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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Introspection

It's a quiet time at work, with half the staff on vacation on any given day, and colleagues out of town. The phone is quiet, and my in-box is calm. It's my favorite time of the year to catch up on all the things I should have done already, but the calm also promotes reflection, and I've been reflecting some on blogging.

I started this blog as a creative outlet, as a way of shouting my two bits to the world. I was hoping of course for people to listen, just a handful. It's nice to know you're heard, that your voice isn't simply echoing around the emptiness of the universe annoying the neighbors.

The content of the blog would be just what I want. My opinions, lame or not. My stories, boring or not. My pictures, focussed or not.

I wasn't going to write 'for' my audience. How could I anyway? If the audience is made of random people stopping by? I should say what I have to say, and not try to be funny when I'm not, or politically correct, or anything I'm not just to woo people into staying.

And then, certain people started stopping by regularly. They became followers, I became theirs, not always reciprocally. Some blogfellows I got to know a little better, and started thinking of them as my friends. I'm not terribly good at making friends, and this was fabulous.

Then I joined the Friday My Town shootout. This has been a joy. It's made me think of subjects that I wouldn't have thought of otherwise. It's brought me into contact with other bloggers around the world. But it can also be invasive. I didn't usually blog more than once or twice a week, and so a weekly theme post immediately took up nearly half my blogging life. Some weeks, in hunting out pictures for Friday, I didn't do anything else.

And then I noticed I was beginning to write what I thought my readers would like to hear. I noticed that pictures and light pieces drew more comments than more difficult subjects. Naturally I took the comments as the equivalent of interest. Which they aren't really; they're only the visible sign of interest. So I did more of what got noticed.

The Shootouts distorted things, as well. When club members make the rounds on Friday, or the weekend, they often leave a line, more to say hello! than to converse, making the weekly photo collection by far more 'interesting' than the other posts, by simple virtue that most of the club members don't read my blog the rest of the time. And I do it too; I only follow some of the others regularly (I would spend my entire day reading blogs, otherwise! There's just not time to do everything!), and I like to say hello and I really liked that shot of the kids on the beach, but I usually don't say much else.

And some blogs I followed I got tired of and stopped following. I'd had my fill, or they gave up blogging (especially travel blogs that covered a long trip somewhere and then stopped when the writer arrived back home), or things just evolved and I saw I wasn't visiting any more.

If I've let other people's blogs go, it shouldn't be such a surprise when one of my own fans lets me go.

But wow.

There's one blog I connect with religiously (many, many I like and even love, but this is my favorite author and I was really hoping to meet him if I ever made it to his city), and when he signed up to mine, I was ecstatic. I felt amazed, as if, if this guy likes my writing, maybe I'm okay at it after all. Maybe I can fool you all into thinking there's a regular human behind this. When this author dropped me the other day, I discovered that losing a reader can be more intense than gaining one.

So I'm going to try to be true to myself again. I'll keep on with the Friday Shootouts, but I can't let it take over my week. I'll try to learn the art of posting just one picture and either just letting it stand, or saying something worthwhile about it, rather than taking every related picture I can. And if a topic doesn't grab me, I'll skip it. Take a break. Write something I want to write, instead.
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8 comments:

Si's blog said...

Blogging, and the reasons we do, is a fascinating topic. See Whit's recent post - http://bushsyndrome.blogstream.com/v1/pid/407580_A-Blogsite-Divided.html#TP - and the comments he got. And he does get comments.

Think I might expound on this one, too.

gégé said...

moi je l'aime ton blog même si je laisse pas de messages tous les jours je le regarde tous les jours (enfin quand j'ai une connexion). Bon je peux pas dire que je comprends tout ce que tu écrit mais en substance oui. Il faut qu'il reste toi. Mais je pense que les lecteurs ça va ça vient parfois on ne va pas sur un blog pendant longtemps puis on y retourne un jour on le redécouvre allé courage bonne soirée

sciencegirl said...

Oui, il y a bien des personnes qui visitent sans laisser de coucou. Mes parents, par exemple, n'ont jamais commenté; poutant je vois bien 'Mountain Home' sur le compteur d'activité. Et j'ai un fan à Paris sans que je sache qui c'est (Christian, c'est toi?) C'est pas que ces contacts sont moins importants. C'est juste que c'est naturel de prendre les commentaires comme mesure d'interet - ces personnes là ont pris le temps de dire un mot. Ca devient un echange, et c'est bien valorisant.

Si - Thanks for the link, I'll check it out!

Si's blog said...

Referred to this in my post today.

Very well said. Like it more every time I read it over.

shabby girl said...

Very well said. Feels honest. Yeah, I'm up in the middle of the night.

What starts out to be fun about blogging can totally take over, create pressure, and we forget why we started it anyway. Hearing someone else say it makes me feel a little less neurotic! Thanks for sharing.

Butler and Bagman said...

Yes! Yes! In addition to just getting overwhelmed by "followers" I understand writing for others, or sometimes not writing something because someone might object to it. I know that people also follow anonymously and I never know who might be reading from where I work...so I avoid talking about work. In fact, I always wanted to be a professional writer until I realized that trying to write for publication was not fun. Or particularly honest. I don't know about your other followers but there is nothing you could write that would turn me off. So be yourself! Yea, you!

sciencegirl said...

Thanks for the encouragement. I will definitely drop trying to write 'popular' (not that I made much effort anyway). Though there will always, inevitably, be some restraint. After all, my parents read this, and my boss's wife. Don't want to go too far off the deep end, there.

GingerV said...

I started writing on a blog inorder to talk about the difficult time I have had living in a foreign country, trying to learn the language, how to cook the food that is available here, how to not miss my family so much. I wanted to blog to show some of the pictures that I have taken that show the beauty of this country, cause on an everytday bases I don't see anything beautiful here. I love when I here from someone that really interested in what I have to say. I found myself sidetracked from my perpose by the friday shoot out.... now I have been trying to use the topic to see Brasil from a different perspective - to stay true to my purpose. I think I am doing better. the shoot out is about my town (which I have several) not about me.... I love your writing, and I read any post that you put out there, don't stop.