April 2018

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Why I blog

I started blogging to communicate my thoughts and with my community during radiation for a second brain tumor. The writing also helped me clarify my own thoughts and feelings, and it helped me notice the grace in my life at a difficult time as well as the humor and absurdities in my situation.

I almost lost sight of that purpose last month as I started exploring how to use the blog to establish "my platform" so that I could convince agents and publishers that people would read my books. I started thinking of the blog as a marketing tool instead of as a way to reflect, communicate, and build  community.

I'm over that now.

Good friends Marie and Colleen, Pea and Ally, reminded me that I blog not to make my books marketable, not simply to tell my story of life after brain tumors nor of life with my partner Ann. I do not simply blog to rib my parents or my siblings (though that's a good reason.) I do not blog only to tell about life with disabilities or learning about the richness of life in my diverse neighborhoods, bus rides, and walks through parks and schools.

I write on all of those topics, but I do not write to teach about my life or my beliefs. I write to learn about myself and my world.

That is why I write, but I could keep my writing to myself as I did for the 46 years before blogging.

Why do I blog?

I blog to share my delight in discovering the world and myself anew each day. I blog to share a sense of humor and wonder in my life. I blog to connect to a community of readers. I blog (and now write books) in order to share the hope that, ironically perhaps, brain tumors brought me.

Life is so different, so much better than I thought it would be when I was a child. As a child, I believed that I had to create a plan and live by that plan. My parents and I never spoke of that plan, but I believe that we created it together. I believed that in order to live a full life I would need to follow this plan.

The plan: 1) Excel in school and in church. 2) Become a doctor or a lawyer. 3) Marry a man who is a doctor or a lawyer. 4) Have 2.3 children. 5) Raise a labrador retriever as part of the family. 6) Raise my kids to do the same.

As a child and young adult, I was anxious. Perhaps I suspected that I would not live my life according to plan, and in this failure I would be fail myself, my parents, and my God.

I did not follow this plan. Though I did pretty well with #1 in school and in church (well, there was that 8 year hiatus from church), I became a high school teacher instead of a doctor or a lawyer as #2 dictated. For #3, my doctor-husband and I divorced, and I fell in love with school-teacher (and woman) Ann. Instead of having 2.3 children as #4 dictates or a dog as #5 decrees, I had brain tumors. And a car wreck.

And yet, I feel that I am discovering the person that God created me to be. I am so surprised to be so joyful.

I blog to share my delight in living a life that has not gone according to plan. Sometimes, my life is fun and funny, and at other times it's hard. But I am living fully. I am learning about myself and my world.

I want to share the joy in my discovery: not living my life according to plan is living fully.

Amazing! (Please note that I seldom use exclamation points, so each exclamation point is in truth exclamatory.)

In my attempt to market, I limited myself to one post a week, as marketers say I should.

I don't want to overstate my point here. I do want to increase readership, and I do want to market myself to readers, agents and publishers. I need my marketing gurus. They do not need to change. I do.

In my attempt to clarify my niche, as the blogging gurus say I should, I almost lost the heart of my story. It's so easy to say that my blog is about living fully after brain tumors. As in most things that are easy to say and market, it's part of the truth, but it isn't the whole truth.

My story is more complex--and more universal--than that. At the heart of my story is a wonder in the delight I find in my life, myself, and my world.

So my blog will need to change again. When I figure out how to post a slide show, I'll post several. I'll post my brain tumor healing photos, the ones that are there now. The tumors are an important part of my story. But they are not all of my story.

I'll post pictures of Ann and me in our 17 years together. I'll post pictures of friends and family.  I'll post a picture of me on my trike, my new way of biking since the tumors. I'll post photos of a timeline: a child who thought she had to live by a plan, an ugly duckling, a teenager with big hair (it was the 70s) trying to live out that plan, a swan, and an adult who is living life, joyfully, not following that plan.

I'll listen still to my marketing gurus, who are wise guides, but I'll make decisions based on my purpose, which is greater than publishing my books. In my blogging, as in my life, I cannot limit myself to someone else's plan for my success.

I'll blog like I live: joyfully, fully, full of curiosity and wonder and discovery.


  1. Gurus be damned, dear Mary! The reason to blog is to do this writing that gives you joy! You bless us every time you post. Your writing makes me smile (always), it makes me cry a little (sometimes), it makes me gasp with wonder (often). Do this work so that it makes sense for YOU. I'm glad you have Marie & Colleen and Pea & Ally to tell you what's what. Even though you knew it anyway.

  2. This may be the only time you ever hear me say, "Thank God for Facebook", except for when my patients are cancelling left and right and there's a new level of Angry Birds to beat. Chris Turchin linked to your blog post and I found you again! I graduated from IHS in 1995 with him and had you as my English teacher during your very first semester there. You introduced me to Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Borges, more Shakespeare, "Man Facing Southeast", magical realism, and it filled my thirsty brain, preparing me for Whitman, Dickinson, Emerson, and so many others. I hope you have some idea of how much your teaching meant to me.

    I'm mostly a grownup now. A naturopathic doctor still in Seattle, still never having enough time to read everything I want to read, occasionally still wondering what became of the few who helped shape me and guide me through my teen years. I'm glad to see that you've retained the wit and kindness that I remembered so well. I wish you the best of luck and that you continue to have what sounds like such a full and delicious life. Thank you, thank you, a thousand times thank you.
    - Dr. Katie Baker (imagine that!)

  3. Oh, HELL TO THE YES! I am cheering while I cry a little.

  4. Mary, your joy is inspiring!! (I too, try to use exclamation points sparingly, but apparently do not very well succeed.) The kids, the dog, and the husband were definitely not great parts of the plan. A wife and a tricycle sound much better, no wonder you are so joyous.

  5. Gee Mary, I thought you were blogging just for ME. Now I see that you are blogging for you. How disappointing. But I guess I'll learn to share.

  6. I'm so happy that you have found such joy and love, in the good and the hard. You're pretty amazing, Mary, but I always thought that.


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