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patterns of ink

How fruitless to be ever thinking yet never embrace a thought... to have the power to believe and believe it's all for naught. I, too, have reckoned time and truth (content to wonder if not think) in metaphors and meaning and endless patterns of ink. Perhaps a few may find their way to the world where others live, sharing not just thoughts I've gathered but those I wish to give. Tom Kapanka

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Why Bloggers Blog: Part VI

To Bring Balance to Their Private World

Part VI is the last of “Why Bloggers Blog.” I'd hoped to post it sooner, but Saturday was full of yard work and painting a bedroom, and Sunday had church and a piano recital, followed by some time at the boardwalk and a trip to the train station to pick up a daughter returning from Chicago. The weather was a little breezy but beautiful. I must admit that as I began the workweek, I was a disappointed that I didn't have time to write over the weekend. There was a time, that would not have been true....

I mentioned in Part Five-B that the observations in this final post would be mostly directed at me. Keep in mind that these thoughts are not one-size-fits-all as much as a friendly “if the shoe fits.”

I don't feel like I spend too much time writing. In reality, and that's the key word, I'm a typical guy who enjoys a diversion from work, but I'm also a dad and husband in need of the loved ones who call me by those terms of endearment.

When your kids start warning you in jest about a new type of "lap cancer" caused from having a lap top on your knees all winter while you watch TV with the family... you know something may be out of balance. (Those are my girls there on the left. I do hope we don't discover that laptops cause cancer of the lap.)

When your wife needs some help with something and hears "Just a minute, Honey, I'm right in the middle of a thought" ... it better be a good one because that thought may be your only company for a while. =) I’m just kidding. My wife is very patient. That's her there at the right (in a picture our youngest snapped a couple years ago). She has some of the best judgment and intuition on the planet. When she points out a “concern,” it’s worth noting because she's often RIGHT. Take note. Husbands seldom put such things in writing, but it's a pretty safe bet that we all could.

Don't think I’m just saying that for brownie points, because it’s unlikely that she'll read this post. Her mind is understandably on a certain June wedding. Mine is, too. In fact, knowing my disposition, my increased writing this winter has been a way to "not think" about the life changing year we are sharing as a family.

[Add to all this the fact that in April I accepted an adjunct professorship in a GR University's evening Masters in Education program. It involves one night of teaching a week and some "on-line" instruction. As we've demonstrated here, using the internet for "class discussion" is incredibly useful, but it will accentuate the "perception" that I have a laptop fused to my thighs.]

When I hinted at the subject of this final post in the series, I had no idea that so many people would speak in terms of “addiction." Hearing some of your accounts, I'm glad to be aware of that possible pitfall of this pastime and that once it's recognized, adjustments can be made.

I don't think my mid-life increase in writing is a bad thing, but I do need to find a balance. The title poem of this blog speaks of endless patterns of ink because most of my writing through the years was literally scrawled and re-scrawled on bits of paper filed here and there (like Emily Dickinson). Most of them never quite felt "finished," but this pastime has been the cure for procrastination. I have a much better "write 'til it's finished" record since taking up blogging. This kind of writing adds the risk (the possibility) of actually being "read." I say risk, because let's face it... what if no one reads? What if what you've written doesn't resonate?...

Crop Circles

What if writing
of the kind I do
is but a form of madness,
senility not yet curbed

by an arthritic hand?
What if being lost in thought
is merely wandering in a maze
of corn or waist-high rye
until all my
sterile stomping there
in search of sky
or light or just

a path to where I am...
shows only where I've trod
in patterns
that do not mean
a thing to man…
and little more when seen

by birds... and God?
© Copyright 2006, TK, Patterns of Ink


I enjoy the "neighborhood" aspect of blogging, but writing itself is an outlet for me. We all need outlets. The cool thing about blogging is that it's not an "outlet mall" as much as it is a village of curious little shops where people step in to consider adding some small thing to their life or to hear a story that makes some "antique" worth keeping. Blogging has helped me organize the shop, so to speak, taking things from piles to posts (dusting them off or revising them as needed with 20 or 30 additional years of life experience.) Oh, there’s new stuff, too (like "Wooden Box" parts I and II, and that whole mid-Sixties “When Doubt Came Slowly” string last Christmas), but the newly written pieces somehow fit in with the old. This little shop adds a fulfilling dimension to my life and is profitable in countless ways (though not in the lucrative sense of the word). I suspect that's true for most "writers," bloggers, and owners of antique shops.
Comments are
the little bell that rings
as we step through the door
of the shops we browse.
.
Some time back, my wife tactfully encouraged me to track the patterns of time spent in this pastime. (She enjoys my writing but is understandably concerned about balance and priorities.) So I checked out my archives. They're sparse compared to many. My first post was in October 2004. After that, I was blogging casually a year and a half before receiving my first dozen comments (one or two at a time through the months-- some from “spammers” =). At that pace, it took over two years to reach my 100th post (not that I paid attention to such things until this task), and yet... I saw that I’ve written more than 100 posts in the past 7 months (not counting lots of drafts). Hmmm... my family has a point. Perhaps I need to rethink the "store hours" of this little shop if I want to keep it open over the long haul.

