From the Tool Shed – Transitions

Spring has officially sprung. Ēastre is on Her way, complete with flowers, and green things, and warm weather.

Or so they say. You’d never know it, looking out the window.

A late winter snowstorm that hit the Northeast dumped over twenty inches of snow in my area of the Hudson River Valley. Though there were harder hit regions, it was still an inconvenience. Those few warmer days, having reduced the snow pack’s size, have once again given way to bitter cold and sub-zero windchills. In typical New York fashion, we’ve gone from near sixty-degree days to bitter cold, often within hours.

And now those selfsame snow packs are hard, and compacted, and near-solid enough for me to walk on without breaking the outer layer. But they still make the trails impassible. The bitter chill still stabs at your lungs if you try to go outside and do anything.

Layers are still needed. My hands are still ice. Just today our forecast is sleet, freezing rain, and snow showers.

But it’s a mixed blessing, really. For as much as this dreary, turbulent Winter has been hanging on, it competes with the knowledge that we need the water for the coming season. See, what they don’t really tell you about living in Upstate New York is that we have a fire season. It may not be as widespread, nor as devastating as other regions, but it exists. There’s a month or so between mid-April and mid-May where the foliage hasn’t grown up enough to provide a buffer against the spread of wildfires, and state-wide burning bans are common.

So the late snow has been a welcome sign, even if it’s made this transitional period between seasons difficult. Even if it perpetuates that kind of melancholic self-reflection that the stark bitterness of the Winter season creates: the white ground, gray skies, and the dour and dark, leafless trees all adding to it.

This transitory, liminal period of time has caused me to think about this space, Heathenry and Paganism, and my place within the circles of wider community. It’s been no secret that I’ve been dealing with a lot in my personal life – more, in fact, than I’ve really spoken about here – and things have gotten even more topsy-turvey for me (especially) in the past two months. Hard hits, let downs, things of that nature. Ultimately passing, yet nevertheless distracting.

It’s stopped me from being able to pay as much attention to this blog as I would otherwise like to.

My inspiration for writing has been low, lately. You can tell by how infrequently my posts have been since October. I attribute part of that to the level of writing I do. I err towards high-quality, in depth research, because that lets me keep my skills up. The downside is it takes a bit of time to produce something that I’m personally happy with.

And, I think, focusing heavily on that style of writing makes reading my work a bit inaccessible for some people. Consequently, I often feel that this space is a little too impersonal and sanitized. Oh, I periodically have written bits of creative exercises. But even my community critiques tend to be somewhat distanced, and I view them all as teachable moments. And while this blog was never intended to be a “slice of life” blog, maybe personalizing it a bit more would be beneficial.

I had an impressive year last year, in terms of reach and readership – for me, at least. I want to capitalize on that and do better than I did last year, reach more people, and engage with them more. Grow more. I think part of that is reaching out and humanizing Of Axe and Plough. At the very least it gives me opportunities to expand my reach and my writing, and I want to engage more in not only academic works, but in thoughtful projects and contemplations that I feel I often otherwise lack.

Recently, I have made the decision to pare down a lot of my extraneous engagements and limiting myself to a handful of Pagan projects. Most of it deals with leaving the drama of social media, save for a very few groups which I find value in. My focus is almost entirely on this blog, and my work with the Larhus Fyrnsida, and verbalizing my explorations of hearth cult, and other such interests that I’m exploring.

I don’t have much of a plan, and maybe this is my failing. A redesign maybe? An expansion to other social media sites? Who knows.

I’d like to hear thoughts from my readers. Am I wildly off base? Am I not? Inquiring minds want to know!

~ by thelettuceman on March 24, 2017.

13 Responses to “From the Tool Shed – Transitions”

  1. Well, I’m rarely indicative of majority opinion, so take this FWIW, but… personally, I really appreciate your blog as it is and the in-depth writing you do here. There aren’t many really serious polytheist blogs left these days, and the general trend is for people to talk a lot about themselves and little about what I consider the interesting stuff. I also think that expanding to social media is likely to end up diluting the quality and draining resources, from what I’ve seen in the past with others (but of course, it’s well known that I’m no fan of social media in general). The blog format is great for content-heavy work, and there’s enough 144-character drivel out there – we need more of the good stuff!

    • I appreciate you saying so, since I hold your own blog in high esteem! That means a lot.

