What Has Your Blog Done For You?

Four months have gone by since I started this blog  and after some (healthy, I hope!) introspection,  I find that I am asking myself one question: “Why did I start this blog in the first place?”.

Why indeed? Back in January, did I think that I had anything worth writing about, to share with somebody, anybody here in cyberspace, who might be in the least bit interested in the musings and ramblings of a thrice married, shall-we-say mature mother of three grown children who has ‘started over’ more times than she can remember and whose daughter just happens to have Asperger’s and an alcoholic jailbird for a dad, and who might think that her ‘view’ from her summerhouse might be of any value to anyone?  What could I possibly write about?

This blog is not defined by my daughter having Asperger’s neither by my dad being an alcoholic but my life has been and still is heavily impacted by these two things. I wonder why I mentioned these things specifically, however, when there is so much I could write about from the past such as divorce, grief, abuse, loss, financial reversal, rejection, loneliness, depression, and, of course, death.  All heavy stuff.

It seemed, then, very overwhelming to me to write about all these things, as cathartic as it may be, and I was worried that I might be delving too much into my past. Did I really want to be sharing all this highly personal ‘stuff” here, in the public domain? This disturbed me.

Well, I was in for a big surprise! I had no idea that my very first source of inspiration, my muse if you like, would come in the form of a robin who chose to visit the very day I started my blog.  His little red tuxedo shone like a beacon, illuminating not only my grey, winter-worn garden but also setting my heart alight first of all and then fanning into flames my creativity until it burned with joy and hope.  Crazy isn’t it what that darn little bird has done for me?

Then a more curious thing happened.  I found that as I wrote about the sweet side of life, the comical, cute and ‘slice of life’ things which happen during the course of the day, more than a few precious childhood memories came flooding back to me and these gave rise to stories that I can share here now with you, dear reader, in this blog.   In this way I am reminded of the good, wholesome memories of my past and what healing this brings to the soul!

This lifts my spirits and gives me hope and restores my faith in all things bright and beautiful. 

It has shown me that the little girl inside me who believed in fairies, and pressed flowers in scrapbooks and was mesmerized by the pure magic of finding tiny, speckled blue eggs untouched in a blackbird’s nest is still there, still breathing and still very much alive.

As I intertwine the good memories with the bad, I am able to tell a more rounded story and so realise that it is acceptable to share darker thoughts and memories here and maybe even write something of good worth which others can relate to and  moves them and which brings even the tiniest of smiles.

So, then, what is the answer to the question above?  I was going to say that the reason I started this blog was to document my journey as a new writer and to share writing updates as and when, and yes, this is true.  The main reason, however,  was that I had a burning desire to share with you what I have learned to be so true in my own life:

That it is never too late to change your life, that no matter what has gone on before, however much pain and grief, when you strip everything away, so long as you still have hope then you have everything.  The God I believe in is the God of the second chance.  His mercy and grace is what kept me going and still does.  When we are faithless, He is faithful. Do not, ever, give up.

So now I see what this blog has become, is becoming. It is a living, breathing thing and is only as good or as bad as I make it. Along the way, in these four short months, I have discovered a very wonderful thing.  Writing about the past has not floored me or knocked me down in defeat as I feared it would.  Instead, as I create I am empowered and I keep on keeping on.  Essentially, this blog found me!

What I have also found, quite unexpectedly and so wonderfully surprisingly,  is some measure of confidence to at last tell the one story I have wanted to tell for so long.  Yes, I  have started ‘that book’.  We all talk about the ‘book that is in me’. 

I’ve had this book in me for 32 years but because it means that I have to return to a dark past to write it, I have been in despair at the thought of ‘going back’. But now I know I can do it, I have the strength because it is a story I must tell.  Writing this blog has shown me how.  This community has shown me how.  Thank you so much.

So the question, then, should really be: Don’t ask what have you done for your blog but ask, ‘What has your blog done for you?’ 🙂

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In making a few changes to the layout of this blog, I have removed the following piece as a static page so that I can post it under a category name and this is the only way I could figure out how to do that, so apologies for the repetition! (Still learning the techy parts!)

Back in February I wrote ‘This Writer’s World’ when I was very kindly invited as a guest blogger by The Writer’s Bureau and reading it again now, I am struck by my ‘writer’s angst’ in light of what I have just written above for this post.  

Does anybody else relate to ‘this writer’s world’ I wonder?  I’ll be very interested to know your comments and what you think!

This Writer’s World

This writer’s world is unlike any other where I’ve ever lived.  I’ve moved many times over the years,  twice between the UK and America, and each move meant leaving behind one world where I was settled within my circle of family and friends, only to enter a strange, new world as an unknown, rootless and friendless, starting over.  During this constant shifting between two hemispheres, moments of great joy took place (such as when each of my three children were born), this indescribable joy bursting briefly against a backdrop of disappointments, hardship and loss as the years went by.  Loss of homes, loss of friends,  loss of life.

So what of this writer’s world that I now inhabit? It is lonely and intense, yet it shuts out all else like a comfortable, warm blanket keeping out the chill.   Distractions of any kind while I type madly away – housework, shopping, cats that need feeding, answering the phone – are intruders, resented and, therefore, ignored. Except for the cats that is, they will be ignored for only so long.

The paradox of my lonely existence in this new writer’s world is that really, I am a sociable being. I enjoy meeting friends for coffee and ‘doing’ lunch now and then but now, if I don’t see a day in the diary free of commitments I panic, as it means I am forced to put my writing on hold until later.  As a student of the Writer’s Bureau winding my way through the Comprehensive Writing Course, it is one thing to put time aside to work on my assignments but now I have started a blog and it is threatening to become all-consuming.   Goodness, if I’m like this now, what will I be like if I ever do write ‘that book’?  Even so, I relish it.  Is it an obsession? Maybe.

