Blogging, in my experience, is a strange beast. Show your blog you’re in charge and it behaves. But turn your back for just one minute, and it’ll sink its teeth right into you snarling, ‘Who is Master now?’
My early blogging years had a slow start for the first six months, and then one day, I found my poor blog under lock and key in spam prison. Back then, I had no idea what was going on, so I posted a plea for help. I didn’t think anybody would notice, but they did. Relieved to learn it was a widespread problem at the time (and nothing I had done wrong, phew!), it was soon rectified.
Better yet, I discovered a kind, caring, all-embracing community in the great wide ether that I hadn’t known existed.
From then on, blogging became a way of life as my blog took off. I kept it up for a good couple of years, and all was well. Until the day my blog bit me on the proverbial, and that was it. Panic set in when I realised the book I was supposed to be writing lay untouched. Time was running away from me, and something had to give.
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As many of us know, life has a way of throwing curveballs at us at the worst times. For me, as mum and carer to my youngest (diagnosed at eighteen with Asperger’s Syndrome), I’m long used to curtailing my activities at a moment’s notice. It’s life, and I find ways around it, as you do. But three years ago, my mother had a stroke, my dad passed away, and a year later, I moved house.
Needless to say, I abandoned my blog and writing for long stretches at a time.
Once back on my feet and returned to my blog, I realised I had to choose: my blog or my book. The book won, but I agonised over my decision. All those years of hard work and building my blog – was it all about to disappear? I worried greatly that I was letting my blogging friends down, that I couldn’t keep up with visits to their blogs never mind keep my own blog going.
Some of the bloggers from the 2015 Bloggers Bash
But the response from my dear readers and friends astounded me. They assured me they would not go anyway and would be waiting to cheer me on. In fact, they were pleased I would be working on my book. Still, it took me a while to settle into my new writing regime without continually stressing over my blog.
Three years later and those same friends were/are right. They haven’t gone anywhere. Thanks to them, the light still shines at the Summerhouse, and I am so thankful.
Hugh is one of those lovely friends who I’ve also had the pleasure of meeting in person several times, thanks to the Bloggers Bash. At BB 2018, we got on the subject of blogging communities as we sat and chatted over a glass or two (or was it the whole bottle… ?) of Prosecco.
A blogging friend of Hugh’s from Australia, Debbie who writes at Deb’s World, had attended the bash that year, which led to a conversation about our mutual and lovely Aussie blogging friend, Norah Colvin. I lamented that I had missed out on meeting her when she had visited London not long before I knew her through blogging, darn it!
But as Norah and I always say, never say never, and we always have SMAG! (Norah created the Society of Mutual Admiration and Gratitude badge in honour of her community, which the Summerhouse proudly wears.)
Hugh asked me how I had met Norah. This led to me telling the following story which he kindly invited me to share here.
Back in 2013, when my blog was brand new, a lovely lady also from Australia, Irene Walters, found and followed it. A memoir writer like me, she left a most wonderfully encouraging comment, and we became fast friends. We had a lot of fun on the way to building our new blogs. It was through Irene that I met Norah over at Carrot Ranch with Charli Mills – not to mention, a brand-new-to-me writing prompt called ’99 Word Flash Fiction.’
Click here to participate in this week’s 99-word flash fiction challenge at the Carrot Ranch.
That was five years ago (where has the time gone!) and the rest, as they say, is history. We have blogged side by side ever since.
I’ve never been to Australia, but I have a small family link there, which proved to be an interesting coincidence with Irene, discovered through one of many of our blogging conversations.
My great-grandfather was a Baptist minister who left for Australia in 1907 with his wife and three children. He served as pastor at a church in Melbourne for seven years. His middle daughter, my Granny, showed me a copy of the book he wrote about his experiences in Australia. Today, Seven Years Under the Southern Cross sits proudly on my mother’s bookshelf.
When he retired, he was presented with a silver tea service, which I eventually inherited. The tray is in the shape of Australia and is inscribed in honour of the Reverend F.C.C. Spurr, dated 5 February 1914. Granny told me that my great-grandmother served tea regularly to her friends with that tea service. I loved listening to Granny’s stories from her younger years.
Irene had shared on her blog that both her grandfather and father were Baptist ministers, also in Melbourne. We pondered, what if my great-grandfather had stayed in Australia? We also discovered another link running parallel through our lives: Irene’s husband originally hails from the Sussex coast in the UK where I have strong family roots from my childhood and today. We could well have been in the area at the same time many years ago and long before blogging existed.
It really is a small world.
You just never know what you’ll discover about the great people you might meet through blogging. My Aspie suffers from severe social anxiety, their entire social life online. I used to worry about that…as a mum, you know…but since I’ve been blogging, I’ve come to view the value of online communities in a positive light. With so much upheaval, hatred and bullying in the world, how wonderful to find friendship in healthy and uplifting online communities.
To know we are not alone in our struggles.
Today, life presses in and challenges remain, but my book is almost there, and my blog plods along nicely. No more teeth marks, so that’s good. I think it’s going to be all right, with a little help from my friends.
Writer, author and blogger, Sherri Matthews
Bio: Sherri Matthews
Sherri once worked in the medical and legal fields. When she got laid off, she praised the heavens for the chance, at last, to write her book. Six years later, her memoir, Stranger In A White Dress, is in final edits.
Blogging at her Summerhouse along the way, Sherri also writes from her life as a Brit mum raising her children in California and as advocate for her youngest, diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome at 18. Sherri also shares snippets of life with her dear old jailbird dad.
Today, Sherri lives in England with her hubby, Aspie, two black cats and a grumpy Bunny Nutkins. She walks, takes photos and finds joy creating a garden full of bees and butterflies with her dad’s words, ‘Keep smiling, Kid’, ringing in her ears. Especially when the robin sings.
Click here to view the memoir book blurb for ‘Stranger In A White Dress.
Click here to view the publications Sherri’s work has appeared in.
Anthology Publications with Sherri’s contributions:
Sherri would love to connect with you here:
My thanks to Sherri Matthews for writing this guest post.
Do you have any questions or comments for Sherri? Leave them in the comments box. She would love to hear from you. (Please, no comments for Hugh).
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