Early on, when Time Goes By was new, I visited each link on the Elderbloggers List at least two or three times a week and often every day. The list has more than 300 links now and that frequency hasn’t been possible for a long time.
Having been remiss in my blog reading for too long, yesterday I started at the top and went through one-by-one catching up with at least the posts that were on the home page. I didn’t get farther than the beginning of the Ds (who knew so many blog names start with A). I’ll continue a few every day now and then try to do this tour more often, but let me tell you about what I found out with this concentrated blog reading all in one swoop:
Elderbloggers are consistently good writers on an amazing range of topics.
Whether tackling the intricacies of the economy, politics and healthcare or reporting on the progress of gardens and grandchildren, discussing books and movies or passing on interesting news stories, local events and trivia, recounting travel adventures and even diets or having a good rant, the elders on this list know the art of storytelling.
The quality of the writing is remarkable which, of course, makes any story – even when you think the topic is not of personal interest – compelling, and I wondered, as I was reading, how this came to be. Few elderbloggers are professional writers.
In my case, I have always written stories. I wrote my first “book” when I was five or six. I have always “studied” writers I admire as I am reading to learn more about how to do it well, marking sentences, paragraphs and passages that “sing” in their various ways.
It is thrilling when I feel I have done that – which is less often than I would like and I am excruciatingly aware of it when I fail. There is no counting the number of blog posts here I would like to permanently delete and most are no more than adequate.
But when the writing is going well, when my awareness of self is lost in the flow of words, when there seems to be no physical presence of hands and keyboard between my mind and the appearance of words on the page – that may be my greatest pleasure in life.
It hardly ever works that way, but I suspect one reason I keep turning out this blog and other writing is the promise of finding that “flow” now and then.
Another reason was explained to me years ago when I first ran across this quote from E.M. Forster: “How do I know what I think until I see what I say.” It happens all the time that my thoughts are a jumble and I work out clarity by writing, which often leads somewhere entirely different from where I started. Like right now – these last five paragraphs were not on my agenda for this post when I began.
So to turn this back around to where I started - the quality of elder writing: as I was reading that bunch of blogs yesterday, I found myself wondering how you (and non-bloggers who contribute to The Elder Storytelling Place) approach the writing of your blogs.
What compels you to do it? Have you always written, whatever else you do with your life? What satisfactions do you get from writing? How seriously do you take the craft of writing? And…
How did you get to be so good at it? There is an abundance of bad writing online, and in the world at large (even from people who get paid to do it), but not generally on elderblogs.
[At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Gloria MacKay explains how she grew into a now deeply-held interest that bored her in childhood, in Over and Under.]