Category Archives: Blogging

Colette

April 5, 2019

Five years ago today I put up my first¬†post. The gist of that post is still true; namely, that I think of myself as a writer above all else. So long as I am cognizant, I don’t ever expect that to change. Somewhere in the last five years, I started to think,¬†“I will not die without having written.” Not that I’m planning on going anywhere, but I wanted to be sure I wrote something substantial – something of substance – before I’m too old or too dead to do it.¬† I think I’ve done that. As a body of work, WriterInSoul makes me proud.

Coming in, I didn’t know what to expect and I was leery of trolls, stalkers, and other¬†weird ilk. My concerns were largely unfounded. Still, blogging is exposing yourself and I felt a bit of trepidation about that but it didn’t stop me. This blog is not a diary. It is not a journal. I only write what I want to write. And — I have never deleted anything I’ve written. I’ve done minor edits on posts, when I saw a typo or something like that but I’ve never “taken anything back” or hidden it. Once it was up, it stayed up. My philosophy was not to post anything I wouldn’t be comfortable with anyone – anyone at all – reading. That said, I was ready – ready in my life – to say a lot here.

The blog doesn’t generate as many comments as it did in early times. This¬†post on relationships from 2015 had the most comments. Several of those commenting are no longer around on WordPress. (Kate of¬†Views and Mews by Coffee Kat,, who has been blogging longer than I have,¬†once said that no one who was around when she first started on WordPress, is still here.) People drop away. It doesn’t pay to get¬†too attached and yet I do feel connected to other bloggers. You hope the people you like stick around but you have no say over it.

This post from 2015 on promoting my blog had the second most comments.

The most viewed post is my “About” page and the second most read is the post I wrote three years ago about a man I knew who killed himself. I put up a link to the post on a community yahoo group and many people came to the blog by way of that link. (While I have “advertised” the blog in my community on bulletin boards and once or twice in the small local paper, it is not particularly well known or read. I could promote it on Facebook but I haven’t, in part because I keep my presence on Facebook limited.)

It occurs to me that blogs may start for one reason and continue – if they do – for another. I planned to blog for at least one year. I knew I could do that. Five years never occurred to me (although, that being said, an ability to plan/see into the future has never been my strong suit). I’ve said it before but I often remind myself this is not a job. That is, BLOGGING is not a job; it’s not my job. It has to be something I want, a reward unto itself. If it feels like work I shouldn’t be doing it. I try to find that sweet spot and over these five years, have routinely thought about and evaluated the blog: Is it worth it? What am I doing here? What do I consider a success? Am I getting back what I put in? How much time & effort should I spend? Stuff like that.

Due to not having consistent, decent internet, for some time now I haven’t been able to read other blogs as much as I would like. Reading other bloggers is important to me. There truly is a sense of community and connection and while I haven’t talked to or met any bloggers “in real life” I value the nature of the relationships that exist here on WordPress. Other bloggers are a large factor in why I continue to blog. Which isn’t to say I don’t have readers who are not bloggers – I do and I appreciate them very much as well, both those I know in life and those who I do not.
 
The blog is like a living entity. It frustrates, disappoints, pleases, and delights. Having had it five years, I think in terms of it; it doesn’t go far from my mind. I have not lost the recurring urge to blog, a feeling which makes me think of appetite. I write something (eat something) and I feel satisfied (sated). But sooner or later the “hunger” returns. While the posts have dropped off at times, I’ve never let a month go by without blogging. I dunno – I think it would be strange to stop blogging. I imagine if you stopped after having one a long time as I have, you’d have to remind yourself it no longer existed. What would take its place? That’s a bit of a rhetorical thought.

I have mellowed out a bit about the blog. What long-term relationship doesn’t mellow out a bit?! And when I say “mellowed” I mean in terms of what goes on in my own head about it. I don’t angst about it quite the way I might have earlier on. Yes, I still want readers and comments but I expect the blog is more or less what it is going to be. I’m not expecting – shy of any highly unlikely circumstance – any big surprises or a whopping change in anything related to the blog. Unless WordPress starts charging (I SWEAR I WON’T PAY TO BLOG, grrr. Writing for free is one thing; paying to write would be entirely another!)

