Why do I blog? Do I have stuff to share?
I could start with “I have always wanted to be a writer” – but that would make me sound so much like everyone else, especially those in my age bracket nearing retirement with stuff to share and most of my life I have fought being “just like everyone else”. I have lived a life that might make soap opera watchers say “really???” and figured there is a book or two in that – but so far most of those topics have not made it out of the dark recesses of a repressed mind. Maybe when I get brave enough on this forum I will occasionally sprinkle in an odd thought that is not travel based but don’t bet on it!
On my first really big trip to Europe (Paris in 2005), I started to keep a travel journal and filled it with stuff to share. The journals, written with ink in hard bound books, got stacked on the “travel books” shelf in my office. I was noting some observations about places and people but it was largely a place to keep track of the things that I was doing in case I wanted to do them again on a return trip or if friends wanted tips on what to do. All of my pictures were stored separately. Over the years I added other trips to Europe, Caribbean sun trips and local vacations around Canada. I even created spin-offs – “Scuba Journal” and “Flying Journal” – to chronicle my hobbies.
At one point I decided I needed to move all of this written stuff to electronic format to make it easy to get this stuff to share organized. While I considered just scanning the journals, ultimately I thought I may be able to better re-purpose materials if it was in text format. So I diligently started to type up the journals. When I finally accepted how good voice recognition had become, it made capturing the final set of journals even easier. The big benefit of moving to electronic journals was that now I could embed a subset of my pictures to help tell the stories.
We find ourselves going back to look at our journals to refresh our memories of great trips we have taken, in much the same way that we have our travel pics streaming to our Apple TV. It keeps our appetite whetted for yet the next adventure.
But I must also admit a deep dark secret (see, I knew they would start to leak out eventually). Of all the old age ailments that could befall me, the one that is saddest for me is the thought of losing my memory – of people, places and the great life I have led. “The Notebook” (both book and movie) reinforced for me the value of keeping track of memories in case David or I needed a nudge one day. My journals with stories and pictures will serve the purpose quite well! It may prove to be stuff to share that David needs to share with me so I can remember.
The totally practical use for my journals (and my travel planning electronic notebooks – see other post) is to help with planning the next trip and helping others to plan. Many of the collected tips, guides and reference materials are quite helpful when we return to a city, a country or type of trip. I can cut and paste from trip to trip, augmenting and updating as we learn more.
Why Move My Journal To An Online Blog?
My entry into the world of blogging was done initially as a trial to see if my blogs could be a replacement to my journal. My answer would be “sorta”. I tried for a few months to keep both formats and ultimately that was too much work and I went cold turkey to my blog. Since I use a desktop based MAC product (@macjournalapp) for offline editing and storage of my blog entries, I have some way to extract and aggregate back into trip journals. These aggregated trip journals are kept in PDF format to form our own “Notebook”.
While my initial blog audience was family and close friends who were interested, this audience has been expanding daily as I found others interested in the stuff to share that was posted. I added Twitter to my social networking platforms when I started blogging and this has helped to bring new readers to the blog. We are travelling more with each year and getting off the beaten path, sharing this experience as we go. By following other travellers (and a few quirky, interesting characters), we continue to pick up lots of good information that helps us in our travel, travel planning and sometimes in day to day life.
I hope that I am entertaining some who read my blogs, see our pictures or like the things we find that we think warrant sharing. I am still finding my “voice” and my “niche” – all the things that I read will make my blog successful and followed. Perhaps if I take the governor off my keyboard, a distinct voice may emerge?
We are not backpackers or real budget travellers. While my idea of camping is “no mint on the pillow”, the cheap girl in me (who grew up poor) will never allow me to be a frivolous luxury traveller either. We have worked hard all our lives and as we enter semi-retirement we have the money to travel regularly and in relative comfort. Is that a “niche”? We haven’t yet made the decision to live in another country, although the increasingly poor quality and availability of universal health care in Canada may soon cause us to question why we are still here at least half the year. So we are not yet in the “expat” niche! Lets just say … “we are just travellers with stuff to share!”
Maybe I will even get enough of a following to find a way to make some money doing this and maybe offset some of the costs. Perhaps a great book idea will emerge – either from my blog writings or because writing regularly for the blog opens the sluice gates and out pours many more ideas that may make a blockbuster novel one day.
For now I will just write and create stuff to share as we ramble through our travels – from planning to doing to reminiscing! And when I come up empty for something original to say, I will take a break and remember some advice I read …
“There’s no such thing as writer’s block. There’s only Life, reminding you that there’s more to living than just writing …” *1
What inspired you to first hit the keyboard and blog? What kinda stuff to share do you write about?Could you stop and go cold turkey? What might cause you to abandon blogging?
*1 Reference: http://joannechocolat.tumblr.com/post/73955962858/ten-tips-for-writers