Why the gradual increase in my writing? Well, the first thing was I got a laptop for school work so I didn't have to share the one computer in the house with two college students. Naturally, with the laptop came a wireless router which meant I could work and write from anywhere in the house. I began writing while sitting with the family. They were often studying or reading so I didn't feel bad about that. Then of course, I starting meeting you folks, which made writing more fun than ever. In fact, it is that aspect of blogging that I would miss most. I now have a better understanding of posts like this.

So I'll be adjusting my writing time slightly to keep a balance between a worthy pastime and inadvertently letting time pass me by during some important months here in my home. I've never enjoyed writing more, and I don't see that changing. I have plenty in the hopper to keep Patterns going for a long time. I look forward to finishing them, and to whatever conversation they may bring.

Wow! I just scrolled down this thread of posts. Thanks for being part of this three-week discussion on Why Bloggers Blog. It went places we hadn't planned to go, and kept us a little longer than we planned to stay, but you helped make it an interesting and civil exchange of words that matter.

See you soon on the front porch...

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14 Comments:

Blogger the walking man said...

Balance between the faceworld and the cyberworld is two cups on a scale, except one cup or the other keeps getting a little bit of water taken from it and one cup keeps having a little added to it.

The scale goes up or down on both sides as time and needs dictate. It's 5:05am right now been up for an hour and I am not taking time away from anything in my faceworld and have nothing to do and no where to be until 9am when I have to go to the vampire and give her some blood for next weeks Dr's. appointment.

But on the other hand I also don't have three kids at home, just a dog that is happy when I spend a half hour kicking a ball to her or her to the ball (whichever is closer) and that is about my limit for standing and walking around the yard without my cane.

At least you are aware that there needs to be a balance Tom, I know some gamers that spend 90% looking at a computer screen trying to get to the next level of whatever it is they are gaming at, which to me is time wasted in fantasyworld.

Just don't let either cup spill over and you may have another kid yet. LOL

peace

TWM

8/5/07 4:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know it from personal experience that you are better at your other roles in life because of having a creative outlet like writing.
I am not a writer, but I like to read the mix of posts you have. Family comes first. It is good to maintain balance. Keep writing when you can, and we will keep reading.

8/5/07 2:21 PM  
Blogger Nancy said...

BALANCE... and I agree it is difficult but family does come before blogging. The pictures you shared today of your family, really make it more personal for me because I feel like I know them through your words. Having seen the pictures makes me appreciate even more the love you have for your family. This makes me admire you even more as a husband, and father.

I love your creativity, and all that you write seems to be interesting to me; so I will keep checking by, hoping for more. However, I respect and appreciate the time that you will balance with your family.

8/5/07 3:28 PM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

TWM,
I hope you're trip to the vampire went well. It is different for us all and it will even be different for me some time in the future.
I've never been a "gamer" and that does seem like a waste, I know of kids who have gotten lost in it.

Anon,
I do believe that I'm better at my other roles because of this change of pace, I just need to be quicker to set it aside when other things come up.

Nancy,
The bride to be is on the left. That photo is a couple years old, but it's my screen saver.
As you know, houses go from full to quiet in no time it seems. We're so thankful for our youngest who will postpone that for a long time.
I think what happened was the interesting topics and "series" approach in recent months created a sense of "deadline" that isn't bad but also isn't really needed in this venue. I'm just going to go back to a more leisurely pace that's all. Well, I’ve gotta go light the grill. We’re cooking out tonight.

8/5/07 4:31 PM  
Blogger Josie said...

Tom, what a gorgeous family you have. Thank you for sharing them with us (and sharing us with them...)

I'm not a writer either, and I never found the time to keep a journal or diary, like so many people do. But I found blogging for me is a sort of journal. Every day there is one thought that sort of stands out in my mind for that day, and I put it in my "on-line" journal, and then my blogging friends comment on it. It's sort of like having a conversation. On my header of my blog are the words "This is the journal of my travel through time and space, and my observations along the way."

The bonus is, I have met some very interesting people, from all corners of the world, and all walks of life, and all levels of education, with varied interests, and for me that has been fascinating. I enjoy them all.

That, in essence, is what blogging is for me.

Josie

8/5/07 6:17 PM  
Blogger SusieQ said...

Tom, you have a lovely family. Your daughters and your wife are beautiful. With the wedding coming and summer nearly here with all its activities, I can see why you will need to revise your blogging habits. No doubt other bloggers will be cutting back on their blogging, too, due to summer. I know I will. But I hope to be able to stay with my commitment of one post a week.

Your poem: I have asked myself that same question. Will what I write mean anything to anyone? Then I remind myself that my grandchildren will read what I have written someday. I would have been thrilled had my grandparents left some kind of journal for me to read.

Even though it looks like we won't be enjoying as much of your writing, I will check here just the same for whatever new you might have posted.

8/5/07 9:33 PM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

Josie,
I've not shown many photos of my family, but I thought it was a good time to do it.
Some people are very good writers but it's so natural that they don't see themselves that way. The journaling you speak of is a lost art-- sort of like letter writing. Keep up the good work.