Sometimes I worry that the whole blog could disappear and all my writing – and all the comments – with it. I mean, that COULD happen. I don’t own the blog and it exists in the never-never land that is the internet. Although WordPress has my trust to a large extent, I have no control. If it goes away, it goes away. I have to have that attitude. Blogs exist in space; they aren’t books. (Unless you pony up a whole bunch of money to people who will turn it into one: I’ve seen such ads!).

After five years of being here and thinking about it, I think blogs create connection and curb isolation, for their writers and for their readers. They can make you laugh and think, as either writer or reader. When I write, I make myself laugh and I often figure things out by writing about them. I am compelled to share my life – many aspects of it – and WriterInSoul has let me do that. Thanks for coming along.

Colette
April 5, 2019

Colette

September 14, 2017

This post is overdue. If only in my own mind. It’s been percolating since I wrote my post Thoughts on the Blog as I approach my three year anniversary (part one?)¬† back in March this year. As I said then, and I say to myself often, this is not a job, my blog is not a job. Yet‚Ķ.I have a sense of obligation to it that I can’t shake. Or I don’t want to shake. It may not be a job (there’s no pay, no set schedule, no deadlines, no people “counting on” me) but the blog is an important part of my life. There is no denying that.

My postings this summer have been skimpy. It wasn’t for lack of ideas; I had a number of them in mind that I never posted. When other things in my life need to take priority, the blog has to drop down the list. The irony is that in not posting, I saw how much posting means to me. It isn’t that I didn’t know exactly, so much as NOT doing it made very clear how important blogging here on WordPress is to me, even after three plus¬†years.

One of the things I sometimes think about WordPress is that line from the Wizard of Oz where Dorothy says, “People come and go so quickly here!” When you get attached to a blog or a blogger and they disappear, with or without warning, it can be quite disconcerting.

I didn’t follow Doobster religiously, but I did read his blog Mindful Digressions a number of times¬†as did many others. He got tons of comments on his¬†analytical,¬†thought-provoking posts. He seemed like somebody that would be blogging indefinitely. Then, in 2015,¬†he was gone. Just gone. The boiler-plate WordPress message said the blog was now private and you could “request” access. I requested. Nothing. I requested again. Nothing. Gone. (As someone who didn’t read regularly, the most I could find via someone else’s blog is that he quit for personal reasons.)

Some of you followed John of Get Off My Lawn Please. Over a year ago he had substantial changes in his personal life, promised to return shortly and never did. When you know people only online, it can be tricky to gauge how far to push your interaction. Saying,”Where the hell are you?! Come back!!” to anyone¬†you don’t know well or only know online doesn’t really seem appropriate. (I told John¬†not to let anyone pressure him into returning prematurely, including me. I take it back.) Still, in the end I realize you have to respect what other people do or don’t do with their blog. (Note to self: Repeat as necessary.)

I spend quite a bit of time online. I am attracted to social media. I follow community groups closely on Facebook. Email is a significant part of my life. Other than this blog, though, I don’t share a lot of my personal life. The blog is definitely the place I talk about myself; my life, my interests, my thoughts, my past.( It’s also the primary place I post photos.) What really appeals to me, both in writing and in reading other blogs, is the DEPTH that is available in blogging. I like to write – as well as read – long, thoughtful posts. I’m not on twitter. Most people do not have brilliant, witty, insightful 140-character thoughts. I don’t think in 140 characters, I don’t talk in 140 characters, nor am I particularly interested in reading the same.

On WordPress, especially when you stick around awhile, you can get to know how someone thinks. I won’t say you can intimately get to know them, but in many – or some – cases, there is an approximation. There may be a tendency – both on my part and others’ – to extrapolate, to read a bunch of posts and fill in or assume the rest of the person’s personality. I try to guard against that as I’ve learned (not on WordPress but elsewhere online) that what people write on the internet can be quite different than the reality of the person. Over time and hundreds of posts and comments though, bloggers do reveal themselves or significant aspects of themselves.

