My answer : What do I get out of it?
Atom asked me: "What are you getting out of writing this blog"?
Yesterday, I came to an interesting point in my thinking. I realized that I wanted the non-participating people in this blog to value what I was doing. But they were, weren't they, by coming at all. It may not even be their fault if they are incapable of involving themselves in other ways. Some came from foreign countries. Possibly they were shy about expressing themselves in English. A lot of people can read English but not so many can write it idiomatically, the way we were doing. If it wasn't that, it could just be self-consciousness. It could be people didn't know I would value their input. When I was young, I didn't have many friends, and when a girl said that she was inviting all the girls in our grade five class to her birthday party, I had to ask her if she really meant me. That confession is one I have never told anyone until today. I didn't have the self-esteem to think I would be wanted at that party. Other people could have those same kind of self-esteem issues. If one of you is reading this, please know that I'm inviting you to this party, and I will like you and enjoy your presence, and that a comment once in a while is all the "presents" I hope for from you.
A cynic could say, I suppose, that those who feel they can't contribute to our blog in other ways could maybe buy my books. Atom, you've ordered three. That was really nice of you. It's a great gift, it shows you value what I have done, and it completely makes me aware that you, sitting there quietly without commenting, have understood how hard it was that I worked, and wanted to thank me by buying my books. I appreciate that very much. I give all the money the books make to my web-master. It's his payment. But I got the present of your appreciation, which is very much appreciated by me in return.
And the truth is, that I don't really care about what I make as a writer. I used to make a lot, but it was awfully hard work, and I could have made much, much more every year by teaching math for a living. I wrote books because I loved writing.
So here I am, back where Atom started. Why do I write this blog? What do I get out of it?
What I get out of this blog is the kindness of strangers who care about what happens to me when I'm sick.
What I get out of this blog is the sense that a few people who were complete strangers are becoming friends.
What I get out of this blog is the awareness that I'm really and truly doing my best to help other people do something they want to do. That is important, to know you've done and are doing your best.
And since my last post, I got some wonderful responses from Deb and Karen and finally Loretta. Deb and Karen were stunned, I think, and responded as if I had meant them, which I never did, though of course I was advising them on writing issues, and they couldn't see how they could advise me on such issues. Once I understood that I hadn't clarified that that was not what I wanted in this blog at all, I answered them. I always knew that there would be a "teaching element" in this blog. I spent a quarter century as a professional writer and you,mostly, haven't. So how could I start this blog as a writer who wanted to give back, and not expect to teach?
In any case, I never meant them. The reason I never was unhappy with them (the EXACT opposite was true) was because they commented. They asked questions. They made it so easy for me. I particularly like it when someone doesn't quite understand something I've said and writes to me about it. I immediately have a topic to use in the blog the next day. I won't embarrass the one who told me how seriously she took this blog, in that she was going back over all the posts and trying to figure out everything from the beginning, but it was wonderful to me to hear that. For me, that should have been my immediate answer to Atom. Giving and receiving were always in balance with the people who commented. The "giving" from the people making comments on my blog comes from the serious attention to my words (imperfect as they are), that made them want to make comments. I think Atom phrased his or her question a bit harshly, making me feel almost as if I had to defend myself for writing the blog in the first place. "What do YOU get out of it?" Atom, I'm sure you didn't mean that, but that's how it comes across. It's one of the reasons this kind of communication is so hard. People can't hear the laughter or the gentleness or the kindness in the words. The words have to do it all, and even professional writers fail time and time again at making their own personal words do that.
I would like to post the responses I received from Deb, Karen, and my responses back to them, but that would take up a lot of space. You should read them, if you are interested, because it shows how badly I expressed myself, and how easy it is to take offense when it isn't meant or aimed at you. I will post the response I got from Rettakat because she waited, so wise to wait, and she read the whole exchange, and then she came up with a comment that says exactly what it was that I wanted from this blog that I had to look at in the light of Atom's comment. Loretta put it in the context of her own experience and made it a perfect clarification of why I wasn't perfectly able to say that I was getting all I wanted out of this blog. So please read the next blog. It's all my blog friend Loretta's words -- and I say again, Loretta, that you could really be a writer professionally, as well as an artist, if you chose. Picture books? There are so few people who can both write them and illustrate them. You might be one.