There are a lot of blogs out there and more and more people are getting into the habit. We now see a plethora of spiritual blog authors. Everyone has something to say. The discerning reader can find amazing gems. The authors, in their sharing of part of their personal, mystical life, learns ever so much more than they would have had they not put the proverbial pen to paper. But, before one starts, or even after, one has to consider just what is actually being done. Most of us just want to share our experiences and what we learn. Sounds great, right? It is.

But it doesn't come without a price. As a blog author one has to consider not only what we want to write, but who our target audience is and what they need. Every blog post has to be critically assessed. We need to ask ourselves things such as, "'Does this blog say what I'm actually trying to say? and 'Does this blog promote the concepts and paradigm I'm looking to espouse?'" One thing to remember, it won't only be the target audience that will read the blog. Consider the effects the post will have on those not in the specific population for which it is intended. Will it tangentially detract from or actually hurt your cause? If some people are likely to offended most certainly not all is lost but you do have to consider if that audience has any importance. If they are, you may want to rethink that blog. Also consider those people who are almost within your target audience, the ones on the fence. If your blog post pushes them to the other side you've hurt what you are trying to do and lost a reader to boot.

One has to consider the time involvement. Quality blogs don't just happen. If you don't have anything to say it may be better to not blog that day rather than, over time, fill up your pages with random mental spewing. Take your time, be thoughtful. Write something that pings for you and chances are it will ping for someone else. Deep, insightful blogs will promote a thoughtful readership. Shallow, rapidly typed out posts will engender superficiality. Be discerning before you hit that publish button.

We also have to take the time to ensure our writing isn't vague. For the most part communication is a two way street but not as much with blogs. If the writing is unclear and able to be misconstrued it isn't always the reader's fault. Sure, sometimes readers just skim or they may not have the background to understand but I personally think it a good guide to take the self responsibility to ensure a reader can understand a post. If someone doesn't understand and you are sure you wrote clearly, ask a friend for critique. If the friend acknowledges the writing may not be clear than just eat that frog, apologize, and correct the mistake.

When blogging it is easy to get personal. We are likely sitting alone somewhere typing away. We don't see the readers, we don't know what they look like or who they all are. So we type away and share. We always need to consider though, how much is too much? Once blogged, a topic isn't just between you and your powers anymore. It is public. It is up for commentary, review, and analysis. Not comfortable with that? Blog something else then. 

I now come to one of the hardest issues in regards to personal, spiritual blogging- that of dissent. Not everyone is going to agree with a message. When someone disagrees it hits personally and deeply. One of the first things of import I learned from Heimdallr was to never deny what I speak or write because in doing so I would be denying my God. There is a lot in that statement. Simply put, it means one has to be accountable for what one writes. One has to be willing to stand behind the message. Yes, there will be people who don't agree. However, respect for the readership doesn't mean just hitting the delete button and angrily assuming the person is a jackass or doesn't like you or is trying to tell you what to do. The fact that someone is willing to engage in dialogue is important. IMPORTANT.

There are two main kinds of dissenters. There are those that post their criticism within the comment section for the world to see. Then there are those that email you privately. Either way is fine. The question is, can you take it?  

I've certainly had people not like what I've written. I'm not talking about the frantic inane mumbo some loon will throw at you, I'm talking about people who say, 'I have issue with this and here is why.' I'm fine with reasonable disagreements in my comment section. I hold with my creed of backing what I say or acknowledging my error. I blog in public; I'll rebut, agree to disagree, or apologize in public whichever is necessary.

Then there is the other type of criticism; the personal email. I have the greatest of respect for those who do such. To me, it means several things. One, the issue is truly important to the author which also means its important to many others. Two, the person took the time and had the respect to email me and initiate a conversation. Three, the person isn't trying to troll or flame by just posting a negative comment in the comment list. This person didn't take the easy way by hitting the 'comment' button- this person looked for my email, wanted to engage.

When it comes down to it, I've never had an email of dissent that didn't ultimately turn out to be a fairly positive conversation. But it takes courage to actually stop and consider what they've written. It takes self-awareness to think their issue through and respond thoughtfully. It isn't easy. It requires time and reflection. It is a challenge to self, a challenge that is often needed. The result sometimes means saying sorry, "'yes, I agree, I was unclear' or 'you're right, I was wrong.'"

More often it just means engaging in a dialogue over a couple of days with several emails so each can truly determine where the other is coming from. In this way I've made some good friends. Had I just deleted their comment or threw back a vague, 'I'm doing my God's work so back off' retort I would have not only disrespected them but myself. I would never have done the self reflection and learned some of the things I have. I've been thankful for every person who questions what I've written. Those questions, those challenges whether done gently or rudely, have made me really think through the paradigm in question. Really made me consider my own reasoning and rationale. Being forced to write back, to detail why I feel and how I feel, has been ultimately amazingly rewarding.

In order for this to truly work I've had to make some rules for myself. The primary rule is that I will never respond immediately to criticism. I will always wait at least overnight. It is amazing what can happen after some sleep and meditation regarding my thoughts over the author's comments. What initially may have roused me to ire suddenly may make some sense. I can see where the person is coming from, why they feel the way they do. I can respond appropriately. I may not agree with them but I have the window of breathing time to formulate an appropriate, thoughtful response that does me and the emailer respect and honor. Every single time I have learned something and have ultimately been grateful for what initially seemed such a hard email to read.

Our Gods may ask some of us to blog, but they don't dictate how we write the topics sentence by sentence. That is up to us and we can most certainly write in haste, poorly, or  in error. I value those who make me stop and consider my message, consider what I write. All the "'yeah good post' or 'I agree'" comments in the world don't do that. It is the questioning ones that do, those are the ones we can learn from. I thank each and every one of you who have questioned me, I thank each and every one of you who will.
Eric S
1/28/2012 11:17:11 pm

Thank you. Some have asked me to put up a blog once I finish some personal work and this was good food for thought.

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