Guest blogger: Helen Lehndorf

Remember in the 90s when people met online in chat rooms, went to meet them and got murdered? Helen and I met online (a couple of years ago and not in a chat room) and, ignoring general advice to meet in a public place for the first time, I went to Helen’s house.

She didn’t murder me, turned out to be a very nice friend and is now here writing a guest blog post. She also very kindly wrote a blog post past year too.

socks at another angle by jek in the box {is traveling}.

Photo by jek in the box on http://www.flickr.com

BE HERE NOW?

From 2004-2009 I had a blog, stripy sock studio.

I blogged about parenting, gardening, writing, making things, eco-consciousness, community building, creativity and popular culture. Last year, I quit the blog feeling unsure of why I was blogging and also what I wanted the focus of my blog to be if I DID have a blog.

At the beginning, I really enjoyed blogging – it was instant communication and community just when I was at my most isolated as the mother of young children, working from home. Towards the end, though, the joy went out of it for me and it began to feel like a chore or a job. Also, I began to feel less and less confident about what I had to say.

WHY DID I STOP?

As I’m a writer, I started to worry the blog was taking ‘writing energy’ away from my poetry and creative nonfiction.

I lost sight of WHY I wanted to do it.

I got very deep about it and worried about presenting my life, as my friend Suzanne calls it, ‘life porn’…did presenting only the pretty, shiny bits of my life equal a lack of the genuine, the true? On the other side, did people really want to read about my struggles and dark times? In short, what the hell was the point?

With most forms of internet-based communications: blogging, facebook, twitter – it pays not to overthink it. Think about it for more than a couple of minutes and questions about what meaningful community means, what genuine communication is will arise. If I am constantly blogging my life – am I LIVING my life? Am I in the moment or am I in the future imagining what my blog community might say about the lovely pictures I am taking?

When you have a blog (or a twitter, a facebook page) do you stop becoming a human BEING (living in the moment, enjoying the now) and merely become a human DOING? (performing for others, constantly future-thinking?)

Yes. There was much angst involved in my decision to stop blogging.

WHAT DO I THINK AFTER EIGHT MONTHS WITHOUT THE BLOG?

To be brutally honest, I have not missed the blog. I thought I would. I thought I would miss the community, but I guess I have avoided this by rejoining Facebook – I have lots of chats with friends on there. I guess I swapped one online medium for another.

What I do miss, however, is something steeped in irony…

…when I was blogging, I seemed to be very ‘awake’ to my life in a different way. I was always thinking of interesting subjects to blog about, brain and senses alert to potential subjects and events. This alertness seemed to have the effect of enhancing life in a way. It was like I was seeing my life through someone else’s eyes – because I was! – my blog readers’ eyes!

What I really, really miss is the photography I did ‘for the blog’. I photographed my children more, my house more, my garden more, my friends more….in case later I wanted to blog about the things I was doing.

Now, weeks can pass before I remember to fish my camera out of my bag.

I have a rich and beautiful resource from the years I took photographs every day – the fact I took the photographs in case I blogged them is irrelevant now. They exist and I love looking back over them.

WHERE TO NOW?

I’m still not sure.

My youngest child began school this year, and I find myself at that traditionally bitter-sweet time for at-home mothers. I am pleased to have grown and launched my family to this stage but what lies ahead for me now? I very much feel at a cross-roads and it is a bit strange, a bit uncomfortable. The way forward both is and isn’t clear.

I thought after a break I would want to blog again. I even made a new blog name and header…but the drive to do it still eludes me. I haven’t answered all the above questions for myself yet.

What I do know, though, is that I do want to take lots of photographs again….to document my life for me and for my family. I don’t need to be thinking of an audience to take photographs – they are a gift to myself.

That, at least, I can start to do again today.

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10 Responses to Guest blogger: Helen Lehndorf

  1. Pip says:

    Thanks Helen, This is a great post. As a regular reader of your blog I really miss it, but, and this just occurred to me, since you stopped the blog, I have sort you out in more direct ways (wow, do I sound like a stalker?). I think we have a more two-way relationship now. I do love looking at and reading your art so, yeah, I can’t wait to see what you do next! Whoop! PipX

  2. helenstripysock says:

    Thanks, Pip! Yeah – it is interesting you say that because I do feel like my friends have been in touch more since I stopped blogging.

    I still have lots of blogs I love to READ, and I don’t apply the same angst to the motivations of those bloggers. Weird, huh? I guess the decision to stop just stemmed out of wider self-reflection…

    x Helen x

  3. Kimberley says:

    I think I’ve done the same thing in ‘abandoning’ my blog, but just not really been aware of it. I’ve let it dwindle, neglected it. I just don’t have the energy for it. I get my ‘fix’ from Facebook and all the rest. I think as a journalist my energy for any kind of writing outside of work is sapped. Or perhaps it’s just time away from a screen that I’m wanting? Hmm, will ponder this.
    I know what you mean about life porn. I come across a few blogs of that sort from time to time and they make me ill with their smug pictures of perfect sofas. It’s jealousy, really.
    I loved your blog, and I miss it, but I love your writing full stop, no matter where it is.
    Kimberley xx

  4. Helen says:

    I know what you mean, I ended up changing the focus of my blog instead and that has really helped me find the lurve again…

  5. […] my brain had turned to mush and I really didn’t have much to share to here. Then today I read this wonderful post by one of the Helens and it was very familiar territory for […]

  6. Elisabeth says:

    Thanks for putting up this post, Emma and Tom.

    I miss your blog, Helen. I was only new to blogging and yours was one of the first blogs I encountered.

    The questions you raise here about the whys and whatfors of blogging seem pertinent to all of us in the blogosphere.

    I too have no answers but reading this post and thinking back both to the photos you posted in your blog and your words that accompanied said photos is to me a good enough reason to blog – your readership loved them and premably you learned somethng along the way, beyond forming a wonderful record of family life.

    Maybe blogging does have a limited shelf life for all of us, one that varies according to each individual. I’ve yet to reach mine but yours in its original form has presumably come and gone.

    Hopefully you’ll revive your blog in another form. But I can understand your decision, not to do so, if such turns out to be the case. I for one shall miss you. It is good to read and view your work.

  7. Caren says:

    ‘Life porn’ – ha – I so know what you mean. Cyberspace seems to be full of those blogs, doesn’t it. I guess for readers they often serve the same purpose as those lifestyle articles/shoots in glossy mags – bring on envy, yearning, maybe a bit of nausea…

    Your post, and the way your blog interfered with your ability to really be present in your life, makes me think of travelling through Asia as a 21-year-old, wide-eyed, with no camera but lots of notebooks to write in. Then I bought a camera – and suddenly I found that it was mediating between me and my experiences, that I was thinking more about what would make a nice shot than what was actually happening. I was quite glad (seriously) when someone stole it on a bus.

    Now, of course, I wish I had photos from that trip!

  8. helenstripysock says:

    Wow – thanks everyone for your comments! I feel very, very moved by the lovely words about my blog.

    Even just since I wrote this blog post for Emma – big, big things are happening for me (great things!) and there could well be a blog in the mix of all that.

    I had cringe when I first saw this up the other day – worried that it was too dull, too serious, too self-absorbed. Now I’m very glad I sent it to Emma after all. xxx

  9. […] Helen’s previous appearances on Small Town Stories here and […]

  10. […] a (slightly angsty) post about why I stopped my old blog and my feelings about blogging over on Emma’s blog here. Looks like I have moved on from how I felt then, and am back to feeling creatively […]

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