Category Archives: Blogging

writerinsoul

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:

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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.

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(Joining the slightly cropped “keepers”)

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New header for blog

My header (the main photo at the top of my blog) is two years old. I figured I needed an update. When I started this blog I knew I wanted my eyes to “represent” the blog more or less and I still do. I took a few shots today and these were the 3 I chose from. I like each in its own way. I think I’ll put ’em all up and let WordPress “randomize” them.

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Weird(er) spam

Those of you who aren’t also bloggers may not know that bloggers get lots of spam pretending to be genuine comments on posts, just like you do with email. Fortunately WordPress recognizes most of it and puts it in a spam folder. Once in awhile I take a look at what’s in my spam because occasionally real comments get dumped in there. The spam is fairly typical and never has anything to do with the actual post. However, it’s taken a peculiar turn lately with a “personal” touch; nonsensical messages from “people” who talk as if we know each other. Computer-generated? Not sure.

I DO get tempted to answer some of this junk but I never have because it’s kind of a fat waste of time and why encourage spammers? However, these two recent peaches ought to be shared with the responses I’d give them (if I was going to do that).

Weird Spammer #1: “Hello. I have not been on this page since summer. It was only because I was touring to Michigan because of my business at Alcoa. It requires a large amount of time from me, however I still think about your post. I remember our days at Columbia Centro Universitario (PR) in Florida. So pleased that we had a opportunity to play around the pool. Kindly send my thanks to Mary along with mack. Merci”

My imaginary response: “How kind of you to write! Has it been that long really? Time does pass, doesn’t it?! Oh yes, many people delight in touring to Michigan, and I hope your business at Alcoa is doing swell and that silly misunderstanding about your misappropriating billions of dollars in donated funds has been cleared up. A prison sentence sure wouldn’t be good for business would it? Wink, wink! I too remember so fondly our days romping at the University in Florida. Who would think that you could graduate with a D- average? But good for you anyway! Your parents certainly helped out there didn’t they? What with getting that incident with the cheerleaders expunged from your record. Good times! And the pool! Oh my, don’t get me started…that WAS indeed pleasing you ol’ devil you! Oh sorry to say that weasel Mary ran off with the two-headed boy from the circus when it was passing through town so I won’t be talking to her too soon. That’s what I get for taking her out for a fun time to try to cheer her up! Hey, you thank Carlos for sending those pictures to cheer ME up. Oh, oops! Maybe I wasn’t supposed to mention that! Um, who’s mack??? Au revoir! Write soon! But not too soon! Because I am also really busy starting my online business selling Meth Head Barbey and Crack Kenn (get it? I changed the spelling!).”

Weird Spammer #2: “Terrific post. I was thrilled to find this since I was also given birth to in New York. in addition, thank you for seeing Tampa and assisting me to better appreciate cooking skills. This supported me with my admittance to University of Alabama. Looking forward to seeing you in our home and catch up with our hockey game.”

My Imaginary Response: “OMG. YOU WERE ALSO GIVEN BIRTH TO IN NEW YORK??????!!!!!????? What are the FREAKISH odds of that?!?!?!? WOW!!! WE SHOULD GET A PRIZE!! Oh, I just remembered, um, I wasn’t given birth to in New York, but no bigee. I did see Tampa though!! Once, like on a map, I think I picked it out good. And you and I both know it was high time for you to appreciate cooking skills. I mean c’mon, you are 38! Enough with the Ramen noodles, amiright?!? So I guess you got that prep chef job after I helped you, that is so great!!!! I bet they were REALLY impressed with that on your college application to the University of Alabama. Gee, I never knew anybody who went to the University of Alabama. I guess you’ll start talking like a southerner now and walking slow and eating grits? See, I saw a TV show once about the South so I learned ALL about it. And there was a movie I saw too, something about banjos. I bet you will fit in just fine, NOT!!!!! Hahaha, sucka! Wait — you’re gonna come live with me in MY home? Was I drunk when we planned this? Okay, I guess you can because you just know I need you to ‘splain that hockey stuff to me. See you soon! You can demonstrate those great cooking skills but bring some pork rinds and Natty Bo too, k? Later dude!”

Dinosaur shame

recent post by Bun Karyudo about updating his computer reminded me that I regularly get prompted to do the same on my outdated home computer. I see it so often that I barely pay it any mind. Even WordPress tries to shame me into action with this half-hearted dinosaur illustration. I think it’s holding a computer or keyboard. That’s my best guess. Are the dinosaur and his prehistoric electronics sinking underwater? It’s hard to tell. There’s something printed in the upper left corner of the “computer” but even with a little magnifier, I couldn’t make it out. Anyhow, these people and their “Draw Blinky the Dinosaur” illustration don’t know who they’re dealing with. I still have cassette tapes. Homemade cassette tapes. Our little dinosaur friend ain’t gonna shame me!

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writerinsoul

April 5, 2016

So… it seems like only two years ago (which it was) that I started this blog. I pretty much knew that I’d make it to a year. Beyond that, I didn’t really know, think or plan. And just as I’ve seen with many other blogs, I wrote considerably less in year two than one. There were reasons for that beyond any kind of expected/predictable “blog fatigue”, that is, stuff in my life that took me and my energy away from the blog, but maybe I’d have written less no matter what.

Even as it stands, I feel good about this blog, as a body of work. I’ve covered a lot of ground. Took advantage of my “outlet.” WordPress stats tell me I’ve put up 471 posts. About 140 of those are my “Short Thoughts” posts, which are, well, short. From my tag cloud on the blog’s main page (for those unfamiliar, that’s the auto-generated collection of categories on the lower right side of the screen, i.e. “tags” that I assigned my posts; the larger the font, the more I wrote about said topic), I see Humor has been the largest one consistently for two years. Which I’ve found interesting because I thought initially this blog would probably have more straight prose, i.e., not-so-funny posts. I guess it’s good I feel humorous most of the time although I always write what I feel like writing – I don’t say to myself, “I am now going to write a humor piece.” Humor is followed by Relationships, Nature, and Men as my 2nd, 3rd, and 4th favorite topics. I’ll take that. Summer and Food are not far behind those.

As I did one year ago, I want to say thank you for reading. To you who’ve been with me from the start or darn near it, as well as those who’ve come along later, and even anybody possibly reading this blog for the first time (just so long as you think it’s wonderful and intend to return; I have standards, you know). I wouldn’t blog if I didn’t have readers. It is hugely gratifying to feel like I’m connecting with you. That’s always been so. Whatever else I can say about it – and that’s quite a few things – there IS something addictive about blogging. Thank you for coming along on my blog ride.

Colette