do i have to share

I started thinking about taking a week off writing.

Not really a sabbatical, not really a vacation, just a week not writing.

It’s probably not going to happen. I, because of how I am built, think by writing. It is how I form ideas–by getting them out.

However, one thought that went through my brain was “guest writers.” I wondered what would happen if there were a guest writer or two here sometimes. I wondered what I would ask them to talk about or whether I would just open it up wide.

The challenge, you see, is that this is a chronicle, a recording of what I am wrestling with, arguing about, helping people with. It is, be definition, reflecting what I reflect. So how do you invite guests to write?

One line of my thinking reminded me of the old joke: “But enough about me. Let’s talk about you. What do you think of me?”

And that isn’t what I want to do.In fact, I don’t want about me.

And I also have this struggle with bias. I’m not against it. I’m for it. But honestly.

I am talking about life and faith and relationship without sounding like religion. But I do have a clear bias. In the same way that I am firmly convinced that Nancy exists and that I talk with her, I am firmly convinced that God exists. With the same level of certitude. So I can’t just say, “Whoever wants to write something, write it.” I’d have to say something like, “What faithy things are you struggling with? That’s what you have to write about.”

If you were to hear from someone else in this space, what would you like to hear? What questions or conversations or comments or reflections?

Or is this, at its root, a personal blog.

I’m good either way. But I was curious what you thought.


16 responses to “do i have to share

  1. I think it’s a personal blog.

    I tune in to hear you and the way your mind works. (Hope that doesn’t scare you!)

    And I don’t think it’s a question of not sharing. It’s a question of protecting a very special space that you’ve carved out for yourself, and for those of us that are here with you.

  2. Or you could invite questions or topic suggestions from your readers. You pick which one is relevant to you or the one you have an opinion about. Additionally you could then post a few relevant suggestions in a poll on your site, invite readers to vote and decide that way.

  3. Jon, your blog is a personal blog and should remain so. You bring others into your posts in a variety of ways–all appropriate.

    Personally, I am not big on faith-y things, but coming from you, they go down quite well. Kind of like delicious Morning Coffee.

    Generally, a Sabbatical is a good thing. Speaking for your readers, we will permit you to take one from time to time as long as it never becomes permanent.

  4. Joanna – I’m always scared of the way my mind works…or doesn’t. I do like the protecting the space image. That is a helpful way to think.

    Belinda – that’s a great idea. I like that a lot.

    Kay – thank you for being willing to mention coffee. 🙂 The goal of a sabbatical is to refresh and renew and to come back. So if I go, i’ll be back.

  5. I agree that your blog is definitely you. Some talk shows will get guest hosts when they are on vacation and can pull it off. Others just run re-runs because the show is about them.

    Two suggestions. Invite people to write short pieces and submit via email. Pick the ones that feel like what you would say, write an intro and a challenge and schedule it to post while you are away. I think this would be like picking a greeting card. Not just any card will do, it has to feel like what you might want to communicate. Of course, to get 5 posts will probably take 20-30 submissions.

    Another option is to do re-runs. What did you write a year ago today? What did you right during the last election? Again, write an intro and a “what do you think now?” kind of challenge.

    Whatever you do, keep writing and sharing and if you take a break, don’t do what I’ve done and stretch it out indefinitely.

  6. thanks chris, we (okay I) miss your writing. I like the first suggestion, though the 5/1 ratio would feel like not letting people talk. But I can imagine a way to make it work.

    I did the reruns for awhile and then stopped, for no particular reason than being distracted. Need to go back to that. It does help.

  7. I love your blog the way it is. As a blogger, I can also relate to both feeling burnt out and to your sense that you don’t want your blog to be just about you. Last month I wrote a post about that very issue.

