My rising sixth grader took a good look at my face. “Mom, what’s wrong with you? You look mad.”
“I’m not mad, Son. I’m writing.”
Peter turned away, certain that I should not be doing such a private thing while driving a car.
My youngest is probably right. His sister says my writing face makes me look like I am digging corn out of a molar. His brother says it looks like I am feeling the last stages of digestion.
Nice, huh? But I’m in good company with my writing face. Tolstoy was famous for getting a certain look while writing in his head that would cause his guests to rise in alarm.
I’m no Tolstoy writing War and Peace or Anna Karenina. As a military spouse blogger, what I am writing is more on the lines of War and Pajamas. Or Anna Complainina. So why bother?
Google “military spouse bloggers” and you come up with more than seven million websites. That’s more than 14 websites for every active duty spouse in the United States.
No wonder Blue Star Families wants to know why bloggers blog for their deployment project being run in connection with their E-book Everyone Serves. They want to know if we bloggers use a blog as a form of therapy or as an outlet. Is a blog a way to process the experience? Is it a way to share what's going on with the general public or just military friends?
In my job as Director of Spouse and Family Programs for Military.com, I ask myself that question all the time. Part of my job is to edit submissions from military spouse bloggers. After reading thousands of blog posts, I’m thinking bloggers write for the same three reasons I write:
The Why Me. If you read our bloggers, you know that military life is never what anyone expects it will be. When you walk down the aisle with a sailor, soldier, Coastie, Marine or airman, you think you know what you are getting into. No one ever does. Military life is complicated and painful in ways you can’t imagine before you do it. So blog posts are often little cries in the wilderness. Blogs are warning signs we put up meant to protect those who come behind us: Here there be dragons.
The How Now. One of my biggest reasons to blog has always been to figure out how to be happy with my military life. I know there is a way to be happy, I see happy people all around me. What are they doing that I’m not doing? And how are they doing it? Blogging is a discipline that makes you order your thoughts. Just putting things on paper (or screen) makes you see where you are being a big baby and just where you are identifying the space that you can make a change. Sometimes readers help by pointing out what that change needs to be. That’s crucial.
The Who With. Stephen King says that writers do two things: writers read and writers write. So I think we bloggers blog because we are natural communicators. We are writers. We can’t help but write in a way that we connect with readers who are like us.
It is in reading these blog posts that I often find my way. I remember what it was like to be that young spouse. I connect with fellow spouses who care about career and family in equal measures. I collect encouragement and fortitude and wisdom.
That’s how I know I’m in good company. I know that somewhere out there another MilSpouse blogger is driving her car with the writer’s look crossing her face.
And I can’t wait to read what she writes next.
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