Sunday, October 20, 2013


From a reader named Bobby:

Dear Heather,
I have had an itching to begin writing for some time now but have never actually started due to many false starts and cowardice. However, I am certain now is the time, and I want to begin now! As an experienced blogger, can you give me three foundations to begin a blog on a foundation of rock? I really am clueless to how to begin (i.e. what is the best provider to start out with, how do you get the word out, etc.). You probably get a ton of emails like this, but if you could spare some advice, I would be very grateful! I love your writing, and, on a side note, I sent my sister (whose faith is a complicated thing) a copy of "Shirt of Flame" because she would identify with its honesty and down-to-earth tone. Although she is reading it slowly, she has only positive things to say about it! The book is fantastic because it is written by someone who is so relatable.
God bless you, Heather, and thank you for all you do in the literary world.

Hey there, Bobby--

I didn't engage in a whole lot of forethought when I started my blog just over three years ago. I'd been out of town without ready internet access for six months. Up till then, I'd pretty much dismissed blogs as hack work. And when I got back to town, I was so thrilled to be back a desk and a laptop, and I had so much to say, and I was so tired of sending out essays and waiting six, eight, ten months for them to be rejected, I thought, seemingly out of the blue, I'm going to start a blog! I think I had some vague idea that blogspot indicated a blog or...I think I just googled blogger and the thing came up, pick out a name, and I had my Elvis Jesus photo I'd taken at Graceland that I put up for a header (since changed), and I just figured it out, bit by bit.

I'd never really read other people's blogs, and I didn't ask anyone to help me. I just figured it out--how to post and publish. I've never much promoted my blog, other than linking to the posts on my FB page. I'm lucky to have some small bit of an audience from Magnificat and my books and I'm sure some of those folks have found their way here.

I just wrote, and still do, about what interests me, what I've been thinking about or reading, my little day-to-day life in L.A. I don't watch TV and I read a lot and take walks and that alone provides endless fodder. I was trained as a lawyer and I enjoy issue-spotting, and building a logical argument. I also often go about my day pondering a passage from the Gospels and seeing how it applies to my fallen self or some recent experience, and then I'll get all excited and want to write about that.

It's all about Christ. It's wanting to get closer to Christ and to share that with people: the excitement, the weirdness.

You're trying to model Christ. So--humble, charitable, long-suffering, fair. A lot of silence when everyone else is embroiled in the argument du jour. A ton of restraint of tongue and pen. A ton of not engaging, of letting the other person have the last word, of not having an opinion on some every pop culture happening or political scandal. The blog becomes a sacred honor and what goes into it takes place mostly in secret; in the hidden places of your heart.

I started out allowing folks to comment anonymously but I got a lot of spam and I also got some hate comments so I switched over to reviewing them before posting. I get very few hate comments because I simply won't publish them, so people move on. I don't pour my heart and soul into my blog to host hatred, nor bullying.

I love to take pictures and I often pair them with text that doesn't at first glance have any connection. But beauty and strangeness and truth, which my photos I hope convey. You'll find your own way of getting across the way you see. That's the beauty of a blog. It's unique unto you.

Your patience will be tried. You'll get a lot of prayer requests. I try to write the person's name down and keep it by my bed and at least say a Hail Mary.

You're giving people something. You're not trying to get something for yourself.

The giving is its own gift and then you'll get gift upon gift in return. You'll learn, stretch, morph, make mistakes, grow.

So just start. The less thought you give to it, the better. Don't mind what other people think of you. Mind what Christ thinks of you.



  1. This is great! Thanks for your insight! I am also a young aspiring writer with a blog (I used to write blogs off too until I decided one day that I just needed to share my thoughts). In the last few years, I discovered your books, your blog, and your beautiful reflections in Magnificat, and I love them all. I've learned about St. Therese my entire life (she's my patron saint by both baptism and confirmation, and I was part of the Little Flowers Household on Franciscan University's campus) but I never really understood her until I read Shirt of Flame. I loved that you brought her down from her pedestal and introduced her as a friend rather than an idol. In fact, I love the honesty in all of your writing, and the way you constantly shed light on the love and truth of Christ and the mysteries of the Church. Thank you for being such an inspiration, and for allowing the light of Christ to shine through your pen! God bless!

  2. This is such wise advice, particularly for any Christian blogger or would-be blogger. You've managed to condense so much good sense into the one paragraph that starts off "You're trying to model Christ. ..."

  3. Good advice not just for blogging, but communicating in general.

  4. Thank you for this- especially your closing sentence.

  5. Thank you for this. I especially resonate with your final sentence.

  6. "Which means you have to be working toward the solution down to the smallest, most hidden moment of your life." This is beautiful and holds true for everything we do.


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