I mentioned this in my March post¬†but I won’t argue online. Never have, won’t do it. It’s a rule (when I’ve broken it in private emails, I have usually been sorry). I will, however, argue with you – people I know – in real life. Debate what is being said. Challenge someone. Which is a part of me I largely leave out – or soften – here. Arguing with strangers, that is people I’ve never met, doesn’t seem wise or profitable. It’s like arguing with phantoms. (I also think words online are so easily misconstrued; arguing is just asking for trouble. We are more empathetic in person and maybe¬†less reactive.)

The little corner of WordPress I’ve carved for myself strives to be decent and if not profound at all times, at least worthwhile. And when I refer to my little corner, I mean what I am putting out in my own blog, but also the kind of people who are drawn to my blog and vice versa. I have no doubt there are nasty, mean-spirited corners of WordPress, same as everywhere else online. I just don’t see the point. Not that my blog is any kind of Pollyanish zone – NEVER! – but I want decency to prevail. I think the people who read my blog would agree, both those I know of (by name or blog name), and I imagine, those I don’t.

A word on Stats. For readers who are not also bloggers, “stats” are numbers available to bloggers to show how many readers have read your blog each day. These stats do not reveal WHO is reading, but simply show figures. It can show which posts have been popular and which not so much. Stats may show where the readers came from; that is if they came to your blog by way of Google, for instance. (One of my favorites showed that someone arrived at my blog by typing the search term “potatoes that look like rocks.” You wouldn’t think that anybody would search such a thing, but there they are! When I see something like that I hope that the person isn’t disappointed by arriving here as a result of their search. Yes, I feel beholden to strangers doing searches on rocks. Such is my life.)

At times I’ve felt quite frustrated with my blog, wanting to “grow” my readership and seeing well, not a whole lot. It’s times like that, somehow or some way – so far ¬†– that I get just enough encouragement to keep going. Someone will write a lovely, thoughtful comment, or I’ll see a surge in my stats, or the mood will pass. To be quite honest, I can see that my thoughts on the blog are not much different from some other areas of my life where I get frustrated or disappointed at times (and question why I’m doing something or feel a sense of impotence, that I’m stalled so far as “making things happen”).

Expectations and I have a long, muddied history together. I am no Buddhist. I HAVE EXPECTATIONS. WANTS. DESIRES. With the blog, as life, finding the Happy Middle Ground (the place that allows you to keep getting out of bed and putting one foot down in front of the other every day year in year out) is my challenge, balancing my expectations against what is or can be.

I have such philosophical internal meanderings about the blog and sometimes the way out is I think of something funny or see or hear something that makes me laugh and I’ll post it and it kind of saves me and moves me past inertia or waffling. When something is funny to me, I must share it! And here’s the blog, waiting patiently, always, for just that.

Something that’s been kind of nice in this Summer of Scant Postings in the Year of WordPress 2017, is that as I’ve continued to check in (if not post), I’ve seen that people are still reading my blog, reading old posts. That is very gratifying. It’s like the time I’ve put into the blog over the past three years still pays dividends. Emotional ones, if you will. I think it’s great that people have come around even when the blog doesn’t have fresh (and in blogging, “fresh” is pretty much that last 24-48 hours) posts. It gives my heart a little lift.

I didn’t plan to be so absent this past summer. I am not leaving WordPress or my blog. Or the other bloggers I’ve found and cherish here.¬†I didn’t forget people (other bloggers might be surprised how often I think about them, people I’ve never met or even spoken to). I don’t know exactly how the future continues for WriterInSoul, just that I want to continue to blog – infrequently or not – and hope that in three years, I’m still sticking around. I can’t imagine anything taking WordPress’s place in my life¬†(well, unless they start charging those of us with freebie blogs or get bought by Jeff Bezos or something). I’m hooked.

Colette

March 10, 2017

You know, I always like it when other bloggers write about their blogs or blogging and yet I’ve rarely done it myself. It isn’t that I don’t think about blogging A LOT but I keep most of my thoughts about it off my blog. Still, like other bloggers, I think about the purpose of my blog, how I feel about it, how to attract readers, how much time I can justifiably spend on it, and what I hope to gain from it. As in:¬†what do I consider¬†a successful, worthwhile blog?

