NB. This is a post specifically about writing and the writing process, not our RV travels. If you’re not interested in that, please feel free to skip over.
I am currently faced with a dilemma. And guess what? You’re about to hear about it.
It is now the second week of February and Loops and I are, once again, back on the road. In fact we’ve been travelling full time again since the first of February. And yet, I have not produced any blog entries about it.
Why? Well, it’s because I am struggling with the title question – to blog, or not to blog?
As you know I have spent a fair amount of time recently soul searching, pondering about what I would like my life to look like in the near future. I understand that last year I was too focused on this issue, which caused me to miss out on the opportunity to just enjoy the uncomplicated travel life that had been gifted to me. And now I find myself on the other side of that see-saw. Do I just travel and enjoy, without the hassle of writing a blog?
I consider myself lucky to have an interest in writing, though I don’t consider myself a writer as such. To me, a writer is a professional of the highest quality, who is paid for their thoughts and imagination.
I write because I can. I write because it helps free up space in my brain. I write because it allows me to divest myself of emotion that threatens to overwhelm me at times.
Writing is a creative outlet to be sure, both as a personal challenge and for an audience, trying to work out how to present information that will hopefully come across in an interesting and emotive fashion, be that good or bad, that someone (myself included) would want to read.
But the main reason for me to write has really always been a selfish one, so that I will not forget my life. So that if I reach a time when I am old and infirm, I will be able to read back on times gone by and be able to smile and recall my own personal adventures. I won’t ever have to fear losing my thoughts, because they are all written down, just waiting for me to read over them again.
However, for all of the benefit of writing my blog, it does come with a cost.
While some folks may be able to breeze through their thoughts, committing them to page in an instant, for me blogging takes time and energy. It takes time to record my paper notes, so I don’t forget people, places or events as we go. It takes time to sit down and compose a blog, hours in fact. Really, for me, the master of procrastination, a single blog will easily take a whole day to write, read through, edit and re-read. Then comes the time of uploading on the slightly finicky WordPress, adding photos (which comes with its own editing process) or videos (that would be another whole day for a video edit and upload to YouTube), before the whole process is complete and I can publish my thoughts online.
So when you look through and realise in some cases I cover only a single day experience in one post, it’s very easy to see how despite finishing our 2016 travels in November, it took me until the end of January of this year to really finish last year’s blog.
It really was quite a tiring experience at times to keep up with my story, and of course once you start telling people about something, in some ways, it becomes like an unspoken contract and commitment – I have to keep going.
Additionally, and I’m going to tell you this even though it makes me sound like a total narcissist, when I write things for my blog, I want people to like it. There, I said it. I really want people to enjoy what I write and find something good about it. I especially go really giddy when people ‘like’ a post, or even better, when they leave a comment. It gives me a sense of validation. And that makes me sound awful. Like I desperately seek people’s approval, but in some way, I guess it’s true.
And with that in mind, it brings into play another reason why I’m toying with the idea of writing or not, because if it’s for other people’s consumption and approval, I may as well quit now.
Back in 2012 when I wrote my Appalachian Trail blog, I did so through a specific hiking blogging site called Postholer. People interested in reading hiking blogs migrated to this site and so it was easy for many people to access your writing. In fact, in 2012, I wrote the highest viewed AT blog on the site – with over 82,000 views. I was really proud of that fact. I received almost daily comments of encouragement from both friends and total strangers throughout my hike, and it was like manna from heaven.
This year, my blog has been hosted through WordPress, where anyone and everyone can blog about whatever they like. It’s not a blog site aimed at travel or RVs; it’s not aimed at anything. And because of this (or potentially just because my writing style has become increasingly worse, you never know), measured in the same amount of time against my AT blog, this one has only received just over 3,000 views. That’s a mighty big difference. And the few comments I have received on the site have been from two or three people, already known to me. I have yet to receive any comments at all related to my writing style, content or travel suggestions; all things I slightly kind of expected and hoped for.
So that can sort of bum a person out, if you let it.
For now having said all that, I sat the other evening and did something I haven’t done all year. For the first time since we fired up Belle’s engine and chugged down the road, I went back and read some of my blog entries. And you know what, they weren’t bad. While I didn’t experience the same type of longing I get when I read back over my AT blog, I did find myself smiling and recalling certain moments of our life on the road. I am grateful that I have these thoughts at my disposal, whenever I wish to re-visit them.
In addition to that, I will admit that I receive regular emails from Desperado who tells me when she enjoys certain moments in the blog, my friends will talk with me and refer back to things they have read, Mr Mills keeps telling me I should write a book, and, probably most importantly, every time I talk to my grandfather he can’t help but tell me how much he enjoys reading and re-reading the entries and watching the video clips, and then he gives me the world’s biggest smile.
And that right there should really tell me all I need to know.
So will I continue to blog? Yes, I think I will. I think that I need to keep at the forefront of my mind the very real reason I write, and that is for me.
However, now that I will have a little more free time on my hands due to no longer studying my course (and yes, I technically realise I have all the free time in the world anyway at the moment), I have decided to challenge myself a little more creatively but trying to expand the videos that I am producing. Rather than just being a dashboard camera of our road travels, I’m going to try and keep more of a video log (that’s a vlog in the digital media world apparently). I’ll see what adding some live action into the mix does. If it doesn’t hold my interest, so be it, I always have my writing there to comfort me.
Ok, well, now all of that is off my chest, I guess I should get on with the real business of telling you where we’ve been for the past couple of weeks.
Here, I’ll give you a clue to start you off…..