am in a world of my own. It may sound selfish but I blog for me and if someone enjoys my world all the better. When I see something cool, I share it. Just like I would send a link to my sister to check out. I find the coolest stuff on blogs. They introduce me to new photographers, crafters, and fun people. I am with you, enjoy this world and don’t sweat the small stuff. I may have to blog about your post and link to you if that is alright. This was interesting.

  3. I’m afraid that my response to this one will be too long for a comment so I will email you on this one. In a nutshell, I concur.

  4. Ellen says:

    Wow! That is a mouthful and a wonderful conversation. I very much relate to what you said – hitting many nails on the head simultaneously. Blogging has sort of a catch-22 ring to it, don’t you think? (I love and hate cliches by the way…) Seriously though, I sometimes feel like I have nothing to share. And other times, rather than look at others’ creativity all day, I really need to be creating myself and truly ‘living’ life. But then comes the need to play show and tell and want to share what you have done/made/created/said/thought. I think in many ways it’s only natural to do so. You can find like-minded people in terms of art and craft via blogging. One last thing…when I see a blog I like, I have to remember that there are probably dirty dishes in their sink, laundry that needs to be folded and put away, crying and bickering children in the background…really no different than any of us.

  5. threesneakybugs says:

    Amen.

  6. Patricia says:

    In the end, there really isn’t much of a distinction between blogging and the public face we put on for other people, is there? And, just like in real life, our blog selves have to figure out our authentic selves and how to present those true selves to our blog readers authentically, and of course that involves lots of missteps and do-overs, as well as introspection and maybe some (seemingly selfish) navel-gazing to identify core values.

    Thanks for your, as usual, very thoughtful take on a weighty topic and for the excellent links down the bunny trail. I hope I can find my way to doing this blogging thing and the life thing with as much grace and humor as you do.

  7. I just like to blog as I don’t know anyone else that makes things. I like getting to ‘talk’ to other people who might think ‘she put some time and effort into that’ and who can give me new ideas and techniques, as I’m still very much a beginner at sewing / knitting / crocheting.

    I know there will always be others more talented or more driven or even just better at marketing themselves than I am, so I guess I am kind of happy just hanging out on the loser table with a bunch of friends.

  8. Ellie says:

    I think I come closest to Patricia’s statement about the blog face vs. the public face. But I always ask myself this: would I say what I’m saying “here” (ie Cabin Life) – in the way I’m saying it – to a perfect stranger on the street? Would I whip a jar of homemade jam out of my upcycled tote bag and ask them, “what do you think”? If not, then it is impossible to discuss blogging without talking about the effect of the actual technology on all our lives. Are we all so committed to publishing our thoughts/creative pursuits in [virtually] anonymous blogland because we are, in fact, safe in our own homes? Are we comfortable with risk-taking before we “put ourselves out there”? If yes, than I tend to agree with the UK lass – it’s just kind of fun hanging out with a bunch of friends. If not, then it is not really a question about finding a blog identity, is it? I have many more thoughts on the subject. May have to -well – you know what comes next – blog about it.
    Cabin Girl

  9. whew! great post. i think we can sum it up with “the 4 stages of craft blogging”:

    1. trepidation
    2. validation
    3. i’m-famous-ation!
    4. realizing i’m just one of a million bloggers in the craft nation
    5. satisfaction

    i’ve gone thru all steps. compulsive stat checking, stress about what to post about, angry/sad that i’m not as creative as those that i look up to. but i’ve finally come back around to the original purpose for starting my blog: to have a record, and a reason to create. there was a blackhole for 2 years where i didn’t make a single thing, i was working too much, and miserable. that’s never happening again. the blog is my to-do list, for everyone to see.

    really, tho, the best part is making new friends. the number of smart, creative, beautiful women that are a part of my daily life really lifts my spirits, and inspire me, and i’m so happy to “know” them!

  10. oops, that’s “5 stages of craft blogging”…

  11. Kim says:

    Love this…it definitely sums up how I feel sometimes…but all in all, I blog for myself and hope that others will enjoy it too. It’s kind of like my journal because I don’t have a paper one. Also, since starting my Etsy shop I do feel inadequate a lot! There are so many good artists out there…way better than me and that’s not self pity just the honest to god truth. But, when I think about it, the reason I started it was mostly for myself too. To see if I could do it and what would happen…and as a creative outlet for my doodling and art. Hopefully no one is intimidated by my work (I have no idea why they would be). And your photographs are great. I love seeing them!

  12. MichelleB says:

    Wow. This post really hit home, and I’m so glad to see that I’m not the only one that feels this way. I was recently not included in a blogland swap that was by invitation only – and I was devastated. And was so shocked at myself at how horrible I felt! This was a blog that I frequented and left comments on daily, and frequented many of the blogs that “were” invited. I felt like a total outcast – like the popular girls had shunned me again (unresolved high school issues – LOL).

    I do enjoy blogging (as infrequently as I do) because I like to share what I do, since I really know no other crafters IRL. It is my crafting world. And I do enjoy seeing all of the new ideas out there in the crafting world. But I also know that I should spend more time crafting at home, and cultivating relationships with other real life crafters (though I have yet to find any sewers *sigh*).

    Thanks for this post, and for sharing a seat at your table with me. Off to follow the bunny trail.

  13. stephanie says:

    I agree with everything said, sometimes it is a chore, sometimes joyful and most times informative and wonderful!!

  14. Ayama says:

    Okay it has taken me days to respond because I have been in a personal blue blurry haze all week. But had you been reading my mind when you wrote this post??

  15. ellen kelley says:

    Nuggets of truth throughout all of these comments.
    The only thing that I know for sure, is that blogging has led me to some beautiful souls. That, for me, is the greatest gift and blessing that came from my somewhat sporadic and unfocused space that I have created.

  16. Martha says:

    This is a really interesting post and dialogue.
    I agree that we all go through phases of our blogging and our reasons to blog evolve and morph along just like we do in this world.
    I now pretty much write a blog entry to amuse my friends and especially to entertain my parents (who live far away). I currently feel like it is a way to keep in touch, and also a way to share a bit more information (i.e. If I post a bunch of pics on Flickr, then I tend to tell the rest of the story on my blog.) That is where I am today with my relationship with my blog! Thanks for all the fodder for thought everyone!

  17. molly says:

    yes, yes, and yes again. i have even had the same cool girl vs. outcast girl in the cafeteria discussion with other bloggers (fyi, i totally identify with the outcast girl – like molly ringwald in pretty in pink). so thrilled that you have addressed this topic.

  18. lina says:

    Wow, so insightful and honest. I don’t necessarily suffer from the outcast girl part, but I do wonder sometimes what my blogging is achieving these days as I feel I could certainly be more productive without it. Painted Fish Studio was right about the 5 stages. I think I’m moving towards no 5 after 18 months…!

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