Six years ago, I sat down with a little red notebook, with the words create all over the cover, and started writing question. It was a time in my life when things were changing around me and I was trying to find my way. Work was not doing it for me. I was not in the classroom and the administration of large education/arts grants was full of pressure and frustration. I am more of a “hands” on practical gal so sitting at a deck pushing papers around to raise money was hard. I was missing children, teachers and the action side of teaching. We need those desk people for sure. It was just clear that I was not one of them.
This is where the red notebook came in. I spent the first pages just writing notes, phrases, questions all around the idea of blogging. Blogging was new to me – I had started my Words from JL blog a few weeks before joining the Two Writing teachers March Challenge as a way to get back into writing, and a way to think about education. This time I was thinking about students, nature and how to bring those together. I was thinking about things I like to do and how they might be used together to help students, teachers and myself.
I like to write, to walk around in nature and play with photography. I had and was connected to students who did not know much about the outdoors, and teachers who didn’t have time to plan lessons or make authentic connections to the natural world.
It seemed a perfect idea – use the local Eloise Butler Wildflower garden to write about nature, give quick simple lessons for elementary teachers to use in their classrooms before heading outside for a walk or an activity in the schoolyard. Teachers could use the blog with their students to show pictures or introduce them to the garden if they were local and planning a field trip.
I included writing and drawing ideas, I tried to keep the writing simple and easy for elementary students to be able to use or home school students to use as well. I had a great time making it. Lots of wonderful walks in the wood, lots of photos and learning on my half. The teacher/ student side just never developed.
Over time I have let the site sit. I have shown up once in awhile to add a post, shift the focus to adults more that kids (I learned quickly kids are not going to a site that is quiet with nice pictures and writing. They want color, flash and action. I can’t blame them). I show up to check if anyone is looking at it. Lots of people have showed up at the site – it has a catchy title but I was never sure it was ever used by anyone. No comments, no one answered questions I might have asked – it was quiet but people continue to view it.
And so I now sit with the thought – was this a good idea?
- can you really connect people to nature through blogging?
- is it important to have an audience or do I just write it because I like the idea? (I discovered motivation is hard when you are not sure someone else cares)
- it can’t be a how to garden site – there are already lots of those and they are done very well
- what makes this different and worth doing?
- is it about writing a nature journal?
- is it about just sharing nature?
- what ignites creative work? is this creative for me? does it help others become creative?
- is it time to retire/archive this site and just continue to write only on my Words from JL blog?
- what do you do with an old blog you like but feel it is not developing?
- what happens to ideas that you think are good but are not sure? (The importance of feedback)
As I write these questions it occurs to me that maybe the issue is I didn’t get feedback – nothing to push against to change and develop the idea. I am working in a vacuum and so have a hard time finding direction.
All the writing this morning does lead me to understanding the value of the Two Writing Teachers site and the March Challenge. Writing and working in a vacuum is hard and can leave you without direction. Feedback is important. Feedback for our own writing and feedback to our students. A kind word, and a question helps focus the writer and gives them something to think about as they move forward with their writing.
I am still not clear about what will happen with my Garden Learning site. I know that reviewing my little red notebook and listing questions this morning has me interested again in sorting out what to do with that site. Maybe this growing season I will try one more time and see where it takes me and if I can help it grow into something worth keeping.
Thanks for being a listening ear as I process my thoughts on my nature blog!
Have you ever retired a blog? Found you were working on an idea that seems good but just isn’t going anywhere? What have your learned from it? I would love to know how others have handled this process.