Monday, October 16, 2017

Holidays and Special Events Post 6 :: Write 31 Days

Holidays are difficult for some folks. There are as many reasons for that as there are people, it seems. Others find celebrating holidays and special occasions both rewarding and fulfilling. Everyone has to find his/her own way. Finding or choosing that way takes courage and finesse and, for some, lots of stumbling around. 

The question for bloggers becomes what to do with this opportunity. Pull out all the stops and celebrate as though everyone were on the same happy train? Or to respect those who cannot find joy in the event and let it slip quietly away? 

There is no one answer, of course. As most things happen to be in life, the answer lies within ourselves. We have to make the decision based on what we think is best for everyone involved. I tend to try to take the middle ground. I want to celebrate the religious holidays, family events, and festivals that are all linked to my childhood and my entire life. But I want to respect others as well. So middle ground it is for me. 

If you choose to let occasions slip by, you can skip the rest of this post, because it is all about how and why you can take advantage of the joys of special occasions. I'll not be offended: you simply don't need this info and will move on. 

The rest of us, however, will unpack this idea of writing about religious holidays, special occasions, family events and so on. Let's start with an understanding that no matter what I call it, from this point on, I simply mean any occasion that is not an ordinary Sunday-through-Saturday, live-life-like-you-normally-do day. They are all special in some form: 1. probably require clothes you don't usually wear, 2. have people to whom you must be polite, 3. include food that is much too rich to eat daily and stay healthy, and 4. likely have a few other indicators. Those are all good because any one (or all) of them can be blog-worthy inspiration.

Let's not get ahead of ourselves, though, we need to understand why. Why would readers want to spend precious time reading about your special event? Well, it's the same reason that people read bridal magazines, look at photos on Instagram, watch reality shows, or follow people on Facebook. People are curious. It's that simple. Oh sure, we can find philosophical and psychological evidence of that curiosity, but do we need to? Aren't you curious? Aren't all the people you know curious? Yes? Good. Let's agree that no matter the reason behind our innate curiosity, people are curious

Photo credit: Tom The Photographer @tomthephotographer
We all have our traditions and customs. We know how and why we do certain things. We know why our particular family serves turkey on Thanksgiving, for example. We know how we dress for weddings or funerals. We can likely explain quite a bit about our particular religious holidays. So why are we curious about what others do? Philosophers and scientists have studied our mental acquisitiveness since the time of the Ancient Greeks. 

I am in no way the person to turn to for insight in human perspective. I simply know my own mind, and I will read anythingalmost. My love of reading stems from my own curiosity and my need to know about people, history, culture, art, civilization and, well, just keep going, anything you name is probably already on the list. 

I hope I am not the most eager person of all time. I'm fairly sure I'm not. That means that I am not the only one; many other people  want to know about you. How you live. How are we alike. How we are different and why. What your culture thinks about anything my culture thinks. Those pronouns are the key. They all stand in for people: you and me and them and us. Together or apart. It doesn't matter. 

Why people want to know (curiosity) leads to what people want to know (everything) to the question of how to provide the information. First, you can provide only that information you have. Sure you can do research and report back on your blog. But that is not the personal, experienced, human condition that most people are looking for. It's the reason that writers go on assignment. The reason that you can write about your experience and the rest of us will read ityou were there. You know the feelings: the fear, the joy, the love, the hate, the need, (keep going here, too)

Second, researching and reporting back just won't cut it. It won't be enough to express those feelings. You simply can't express feelings you didn't experience. You can imagine what they may be, but that's not the same as experiencing the feelings. Even if you never specifically write the exact words, "I wanted the whiskey," or "I hated that movie," or "I was so scared," readers know. You share your feelings in your story. Just tell the story, the story expresses the feelings, and the feelings hook the reader. 

There's your answer to how. How? I'll reiterate. Just tell the story, the story expresses the feelings, and the feelings hook the reader. You share what you haveyour story. Now we've come full circle. Take that event that we were talking about way up there in paragraph five: those experiences that are "blog-worthy inspiration." The details of the things you experiencedyour uncomfortable shoes that pinch, the rich food on the Thanksgiving table, the funny niece who insisted on wearing a tutu, the beautiful bride, everyone dressed in black. Your story. Whatever it may be.

Your story is the one you experienced. That's how you include any special event in a blog post. If you can, write about one part of the experience in a post and come back to the event to share another part of the experience. Write about your grandmother on a post and come back to write about the little couple who have been married 57 years and held hands during the wedding. Maybe just show photos that you took. It's all part of your story and your readers want to read it. They (we) want to know what makes this holiday or event or occasion special. The answer was there; did you catch it?
Just tell the story, the story expresses the feelings, and the feelings hook the reader. 

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