In April, about a month from now, I’m coming in on my three year anniversary. For kicks, I put a “widget” on the main page of the blog (right hand side) with a count-down to the date. This is mainly because I was trying to get myself to figure out and use a few more blog features (frankly, the technical aspects of blogging don’t really excite me; they are a means to an end). My overriding philosophy is that all the bells & whistles come to nothing if you don’t have something to say.

Also on the main page of the blog (right side) I have added “Other bloggers who’ve visited my blog“. The feature is called “Blogroll” or “My Community” on some blogs but I wanted to make up my own name for it (because honestly, I never really understood what “Blogroll” or “My Community” were exactly when I saw them). WordPress generates the people on it automatically.

How frequently I’ve blogged has depended on two things. I’ve mentioned in passing, without offering details, that I’ve been dealing¬†with a stressful, ongoing problem that at times has resulted in less blogging. I think any big problem or stressor in my life would likely impact the blog. The other factor in my blogging frequency is unreliable internet access. This means not only do I blog less, but sometimes I haven’t¬†been able to respond to people’s comments as quickly as I might have liked (I mean hell, 24 hours¬†is a week in the blogging world). It also means that I am not able to read other people’s blogs as much, which I regret. If I have a limited amount of time online though, writing comes first, then reading.

I copied down this quote by¬†pouringmyartout, who said it back on 10/31/14 in the comments on¬†another blog which is now marked “protected”. It’s been helpful to me from year one:

You can’t read everybody. You follow a handful of the best. Then you have a second tier…people that you are crazy about. You try to remember to visit their blog as often as you can, read a few posts, leave a few comments. But you can’t follow all of them. This will set you up to fail. Spend too much time reading and your own blogging will suffer. And your first responsibility is to be a good blogger, not a good follower. You know like the responsibility of parents is to raise good ADULTS, not good children. If you can do both, more power to you.

Without much forethought, I rather automatically made a few “rules” for myself as I started blogging and I’ve held to them.

No arguing. I won’t argue with anybody (that’s true across the board online, a personal philosophy). Fortunately, argumentative people rarely show up on my blog but then again maybe that’s because of my unspoken rule. (Disagreeing or offering alternative ways of looking at things is another matter, especially once a basic level of trust is established.) I am very put off by much of what I read online, on social media and in other places, by how ugly and vitriolic it often is – with no meaningful result ¬†–¬†and that’s even in the most innocuous of places! ¬†I’ll argue/debate with someone¬†in person, so long as it’s civil but not online. People are so wackily REACTIVE online, so quick to take offense, so quick to give it, and so very needlessly nasty in the way they interact. I think of WordPress, at least my corner of it and the corners I visit, as a haven from that. This means that participating on WordPress is far and away one of the most positive, if not THE most positive and satisfying way, I spend time online.

That being said, THIS IS NOT A JOB. The blog is not a job. The blog is not my job. The blog does not pay me any money. The blog has no set hours or requirements. I needed this rule for myself because guess what? I tend to make things into jobs. I create internal demands for myself in general. Any time I get any kind of obligatory or “I should…” type feelings about the blog, I hastily remind myself THIS IS NOT A JOB. Not. A. Job. It is very easy to pour lots of time and energy into a blog. That needs to be balanced against other aspects of your life, like the kind that maybe pay money, for instance.¬†A blog needs to find a spot where what you put in and what you get back are roughly in sync. ¬†That “spot” varies over time.

I will write what I feel like writing. This rule dovetails nicely with the previous one. I never assign myself writing tasks or topics. The only slight rule I have is to try not to write posts on the same topic back-to-back. If I post something about decorating my home for instance, I make the next post about another topic. If I write a heavy, introspective essay, I post something lighter next. ¬†I do that to keep the blog interesting for me and readers. Supposing (in my imagination, I don’t actually know this) I have a reader that likes 75% of what I write about but really doesn’t care for my cooking posts – that reader can at least generally expect not to find two cooking posts in a row. And that’s no hardship on me.

