In August there’s a box of free zucchini in the back of church. A box at the post office. A box in the doorway of businesses around my small town. In Middle America a lot of people love to garden, but we don’t always have time or energy to deal with it. Especially the zucchini. In late June I can’t get enough freshly grilled chunks. In July I fill the freezer with bread and muffins and brownies. In August I weigh myself and pull out all but one plant so I can make zoodles and lose the muffin top from July’s zucchini bread.
The usual zucchini in a giveaway box is huge, filled with large seeds and hardened outside flesh. I hate it when they get as big as a small boat. At our house those clunkers go straight to the refuse pile.
The boxes of freebie squash around town are rarely touched. Business owners leave them there for a week or two and then quietly dispose of them in their weekly trash pickup. Although today at the post office, I thought there were a few less squash in the box than yesterday.
I started blogging in 2007. Grew a platform. And eventually deleted the blog and the Christian based social media account that came with it. Started an account in the blog world in 2011 but ended up just commenting a lot on some End Times and other theology blogs. Quit that a few years later. Then I got a real writing job, the pay was not much but I was paid nonetheless. Published some white papers and magazine content and regular essays. I was relieved not to have to navigate blogging anymore.
I quit writing for hire some time ago, though. Our store took off with unprecedented growth and between that and raising our children, I was glad not to have a mind distracted by publishing. I never quit writing, though. I just quit piling it up in online boxes marked free.
There is so much content online now, free content to gorge on (quite a few do have annoying advertisements to scroll around, though), that I have conflicted feelings about adding more to it all. Like zucchini boxes around small towns in August. Why try to give away what nobody even seems to want?
See, one thing that stayed the same, for me, is the conflicted feelings I have about putting my writing into the world, about blogging, about the internet, about how to let my light shine in the midst of a cess pool.
I don’t want a blog to consume too much of my life; yet I think about it far too much beyond the time I have set aside for it. I believe that I don’t care so much what others think, that at my age my maturity is starting to match my driver’s license. Until I post something online and realize how badly I want to be liked and affirmed and patted on the head. I find myself liking those likes or being sad I haven’t gotten any, a little more than I’m comfortable with.
This time around, I don’t want to quit. I’ve realized that writing is a calling on my life and I want to work all of that out properly. Perhaps turning off the like button is in order.
I’m thankful for the prior experiences I had in blogging and social media as it gives me some balance as I move forward. I’m thankful for my favorite bloggers who kept going, who found the balance I sought but couldn’t quite grasp, and who are still active ten years after I first started and then quit. Those bloggers have achieved the ten thousand hour rule. They are good at writing and publishing online, they know what they are talking about, they get it, and they avoid the pitfalls, because they have put the time in. Lots. Of. Time.
I admire them. I am learning from them. One of my favorites is a blog I first clicked on back in 2007 and loved, and a blog I still seek out in 2018. The website is called Lone Prairie. This post of hers, which I linked, is exactly what I wanted to read and see from other bloggers as I start self-publishing online again.
Julie’s (Lone Prairie) writing gives me hope that blogging doesn’t have to be give-aways of overblown, homegrown, hardened flesh that people ignore; for good reason. Rather, posting one’s work online for free can be the tender June kind of fruit. The good stuff you can’t wait to enjoy with the first summertime meal on the back porch.