Tag Archives: PK Stories

Why I Blog About Multiple Topics

Nine speech bubbles in a variety of shapes and pastel colours.Edited on May 13, 2020 to include two responses to this post: On Blogging and Requiem on Blogging

I’ve been blogging on various sites more or less continuously since I was in college.

It started after I read a friend’s blog and realized I could do that, too.

Several of the blogs I worked on solo or as part of a group of bloggers no longer exist, but PK Stories is an exception to that.

I was a preacher’s kid growing up and spent a few years sharing amusing stories from that part of my childhood. (Please note that I’ve learned a lot about writing, blogging, and storytelling since that site was last active. It’s pretty old).

Blogging has changed quite a bit over the years. The best practices for it these days are generally thought to include picking one topic and only writing about that.

So why don’t I follow that rule? Well, there are a few reasons for that.

Content Fatigue

Image of a puzzle in the shape of the profile of a human head
Actual footage of my thought processes after a couple of years of writing about the same topic every week.

I’ve learned through trial and error that I experience content fatigue on single-topic blogs after about two or three years.

It’s tricky for me to know where to go next after I’ve covered everything I want to say, especially since I dislike recycling posts or repeating myself.

Rather than building a new site from scratch every other year, I now prefer to stick to the same site and bounce around among a few different topics instead.

Kudos to those of you who can blog about the same thing for years or decades.

I admire your constancy, but my creativity eventually struggles under those circumstances.

Overlapping Interests

Blue rectangles and squares that are overlapping each other. There may be some people on this planet whose interests all exist in well-defined bubbles that never intersect with each other, but I’m not one of them.

My fitness posts often reference science fiction or fantasy because I think about topics like Frodo’s long walk to Mordor or what it would really be like to use a Holodeck  for my workouts. (Yes, I will actually write that post one of these days).

Sometimes I need to share childhood stories when I talk about the magic of Halloween so my readers will understand why it’s so important to me.

Yoga is both a workout and an exercise in mindfulness. That still blows my mind and may require a few more posts to fully explore.

So why not talk about all of the fascinating things that move between and connect these seemingly-unrelated topics?

Simple Human Curiosity

A group of human-shaped figures in every colour of the rainbow - brown, orange, yellow, green, red, and more!Look, would I ever tell someone else what to write about on their site? Absolutely not!

But I do quietly love it when bloggers reveal new pieces of their personal lives and interests that may or may not be related to the main topic(s) of their sites.

There’s something delightful and surprising about everyone once you get to know them well enough.

It’s amazing to learn that someone you’ve followed and interacted with for years has this whole other side to them that you’d never would have predicted whether that’s a hobby, interest, or something else entirely.

So one of the other big reasons why I jump between topics is to give my readers a better understanding of who I am as a person. Yes, half or more of my posts are about the science fiction and fantasy genres in any given month because of how passionate I am about them, but those aren’t my only interests by any means.

My hope is that by sharing these parts of myself other bloggers might be encouraged to do the same thing.

How did you all pick the topic(s) for your sites? What made you stick to one topic on your site or include multiple ones on it?

This Isn’t How Earworms Are Supposed to Work

This might come as a surprise to readers who haven’t heard this story yet, but my family didn’t listen to secular music until I was in middle school. Even then it was limited for religious reasons.

We knew a few hymns. We knew a lot about worship music, old folk songs from my parents’ childhoods, and Contemporary Christian music.

We didn’t have cable until I was a preteen. Some years we didn’t own a television at all. Other years we did, but we were limited to the free channels we could pick up with an antenna when the weather was clear. We didn’t have Internet access until I was in high school. Most of the places we lived also weren’t close to any record stores or malls.

It’s hard to imagine that world now. I feel so far removed from it as an adult, but it was all I knew growing up.

When I was old enough to make my own media decisions, I started catching up on the pop culture I’d been completely unaware of as a kid. It happened in a slow, piecemeal fashion. Occasionally I still come across a reference to a celebrity, or a song, or a TV show that most people my age remember but that I do not.

I still hear the religious music of my childhood in my head sometimes. It’s something that I assume happens to everyone, regardless of what kinds of music they like as adults or what they think of the music of their childhood.

Recently I had this song stuck in my head for a few days. The interesting thing about that is that I’ve always thought of earworms as something that mostly happens with songs people hear as children because of the nostalgia factor.

So why is a song that I first heard many years after it was originally released getting stuck in my head in 2015?

This isn’t how earworms are supposed to work!

What assumptions have you made lately that turned out not to be true? What song(s) have gotten stuck in your head recently?

 

 

“I Hate the Devil…”

I’m still recuperating from the “I’m not sick” game, so today’s post will be short and silly.

Growing up I thought the devil was the cause of all of the bad things in the world: bee stings on the bottom of your foot, headaches that appeared out of nowhere, the deaths of small animals.

Now picture a preschool-sized me throwing up into the toilet. It might have been food poisoning or some kind of nasty virus. I no longer remember.  Between heaves  I sat up, looked my mother in the face, and declared, “I hate the devil.”

