My blog is a little over 2 years old, now.
I started it as a teaching forum, trying to adapt Jewish spiritual ideas to a “popular,” easily readable format. My model was Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who adapted very advanced spiritual ideas, concepts and themes into a wonderfully accessible form. Rabbi Morris Lichtenstein had a similar talent.
I was surprised, then, when an educated, well-read friend said, “Your blog isn’t for beginners.” Every writer needs that kind of feedback. For that matter, so does every teacher.
It made me wrestle with how to “adjust” my blog. Do I write to please myself, or to please the widest number of readers?
In then end, I’ve found that I can do both, and more. In addition to my own writings, I can share other writer’s articles that I think are important or useful. I can do book and CD reviews. Theoretically, I could do movie or theater reviews, if the piece being reviewed is related in some way to the overall theme of my blog. (Is it too late to review Cecil B. DeMille’s “The Ten Commandments?” Probably.)
I can post my poetry and my designs (some of those designs get “borrowed” and show up elsewhere, not always with attribution).
Some of the artwork that I’ve copied and pasted to illustrate or introduce a post have also been “borrowed” and re-used elsewhere. In some way, I take that as a personal success.
Some of my pieces immediately attract noticeably larger attention; not “viral” by internet standards, but larger than other of my posts. An article on “Leica and the Jews” had a much larger readership sooner than many other pieces on here. A recent post on happiness did, too.
Some of my other posts, written as reference resources that people would return to again and again, have been successful in that way. My pieces on “Karma” and Torah or Judaism, for example, attracted very small numbers of readers at first. But the question of whether Judaism “believes in ‘Karma'” comes up again and again. Over time, these have become some of my most-read pieces, despite their “quiet” starts. Another one is my piece on “Tzitzit,” with the accompanying poster that I designed. The poster itself has been “borrowed” repeatedly. In this regard, I was very surprised at the large and consistent number of views of my piece on the history of Hebrew and the illustration comparing paleo-Hebrew with “modern” Hebrew lettering. But again, I take it as a success that my pieces serve the educational purposes I’ve intended.
The post that got the greatest number of comments was one I did almost 2 years ago on “conducting a seder.” While I myself was writing about what I’ve done over the years to make seders as “flowing” an experience as possible, the theme itself inspired personal memories and associations in an unexpected range of people. If it wasn’t what I’d originally intended or expected, it was gratifying to see that my post was being read and for my blog to be “interactive” in such a nice way. It showed me, too, that Jewish readers might not always be as interested in discussions of deeper meanings as they are in the personal meanings that mitzvot have for them (us).
About a year ago, my blog even gave me a chance to post my short, original musical setting of some Yiddish poetry by Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. By the way, it also offered me the challenge of figuring out how to create the musical notation in a way that could be posted. So I had some additional gratification there.
Generally, I’d say that while my blog reflects some of my thoughts and feelings about certain subjects, I’m not expressing “personal” feelings per se. I don’t think that’s my forte as a writer, but all writing has to come “from the heart,” to some degree. Still, religious and spiritual writing that conveys sincere feeling as well as content is very powerful.
I think that I write in a more or less simple, lucid style. Many writers are far more interesting stylists than I try to be. To be honest, I’m not sure that I could do that as well as they do even if I wanted to. But, I don’t have ideas popping into my head about how I want to say things anywhere near as much as I do about what I want to say. “Content” is my main focus. Still, as a writer, I think that there’s still plenty of room for growth in making my pieces more enjoyable to read, too.
It really doesn’t ever have to stop.