But a blog, because of its nature, gives permission--even encouragement--to share work-in-progress. --Wendy Richmond, artist and educator, "Blogging with a Different Perspective"
As a writing teacher, should I be blogging? Should my students blog? What kinds of Blogs will we write?
Blogging gets a bad rap: too easy, unedited, self-absorbed, for naught, irrelevant, and ranty. Not to mention the sheer saturation of blogs, blogs everywhere.
But I read blogs, and I'm drawn to them. I'm drawn to the sharp, rich, well-written ones (and to those with fantastic imagery). I like that blogs serve writers and readers all at once and immediately. You write a blog entry; I read it; I comment; you comment; I start my own blog; you link it; and so on. Even if realistically a blogger has very few readers, the possibility of any reader at all is intoxicating. I'll come back to this "intoxicating" idea in a moment.
What's this blog all about? I want to know if blogging will work, for me and for my students. I'm going to blog about blogging (and my students blogging) until I'm satisfied that I've reached some good answers. And then I'll let the blog evolve into a new project, storing the filled cardboard "blog" box away to make room for a crisp, empty one: A New Blog.
But this is my blog for now. I can't wait to pack it.
This cardboard box analogy is not my own. I've been deeply influenced by an article I read a week ago titled "Blogging with a Different Perspective" by Wendy Richmond. If I doubted blogging before (and I did), Richmond converted me to a blog believer.
RIchmond refers to choreographer Twila Tharpe's habit of compiling a literal cardboard box full of actual physical objects with each anticipated project. When Richmond started her own blog she wanted to do it Twila Style and with the ultimate purpose of "supporting the development of a body work." She reminds readers of blog's root word: LOG, and says blogs "can be a tool to foster and reflect upon the development of one's work."
That's a practice I can get behind. And I think my students can too. Because yes, there are plenty of blogs out there already. If I begin with the sole purpose of writing to be read, I will be disappointed, maybe even overwhelmed (why bother?). But if I write to evolve a project, a project that will likely exist outside of the blog itself (applied somewhere/anywhere else), then I will be motivated. And the possibility that someone/anyone might be reading is still intoxicating. A blog toward inquiry seems so much more rewarding than a spiralbound notebook toward inquiry, and probably more usable too.
So, like Richmond suggests, even though the PUBLIC aspect of blogging inspires many bloggers, it may not be the only (or best) reason to maintain one. Aha! But the catch? The public aspect is still essential to what Richmond refers to as a blog designed to "speak in" instead of "speaking out." Even though this kind of blog is written primarily for self, it is still written with an audience in mind, and to achieve what Richmond refers to as "semi-public iterations." As in: Hey, here's something I'm working on. What do you think?
Richmond convinced me that a blog can be unready but audience friendly--evenly flawed and rich, sharp, well-written. I want my students to write Twila Style blogs, Richmond Style blogs. Will it work?
I've read loads of words on blogging, but Richmond's article made me feel, for the first time ever, like surfing over to blogger.com and blogging NOW--pronto, immediately, and forever.
And here I am.
My project is to make blogging work for my students, and my blog is to track and share our progress, for me, and maybe for you too.
I hope my students will want to blog too, that they'll be just as motivated as I am, just as inspired. I hope they get a lot out of it, not just something but a lot. I hope they end up with a big cardboard box as stuffed and as meaningful as a sharpied KEEP box, the kind that moves from apartment to apartment, decade to decade. Cherished. Is that too much to ask? Stay tuned.