Thursday, June 30, 2011

writing the perfect comment

There are some great posts about commenting in the last few days. Jjiraffe, for example, has a wonderful series of posts that have got me thinking and wanting to comment more often than usual. And in the earliest of her posts, you can see links to some other commenting posts--all worth checking out.

I love commenting. The biggest barrier for me to commenting more often is my own anxiety about writing. I tend to overthink and overwrite, and so a simple "click" to say "great post--I agree!" turns easily into a two hour process of drafting and revising. Ridiculous, I know. But true. I've gotten better and better, though, not necessarily at writing, but at just pushing through and cutting off the revision process. When I want to say "great post," more often than not, I say just that, even if it's short and cryptic. These are baby steps--I'm working on being less judgmental of my own writing, and commenting has been a meaningful way to do so.

I love getting comments, too. I'm not a heavy-duty blogger (as if I needed to tell you that!) and I'm inconsistent (see above: overthinking and overwriting adds up to lots of draft posts and few published ones). I also have absolutely no community to speak of. I read several bloggers who have long-time friends through their blogs, who have connected with a specific group or set of friends, or who have dedicated readers. Again, I'm not one of those people. I have yet to talk to a blogger one-on-one, and I often feel like a schoolgirl with blogger-crushes. I have a feeling, though, that I'm not alone. I bet there are more bloggers like me out there, but we're all kinda kicking our toes in the dirt on the side of the playground hoping that someday we'd be able to play hopscotch with others.

I also have "Conscientious Avoider" tendencies. I work a lot and much of my free time is spent hanging with W and my DH. I read blogs quickly (though with respect and purpose) and if I stopped to comment every time I really wanted to, I'd have to cut down on my work or family life. It's not that I'm busier than anyone else--man, do I admire those of you who maintain active blogging/commenting practices while also working and being a mom--but it's that I'm not quick enough. I'm a slow thinker and responder, and so not only do I revise endlessly, I need time and space to decide what I really want to say. And, true to Avoider status, I worry a lot about hurting a blogger with words that come out wrong. Further, I know that being currently pregnant means that if someone blithely clicks my profile and ends up here, they could find me and my blog upsetting. This would be the absolute last thing I'd want. I'm not an IF blogger nor am I a mommy blogger. I don't know what I am--my reading of blogs straddles many boundaries and categories. Sometimes those categories clash. So I read, think, and sometimes, I avoid  joining in the discussion, not out of dislike, but out of deep respect.

I've been reminded of two important things as a result of reading these posts on commenting. One, I need to be less afraid. The playground is huge and even though I sometimes feel like I'm left out of the cliques, it's really okay. I need to do less revision, less hesitant writing, and less worrying about whether my comment is good or not. I need to be a zen commenter. I also probably need to do less avoidance. Yes, my words or my existence might offend someone, but honestly, that happens without my even knowing it sometimes. I can't get better at this unless I jump in.

Two, I'm really interested in the commenting-back option. I get a few comments in dribs and drabs, and I always read and appreciate them (more than you know). But I don't always respond, I guess because I never thought it was acceptable practice. The big bloggers I've read in the past certainly don't do it, and even the small bloggers I read don't either. Recently, I've noticed a few who do respond either with a direct reply-comment or by commenting on my blog, and I think it's a great way to acknowledge the connection. I'm going to start doing it, in other words. Replying could take less time than a usual comment, I think, and it would make literal the actual appreciation I have for people who take a moment to write to me through the blog. It creates an actual relationship where there wasn't one, even if that relationship is just for a moment. Beautiful.

So I want to thank everyone who has read my both to thank the bloggers I read and to remind myself yet again that commenting is valuable and that I should be