Coffee with friends: Jo

I am so thrilled to introduce this friend today! Jo and I go way back, nearly to the beginning of my blogging days. Our hearts have been intertwined in one way or another for most of that time, and I am so glad she is still part of my life.  Do you have your cup of coffee or tea ready? With no further ado, here's my Jo!!

I didn’t know I could write.

I’d always excelled in school, but I’d never found that “thing” that was mine.  I was a failure at sports. I could play music, but I didn’t love it enough to spend the hours practicing that were necessary to be really good. By the end of college, I’d accepted the fact that I was just one of those people who was passable at everything, but not great at anything.

Then, in the early 2000’s, I stumbled upon writing for pleasure. I was part of an online email group where a lot of the members were writers, and it triggered a little spark of creativity.  Not a lot in the beginning, but just enough to make me think “Hey, I kind of like this writing thing.” Initially, I wrote to chronicle the early days of my children’s lives, but over time, I began to wander down roads that led to other topics. I found out I was wrong.  I could write.  I could really write.

I took a long break from 2008-11. But, you can’t stay away from what you’re meant to do forever. In the beginning of 2011, I was going through some things that demanded to be written out, and so I began a new blog. For a long time, I wrote just for me, needing to work through my emotions and find some peace and balance. But time does heal, and now I find myself writing for others outside of me… and loving it. There is no better feeling than when someone comments and lets me know that something I’ve written has touched them.

But, it’s not all roses and sunshine either. There are two challenges that really loom out for me. 

The first is simply a matter of the ebb and flow of creativity versus the expectation of constantly churning out fresh content. Blogging, and the internet in general, is a medium that requires a writer to be “fresh” all the time. Sometimes this is no problem.  There are weeks that I have so many ideas swimming about in my head that I am sure I will never ever run out of things to say.  But then, there will come times when I sit at the computer, fingers poised above the keys, staring at a blank screen for what seems like hours, waiting for something – ANYTHING – to pop into my head that demands to be written.

The second is a question of knowing what I can say. I write often about relationships, friendships, and the lessons I’ve learned in my life, whether by personal experience or observation of others. Many of those lessons have come through interactions with other real people.  It can be a challenge sometimes to relate those experiences, to share those lessons with others… without hurting the people involved. I often worry that people in my life who have read what I’ve written will think I’m talking about them, whether I am or not.  I strive to be honest in what I write, but I don’t want to be unnecessarily hurtful either.

If there was anything I wish my non-blogging friends understood, it would be that blogging is writing. I will often get encouragement from friends and family to write a book, and that’s not an impossibility for the future. At the same time, I don’t feel that blogging is a “less than” kind of writing either. I love the interaction with readers. I love the act of sitting down to write every day. I love the forethought and the planning. I love the opportunities to explore something a little different every day. Doing this makes me happy. Writing, whatever the finished product, makes me happy, and it doesn’t have to be a monetary product to be important and fulfilling.

In the end, this is why I still blog. Writing makes me really happy.  This format is fulfilling, and I love the instant feedback. Most of all, I think I deeply enjoy doing the things I love, doing the things I’ve learned I’m really good at, and developing community all at the same time.

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Joanne Haagenson lives in Redmond, Washington with her husband and three preteen daughters. You can find her at her regular blogging home at In Which We Start Anew .

 You simply MUST go over and check her blog out. She writes some of the funniest essays, and her fiction is wonderful. If you know what's smart you will follow her and join her regularly, as well.

Thanks so much Joanne for taking your time to come over here today! I loved having coffee with you.


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