Blogging… the agony and the ecstasy

So I’ve been blogging for about 9 months now and it has taken over a large chunk of my life. Some of my friends keep journals; I always thought this an extraordinary thing something I would never have time to do. Now here I am keeping one and exposing it to the world.

Exposing is the right word. People really show themselves in blogs, they can’t help but do so. They tell us about themselves, both in what they write, and what they don’t write.

Wondering if someone is listening…

Sometimes I write stuff that seems inconsequential to me and am pleasantly surprised by the quantity of comment/trackbacks. Sometimes I write stuff I quietly think is rather good and I see… nothing back. That’s quite painful, though I may not show it. And I get to think about how important it is for me to make an effort to respond to what I read, and not merely get stimulated and go looking for more.

One definition of love is: to be willing to educate the other about who you really are. Deliberately or not, that’s what’s happening in blogs. And no, I’m not saying all we need is love. I am standing up for the extraordinary value of people sharing their experience.

Sometimes the honesty is overwhelming. For instance, John Porcaro wrote an extraordinary, heartfelt tribute to his parents a week ago. I just took a look, and saw that it has had only one trackback and no comment. I’m now getting round to responding myself. I still don’t really know what to say about what he wrote, other than that I’m awed by it, and a little jealous.

There’s something to be said for vulnerability

Please don’t read this as an admonishment to post more comments to my blog or anyone else’s (though don’t let me stop you). For me, there is great value in recording my thoughts for myself, whether or not they’re read by the world. I’d just like to share my experience that though this stuff may look easy, sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes I worry myself with what people might think about me when I post. I could worry myself right now with what you might think of this entry. (“Good god, what’s got into him, why can’t he get back to good, solid, business stuff?”)

If that angst is the “agony” part of being vulnerable, there is also the “ecstasy” side. For instance, on Friday I met Tim Carter, co-founder of The Nub. And from the moment we started it was a great, touching, conversation. And in those moments I realise the huge value of taking risks and saying what I think in here – because Tim already knew me before we met. We only met because of the blog, and we only connected with the openness that we did because of it.

Next week, I’m off to Scandinavia to do some work with Jennifer Rice. This is happening because we know each other through our blogs. We got to know quite a lot about each other without ever “pitching” or trying to make money from each other. Pretty neat… I’m in London, she’s in Texas, and we’re meeting for the first time in… Copenhagen. I feel a great sense of trust, and indeed obligation, in this working relationship because it’s been forged in a quite public space.

Later this week, I’m taking part in a panel discussion on how brands can help change customers’ lives. I’m sure that I’ll want to talk about the need for authentic human voices in this; about change happening organically from the sharing of experience; and I shall doubtless be talking about blogging. One of the things I negotiated in advance was that I’d be free to share my experience of the panel in this blog, though I’m keeping schtum about the client and their own business.

5 thoughts on “Blogging… the agony and the ecstasy

  1. Katherine Stone

    Let me be the first to comment – I know exactly what you’re saying. You wonder if anyone is listening or if anyone cares. But I try to remind myself that when I started my blog I did it for me. If no one comments, I can still find comfort in being true to myself. And if they do comment and didn’t like what I said, I can’t shrink back in horror. I have to welcome the disagreements. Believe me, there are times when I write a post, and then sit there and wonder whether I should publish it. (Will someone be mad? Will someone think I’m stupid? Did I mispell something?) But then I publish it anyway, because that’s the WHOLE point. We’ve been given voices and ideas, and we might as well use them.

    I can’t wait to hear about your panel about brands changing customers’ lives. My friend, author David Wolfe, calls that marketer as healer. I believe in the possiblity more than I can say.

    Reply
  2. Ton Zijlstra

    Hi John,

    I’m still quite impressed with what you told us in Brussels last Octobre: trust is the risk you take to find the trustworthy relationships.

    The weblog is our on-line way of doing so.

    Thanks for you emotive posting!

    And good luck in Copenhagen. Would love to see your stories show up on the BlogStories wiki page.

    Reply
  3. Paul Goodison

    Johnnie

    If it weren’t for blogging we wouldn’t have met and that would be disappointing for me personally as your thoughts have opened up a whole realm of thinking for me.

    I often feel no one is listening but then I look at the occasional comment and trackback and know they are.

    Keep the thinking coming, keep making me think!

    Paul

    BTW like the change to the domain name!

    Reply

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