I will only write when I want to. After almost three years, I have found that the blog is much like eating. Hunger builds up, eating satisfies it, and the feeling passes. Repeat. If I don’t feel like writing for a day or two or a week, invariably the desire returns. There have been times I’ve felt discouraged and wondered why I was blogging and if I should continue to. ¬†My sense, from reading other bloggers, is that this is a common sentiment. Some bloggers “take breaks.” I’ve never taken a break. There have been months where I didn’t post much, but I never specifically decided to go away and there’s never been a month with no posts.

I’ll tell the truth as I know it. I don’t write about¬†everything¬†(the blog is not a diary)¬†but what I do write is honest. That means not everything I have to say is positive and delightful. My blog is not anonymous. Granted, I don’t spell out my full name, family or friend names, or where I live on the blog itself. Still, I remind myself that¬†anyone can read what I say here and I need to be comfortable with that. Within my community, I associate my blog with my name (I don’t hide that it’s mine). Initially I thought people who knew me and/or also lived here might be interested so there was incentive not to be anonymous on that front. A couple people I know have been faithful blog readers (hello locals!) and I appreciate them. I can sort of tell from my “stats” that I have other local readers who are anonymous but I believe most of my readers are other bloggers (I’ve seen a slight uptick recently in readership but I can’t tell exactly via WordPress where they are coming from. If I¬†could I’d do more of whatever it is!)

Here’s the current version of the “ad” I put up on a few bulletin boards:

IMG_20170310_102019

I have grown very fond of my blog and very fond of other bloggers. A few in particular deserve a mention. Battlewagon13 (aka Tim) who writes¬†Flying Here in the Middle of Somewhere (…or random thoughts of an almost-closed mind)¬†first started liking and commenting on my blog in June 2014 (I went back and looked) and he’s been coming around every since. He’s a smart guy with a dry, misanthropic sense of humor and a good heart.¬†Vanbytheriver¬†(Living life. Paying attention) has continuously read and supported my blog for a long time. Her comments are thoughtful and generous. John Callaghan of¬†Getoffmylawnplease, has been gone for a year but when he was here he regularly added much to my blog with his (sometimes bawdy) humor and original way of looking at things.

Now I know this post is long so I’ll wrap it up here but leave open the possibility of taking up the general topic again in the coming weeks (that’s why I wrote “part one?” in the title). Something about the three-year anniversary has made me very reflective about the blog and I want to share some of that with you. I certainly didn’t imagine I’d be here for three years when I started but I didn’t know then how¬†addictive blogging is, and how¬†attached I’d become both to the blog and other WordPress blogs and bloggers.

New levels of spammery

In WordPress bloggers have spam folders just like email has. Occasionally I check mine just in case a real message accidentally landed there. I don’t answer spam except to have¬†a little blog fun. I just found this beaut of spam.

Hello, i reead yoyr blog frkm tie tto tiume and i
oown a similzr one and i wwas juswt curiouss
iif yoou geet a lott oof spzm feedback? If soo howw ddo you stopp it, anyy pllugin oor abything yyou can recommend?
I get so mjch latel it’s drifing me crzy sso aany hellp is vvery mufh appreciated.

A spammer “asking” how to avoid spam?!? And in such a deliberately annoying, hard-on-the-eyes way??¬†If that doesn’t beat all…

Deere Spmmerr, Ii noo juswtt whaatt u meene. I surre pheel urre PAIINE. I noo whhatt wee can do. Rounnnd upp awll the spmmerrs an tookk them oout two thhe woodz andd llet thhe wooolfs eatt thm.

Subtle changes to blog “header”

Earlier this year I updated my blog header¬†(the static picture you see at the top of the blog) ¬†by putting up 3 photos that “randomize” – hey, that’s the WordPress word for it, it being “automatically rotate.” I’ve tweaked it again by ditching one, adding another and slightly cropping the other two (why? Eh, one of the photos was bothering me and I wanted to make the cropping more consistent).

Anyway, here’s the photo I’ve added.

img_20161119_123440_kindlephoto-858156

 

(Joining the slightly cropped “keepers”)

img_20160609_111203_kindlephoto-5948121

 

img_20160609_111504_kindlephoto-5911291