This was not a joke. I genuinely believed that the devil was the one who’d made my digestive tract curdle into something sour and unpredictable.

How she kept a straight face I’ll never know.

What’s your funniest story about being sick?

 

The Right Way to Grieve

Photo by Juni from Kyoto, Japan.
Photo by Juni from Kyoto, Japan.

The last two years have seen several deaths in our extended families. I haven’t blogged about any of them until now for many different reasons: my strong preference for privacy in certain areas of my life; I wasn’t sure what to say about them; other topics seemed more pressing.

The first person I remember grieving over was my grandmother. When she died I’d just reached the developmental stage in childhood when I realized death was permanent and would someday happen to me. I actually have more memories of missing her than I do of spending time with her. We’d moved around a bit while she was still alive, so I suspect that a lot of the nice  stuff she did with me happened when I was too small to remember it.

For a long time I felt like there might be only one right way to grieve.

– You had to be absolutely devastated that this person was gone.

– You had to believe that even the most severe suffering was worth them still being alive.

– You weren’t supposed to have any nuanced feelings about anything related to this topic.

Yes, it’s possible that I have extremely high standards for myself. 😉 Sometimes this is a good thing, but it can also become an unneeded strain in an already stressful situation.

One of the things I’ve been learning through these past few years is that every experience with death is going to be different because every relationship is unique. It simply isn’t possible for everyone connected to the deceased to have the exact same reaction to his or her death. A son or daughter’s grief is different from how a sibling,  pet, or second cousin might react.

That’s more than just okay – it’s utterly normal.

I can’t begin to tell you how relieved I felt when I stopped worrying about grieving the right way. There is no right way to do it. As much as I would like to type out a foolproof, bulleted plan for figuring out how to react to death, I can’t.

It’s something each of us has to figure out on our own.

The only thing I can tell you is this: if you’ve felt it or thought it, so has someone else. You’re not alone.

Who Should Speak for Pastors’ Kids?

How likely is it that preachers’ kids will lose their faith? Is it any different from the general population?

The Barna Group, a Christian polling organization, just published the results of its study of pastors’ children to see whether it was true that ‘those who’ve grown up closest to the church are the quickest to leave it….’

I think it’s important to point out here that all of these results came from telephone conversations with pastors, not their children.

From Why Do Pastors’ Kids Leave the Church? A New Poll Investigates…by Asking the Pastors.

Photo by Richard Melo da Silva.
Photo by Richard Melo da Silva.

The results of this poll aren’t as important as its methodology, but the above links do make for an interesting read if you have a spare 20 minutes.

Longterm readers know that I was a preacher’s kid. I spent all but the last six months of my childhood immersed in subculture that holds pastors and their families to a very different standard than is expected of the average Christian family. Explaining what it’s like to grow up in this environment is like emigrating to a new country as an adult and then attempting to explain your childhood to people who have no personal experience with the culture or history of your home country.

Now imagine someone who grew up elsewhere deciding that they know your life better than you do. When people ask why you emigrated, they start spouting off statistics about the increasing number of polar bear attacks or your chances of drowning in maple syrup.

Yes, sometimes they might actually stumble upon the truth. There are people out there who are sensitive to unspoken assumptions and cultural mores, but the fact still remains that they’re putting words into your mouth. Their experiences are not yours, and as important as it is for them to learn about other points of view being told what something is like is no substitute for actually living through it. Even preacher’s kids from the same family can have very different reactions to their childhoods. I know PKs who are Atheists and devout Christians, straight and gay, traumatized and deeply happy as adults.

Gather 20, 50, 100 of us in the same room and you’ll find 20, 50, 100 different stories. Invite our parents to join us and I have no doubt that in many cases their understandings of where we are now won’t be the same as ours. It doesn’t mean that anyone is lying, only that families are complicated, past experiences colour present expectations, and not everything in life in static.

Ideally there would be no spokespeople. Asking a handful of people to speak for an entire group usually leads to only certain stories being told. Everyone who doesn’t fit a narrow definition of what is acceptable is filtered out during the selection process, and that only leads to more misunderstandings.

But at the very least you should be directly interviewing the subjects of any study. No one who wants to be taken seriously would poll men on what women think, teachers to speak for firefighters, Christians to weigh in on Tibetan Buddhism, or straight people to explain what it’s like to be LGBT.

If anyone from the Barna Group ever reads this, I would be happy to participate in a new poll. I would pester…er, encourage all of the other PKs I know to hop in as well. If you want real data, we can help.

 

If You Could Keep Only One Memory What Would It Be?

 If you could keep only one memory what would it be?  Thanksgiving, 1992. All five members of my nuclear family are gathered around the table eating what we consider to be a feast: mashed potatoes, gravy, a meat of some kind ( probably chicken), pie for dessert. There were no doubt other delicious things on… Read More

Personas Aren’t People

The next chapter of After the Storm is taking a little longer to write than I had anticipated, but it will be posted tomorrow evening. Today I’m responding to a blog post about public personas. My golden rule when looking at a celebrity is to ask myself whether or not I would like to be… Read More