It may come as a surprise to some of you, but I don’t consider myself a “writer”.

I know that sounds a bit silly… given that I write all the time.  I write stories, I write poems, I write scripts, I write songs… and I write blog posts.

So… in the sense that I write stuff – yes, I’m probably a writer.

But, not a real writer.  Not a Writer’s-Writer.

To me… real writers are people like Barbara Kingsolver, J.R.R. Tolkien or Elizabeth Gilbert… (and – obviously – many others). People who have a natural gift with words.  They weave tapestries with their beautifully constructed sentences.  They transport me into different worlds with their stories.  They push my boundaries.  They change my mind and stir my heart.

Those are the real writers… and they intimidate me.

In the blogosphere, there are also people whom I consider to be real writers.  Many of us write awkward, boring posts.  Or weird, disjointed, confusing posts.  Or posts that are entirely difficult to decipher or understand…

Or posts that waffle on and never get to the point (probably like this one is about to do)…

Then there are bloggers who also happen to be great writers (and they are often paid to write for online magazines and news sources who recognise their writing skills – and to pay them actual money to write stuff).

I can name a few… but my friend, Jenn Miller from Edventure Project is one such person (I don’t just say this to flatter her… I don’t believe in gushing insincerely about people).  Jenn’s stories have a way of transporting me – like a magical time machine – out of my chair and in to her world.  When she writes, it feels as though I’m sitting right next to her… enjoying the same sights, sounds and experiences  she describes so beautifully in her posts.

Another blogger who writes well is Theodora from Escape Artistes.  She’s funny.  And dry.  And her blogs are not for the faint-hearted.  Or the prudish.  Theodora writes for a living.  And she’s good at it.

I don’t write for a living.  I write for fun.  I write because I enjoy it.  I write as a way to organise the chaos inside of my head.  I write as a way of processing ideas and questions.  I write to purge and vent my frustrations.  I write to understand.  I write… because I have always written.  From a young age, I wrote stories, letters, songs, poems and diaries.

I still do.

So – why am I harping on about this?

A couple of posts ago, I wrote about that weird doll-store experience that had some folk nodding in commiseration… and other people frothing with irritation.  (This is fine, by the way.  I really don’t mind if people disagree with me.  The world would be awfully boring if we were all the same).

But, this particular person seemed to take issue with my tone of writing… rather than my opinion on the dolls themselves.  She felt that, if I had written the piece differently, and had treaded far more lightly around the topic at hand – that my writing (or even me – as a “writer”) – may have garnered a bit more respect.  Here’s what she wrote (on a Facebook thread):

“… (speaking of me to a friend)… the difference being that neither you (nor I) would write a fairly negative review of our “whhhaaaat?” moments within a new culture.  When you (or I) write about a new culture experience, respect oozes out of the writing versus a sense of condemnation.  She’s welcome to her opinion, of course, but why taint her beautiful writing abilities with negativity?  She could have written the same piece with less of a ‘slam’ on what is currently part of American pop culture.  It could have been a wittier, more self-effacing type of piece… that type of writing garners respect”.

Her comment caught me off guard, in an unexpected way… but mostly, I guess, because of her assumption that I’m writing “a piece”… or writing in order to “garner respect”.

I have never viewed my blog posts as… writing assignments.  Ever.  And the very idea of “garnering respect” for my writing… has never been a motivating factor (on ANY level) on why I blog.   (Quick disclaimer:  I’m not saying that it’s “wrong” to view a blog post as a writing assignment… I’m simply saying that it has never been how I have viewed my posts).

There are MANY reasons why people blog.

