When a force of nature like Suz comes to you with blog idea, you have a couple of choices – go with it, or … well, I really don’t know what else!?! It is not because I PH34R her … it is because she is so enthusiastic and positive and … well, she’s The Suz!
Anyway, while I was away on vacation Susie approached me to participate in a ‘Blog Writing Process Tour’ that her friend Sara at Lake Shore Runner had invited HER to join. She asked if I was up for it, and naturally I said YES!
The basic process for this post is similar to award-type posts, but the content is quite different.
– Acknowledge the blogger/blog that invited you to the Tour.
– Answer some questions about your blogging process
– Choose 3 bloggers to plug, give a short bio of the blogs and link to their sites.
The Background & My Nominations
As I said, I was nominated by Suz and she posted her Why I Blog : Blog Writing Process Tour. You should really read her post, but if you have a comment head right to the comment box before reading her mom’s comment, because if you do you’ll get distracted and forget what you were going to say … or maybe that was just me.
As for the bloggers I have asked to join the tour:
– Lauren at RunSaltRun – also known as #mamaSalt, Lauren is an amazing runner and person who is really living and learning about everything right along with us. From her crazy fully-clothed treadmill runs, to injuries and face painting with her daughter, her blog is an adventure! In her words: “I’m a working mom to one feisty toddler. I love yoga, wine, art, coffee, bad reality TV, and clothes. I’m the wife of a car salesman who works insane hours. We live in Charm City with our two very obnoxious cats and my daughter’s fish, Bubble, whom she named herself. I’m also a runner and if you had told me before last April that I would fall in love with running I probably would have laughed in your face.”
– Sara at LifeBetweenTheMiles – I found Sara’s blog because she commented on a blog I followed talking about the Boston area (hint: if you want my clicks, mention New England!), and found an incredible mom, wife, runner and blogger! Every day as I read her posts I am moved by her passions for family and fitness. In her words: “I am a 30-something wife and mom. I’m a Pharmaceutical Professional during the day, Group Fitness Instructor at night. I’m a die hard runner and marathoner.”
– Michele at Paleo Running Momma – Michele is someone I discovered through a comment on another blog and immediately loved her stuff – she is passionate about food, family and fitness … what’s not to like?!? I was surprised that she had just started her blog, because she has a unique and strong voice and ethos. Oh, and she is super-competitive and it comes through in her writing and comments, which is normally something I would shy away from, but she is fully aware of this and also has a huge heart. In her words: “A little obsessed with running but still a whole lot of fun, I swear! ( yeah yeah eyeroll) When I’m not sporting an awesome headlamp at 5:30am you can find me in the kitchen as a short order Paleo cook for my fam of 5. Or in some corner of the house hiding from my 3 kids. All in a days work. So come on over and run, eat, and rant with me!”
Why I Blog: txa1265’s Writing Process
Here are the questions to answer:
1. What am I working on?
2. How does my work differ from others of its type/genre?
3. Why do I write what I do?
4. How does your writing process work?
I really liked how Suz took the items out of order because of how it builds a story, so I am going to be totally unoriginal and do the same thing … but with a preface:
0. Origins: What made me think anyone would care?
My education and profession (engineering and statistics) would tell you I’m not a writer – in fact I used my AP English score to get out of writing in college … yet the fact that my AP score was good enough to satisfy my entire humanities requirement means I am pretty good at this writing thing.
This blog wasn’t my first, nor was blogging my first online writing. I started writing ‘Game Opinions’ (short reviews) on USENET back in the very early 90s. In fact, I was writing online before there was a web. But it was always reviews and forum-type discussions.
I started formal reviews for online sites about a decade later, and have done that to some extend or other ever since. But around 2005-2006 I wasn’t getting everything I needed from just writing reviews. So I started blogs on Blogger (pre-Google) and then on Microsoft’s site (whatever it was back then). And I wrote them for essentially no one. They were thoughts I wanted to share, stories, personal details put into context … and it ended up being really important to me. Again, I got under 5 views for my most ‘popular’ post, and one of them was me.
For the last 5 years I have written for a site that gave me much more latitude, but again it was someone else’s site with its own focus and purpose – which strangely enough wasn’t ‘Mike talking about random crap that interests Mike’. So after more than a year of walking the boundaries … I finally launched my own blog at the end of last September.
1. Why do I write what I do?
While I had been reading and commenting on running and healthy living blogs for a year before I started my own, I was still nervous and pretty much assumed I would have no followers because it would be like before and I’d do it so sporadically that it would never gain traction.
