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The Expressive Leap: Blogging and the Personal Essay

Janet Steen examines the question “Have Personal Essays Gotten Too Personal?” in a quest to determine what is the truth and beauty of the personal essay.  In her article she points out the shift of the personal essay has transformed with the evolution of blogging.   Steen states “Blogs were an inevitable stage, and a useful one, but often they were narcissistic and ranty and you, the reader, had to sift through. A list of gripes does not necessarily make an essay, but a well-crafted, meaningful list of gripes might.”

winter wonderland

It is these well meaningful list of gripes that many of us sift through to discover the blogs that are gems and acknowledge that there is a truth to their writing. It provides meaning and sustenance in our daily lives.

One of the many diamonds  in the rough contribute each day whether it is a ranty post about poor customer service,  an inspirational post about a walk in the park, the political manifesto that your never thought of,  or a humourous look at motherhood.  All of these have helped to shape and transform our world and bring people one step closer together within the global community.

Janet Steen  points out “A great essay takes some little leap out of the ordinary, it has alchemy to it, it has magic.” It’s when you discover that hidden gem which makes blogging more interesting and exciting!  It is underneath that gem which holds a truth of what is beautiful and imperfectly human.

I have seen and read comments on occasion that suggest every Tom, Dick, and Harry seem to have a blog these days. It maybe true but the rubbish usually fades into the sunset while many bloggers seek to find their own truth through the words of their own blogs. They seek out to be better, to express themselves with eloquence, and shine on their own page.

Seth Godin, points out in his  short novel The Dip “The people who are the best in the world specialize at getting really good at the questions they don’t know.”  So perhaps as many bloggers throw in the towel there are many bloggers out there attempting to be the best by expanding their growth as writers and taking the time to seek out the truth.

It is by pushing ourselves to the limits that we create new expressive thoughts in personal essays.  As the world evolves, technology pushes us too new limits, our thoughts, and dialog will change. It is our role as bloggers to break the rules and seek the limits of discovering the truth through our own creative work. It is up to us to determine what is good and thumb our nose at the rigid critics who are unwilling to change with the times.

Do you attempt to take a leap out of the ordinary with your blogging?

Categories: Life

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Darcie

Darcie Cameron is a RYT 200 who believes Yoga is a gift that is accessible to everyone with proper modifications, a patient smile and just taking the time to breathe. One of the greatest presents you will ever unwrap is when you connect your mind, body and spirit in perfect sync with your own breath. Connect with Darcie on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/darciecameronlovesyoga

44 replies

  1. I think a lot of bloggers, myself included, aspire to leap out of the ordinary, however, it takes time and effort. Are we all often “ordinary”? Perhaps, but in a way I think it comforts a lot of people to read blogs where they can respond with a hearty, “Me too!” My goal is to find my audience and my writing “voice”, to find where I “fit” and then run with it. Whether that ends up being a leap out of the ordinary or not remains to be seen.

  2. Thank you so much for this fantastic post! It’s gotten my thoughts to spinning.

    Oddly, I think a lot of the times I write to feel ordinary and to hopefully locate others like myself so I can feel less alone. For me, writing somehow legitimizes my “extraordinary” experiences, and makes them appear as if they are less deviant from the norm. This is probably magical thinking.

    While some use writing to escape a suffocating security, I suppose others use it just as equally to locate a home. It’s so important to know what it is that drives us in this process, but even more important to know the direction in which we are being driven. Do we want in or do we want out?

    Thank you again.

    1. Thank you for taking the time to comment and share your thoughts! Good question. “Do we want in or do we want out?” If we want in then we have to recognize that we might push ourselves just a little further and note that our own distinct voice might not always be another persons preference or cup of tea.. It is about having the freedom and platform to express oneself which makes blogging that more interesting!

      1. I guess that’s the rub; to find community one must be honest , or “push” oneself. But in doing so, in finding one’s “distinct voice” one runs the risk of being removed from the preferred tea list.

        I think this conflict partially responsible for why most writers situate themselves in the middle of the road; in such a position we can forgo the possibility of being deeply embraced, or fully rejected, both of which can be equally devastating.

      2. You are right both can be equally devastating and as writers there is that fine line in which people will critique you. It seems as if you are a hack if you pander to the audience or you end up being a pretentious ass which the critics love.

        I believe sometimes you are damned if you and damned if you do. I guess that is why it is so important to write about what you love and hope for the best.

        We all have days where we write rubbish and other days when things hit bang-on. I love those days!

      3. If I could learn to work the dialectic between pandering to the audience and being a pretentious ass, god only knows what could happen 😉

        I guess we’re all damned (ha ha). But that’s OK, it’s good to find a common denominator, right? That’s what those who “pander” do.

        Have a great day, Belle of the Carnival!

  3. Interesting post. I have noticed that many bloggers who started around the same time I did have stopped. It takes work to continue. Everyone seems to have the first 10 or 20 story ideas ready but then….. I always hope to get better and I think I have but in addition to that I have learned so much about posting photos, web pages and a lot more on technology than I would ever have learned if I didn’t blog.

    1. It does take work to continue and if you don’t enjoy the process then maybe it is time to call it quits. However, I have seen many good blogs fold so sometimes it’s just about being resilient and pacing yourself. It takes time!

  4. great post.
    yes, blogging has transformed how people communicate our thoughts and lived experiences.
    The blogging platform has brought out many good writers – true as readers we have a higher burden of sifting through 100s of blogs to really find the worthy one to fit into our busy schedule.

    For me personally, I most often use my blog to delve into areas that I usually am incapable of addressing in the daily life process of interaction with family, colleagues, & acquaintances. So yes, maybe it is a leap out of the ordinary!!??

