I’m not a birthright blogger. Unlike some of my younger Quaker friends who were born in the electronic social media age, I’ve come to this mode of sharing ideas after years of devotion to pen and paper and face-to-face conversation. It’s those younger friends, though, who have convinced me that I need to be on board with blogging (and other electronic media) in order to nurture and connect with the next generation of Quakers. That was the message I heard over and over again from young Friends (and a few older ones) at the QUIP (Quakers Uniting in Publications) conference.
I’ve concluded that entering the blogosphere really isn’t all that revolutionary. I got my first hint of that at the opening plenary at the QUIP conference when Tom Hamm, a professor of history at Earlham College, spoke about “The Significance and Influence of Quaker Writing Throughout Our History.” He claims that the history of Quakerism IS the history of writing and publishing by Friends. For 350 years, Quakers have been publishing in some form or another to proclaim our beliefs to the world; to engage in controversy; to engage with each other; and to entertain. Throughout the conference, bloggers, journalists, editors, poets, and fiction and non-fiction writers talked about Quaker writing in the future. I came away energized by the potential for new avenues for wider and more diverse dialogue.
I also came away with concerns.
Do I want to spend more of my already-full life in front of the computer screen engaging in this virtual, but distant, way with others?
I treasure my quiet, centered daily meditation time in my comfortable rocker by the window, journaling with a wooden pen made by a dear friend in the blank book I bound by hand. Will my electronic journaling feed me in the same way?
What about those for whom words and images that can be transmitted electronically aren’t their media of expression?
This blog is one way I’m testing my evolving beliefs about the future of Quaker publishing and my own ministry of writing. I intend to post something once a week, writing a little more polished than what I journal during my daily meditation but a little more raw than writing I might submit for print publication. I’ll be sharing my journey with this new publishing mechanism as well as my personal faith journey. That last part is scary. What if nobody reads my blog? What if somebody does?
In a less personal vein, I also plan to write about the process of blogging. So far, I’ve been surprised at how easy it is to learn the mechanics. I began by going to blogspot.com. I already had a yahoo e-mail account, so I was able to log in with that address and password (if you don’t have one, it’s easy and free to set up). Then I watched the tutorial and followed the step-by-step instructions to create a blog. I played around a bit with layout design sampling the templates the site provides.
I composed today’s entry in Word on my desktop computer. Now I’ll sign in to my blog, click on the NEW POST bar, and cut and paste this text into the window that pops up. I can still edit once I paste this in, I can preview it, and it won’t appear on my blog site until I click on the orange PUBLISH button. Pretty simple.
I’m also going to start contacting friends I think might be interested in this blog to let them know about my latest project. If you’re reading this, it’s probably because you got an e-mail from me inviting you to join me on this journey. I look forward to reading comments and seeing what it’s like to dialogue in this way.