But here I am more than 9 months later with just over 300 posts under my belt. Why? Because I have found my voice – I care about running, and eating, and my wife, and my kids, and our pets, and my job, and games, and music, and social justice, and tech, and loads of other random stuff that somehow comes together in a cohesive whole and resonates with some people. And I also love this community, who inspires me and drives me to constantly be better.
I write about all of the things I love, what pushes my buttons, what I wonder about or get confused about. I write about stuff I know, don’t know, or wish I know – try to make it slightly humorous and somewhat thought-provoking.
2. What am I working on?
This is a tough one, because the answer is everything and nothing …
One of the big questions I get is about how I balance things – I work as a senior engineer and statistician at Corning, Inc, have been happily married for 22 years, have two sons aged 16 and 17, two dogs and two cats, a house, a car, and so on. I am also working on ‘eating clean’, run an average of 50+ miles per week outside all year long, still do some reviews and editorials for another site and blog here pretty much daily.
To know what runs through my head as I continue my blogging journey, it is worth knowing what I’m working on in all corners of my life:
– Being the best and most attentive dad/husband possible. This is a never-ending journey …
– Re-capturing my programming skills, but mostly in the context of statistical analysis. I used to be a solid hack C++ and SAS programmer but those skills have faded. I am still decent with VB, but am doing more stuff in a statistical program called R that is very powerful but requires programming to really get somewhere.
– Re-developing all of my core music skills: guitar, bass and keyboard playing, composition & theory, and studio production. Since the kids were little I have mostly ‘noodled’. I got my studio back together and have been working on regaining my chops. It is awesome.
– Becoming a better / stronger / faster runner. But without ever losing the absolute joy I have felt every step since returning from our NYC vacation.
– Learning more about food and fuel and how it all works for me and my family!
– Balancing it all along with my blogging and sharing with this incredible community.
So you see I am focused on all of my core ‘loves’.
When I first read the question it stressed me out a bit, as if I was supposed to be working towards some larger purpose for this blog … when the truth is that by working on everything that matters to me, and balancing the interface between all of them, I remain true to myself and all of my core values and produce content that reflects what matters most to me. So that level of purity and balance … THAT is what I’m working on!
3. How does my work differ from others of its type/genre?
I’m a middle aged dude in a mostly younger female corner of the blogosphere, which gives me a unique perspective. Seriously, if you look at the commenters at Suz’s post, you’ll notice something … most of them are also bloggers, and they are nearly monolithically female. That all sounds odd, but it is true – there are fewer than a dozen male bloggers I read doing some variation of running / healthy living stuff.
I have had people say that I am a ‘male feminist’, have a ‘social justice’ mindset, and am not afraid to speak my mind and put myself out there fully. I consider all of those things high praise and say they are definitely aspirations.
I believe I am fairly unique in talking about food and diet without really having a recipe focus, talking about running every day without being too detailed about plans or summaries, and always putting a focus on my family and on the proper and respectful treatment of all people everywhere.
4. How does your writing process work?
Writing process? What the heck is THAT?!? Seriously, my ability to say ‘I am writing THIS’ is incredibly limited. Take today for example – I was supposed to finish this post, but saw a link in an email that started me on an entirely different post. Then I saw something else that I added to a draft, and so on.
Really that is more scattered-sounding than I actually am. The problem isn’t lack of ideas or attention, but engagement – my process is to find an idea, either using a rote item like a ‘Five Things Friday’ or just something that occurs to me, and then get my head focused on it and let the words flow.
For example, I saw a few posts and comments about ‘clean eating’ where I found the way it was used was not very constructive. Then I was out for my run, and the post wrote itself. Oh yeah, maybe THAT is my process! I have thoughts, then they take shape on my runs. It also happened with yesterday’s post, but that innitial idea changed drastically as I read more stuff during the day.
While I was on vacation I had three posts scheduled … and they were scheduled more than a week in advance. That is the FIRST time I havedone something like this. Generally I write the day before something posts.
One change since my brief hiatus? I would rather not post than just cobble something together to have something fresh that day!
And that’s it! Thanks to Suz for the opportunity and invite and to all of you for being so amazing as bloggers, readers and friends! As many of us say so often, it really does mean SO much!
Please check out Suz’s post … and look for the posts coming from Lauren, Sara and Michele! And Thanks again for all of the great comments this week!