    You have been blogging much longer than I have, so I feel kind of funny giving you any “advice,” but here’s what I said in this post: (

    “I hope my blog is all about all of you. Sure, I write about myself a lot, because those are the stories I know best. But I hope those stories help you think about your own life in different ways. That’s what first-person writing is all about. Let’s be honest—you aren’t reading my blog because you really want to know everything about me. How dull. No, you’re hoping you might find out something about yourself. Reading personal narratives is like going to the therapist, but free, and you don’t have to worry about parking.”

    I guess what I’m saying is that I think yours is a personal blog, but just as people learn about themselves by reading about you, you can link to other blogs or share excerpts that have helped you learn about yourself and think in new ways (which is what I did with this particular post).

  8. Kristin, this is wonderful.

    what happens, or can happen, in personal blogs is that we take the ideas and try them on in the mirror and then let everyone else see. But it starts in the mirror. Or should. I think. For me.

  9. In September, I got the opportunity to contribute (along with a lot of other authors) to Valeria Maltoni’s Conversation Agent blog. She did something very similar to what Chris Marsden is suggesting.

    As a person who has been profoundly influenced by Valeria’s writing, I took the collected September guest posts as sort of an anthology and tribute to her influence.

    Lots of people are struggling with faith-y things, Jon. We’re spiritual beings in a material world. I wrestle with living out my faith in the marketplace, in my participation in our government, and in society. You’re a pastor. You have influenced people, and they are probably grateful.

    If you’d like to take a break, and give them the opportunity to honor that influence, I say as a reader, I would be interested in hearing from them.

  10. Hi Jon, it’s me again (although sometimes I’m logged in as ktennant and other times as Kristin T–not sure why that happens). I really like your analogy of personal blogs being about trying ideas on in the mirror, then letting everyone else see. What’s interesting is that it starts with you looking at yourself in the mirror, as you say, but then the reactions of other people become a different sort of mirror, reflecting a connected but new take on your ideas.

  11. Kat – that just started a train of thinking that I like very much. Thank you. (I’ll tell you later what it is).

    Kristin – what a wonderful explanation. “the reactions of other people become a different sort of mirror” – that is so helpful to me to understanding the process. Thank you.

  12. OK, your third post today finally got me here to comment. 🙂 I agree pretty much with everyone else. I haven’t been reading your blog all that long, so I could handle some repeats if that’ll get you a break. I’m even okay with some guest posts. But I benefit from you thinking out loud, maybe because I’m cut from that cloth as well, so mostly I hope you’ll just continue doing that. Thanks

  13. what about asking posting links to blogs that you like. Perhaps over the past few months there have been some post another blogs that have impacted you and so you can simply link to a few of those.

    that or just take a break. i have no problem with that.

  14. I like the idea of posting links to other places, maybe with a block quote of the meat. I’ve done it before, but never quite with this idea in mind. Just like the idea of asking people to specifically write a post for you (with and intro and challenge) you could simply wander out there and find posts you are already reading and do the same thing.

    My mind is back to the greeting card analogy. I don’t write greeting cards (although I probably should). Instead, because I am busy, I pick out a card that sounds like and feels like me.

    I think between some select guest posts, reruns, and linking to other’s with maybe one original post a week (written in advance), you could take a week or two sabbatical and it not feel like you were abandoning us.

    Of course you would still have to stick around to comment and respond to comments…

  15. what? I still have to pay attention?

    Actually, I’m part of a beta with for being able to respond to
    comments by email. Like this one. At first it showed them as coming from
    anonymous. Now, however, I think it shows my name (we’ll find out) which
    eases the process of staying in touch.

    Now, Chris, you have to write so i can link to you!


  16. you have a tone here that is indescribably you…a good thing by the way. I think it’s Ok to reevaluate what goes on inside these very you posts…I like to recycle old posts in times of please don’t make me write today days, or I have asked for guest authors ( like you! ) and have really enjoyed their contributions – did it change the tone of my work? Not really. Just filled in the space I decided not to write in. I miss not writing after a few days. I didn’t know that about me.