A Focused Voice in a Scrambled Life
The blog-o-sphere tends to revolve around marketable personas, and that's not necessarily a bad thing.
When we go to Pioneer Woman's site (or The Very Worst Missionary, or Stuff Christians Like), we know what sort of posts we are going to encounter. Blogger personas allow certain types of readers to find certain types of writers who fit their interests and needs.
As a reader I love this setup, because I don't have time to be wandering around looking for individual posts that fit me. I go to Ann Voskamp's blog when I need to be reminded that God loves me. I go to Tim Keller's sermons when I need a podcast. I go to Makato Fujimura's page when I need to read about visual art.
But as a new blogger, trying to find this sort of focus makes me nervous.
For a couple of months, I've been experimenting, testing the waters, messing around with lots of different options. I've not just been looking to see what gets the most hits, I've been looking to see what resonates with people I know and care about.
I've also been trying to find what is most life giving, because even though writing is expressive, it's also formative. Wherever I park this blog is going to affect how I spend hours and hours of time in the future. It will impact how I study and then preach the gospel to myself. It will become the primary body of work that I leave for my kids and grand kids.
I know I'm not alone in this struggle to choose. Human beings are multi-faceted beings who sometimes get poetic, and sometimes think about metaphysical things, and sometimes make bathroom jokes, and sometimes reason their way through problems, and sometimes laugh until their cheeks hurt. We aren't just one thing.
So there's some natural tension here. We can't decide to walk down one path without deciding to not walk down another.
Anyway, I'll tell you two of my big fears as I'm making the call.
First, I don't want to be inauthentic. I've been in Christian ministry for twenty years, and I've watched charismatic leaders try to sell themselves by morphing into larger-than-life caricatures that don't hold water over time. I sure don't want to do that. I'd rather just bang around inside the pinball machine and not make too many claims on myself.
Secondly, I'm afraid that the main voice I choose to communicate will isolate a people group that I care about.
Writers tend to get beat over the head about staying simple and accessible, but being too simple can isolate certain people, too. I have a diverse group of friends, and some speak science, some speak math, some speak art. Not all of them are going to connect with felt needs or common imagery. How do I speak so that they might still hear?
The Apostle Paul moved into Athens and made himself comfortable in other people's world, and I want to do that. I want to speak physics, and music, and philosophy, or NASCAR, or cooking onions, or whatever it takes.
When I'm writing, the faces of specific friends often come to mind. I've been praying for some of these people for decades, so I naturally move into what would I say to him or what would I say to her. After praying for someone that long, it's not a strain to adopt language that fits the conversation you've been wanting to have.
But the internet is weird, because I can't see who is reading this. I can aim at a target, but I can't always see what connects. Mostly, it's a one-way discussion.
So as this blog grows, I wish I could see who you are and what you need. Are you tired moms of little kids? Are you doubters and armchair philosophers who have stumbled onto this site because I talk about epistemology sometimes? Are you disheartened evangelicals who can tell that I've passed through the regular frustrations of the modern church, but that I still love orthodoxy and a real Jesus? Are you bitter post-moderns who connect with the language of my poetry? Are you atheists, or readers of old books, or listeners to new music?
I want to know you because I want to speak to your questions. I want to communicate in your language. I'm not sure how to do that yet.
This has been on my mind for several weeks, but I decided to write about it today because I realized I wasn't alone in the struggle.
Social media has a way of turning us all into public voices. In one 24-hour period I might watch one friend share an angry political meme, a photo of her kids, and a link to a Gospel Coalition blog post. It doesn't bother me to see that. I like knowing what real life looks like.
But have you ever wondered how to maximize social media so that the most important things you are living for rise to the surface? I don't mean that we should post any less, because maybe we shouldn't. But how do we stay authentic while having a core hub from which we speak? How do we write with a focused voice in a scrambled life?
To this point, I've just been experimenting mostly, and I can't tell if that has been reckless, or lazy, or selfish, or courageous, or honest. But when I was updating my blog last night, I had to laugh when I saw the random assortment of posts on here. Whiplash city. I've put you people through it. That needs to change.
But how, exactly? What's going to become the hub?
Have you thought through this? Any wisdom on it? What answers are you finding?