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.
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.