Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The less meta the betta'

"Limit blogging about blogging."
One lesson I've learned about blogging is that it takes more time than I think it will. It's not unusual for Mama to go to bed at 10, when I've just started writing a post, and for me to tell her that I'll be in bed shortly. Usually, I don't make it into bed until after midnight. I could blame part of that on the slow iBook that I'm using, but what really takes so long is the writing. And the re-reading. And the rewriting.

And, for all of that, I usually re-read the post in the morning, make a few more tweaks, grimace, remember that deleting posts is bad blog etiquette, and then give up and go to work, where I tend to forget about my blog.

By skipping all the blogging and just going to work for a week, I freed up a mess of time, most of which I spent either hanging out with Mama and 3B or with them and Anthropapa, who was visiting at the time. What I didn't do was spend time thinking about blogging, which struck me, when I realized it, as a bit odd. This blog takes up enough time to be a part-time job, and yet in a few days, it was as though it had never existed.

Why do I continue to do it then?

I tell myself that I still blog for the same reasons that I got started on this venture, but that's not true. I first experimented with blogging because I thought that it might be a good way for me to keep in touch with my family. Primarily, I thought that it might be a good way to keep Mom updated on what's going on with us, but that motivation left me last September when she left all of us.

Then, when we knew we were soon to be expecting 3B, I started to think that this might be a good way to share pictures of our pregnancy and life with 3B. Turns out that Blogger's not so good at pictures, hence our Flickr account.

As our pregnancy progressed, I found myself talking to Mom more, asking questions about what her pregnancies were like, asking what we were like as kids, and so forth. She ended up sending me my baby book, which she never assembled--it was the book in a box with all the memorabilia that's supposed to go in the book, like a lock of my hair from my first haircut. I used to give her a hard time because she finished the other five kids' baby books, but I was always just kidding--by the time she got to mine, she did have six kids to wrangle, after all.

Mom did keep detailed records, however, of all my major and minor milestones in a little blue notebook. Thanks to her notebook, I can tell you exactly where I was when I got my first freckle or pulled myself up to stand or took my first step. I can tell you when I started sleeping through the night, when I was saying "Daddy" clearly, and how I jabbered during visits to the doctor's office. I can tell you my weight and length at each visit, what shots I got, when I started what foods, and when I got sick.

I was, and I still am, touched by the tremendous love and care that I could see in each of her notes, and in all the memorabilia that she collected. I thought that I'd like to pass on something like that to my child, but I knew that I lacked the discipline to write all that out by hand. Besides, I wanted to share the journey not only with my son, but also with my Mom and family. Unsure how to proceed, I looked around to see if there was anybody else doing something similar and I found two blogs that set me off on my journey:
Zygote Daddy, who hooked me with his self-description, "nascent ecologist. left coast transplant. baby daddy." I started reading even before he was kissing frogs, back after he and Dear Wife had lost their first zygote. I was touched that his gentle optimism, compassion, and humor were still so clear in his writing at such a difficult time, and I remember holding my breath every time I checked his blog, hoping that he and DW would make the announcement that they finally did.

MetroDad, who hooked me with his unbridled openness and his humor. Who else would tell the world that he fed his daughter out of the dog's bowl? Or that he likes chick flicks--even if he has to pee twice during them--and that his feet smell like ass? Really, he said all that, and made me laugh out loud as I was reading it. He still makes me laugh out loud and wonder why I'm not a little more open in my writing.
More than anything, both of them show tremendous respect, love, and compassion for their families. They let me believe that it was possible to use a blog the same way that Mom used her little blue notebook. Except it turns out that I lack discipline in my blog writing too. I can't seem to stay on topic. And then there's my knack for pissing on all my readers while I'm trying to apologize, in an admittedly obtuse manner, for being a dick to one of the bloggers who inspired me, in part through his compassion, to begin this whole journey.

Which brings me back to wondering why I continue to do this at all.

I do think that I've started to figure out why, thanks in part to the rules about how not to blog that Zero Boss, Tuna Girl, and MetroDad laid down and that I alluded to in the first installment of this series on self-doubt. But you'll have to wait for the next installment to find out why because I've certainly gone on too long here.

Besides, I need some time to come up with the answer.

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  1. My iBook has gotten so slow I'm considering paying $100 for more Ram, only I have no idea if it will even help. Also, Safari just up and quits on me about once an hour. How do these thing know to start sucking when newer and better models are launched?

    As for the post...I'm hooked. looking forward to the next installment.

  2. Anonymous1:33 PM

    I think you are letting the writer out too much. Seems the best stuff is when u dont rewrite and think about it.Or maybe thats when you do rewrite, anyway dont think so much just do it. What would the King do? Why just point the gun and pull the trigger maybe the guns loaded maybe it isnt.

    TCB on BLOG

  3. dang. people re-read their posts? and -GASP- edit?

  4. Anonymous4:38 PM

    I am constantly thinking about the many reasons that I continue to maintain a blog. However, in the end, it usually comes down to two things:

    1. My desire to document not only my entry into parenthood but also to record the milestones of my lovely daughter. Some day, I want my daughter to read all about her early childhood so that she can hear the cute everyday stories about herself and also so she can see that her dad wasn't always such an uptight dork.

    2. The sense of community engendered with fellow parents. It never ceases to amaze me how great it is to have this cool online support group of people you truly like.

    Keep up the great writing, Papa B. I always love hearing your perspective!

  5. Anonymous7:32 PM

    Okay, MD said it better than I ever could, so I just won't post a damn comment.

    Rats, foiled again! I would've gotten away with it if it hadn't been for you pesky kids!

  6. 1) Because I get to use my brain in ways other than "what should I cook for dinner?"

    2) Because some of these bloggers are my friends, or friends on some digitally mediated level that hurts my head to think about.

    3) Because it is fun to record things about the kids, even if my blog goes up in digital smoke someday. They'll think I'm a dork no matter what, but at least they'll see I cared.

    4) Because it's the only way I've been able to do any writing since all those years ago in college.

  7. Anonymous9:29 AM

    I definitely go through the same thing, especially when "real" life seems to be taking up all those precious blogging hours :)

    But seriously, as much as I look forward to seeing your blog lit up in Bloglines, I like to think that you enjoy it. If you don't like doing it anymore, then definitely move on. But you would be sorely missed. I keep going because of all the reasons stated here: I like having a place where I can write non-scientfically, and I figure this is way better than some baby book for chronicling Hawkes' babyhood.