When writing a blog can be like shoving a stick into a hornets nest

I removed an individual from my "Voices" section tonight because they shut down their blog, closed up shop and went home. A quick check with them told a story I'm all too familiar with and have heard often enough. An insecure relative felt provoked with many of the regular blog posts, which resulted in stressful phone calls and angry words and an ongoing sense of frustration.

Orange 3 There are simply readers out there who for whatever reason, feel poked or challenged or offended when you write your words. Even though the words may not be directed at anyone in particular, or even worse, when seemingly good words and ideas are shared in a passionate way but someone takes deep offense, it is hard to keep going.

And this instant way of communicating back to the writer with comments and interaction, sometimes allows us to respond quickly, too quickly, without giving it a second thought.

Mordecai Richler once said in an interview, that at the beginning when he was writing his best, the stuff that really sold well, he wrote from his personal experiences. He would write them into his characters, and they came alive. Then he started taking some deep criticism from a couple of family members who didn't like themselves portrayed so poorly, even if it was in novel form and they were not identified.

So he tried not to do that, and his writing took a turn for the worse. He decided it was better to write what he knew. The rest is history.

The blogs that I read and like the best are the real life blogs. Not so much the "I went here or there" blogs, but more the "I went here and felt like _____ " blogs.

The good writers seem to be able to tell us how they live well or poorly, not just what they do. As one wise writer wrote;
"it dawned on me that how a writer writes is what sets him or her apart from other writers and, more so, from the rest of us chaps. What a writer says—e.g., “Communism is an unmitigated evil” or “Communism has some merit”—could be said by any one of us, but most of us couldn’t say these things the way a gifted writer could. It’s the how of the writer which appeals to us as readers and motivates us to read an author’s books. "

Amen. And blogs too.

Brandel Library 2 So yeah, sometimes you want to do a little writing and you step out on this trial and error journey. Often you make more mistakes than you wish you would. Still you keep trying to be a better writer and if you have the energy to risk it, you keep writing, shaping and being shaped by the words on the screen.

And sometimes you just get overwhelmed by the crowd of naysayers. Usually a small, vocal group. But on a bad day, they're loud enough to make you want to never write again. Ever.

So, R.I.P CZ Blog. I am sad yet glad that you closed up shop. Sad for me, glad for you.

Thanks for making the net a brighter place. I know you will continue to do so, just in other formats.

As for the rest of you, do what's best for your spirit, your heart. I wish only the best for you.



  1. I understand. I managed to offend a couple board members this past week... with a post I wrote a couple months ago that had nothing to do with them. Apparently they think that as a pastor's wife I shouldn't be quite so open with how I am feeling (since I am not feeling perfect) and I am misrepresenting Christ and the church.

    I disagree.

    I think God has called me (and all Christians actually) to be genuine, honest, and real. We are to be truth speakers. Not fake liars.

    So I will keep on being myself because I can't be anyone else effectively.

    Have a great day!

  2. Hey, thanks for keeping me in your Voices. I am coming back. I think now I'm mostly waiting for Marc to have time to do the redesign on Wordpress. But I'm sort of glad/relieved that he hasn't had time, b/c I don't know if it's been in me lately to be publicly vulnerable -- or at least it would be really hard for me to take a lot of public criticism. So maybe I'm having just the blog rest that I need.

  3. My blog is read regularly by a particular family member that is unable to read sarcasm in my writing and loves to call family just to gossip, be nosy and tell them everything they have read on my site.

    At least no one has been offended but don't speak of a surprise for someone within my family of those not reading my blog or she'll be certain to ruin it.

  4. the CZ blogger in question...;o)September 21, 2007 at 4:46 AM

    Please let me be clear - "stressful phone calls" and "angry words" were *not* a realistic portrayal of my situation. But I will agree with the phrase "ongoing sense of frustration". When I started to feel like I couldn't use my own voice (which like you, Jay, involves heavy-handed sarcasm some days) it kinda' takes the fun out of it.

    Honestly, I didn't feel like anyone was reading or commenting anymore and a time crunch that can be summed up in one word ("motherhood") were the nails in the perverbial coffin.

    It was fun while it lasted and while my children's exploits are no longer paraded on the world-wide web, they won't be able to escape them, as I printed up pages and pages of stuff that will inevitably be presented to their prosepective spouses so they may be fully sobered by the gravity of what he or she is committing to. ;o)

    I count my blogging a success, not because it got me book publishing deals (I'm still taking offers...). But because I have a fantastic compilation of stories for my children that time probably would have made me forget had I not preserved them. And as a someone with an aversion to scrap-booking, I'm rather pleased there is something original in their baby books (...there's that sarcasm again).

    Plus I met you and your dear wife via the blog and I can honestly say you are the closest clergy I have in my life right now. You give me hope that Christians can be smart, informed, kind, out-spoken and still adore God.

    Thanks for the formal farewell and if you get the urge for a dose of my sarcasm and stories of my children's wild explots, I'm still posting notes on facebook. ;o)

  5. My blogging is pants right now, frankly. Most of what I say and think *that might be interesting* involves people that are likely to see themselves represented. I'm out of thought-experiments, and so it's just a boring pap.


  6. Yeah, I'll keep checkin up on you on The Face. And of course on the Radio...


    Now I should be clear too. When I wrote "resulted in stressful phone calls and angry words" I was trying to refer to a couple of other bloggers situations I've been concerned for lately. "I’m all too familiar with and have heard often" was where I was headed with that, but I lost my way. Sorry about that.

    I do find it interesting how some humour just doesn't translate well onto the net though. And having to explain the jokes or tone down the scarcasm really just takes the fun out of it.

    Again it just underscores how the written word can be taken in so many different ways. Depending on the reader, the writer, and the space between them.

    We'll see you online.

  7. I have some concern for the safety of those involved in blogging.
    When I go from blog to blog via all the links, it's possible to garner so much
    personal information about each individual that it looks like it could be easy to steal someone's identity with the wealth of information that is gleaned.
    Face book seems like it is so much more secure.

  8. Yeah, you can indeed collect information, and sometimes I am a bit concerned with the fact that some thief may know because of my blog, that I'm not at home Sunday mornings so they could help themselves.

    But then they'd not get much of anything at our home.

    The data they can collect here, if the have the patience, is more relational data.

    If you were an identity thief, there are just better, faster ways to glean information than reading someone's blog.

    They could get more numbers and accounts etc. by just taking the mail out of my mailbox before I get home. Or by going through my garbage once a month.

    The really patient smart thieves I would think would consider what I have not worth the great time investment required to attempt a big theft from me. Mostly it's going to be quick burglers who smash and grab my stuff from home. My old 28 inch TV, the blender, and my newish $165 stereo.

    With the net, getting a name and a birth date isn't too tough anymore.

  9. "Again it just underscores how the written word can be taken in so many different ways. Depending on the reader, the writer, and the space between them."

    I learned.

    Never write a letter to someone in leadership when they always divert you or prevent you expressing your issues to them in a way that might suggest they aren't more than adequate. Especially when you've been to them with an issue (again) and they've suggested you should check the sin in your own life first before trying to help them with theirs.

    They're involved in church properly again now, around 10 years after they had to step down for unrelated issues. Taught me a useful lesson about what I write though.

  10. I think it's unfortunate both when commenters get personal, and when bloggers misinterpret comments that are clearly addressed at issues as being ad hominem attacks.

    The safest thing is to not have a popular blog that generates discussion, but have one of those "I went here or there" blogs, like mine, that generate little or no discussion.


I'm moderating all the comments these days.