1 year old today! – A year of blogging

1 year of blogging

Hello everyone.

It’s a bit of a special day for me today and one that I feel like celebrating :-D. A year ago I began publishing articles to my very own web space and made the first tentative steps into the world of blogging. Yes, my baby is one year old!

I used to think that blogging was a very strange activity. Why write about deeply personal things for the whole world to see which were really only relevant to family and friends anyway? And who on Earth would be bothered to read it? I know we have this obsession in modern day Western society to obsess over the lifestyles of the rich and famous but I am neither. What could I possibly contribute that would be interesting or informative?

Well it’s probably fair to say that had my life not headed off in the direction I find myself then I might never have bothered. But of course it was a diagnosis of MND that provided the catalyst and within a few months I found myself with a strong desire to document in some detail all the things I would experience. I did this partly for the benefit of my family & friends, but also because I wanted to share the experiences with a broader audience in the hope that they might prove useful to people in a similar situation as well as wanting to do my bit for raising awareness of what it means to have MND. Since doing so I’ve discovered that other people in similar situations are also telling their own stories and sharing experiences through their own blogs (a selection of those that I have come across can be found within the Favourites section of this blog’s front page). Such is the power of the Web these days that any individual can reach out and touch a vast number of people with minimal expenditure (compared to broadcasting or publishing). This sharing of information can often prove more useful then the cold hard facts presented in medical text books because it is written by people experiencing the disease so you get a much better understanding of what it might be like to actually live with it on a daily basis. It’s one thing to learn that dying nerve cells lead to paralysis and muscle wasting but for the non-medically trained amongst us it can be better understood I feel if described in the context of what it means to lose abilities and how we cope. And that is what my aim has been; not to elicit sympathy, but to put a human face on the cold harsh facts.

So here I am a year on from when it all started and I look back over what I have published so far feeling, dare I say it, rather ‘proud’. I just wish the subject could have been more light-hearted and fun although of course I’ve tried my best to inject some humour along the way. I suppose that in a different reality I would have found it enjoyable to combine my interests in travel, photography and writing into a blog as others have done. Nevertheless, as the months have passed so the blog has evolved with articles becoming more ambitious in size and scope. Those of you visiting on a regular basis will have noticed that all the latest blog articles are now preceded by an intro graphic to add visual interest and a splash of colour to what would otherwise be quite ‘text heavy’ articles. And I have to say I have great fun in creating them too!

In working on the blog I have gained an appreciation for how challenging it can be to constantly come up with new material and to try and write it in a readable and interesting fashion – and sometimes to a deadline too! I have tried to strike a balance between articles that focus on my deteriorating health and those that describe some of the things I get up to, because at the end of the day it is my family & friends, my hobbies and interests, and my hopes, fears & beliefs that define me as a person. MND just happens to be the medical condition that is trying to derail everything.

I know that my prose will never scale the literary heights and I dare say that those of you with a greater command of English Grammar probably shudder at some of the things I get up to. You would have thought that after living on this ball of rock for 48 revolutions that I would have gotten the knack of it by now, but oh no, it still eludes me. I’m always getting confused about when to use a colon vs. semi-colon, where to place comma’s, when to use numbers instead of words etc. I just use a scatter-gun approach and hope that some hit the target, hehe. I used to be the same at school; I would get top marks for story writing and ideas but terrible marks for spelling and grammar. But ultimately it is the content that is more important and as long as I can get my message across then I’ll be satisfied.

Over the past year I’ve read other people’s MND blogs, studied their style and update frequency and compared them with my own. I’ve concluded that the format I’ve adopted in which I only write articles on specific subjects as and when the need arises is the one that works best for me. Some folks update at far more regular intervals but I feel that the rate of disease progression in my particular case does not warrant it and so I shall continue for the time being updating approximately twice a month.

The Eagle eyed amongst you will have noticed that I have made a slight name change to the blog. ‘Fighting Motor Neurone Disease – One Day at a Time’ now becomes ‘Living with Motor Neurone Disease – One Day at a Time’. The reason for the change is that I felt the need to emphasise more the ‘living’ aspect rather than the stubbornness of fighting what is ultimately a futile battle anyway. Sorry, I know that sounds defeatist but don’t worry; I’m not giving in to the disease just realigning my priorities. Yes I can be stubborn and life is indeed worth fighting for, but at any cost? Well perhaps that’s for discussion in some far future article should my quality of life ever go through the floor. For now though I just feel very tired of constantly ‘fighting’ and yet still seeing my health continually decline. I just want to find ways to co-exist with the disease as much as I can and therefore I want my blog to reflect this. ‘Living with’ (MND) is still optimistic! And yes the web address remains the same.

I have much to thank this blog for. It has enabled me to channel my creative energies into something that not only keeps my mind active rather than just sitting around and stagnating, but also to provide a resource that will hopefully prove beneficial to others like myself. In fact in some ways it has become a surrogate for work as I’ve certainly not got to a point where I want to stop learning or contributing – I still have a keen interest in technology for example. I just want to do it on my own terms and at my own speed. More recently the addition of the ‘home-grown’ graphic elements preceding each article has to some small extent eased the pain of giving up on photography. So once again my blog has come to the rescue by providing an alternative!

There is one other reason why I continue on with the blog and that is a strong desire to ‘reach beyond my years’. I’ve been thinking lately about where computer technology might take us as a society, how it will shape and change us. People are now uploading more and more of their lives to the Internet through photo sites such as Flickr, social websites such as Facebook, and blog sites such as this one. Fast forward a hundred years for example and future generations will have a good idea of how their relatives lived through their photos, home movies and blogs. The Internet becomes the ultimate multimedia family tree! Just imagine if we could do that for our ancestors: “oh look, there’s a photo of my great-great-great-great…grandfather at Agincourt. He’s the guy at the back with his head down low dodging the arrows” :-D. So in a sense this blog will become my digital legacy and will continue to exist as invisible, non-tangible code buried deep inside silicon on a server somewhere in the world when I am but a distant memory. Yes, I write it to prove I was here. Even when all the people who knew me are also long gone, this blog will prove that I existed, and that I once lived on planet Earth.

Anyway, it keeps me out of mischief :-).

And finally (for now) I would like to take this opportunity to thank all my friends and family who have given positive encouragement and feedback on my blog. All the kind words have been very much appreciated. Thank you all so much for taking the time to visit me here. It means more then I can express in words.

Mark

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2 Responses to 1 year old today! – A year of blogging

  1. jane c says:

    Know exactly where you’re coming from with the change of name from “fighting” to “living with” – Richard used to say the same. He knew the disease was relentless (and it was particularly agressive in his case), so it was how you lived with it that mattered because you couldn’t actually fight it in the same way that, perhaps, cancer patients are able to.

    Blogging is great, not only for the blogger but also for the people reading it. I didn’t think when Richard started his that anyone would be interested but I had to eat my words. Family, friends and perfect strangers from all over the world logged in and supported us every step of the way. As you say, it’s interesting seeing other people’s different styles, but we all seem to have one aim in common and that’s raising awareness and expressing ourselves in the way that we want to.

    Happy Birthday Blog and keep up the living, Mark!

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