Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Is blogging just bragging?

If you had your time over, would you do it? Today, here and now, would you? Would you start a blog?

A friend who is an illustrator and designer is faced with this dilemma – everyone in her industry seems to have one and she doesn’t. A blog. But you know what? After she looked at some blogs she began asking, “Is blogging just bragging?” 

Okay, I admit it, when she said that I felt a blush of embarrassment spread over my cheeks. Guilty, your Honour..  There is an element of blogging that is just showing off. But then I thought some more about that. Why do we feel that need to show off what we have made? 

For some (me included) it comes from isolation and for a need to feel some appreciation for your craft/art - whatever it is you have made. Part of it is showing off to receive some validation. Recognition. Some encouragement. Feedback. This showing off isn't a one way street.

My twins have just started primary school and I have been reacquainted with the weekly “Show and Tell” routine. The girls just glow with the enjoyment of sharing some things that they love at home with their teacher and classmates. Much of blogging is simply just that. Show and tell. Sharing what you are interested in, doing, making, wishing, admiring and being inspired by. Sharing, communicating. Getting to know people. Creating a community.

Now my blogging community tends to be of the crafty nature. And as all you crafty readers know, making things involves  a series of decisions, and these decision can be pauses in the process – commas in the sentences; or more like semi colons. And sometimes fullstops. Because making creative decisions is hard. You can be at a stage where you are happy with your work and another step may ruin it. You could be trying to decide on a colour scheme. It could be that the next step is harder. It could be you have run out of a supply and need to improvise. Should you? Shouldn’t you? This with that? Do more? Leave it alone?
My late mother, an all round crafty queen, would ring me quite often to discuss her next creative decision. Aww.. you might think. Your mother valued your opinion. Well. Mum could go on for quite some time describing fabrics and prints and wools and colour combinations and choices. And you know what? She didn’t really want my opinion. I mean – we were talking ON THE PHONE! I couldn’t even SEE what she was talking about! What she needed was my ear. She needed to vocalise her choices and to talk through her creative decision process. And from talking it through she would make the choice herself. All I had to do was to make encouraging noises.

My eldest daughter and I do this together quite a lot. The other day we were walking to the fabric shop, both nutting out what we needed and wanted. The conversation – well could it even be called a conversation? It was more like parallel dialogue - went like this.

Mattie: “So Mum, I need to make this costume for an evil queen but I‘m thinking I want to give her some vulnerability.”

Me: “If I make a a shift dress would it be too plain? It would go quite well with a jacket or with a jumper over the top but maybe I’m better off making a skirt?”

Mattie: "I don’t want it to be cliched but I want to still use some of the stereotypes because they sort of work. You know, maybe some crazy spiky shoulder pieces…”

Me: "I think it would be too plain. Maybe if it were a print – a tartan? I could add a crocheted collar to embellish it?”

Mattie: “You know so maybe a stereotype colour scheme like purple and black but kind of change it to something softer like a chiffon.”

Me: "If I make a bright shift I could combine it with lots of different tights and scarves and collars. Or I could embroider a stitch pattern onto it. Yeah I think I’d like that. Or something yellow with aqua stitching...Yeah.Or a yellow tartan shift.”

Mattie: “ Yeah, a purple lace with ruffles. Soft but with scary shoulder pieces. Maybe lace."

Me and Mattie: “Hmmm….Yeah…that’s it.”

I think blogging is a bit like that. A way to get thoughts in order. Our projects in order. You crafters out there know that our minds can be on several projects at once – and our work bench can be piled with projects on the boil, on the back burner and on the side. Something about blogging creates an order to the chaos.Perhaps by sitting at the computer and navigating our blog, sorting out our post, we fire up a different set of neurons that set out a pathway for the cloud of creativity that is thundering in our heads to make a lightning strike.
And A blog is also a space. A space we can keep tidy and manage and do what we like in. I like what Michelle wrote recently on her blog TheRoyal Sisters 

" I know this looks all a tad glam...
but in all reality I have dishes piled high,
10 loads of washing and folding, and I cant for the life of me
think of what to cook for dinner 90 % of the time...
I spend most of my time picking up, cleaning up and tidying up...
only to realize that it seriously doesn't make a dent in the chaos
that is my life...

