Tag Archives: Blogging

Thoughts on Bloganuary 2023 (also, work is a bear)

I’m so glad I did the challenge. So, so glad. Granted, I didn’t do it exactly as prescribed. But going into it, I knew I wouldn’t be able to.

There’s a difference between writing in a journal and shaping your thoughts so others can understand them. Obviously, you don’t have to share everything. But working through the prompts brought clarity to my thinking. Far more than I expected.

I want to keep blogging in this manner. It’s fun. I’m enjoying it.

However, a blog post a day—or even a prompt a day—is not sustainable. I’ve had to set aside other writing, and other things, to do this challenge. And it’s not so much the writing part; it is the shaping, the proofing, and the posting that takes time.

Also, a post a day leaves me little time to comment on other blogs. Part of the reason I did the challenge was to get back into both blogging and connecting with other bloggers. I want to make a concerted effort to reach out and comment more often.

The other reason for my lack of time is that work is a bear.

Just for fun, I submitted work is a bear as a prompt for DALL·E.

This accurately illustrates how I feel at the end of the day. Really, our AI overlords know far, far too much.

I’m trying to adjust and create a schedule that includes blogging, writing, and other things. It may take a few tries. In fact, I know it will. Still, I plan to be here on the blog more often, and I’m looking forward to visiting other blogs regularly.

1 Comment

Filed under bloganuary

Small Acts of Bravery

Bloganuary: How are you brave?

My first reaction to this prompt was: I’m not.

Then I thought of caring for my mom these past few years. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I wasn’t sure I could do it. (I’m including my time in the Army and deploying to a combat zone in that calculation. Hands down, 2022 was one of the hardest years of my life.)

And I think that’s maybe what bravery is. Doing—or attempting to do—the thing you think you can’t do. And like small acts of kindness, I believe small acts of bravery are important.

Creating a blog and putting your words and voice into the world for the first (or tenth) time? That’s brave.

Confronting FOMO and deleting all social media apps on your phone so you can focus on what you want to do? That’s brave.

Starting a novel? Picking one back up? Painting a picture when you haven’t held a paintbrush since elementary school? Baking a cake from scratch?

Creating something—anything—and offering it to others with a:

Here, I made this. I hope you like it.

That’s brave.

Because maybe they won’t like it.

But I’m pretty sure someone will. It may take a while to find that someone. The catch is you must be generous first, offering up your talents, your time, your attention—offering that up without the promise of a return.

That’s brave.

1 Comment

Filed under bloganuary, Musings, Writing

Of fallow fields and second acts

This blog has been fallow for a while. And I’ve been thinking. Do I continue it? This is what I don’t know. But here’s the thing.

I miss it.

Or rather, what I miss is blogging from the early aughts, before social media grabbed everybody’s attention. I fell into that time suck along with everyone else—not blaming anyone here. Because initially, social media seemed like it might be a good thing—keep up with everyone in one place. Wouldn’t that be fun? Useful? Unifying?

We all know what happened with that. I find myself (doom) scrolling and not interacting. I miss posts if I’m not on the site(s) every day or even every hour. I know there are ways of finessing feeds, of filtering, and so on. I don’t want to work that hard at something so fleeting. And social media is still far too loud (for lack of a better word). It always has been. What seems like an introvert’s dream is kind of a nightmare.

Blogging, though? Like back in the day? Could that be a way to engage with a community? Everything old is new again? John Scalzi over at Whatever seems to think so. With the dissolution of social media, maybe blogs are coming into their second act.

Maybe I am too. I mean, I am fast approaching that stage of life where I get to call myself a woman of a certain age. Maybe I’m already there.

If I venture into blogging again, I’m thinking less promotion (although I’ll certainly post when I have something published) and essentially ignoring SEO.

Instead, I’d like to do a little more exploring. I’m trying out new things, like signing up for the ProHort Core Course (the self-study version of the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum’s Master Gardener Course). Certainly, I could blog about my misadventures with that.

I’m still reading blogs, but I realize that commenting and interacting is a way to find a new blogging community.

I’m still writing fiction, but it’s been a gradual climb back after my mother’s death. I’m still here.

More importantly, I still want to be.