In my brave, new world I have discovered that as I write about the things that have happened in the past, I am finding a new contentment in the present. Perhaps even a tentative confidence for the future?  My loneliness and anxiety collides with my new-found sense of accomplishment and fulfilment and propels me on as I write about ‘what I know’. I realise that no experience is ever wasted, even if just to encourage one other person.  I am not an alien in this writer’s world and I don’t have to carry a passport.  I am a citizen with full birth rights and I belong.

I just wish I had moved here a long time ago.

About Sherri Matthews

Sherri has been writing full time since 2011. Currently working on her memoir, 'Stranger in a White Dress', she has been published in a variety of national magazines, websites and three anthologies. Sherri raised her three, now adult children, in California for twenty years and today, lives in England’s West Country with her hubby, Aspie youngest, two cats, a grumpy bunny and a family of Chinese Button Quails. She keeps out of mischief blogging, gardening, walking by the sea and snapping endless photographs. Her garden robin muse vists regularly.
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19 Responses to What Has Your Blog Done For You?

  1. Another stellar piece of writing! I say “yay” to you for starting your book. I started my cat book, put the first draft aside claiming I had to wait a few weeks until I could start editing it, and a few weeks has turned into three months!! I so enjoy everything to do with my blog that it’s become a project of its own, unrelated to the writing of a book. But, perhaps I’m just procrastinating. You know how we writers are, huh? 🙂

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    • sherrimatt says:

      Well you said it best…stare down that blinking cursor and just write! I can certainly relate to the ‘P’ word – Procrastination! Thanks again Beverly for your great comment…and I look forward to hearing news that you have started editing your draft 🙂

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  2. Yeah! for you! Words from the heart never go unnoticed! Your blog inspires all who read. you can write that book! I too had a Dad who drank, it ended his marriage to my Mom. We all seem to have our closets full of skeletons (may I say). Writing is such an out for what’s going on in our heart of hearts. Thanks for sharing!

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    • sherrimatt says:

      Thanks so much Sheila for your lovely, encouraging words and for sharing here about your particular ‘skeleton in the closet’. It just goes to show that when we share our personal stories we never know who we will touch and who will be encouraged and inspired by it 🙂

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  3. Write Write Write – it would be a great shame for us to miss out on your talent!!

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  4. You sound pretty much like me so I am enjoying reading your blog x

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  5. Pat says:

    This is so good, Sherri. I’m glad you pointed it out to me. I can relate and especially liked it when you said, “I have discovered that as I write about the things that have happened in the past, I am finding a new contentment in the present.” I’m discovering more about this and different.

    I’m still learning about my blog, writing and what it does for me. It’s an essential outlet, that’s for sure. I’m still learning after 7 years what you got in 4 months — the pure expression of who you are and strength. It oozes from every word you wrote in this piece. I’m still learning to come out of my shell and gain confidence in that.

    I can see why you have a book in you screaming to get out. It’s been a hell of a journey and your story to tell. I feel more connected with you than ever, my friend, in just the writing of this short piece. I wish you much success and God’s blessings in all that you do. 🙂

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    • Sherri says:

      I’m so glad you resonated with this post Pat. Thank you so much for reading it. I felt lead to send you the link as I wrote this almost one year ago and it is only after reading your post that I was reminded of it and how I was realising for the first time that writing about the past was helping me.
      I was still trying to work out where I was going with my blog and if writing about the past was actually a good thing for me. Then, as I poured out my feelings on paper (bashing away at the laptop!) I remembered all that my dad had given me as a young girl and that I had much to be grateful for, despite all that happened.
      Maybe we need to reconnect with the little girl inside again so that we can write in a different way. I don’t know. But I know that you are a gifted writer and you are going through a time of revelation and growth and it is beautiful to see.
      Your encouragement of my writing and of my journey means the world and you know that I am with you too, every step of the way.
      God bless you too my dear friend. I’m so excited to see where you go next.
      Now let’s get skipping 🙂

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      • Pat says:

        You’re welcome, Sherri. I’m glad I was able to validate what you wrote and were feeling. That’s important sometimes when we’re led to do something. It sure spoke to me and humbly struck a chord on the sweet tenderness of God to bring two people together to connect in this way.

        It’s refreshing and freeing to see how differently you approached writing what happened in your life. I had to laugh picturing you bashing away at your laptop. My journey has been more cautious and reserved, though I’m amazed at what I’ve put out there. I’ve resisted a lot in my lifetime and I’m beginning to climb out of my shell. It’s still a bit scary for me and I admire your courage. You’re an inspiration.

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        • Sherri says:

          HaHa! Manically bashing away!!! Maybe I”m a tad driven, ha!
          Seriously though Pat, this is wonderful, all that you share here, really is. I’m so blessed and encouraged to read your response and so excited for you and the path you’re on.
          I think what happened to me when I lost my first husband and what he went through so young changed me profoundly so that I always have this thing in me to do things quickly, before time runs out but I know that isn’t always the best way to go about things.
          Still, what matters now is that we are sharing our journey and I am so humbled with all you share here, I really am.
          Here’s to the next stage…love and hugs to you dear friend, can’t wait to see where the path leads us both… 🙂

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          • Pat says:

            I agree, Sherri. I can see where a life-changing event like that could change your direction and perspectives. Though difficult, I wouldn’t change a thing. What you discover working through it all is authentic and lasting. I don’t know that it can be reached any other way.

            So (clink) here’s to the next stage, my friend. Cheers! With a happy heart, we’ll see what unfolds as we travel on these paths we’ve chosen. I’m glad you’re here to share it with. 🙂

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