This is why I have a is a place to escape to once in a while
and dream..."
But back to my friend's dilemma - these days we do have so many options and so many tasks that require sitting *(or standing!) at the computer (urgh!)so it’s important to not overload and to choose the one that is right for you. Instagram annoys me because of the frame and filters etc – it’s just not my thing. I don’t have an iphone, I don’t enjoy taking photos and, anyway, as you may have noticed, I like words! I don’t have a personal facebook because I don’t want to. I try twitter sometimes but feel like I’ve gate crashed a loud party and don’t know what the hell anyone is talking about and which conversation to join in with and if anyone will listen and hey where are the drinks at this party anyway and let’s face it, most of the time I’m that person at the party who ends up in the kitchen cleaning up. Where is the twitter party kitchen?

 I’m slowly dipping my toe into the vast bottomless lake that is pinterest. I feel overwhelmed. I feel like singing the Dead Milkman’s song “Everybody’s got nice stuff but me.” I feel like my contribution will be a tiny indecipherable pebble that hardly even makes a plop.My illustrator friend likes pinterest. I can see her point -  I can see how it can order your ideas, inspirations and even all the projects you want to do in a very visual and accessible way. (There is the question is pinterest anti-feminist which Jill in a Box wrote about here quite eloquently.) I will pin…..eventually...

So for me, it’s words and pictures, show and tell, brag and share, talk through pros and cons, create a feeling of order out of chaos, completion out of publishing. A virtual room of one’s own. If I had my time over, the answer is yes. I would start a blog. Would you? Why do you blog?

*try not to sit for too long. It’s not good for your health.


  1. It probably is a bit like bragging, but not in a bad show-offy way.

    1. Yes it is a bit - but I love seeing what everyone is up to and I enjoy your accompanying commentary on your pictures. It's heaps of fun.

  2. i love this post.thanks for sharing ur thoughts!

  3. I love that you end with...try not to sit too long. Cause I totally do. I feel that maybe I can't comment as I've stepped away from the blog of late and switched to FB only because everyone seems to be there instead, but for me blogging began as a way of sharing my craft and sometimes life adventures with my mum and family who all live in Queensland. In the beginning it was sorta like a dear diary too. A place to make sense of things, formulate thoughts and ideas and grow, both myself and my hobby. When my hobby became my job, my blog was a series of full stops. Sorta like saying, see world...I started this and finished it, here it is, full stop on that project now I can begin the next. Almost like putting it on the blog meant wiping it off the to do list. When it became work, I actually didn't like what my blog became because it was, more like bragging. A constant see what I made. So in my mind switching to a FB business page made sense cause it sorta outright says this is my business and this is what I will be talking about. So don't be offended if all I do is brag :) Where as I do sorta feel that blogs are all about talking, sharing, giving and receiving, not just self promoting. More of a this is me, my life, my hobbies, my family and my messy house. A bit more real and all encompassing I guess.
    But I totally get that peeps use it as a forum for many things, so at the end of the day it's each to his own and bragging ... well like you say, amongst friends, it is sharing your achievements, which always puts a smile on my face xx

    1. I miss your blog Jay! I think you are right about the commercial element to the blogging. When it is a business (as mine is supposed to be! Yikes!) it does feel like constant bragging about new products and completions. I also feel a lovely sense of completion when something is made, photgraphed and posted. It's like a big debrief!

    2. When I read yours and other crafty peeps blogs I'm delighted to see new products and things on the go, so maybe I should give myself permission to start bragging/blogging again. Thanks so much for your thought provoking post and reminding me that it's o.k to love what you do and to want to share it.
      P.s I love that you love words and don't have an iphone. Me too (:

  4. Oh my god I just loved every word of your post!! One of my studio colleagues, a shy, quiet and rather talented man, is facing a similar dilemma. When I started my blog six years ago I was completely terrified that anyone would look at my work, much less comment or criticise it. The initial idea was that the blog would force me to come up with something creative once a week....and although my creative world has changed and grown beyond my dreams that sense of discipline remains important.
    The flipside of it is this: I have always lacked confidence and am self conscious when it comes to my work. I read something that Laurie Anderson said, which went something like: 'when you feel that you are being looked at, it can be harder to do the looking'. My blog has brought me many many great things (meeting wonderful supportive and erudite women such as yourself being up there among the marvels!) but that sense of pressure is something I struggle against all the time.
    Thanks again Julianne. :)

    1. Oh I know what you mean - I used to physically blush and get butterflies everytime I posted something and feel like such a dill! We are a bit preconditioned against bragging - which is fine. But a blog - and your blog - is so much more than that. It's funny to read that you wanted to be forced to be creative once a week - you're creative every second I reckon!