Filed under Misc, Musings, Writing

What I learned from posting a story a week for an entire year

So, I meant to write up and post these thoughts last year. Really. I did. I have longhand notes and everything. Then, well?


I may be a year late, but I think what I learned still stands the test of twelve months. I hope you think so too.

In November 2019, I conceived of the idea of posting a story a week for an entire year. With the upcoming presidential election in the US, I knew it would be rough going. I wanted to do something kind; I wanted a distraction; I wanted something to focus on other than the news. I even called the challenge The (Love) Stories for 2020 to remind me of my aim for love, compassion, and kindness.

Then, of course, 2020 actually happened. Oh, my sweet summer child—you had no idea, did you?

I’m not the sort of writer who could write and post a short story a week for an entire year. That’s not how I’m wired. (If you’re wired that way, more power to you; I am brimming with envy.)

That being said, I thought I’d share the things that helped me get through this challenge. I offer them up in hopes they might be useful.

Party like it’s 1999: Focus on what you love and what’s fun, what you’d do even if you never got any recognition or payment. This is essentially the dance like no one’s watching advice. It doesn’t work for everyone, but it does for me.

Plan like it’s 2020: If the last two years have taught us anything, it’s that things happen. Things will continue to happen. They may be external things well beyond our control, like elections and pandemics. They may be other things, like graduations and weddings, all the joyful things in life. Peer into your crystal ball as far as you can and plan accordingly, which brings me to…

Scheduling is your new best friend: I blog on WordPress, but I imagine most platforms have a draft and scheduling function. Scheduling posts several weeks in advance gave me breathing room. It allowed me to work on new and not-quite-there-yet stories.

Inventory on hand: Related to scheduling is having a fair amount of inventory on hand. Again, I’m not a fast writer. I might be able to write a story a week, but I’m not sure I could write a story a week that’s ready for prime time, so to speak. Also? In April 2020, I got Covid. Between inventory on hand and scheduling, I continued the challenge until my body and brain were back online.

It will take more time than you think it will: Always. Trust me on this one.

The takeaway:

A challenge like this is a way to create and/or preserve a body of work. The content is evergreen and can have more than one use. When you own the rights to your work, you can do any number of things with it.

There are those external rewards, such as blog traffic, SEO, comments, and finding new readers. But for me, the results went far beyond the external.  

I loved discovering what resonated with readers. Some of my “just for me” stories resonated so strongly with others that it helped me trust my inner voice a bit more, which spilled over into Season Four of Coffee and Ghosts. I’m not sure I would’ve written that without completing this challenge first.

I loved spending time with my own voice, rediscovering patterns and themes in my own writing.

In a world that’s always so loud, both online and off, it’s easy to miss what’s surprising and unique about your own voice. My 2020 challenge helped me reconnect with that.

So, what are you waiting for? Go forth and concoct your own challenge. But remember:

Always plan like it’s 2020 (or 2021).

But party like it’s 1999.


Filed under Stories for 2020, Writing

Looking back, looking forward and Happy New Year

So in 2021, I managed the following:

  • Wrote 103,000 words (mostly on Season Four of Coffee and Ghosts)
  • Read 103 books

I liked the symmetry of that so much, I purposely didn’t finish reading a book on the 31st.

And while I’ve had better writing years, I’ve had much worse. Considering the state of everything in 2021, it could’ve been much, much worse. Not only am I really pleased with how Season Four of Coffee and Ghosts turned out, but I also had a lot of fun writing it.

I also started a Little Free Library this year. Traffic’s a little slow now that the snow and cold have arrived, but readers are slipping in new books and taking others. In the spring, I hope to do more with it. It will be easier for all once you don’t have to mount the snowbank just to peek inside.

What didn’t work in 2021: Weekly writing check-ins. Lately, I’ve found I don’t have much to say, at least not about my writing progress on a weekly basis.

I’ve been blogging in some form since 2003, and I’m certainly not going to stop now. Okay, I just did the math, and that’s nearly twenty years. In that time, I’ve changed platforms and formats, what I write about, and a variety of other things. I think it’s time to change and grow again, but in what direction, I’m not sure.

It may take all of 2022 to figure that out. But for now, I’ll wish everyone a Happy New Year. May 2022 bring you the peace and joy you need.


Filed under Writing