SQ,
They are beautiful, aren't they?
I'm confident that I will have at least one post a week so please do keep coming by. For me, it's not a question of how many posts but how much time. Some posts practically write themselves, but sometimes I get "lost in thought" and tend to tune out everything until that thought crystallizes. I think that's when I have to be more alert to "real life and loved ones" around me.
Thank you for this good reminder that "readers" are not always in the present.

9/5/07 6:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like the poem. I would have never made a connection between writing and tramping out crop circles, but I do see your point. I like your style of writing. The thoughts makes sense to me, but then again I think crop circles are beautiful.

9/5/07 10:41 PM  
Blogger JR's Thumbprints said...

Perhaps you should do a piece on "why bloggers quit" as well.

Nice family pics, Tom.

I'm off to Pigeon for a funeral this weekend.

10/5/07 12:15 AM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

Anon,
I've never actually seen a crop circle but I've studied the "phenomenon" and they actually do take quite a bit of planning and work. If you dig around the archives you'll see that I spent 18 years in Iowa and I can tell you that you could truly get lost in the maze of maze.
They call corn "maze" in England. In fact, most people don't make the connection between those two words. The U of M "maze" (yellow) comes from the color of corn as does the word "maze" meaning labyrinth (for the rows and rows and acres and acres that people get lost in.
Anywhoo.... glad you liked the poem. I enjoy knowing that the lines I write strike some as “poems.”

JR,
I know that you are thinking about "quitting," but I wouldn't. In case I don't write a piece on this topic, I'll just say that for writers the exercise of daily writing is good, but there's nothing wrong with that kind of journaling being "for your eyes only." I think I've been to Pigeon on the way to Shipshewana, IN (Amish country). Have a safe trip.

All,
If blogging has gotten out of balance in your life or if has become a "hungry monster" to feed, consider this:
I think what may happen to bloggers who post daily with a readership in mind(those who try to write something "good" every day) is that the pace becomes unrealistic. For some folks it has "burn out" written all over it.

Columnists write once a week. (We know they actually write lots more than that but they just print the stuff that rises to the top.)
The problem with "weekend blogging" which is what most of my archive is, is that the posts tend to be long for this venue. They'd only be about three pages of a book, but for some bloggers that's long. So I'll work on that. =)

Like SQ said, "No doubt other bloggers will be cutting back on their blogging, too, due to summer." Let's face it, blogging is better suited for the winter months, but let's commit not to quit.

I propose a league of "once-or- twice-a-week" bloggers instead of the "every day then go away" cycle seen so often in the blogosphere.

10/5/07 6:49 AM  
Blogger Nancy said...

I try to blog twice a week although I read more often than that. Twice a week is not overwhelming and it fits my schedule right now. It is usually Tuesdays and Fridays, but I can see that dropping to once a week or less when the wedding gets closer. It is very easy to get "sucked" in and feel the pressure to do more but I want to keep it "balanced" with the rest of my life.

Hope you've had a great week with plans to enjoy your upcoming weekend!

10/5/07 1:23 PM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

Nancy,
That sounds like a good pace. I suppose it will vary from person to person and from time to time. BTW, I noticed at one of the links in this post that you left a comment way back when...
Thanks again...

10/5/07 7:01 PM  
Blogger J_G said...

Yup, I agree, you have a very lovely family Tom. Somehow I can imagine Norman Rockwell painting you and your family at the beach, going off to school or having Thanksgivimg dinner. That's a very good thing.

I have my days with blogging. It's like anything else. Some things really take on a life all of their own. The story I just wrote about the USS Constitution was in my mind and occupied all of my time for a few days until I got it posted on the my page and even then I went back to double check all my facts, spelling, grammar and such. I even found a better painting for my illustration because it is something so important to me.

The last piece I did was nothing more than anger and frustration and that took me a few minutes to do.

Blogging is a good outlet for me. I orginally started my blog in November of 2004. It started out as way for me to vent my hurt and anger because I was dumped from a three year relationship that I had very high hopes for. I barely made it and if blogger beta hadn't deleted my original blog you could go back and read the horrible pain I was going through. The whole situation though brought me back to the church and I had to use my faith to survive, again. There is always a purpose behind things but it's hard to imagine when you feel like you'd rather be anything else than alive so the hurt would stop.

I made it though, here I am. The good Lord gave me a blog and said go vent and show up at my place on Sunday and I listened to the spirit and now I'm so much better for it. So blogging does have some redeeming qualities even if I stiil go off on a rant now and then.

I guess my life has had quite a bit of activity and I've ended up in some unsual situations but I have a blog to share things with people I may not have shared with anyone face to face.

11/5/07 11:52 PM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

J_G,
Sometimes I miss comments for long periods of time. This was a good one that I didn't see for a few weeks. Creative outlets can help us remember that we can learn through our personal struggles. They help us focus on what has helped shape us. You are better equipped to think and write about some things today than you were five years ago. Not everyone can say that.

20/5/07 1:30 PM  

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