    1. Thank you!

      I think it is a leap out of the ordinary! Sometimes it so much easier to write instead of speaking about the issues which circle our lives. It can be a comforting blanket that sometimes help to weather our own inner storms.

  5. Love this post (as always). I don’t think I usually leap too much, but when I do I think it is more what I say than how I say it (when I really open up to what I am feeling). I love when I sit in front of my laptop and make myself cry as I write (like I did on Saturday’s post)

  6. I’d say that yes blogging has pushed me out of the ordinary. And much of that push has come from having the opportunity to read about how other people live their lives. Only after I became aware [through blogs] of how many unique, interesting people there are in this world, did I feel comfortable to start being myself online. And now this confidence in who I am has morphed into my real life. There’s a circularity inherent in blogging that I find endlessly fascinating– and transforming.

    1. Blogging has away of opening doors and connecting so many interesting people together. It can be inspirational to see someone do something and inspire you to move forward in a new direction. I am glad that there is a confidence morphing in your own life and may it bring you many more great things.

  7. After reading the comments here, I see that many seem to agree, including me, that when they (I) write they are looking to find others with whom they can relate to, those that share the same voice. And to answer your question from your post: I am attempting to take that leap that will take me out of my ordinary blogging, though it is hard. I often worry if I will offend someone. I do not wish to engage in an argument. And so I know I won’t. 🙂

    Loved your post, Darcie!
    ~Mucho hugs…

    1. Thank your comment Virginia I very much needed it this afternoon. I think the problem is we will always offend someone and at some point we just have to agree to disagree. Well – that is usually how I end things 🙂

      Virginia, you leap each time you write a post or share one of your new delicious recipes! I look forward to seeing what you have in store for the future. I know it will only be good.

      Be that shining star you are meant to be and don’t hold back!

      1. I always try my best to reply 🙂 I firmly believe if someone has taken the time to leave a thoughtful comment that I want them to know how much it means to me. The one thing I love about blogging is the conversation and the community. It is from those comments that we learn what people gain from what you write and sometimes beautiful advice to help you grow. I am honored to have you as a blogging friend.

  8. blogging is much like any new project we take up because we either enjoy the process or hope to gain some valuable lessons or product somewhere along the way. in the beginning, while we learn the process, blogging is more or less work from the standard format. but, if we persevere through the ups and downs of our creative mind, hopefully maturity will bring us to a new level. the new level being that we leap out of the blogging ordinary and begin to expand our creative mind. some reach the new level stage but decide the effort to go further either too time consuming or discover their passion for it has died. great post with lots to ponder on.

    1. Thank you. As we mature and grow it is imperative that our blog grows with us. It is destined to change if you are changing but there are always times when I wonder if blogging is really worth it.

      1. i hold that wonder about blogging myself. it does boost the ego when you post something and get responses. but then i think, all the time spent with the upkeep of a blog site, is that worth the attention we gain? now days, i don’t worry about stats, just create as it happens and visit friends when time permits. no sense going crazy…keeping it all fun, ya know? ♥

      2. I have to agree with you! It is having a community and the freedom to create which has opened so many doors in this blogging world. It is about keeping it enjoyable and trying to figure out where this destination will take us.

  9. I am tired of my blog, but I still do it every day. Sometimes, I’m sure that comes across, but mostly, I hope it doesn’t. I enjoy the people and love reading the comments, not because I give a flip about what they think of what I have to say, but because I enjoy getting little glimpses of the people who read.

    Occasionally, I think I write something momentous. What I deem excellent, my readers read average. Something I spent five seconds writing, my readers genuflect and adore. It is impossible to predict what people will consider worthy, and I stopped trying a long time ago. I just show up every day and write. I hope that discipline and dedication will pay off someday.

    1. I am tired of my blog and I do not write every day. I do know that your blog always seems fresh. It is hard sometimes judge what people will read…

      Some people are rewarded for writing about steak and blow jobs. I assume it raises their stats and give them accolades. But at the same time – it has been done. And will be done, again.

      I guess there is no right formula and we all hope to keep our nose down with the thought of our blog paying off.

  10. I’ve only started a blog a couple days ago and I’ve been writing about random thoughts that I have throughout the day. It’s quite fun to blog my thoughts rather than just talk to myself. I’m trying to take a leap out of the ordinary and offer fresh perspectives and I must say your posts are quite inspiring! Thanks for the fantastic post! I hope my work will help me “seek the truth” as you so cleverly put. By the way, I would love to hear any feedback you could give me to help me improve my writing. Thanks again!

    1. Thank you for your kind words! Some days I write absolute rubbish and if I’m lucky I get something down semi-good. I took a quick peek at your blog and the only advice I have to offer is to create an “About” page so people can get to know you.

      Second, take the first year of blogging to discover your voice. Do not worry about your stats, write what you love, and remember that someone is always reading. Many bloggers start excited and then fizzle out around the six month mark.

      Just remember that your blog is your journey, take your time, read, write, edit, and write more. The fun part of blogging is you never know what opportunities will present itself. So always be open and I wish you the best!

  11. I do attempt to leap out of the ordinary. There is so much junk out there that I wonder if people really want to contribute, or simply want to rant. I am so careful that I have something of value to say that I don’t post as often as I should in order to keep people interested long term. But I would rather opt for and err on the side of quality rather than quantity, hoping that what I say will reach people who will find it meaningful.

    1. We can only hope to reach out to people through our words and make a connection in this globalized community. I am a life blogger so there are times were my posts are more of a rant and other times funny. I like to try to step out of the ordinary – sometimes it works and sometimes it does not always work for me.

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