These are mine:

  • First and foremost – as mentioned in my waffling above… I love to write.  I write as a way of trying to sort… or understand… or process life.  I write because I love words – and I genuinely enjoy expressing myself using words (please tell me that I’m not the only one who gets a thrill out of paging randomly through a thesaurus!)…
  • I write these blog posts as a way of documenting my journey.  I find it fascinating to read back on earlier posts… and to remember and reminisce and think:  “Wow – look how things have changed… remember when life was like that?”.  One day, I would like to have this entire blog and all it’s posts printed and bound into a book.  I want to give it to my kids to keep as an heirloom.
  • I blog because I want to connect.  I have never viewed the readers of this blog as editors or critics (even if some of them are).  I try to write as though I’m typing a really honest e-mail to a friend.  I try to be as *real* as I can (and sometimes, it gets me into trouble).  I blog as a way of reaching out to *my* kinds of people… my “tribe”.  I’m trying to unearth folk who *GET* us… who *get* our journey… who resonate with our core values.  Blogging is my way of sending out a “PING!”… in the same way as the submarine-sailors… waiting to see if that ping bounces back to me… waiting to see if there’s someone else out there – in the same waters (and hopefully, a friend – rather than foe).  Blogging is my way of saying:  “Anyone out there?  Anyone resonating with what I’m saying here?  Anyone feel the same way?….”
  • I write to share my opinion.  I think that most of us would like to be *heard*… even if it’s just in some, small way.  I write as a way of sharing my opinions with others… and also as a way to process my opinions (my opinions aren’t set-in-stone, by the way – and often times, someone’s well-thought-out response to my opinion may have me changing my mind about something.  This happens often).
  • I blog to keep close friends and family members updated with our news.  My mother reads this blog.  My sisters too.  Some of our good friends read this blog.  It’s a nice way to keep them updated with our journey.  My Mom grumbles if I don’t post regularly.  😉

Then… on the other side of the coin:

  • I don’t blog to try to convert you or convince you of something!  (Jeez! I get soooo frustrated when people assume that this is my motive).  My proselytising days are over.  My stories… and my opinions are NOT (and I really cannot over-emphasise this)… my way of trying to *covert* you into my way of thinking or living.  When I bitch about the American Girl Doll store… I’m not saying that it’s somehow “wrong” for other folk to enjoy the dolls.  I’m saying it’s not for me… it freaked me out… I found all rather overwhelming and a more than just a little bit eww’ish.  I am a person who loves diversity.  I don’t expect (or even want) everyone to agree with me.  I don’t expect (or want) everyone to view the world through the same lenses as I do.  This blog is NOT my attempt to convince you of some kind of “truth” or “Right Way” to do life.  This is all about our experiments… and journeys… and adventures – and our attempt to live OUR best life.  Your best life will probably look completely different to ours… and I celebrate that!
  • I don’t blog to sell anything.  Quick disclaimer:  I have absolutely nothing against folk who make a living off their blogs.  Kudos to them!  It’s just that I have never viewed Living Differently as a money-maker.  There’s no donate button.  There’s no store.  No products to buy.  No links to click on that will generate a commission for us.  Again… maybe this will change.  Maybe one day, this blog will generate some cash in some kind of way (which would certainly be nice)… but for now… it’s simply my little space on the internet where I can just be myself.  I don’t have any customers to try to please.  If people don’t like my blog – they are more than welcome to just…  go away.  (On the same note:  I never check my blog stats.  For all I know, there could be a tiny handful of people who read this blog on a regular basis – and nobody else.  And that’s also fine with me! – Seriously!)…
  • I don’t blog as a way to write impressive “pieces” that will “generate respect”.  I wish you could see my face while I’m typing this…  I’m REALLY not being sarcastic or catty towards the woman who made those comments.  She’s probably a writer and a blogger herself… maybe even an editor.  Maybe even a *real* writer.  And maybe she sees blog-writing in a different way to the way I see it.  I hold no grudge against her whatsoever.  In fact, I’m kinda stoked that she complimented my writing.  She even said I had “beautiful writing abilities”.  That was a huge compliment to me… and I blushed when I read it… seriously – I did!

Perhaps I’m more of a Bloggers-Blogger – than a Writer’s-Writer.

Or maybe I’m just a South African Creative-Creature on a journey… sharing my stories in the hope that I’ll gather some new friends along the way….

I like the sound of that.