A reader named Tom recently wrote:
Hi Heather, thought I'd share a little of my journal since I wrote about you!:
Kind of off-putting to read [an apparently popular Catholic blogger's] latest post, so rife as it is with salesmanship and branding (the latter not the kind you used to do to cattle but what you do to and for yourself). He links to a blogger who tells you how to get more readers, a subject that utterly bores me. You are who you are, and you either find an audience or you don't. The great joy of blogging is precisely that with it - unlike just about every other area of your life - you don't have to conform to the expectations of others.
Part of my attraction to Heather King is her semi-fatal "anti-branding" tendency, her refusal to be co-opted by labels of "left" or "right" or water down her message to appeal to the masses. Part of branding is consistency (i.e. "don't surprise anyone") , punchy posts, and a complete lack of eccentricity, but Heather's are eclectic and leisurely meandering, and sometimes punctuated by homemade photos or unfamiliar lyrics from long forgotten songs. I've always been a fan of the homemade, the local, the "Other", the surprising, the real"...
I considered this high praise indeed and I must say I was kind of tickled that anyone would write about me in his or her journal (especially as I write about so MANY people in my own, though usually with not nearly so much kindness).
I replied, in part:
I really came to blogging because I had so much material and I was sick of sending the pieces out one by one and waiting months to get an answer (often a rejection). So though of course I am always scrambling to earn a livelihood (fyi, the blog brought in maybe two grand in donations the whole year), in a way it started out and has remained a kind of spontaneous (though I spend hours and hours a week at it) eruption of love...I think to love Christ is to be fully human. Not a brand, not a shill for yourself as opposed to Christ, not an entrepreneur whose "product" is the Gospels. You can't promote the Cross...
But you can, and in fact perhaps are obliged to, promote your own original thought, expression, work etc. Interestingly, the same week I received an email from another reader, this one named Bob:
"I found you recently via Magnificat. Since that ‘Meditation of the Day’, I purchased Shirt of Flame, finished it, and just started reading it a second time...I also enjoy blog very much. In fact, your blog prompted my email today. Have you ever considered posting your blog in tumblr?
I stumbled onto tumblr recently while attempting to become more ‘social media’ literate. If you’re not familiar with it, I would encourage spending some time there. It has strong artistic overtones, and much of its content is first rate. It’s also edgy and youthful, it seems to be a popular medium for youth venting and expression, some of which is tasteful and some of which is not.
My (limited) research indicates that it is sorely missing the kind of practical, thoughtful and insightful spirituality that I found in ‘Shirt of Flame’ and on your blog. In short, I think you’re needed in the tumblr community and encourage you to consider blogging there as well."
I had heard of tumblr. [And wondered why on God's green earth they annoyingly deleted the "e"]. And upon receiving Bob's email I took a quick look and, as I told him, quailed. As with twitter, I sort of can't get my mind around what it even is. On the other hand, he may be right that the time has come for home-made photos, lyrics to arcane songs, eccentricity, the surprising, the "real," and a practicing, ardent Catholic with a blog that is something other than a marketplace.
So I asked if I could post his email as a kind of call--I'm thinking maybe there's someone out there with a "semi-fatal, anti-branding" sensibility similar to mine who is conversant with tumblr and would be willing to get Shirt of Flame (the blog) up? If so, lemme know...
Source: Shirt of Flame (Blogspot)
Used with permission.
Buy Heather King's book "Shirt of Flame (A Year with St. Therese of Lisieux)"