cakeOne year ago today I wrote my first blog post. The post stunk, mainly because I was trying too hard to be something I’m not: a writer who, on a first draft, can write brilliant online fiction. The experience taught me that like most mortals, I must spend hours and hours writing and editing and redo-ing to produce a good piece of fiction. After the first few horrible posts, I was like, now what? 

The gigantor lesson I learned this year was to write REAL. Dive into life, capture a tiny bit of the everyday–YOUR everyday–and reveal what it’s like to be you.

And guess what? I love doing it.

Each time I write about an event or opinion or whatever in my life, I learn something. And another cool thing: I get to instantly share what I’ve learned with other (awesome) people (who read blogs).

I’m still writing fiction and non-fiction in addition to the more personal writing I do here. But what has surprised me this year is how much blogging has improved my other writing.

This is largely a thank you post.

To the amazing bloggers I follow and learn from, you all have BIG and FASCINATING and (mostly) NORMAL lives. To the readers, especially those who comment, you all make me think a TON about what and how I write. Thank you. To the WordPress folks, who I imagine as little fairies who live in cubicles and answer my emails, uh…keep being magic and thanks for helping me with the techno stuff.

45 = total posts this year.

I’m proud of that. I haven’t done a word count, but I bet it’s close to 50,000, which by the way, is about the length of a novel. That gives me GREAT inspiration, since I’m currently working on a novel.

I’ve never kept a journal, so being able to retrace the last year of my life is CRAZY. This is no biggie to the journalers or diary-keepers, but it blows my mind. For example in June, I know I watched the movie Another Earth and attempted to participate in Camp NaNoWriMo. In September, I only posted once, but that’s because I was a resident at the Vermont Studio Center and in October, for the first time I posted an actual scene from a fictional story I was working on.

The event that changed my life, and by extension, my writing, happened in December 2012. I lost a dear friend and mentor to cancer. I was thrown out of my normal orbit and I turned to blogging as a way to cope with something I couldn’t understand. That post, When A Person Dies, was the most authentic writing I had dared to share on the blog. I poured all my grief and anger and confusion into that post. Writing helped me process and move through a very difficult life event. For that, I was grateful.

I was shocked when, about a week later, the post was Freshly Pressed. Getting Freshly Pressed was an honor, but the best part was the hundreds of comments from other bloggers who took the time to share their own experiences with loss and give words of encouragement.

Y’all, that meant the world to me. Thank you.

I answered every comment. Even the mean one. And I did it from my parent’s house because I’d gone “home” for the holidays–my first winter trip to Alaska in more than a decade. When I returned to Washington, I wrote Home Is An Ocean in response to my own confusion about what home means.

Blogging helps put life in perspective for me, whether I’m wondering about the nature of God or feeling sad, reminiscing about my travels or freaking out about a prank phone stalker.

Hugs to all my fellow bloggers, to my followers and likers and commenters, and sneaky anonymous readers. You all have taught me so much. I want to return the favor.

I’m committed to keep on posting this year, but in addition, I’m going to try to do a better job keeping up with the bloggers I follow, meeting new bloggers, and leaving useful comments. That’s how this community works. And I, FO SHO, want to be part of this fabulous community.

Bloggers change the world! (t least you changed MY world…so thanks.