      My foray into various social media would have been crossposting through other blogging sites (like Medium) and perhaps the establishment of a Facebook page to directly share the blog posts. Right now, my views from Facebook come through passive generation – I do very little direct propagation of my own work.

      I do not intend on *ever* compromising my quality of work, but I do want more readers. Since the idea of accessibility has always been a major focus of mine, I’m trying to reason out how I can make my space more accessible for people who read or would want to read it.

      But I’ve come to hate social media, too. And I manage a subreddit. That may be one of the reasons, haha!

      I am thinking I need a redesign of my site at the least, although I’m loathe to part with this theme. I think you and I are the only ones left running this style.

      But otherwise, I don’t know. I’m just trying to realign myself in this space and make it more productive for myself and, maybe, enough to justify a patreon account or something of the sort as had been suggested to me before.

      • Well FB would probably help spread the word a bit, but OTOH I question how many serious readers one can get with that method, since the medium itself is geared towards a constant stream of quick info rather than deep discussion. Then again, I pretty much think FB is ruining our culture (see this for some of why I think it’s evil), so again, YMMV.

        It’s always a balancing act. I often felt I could get more readers (when I was actively blogging) by delving into social media, but aside from being totally inept at it, I just have such a revulsion for the whole concept that I couldn’t bring myself to participate. I hope my books made up for it as far as reaching people. Have you ever considered putting your writing into book form?

        I just noticed we used the same theme! I usually read posts through feedly so I don’t ever notice people’s layouts.

        Yeah, if you’re going to try for patreon you’ll definitely want as much reach as possible, since I’m guessing that potential patrons are spread pretty thin in the pagan community these days. Again, you might consider books as a way to monetize your writing.

        • Absolutely. The Larhus Fyrnsida has a sizable online presence on Social Media and I’ve noticed that we only get a handful of readers of our posts compared to the massed sharings of our educational memes. And I don’t really have the time to do that for myself, even with my less-than-stellar employment right now.

          I have not actually given much thought to publication of a book, mostly because I’m not entirely sure how much I can say to make it worthwhile. But it’s an option. A very..daunting..option!

  2. I find that your blog digs deep without getting me lost in the weeds, and that’s not easy to do. Many of the polytheists whose blogs I follow are incredibly intelligent yet all but incapable of writing below the post-graduate level.
    As a side note, I dug out from that very same snow. I didn’t realize you lived in the Hudson Valley.

    • I appreciate that! I’m glad to see that my post-graduate studies haven’t inhibited my ability to write.

      And yeah, I relocated late in the summer up to Troy for a slightly-longer-than-temporary stay. Prior I lived a stone’s throw from MA in Columbia County. Grew up here, although I’m originally from New England.

  3. I’d like to basically associate myself with everything that Dver said above. If you do decide you want to promote your work more on FB, give me a shout and I’ll do what I can to boost the signal. I’d also strongly encourage you to write a book, which I’d also lend my voice to promoting where I can.

    • I appreciate that, very much! I’ve had a few people saying that I should write for years, but I’m not yet sure what I wanted to tackle.

      • Well, in a near-term context, if you have anything you’d like to discuss about divination, I’d encourage you to submit something for the upcoming issue of Walking the Worlds; and in general, to think of us as a venue going forward.

        • Divination may be a bit tough, since I don’t often practice it or think about it much. But I was planning on submitting something if you guys ever do anything about prayer!

  4. I am someone who prefers “academic-y” blogs, and I really appreciate the quality of your writing. If you prefer to have your blog lean that direction, while it may “weed out” readers who don’t enjoy it, the audience that stays does so because they like it. There are different blogs for different audiences.

    If you want to make it less “impersonal” without turning it into “slice-of-life”, maybe you can try to write some posts that are directly discussing your *feelings* about some of the topics, instead of approaching them from the practical side? For example, your last post on Blōstmfrēols is wonderful and fascinating, and I think a great example for polytheist revival – but how does that holiday make you feel? Does it give you a rising joy? Does it give a sense of solemn responsibility? Does it feel warm and comfy like a family home? How did you celebrate it, and why? Instead of restructuring or something, this might give readers a different kind of insight, and be valuable without just being rambling.

    (I also like the book idea. It might be a way to take your previous research, and reorganize it into an structured but accessible format.)

    • Good suggestions. I’ll have to keep them in mind. It’s hard for me to reach personal when I’m in report mode!

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