Tag Archives: blogging

writerinsoul

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….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.

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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!”

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

I wanted to title this “Will blog for food” but naturally that clever phrase has already been used before many times over elsewhere and I really don’t feel like coming up with something original just at this moment

I see blogs that go on for years with hardly any comments, likes, etcetera. I don’t get it. How is someone motivated to keep churning out posts with scant evidence of readers? I do consider that perhaps the blogger has an extensive email list of interested readers and if not extensive, just an email list. That is, they have readers but it’s just not obvious to a casual observer. Yes, you could argue that I am a reader if I’m there looking at their blog but in most cases I’m merely passing by.

Bloggers talk a lot about how to build their blogs, how to attract and keep readers. They share good advice and thoughts. Some people want hundreds and thousands of readers. Others will say they enjoy having a small but devoted following; that the interaction with readers is the important thing, and I concur. Having been blogging for just over a year, I’ve had time to give this thought.

Self-promotion has never been my strong suit. I was raised in another time and it was backward even for that time [insert unhappy face]. Good girls kept their yaps shut. They didn’t brag or show off or draw attention to themselves unless they were on a stage. At home, when one of us received attention, praise or accolades from outside the family, my mother would snidely remark, “How do you rate?” While it was an odd phrase and clearly more statement than question, its uncharitable message was clear.

Still, I DID in fact go on to draw attention to myself, primarily of the scholarly achievement type, but also for creative endeavors and although fewer, athletic ones. I wanted the goodies that were out there to be had: high grades, ribbons, cash prizes, and getting one’s name in the local paper. Those kinds of perks told me I had something to offer that could be desired and rewarded. (Side note: while still young, I would proudly return home with evidence of my success, only to mostly be treated to either family indifference or commentary intended to cut me down to size. I wised up. It’s kind of like that old saying about the travelers and the broken wagon, which I’ll paraphrase: Them that’s goin’ on ahead with us, get out and push. Them that ain’t, get out the way. Which is to say, if someone was going to be a hindrance to my forward progress, I’d rather they just got out of my way.)

By the time I decided to start this blog, I’d come quite a distance in my willingness and ability to self-promote. (If I can stretch the wagon metaphor a leeeeetle bit further: Them that’s not willing or able to self-promote in life, are going to get run over. Unless they’re brilliant and have a skill or talent people clamor for and need do nothing to promote it. Which sounds rare and unlikely.) The meek may inherit the earth but frankly, I’d like my share of the goodies, perks and prizes in the here and now, thanks ever so.

As something of a lone wolf, albeit an extroverted lone wolf – yes, I realize that sounds potentially contradictory but there you go – I didn’t have a wide “network” to draw upon for the blog. I personally told a good handful of people who I thought might be interested but was reluctant to use all of the channels I might have to self-promote. I know how I feel when another person jumps in somewhere they haven’t previously been very present solely to hawk their interests. I wouldn’t call it unethical so much as questionable; i.e., why should WE care what YOU want? What’s in it for us?

I’ve been in my community a long time and my name is known to a fair number of people. My writing has appeared in local papers and I’d been a regular commenter on a community Yahoo group, so I did, in the early months of the blog, post a couple links to humor or community-relevant posts. I picked up a few readers that way. I even spent a couple dollars to advertise the blog in the local paper but I think almost nothing came of that. I’d probably have to run the notice regularly for awhile to have it pick up steam and I really can’t see my way to spending money on a free blog.

Finally, I made hand notices to put on local bulletin boards. I stuck with it on the most popular board, managing to keep a notice up most of the year (every month the board is cleared so I need to make a new notice and trot it down there). I know I could do something fancier and more high-tech and I DO think about that, but just haven’t. I’m not sure it’s worth the trouble. Anyway, here’s the notice I had on the board during May.
P_20150401_145237

I have no way of knowing if my hand-written notice brings in readers, or reader as it were. I hope so. I know that I would be curious about such a notice but then I love bulletin boards and am curious about things like that. You never know what you’ll find on a bulletin board! For all I know, many people have noticed my ad – I always put it in the same spot. My community is such that should I keep it up long enough – years – I’ll be known as the person who “always has an ad for their blog” on the bulletin board. Mind you, that doesn’t mean anybody will consequently go read the blog.

Somehow, I always trusted the right people would find me. Whether they were other bloggers or people from my community. And by right, I mean those my words would have resonance with, who would want to hear what I’ve got to say, without a lot of coaxing. I still believe that.

You too can have a blog! (well, maybe)

Before I started this blog I was kind of intimidated. Blogs and websites seemed mysterious. What did they look like behind the scenes?? Could a regular person understand? I didn’t really know anyone to ask. I also don’t think of myself as very tech savvy and I heard a bunch of words associated with them that meant zippo to me. Who wants to learn THAT? Booorring!

I feel, in the months since I’ve been here, like I’ve gone behind the curtain. Ohhhh. So this is what they look like. Let me show you around a little.

WordPress – the only blogging platform I’ve seen – is fairly user-friendly. I am going to guess that over time it and other similar sites, have become more so, which is fortunate for the likes of non-techie people. Behind-the-scenes is not as pretty, or colorful as I might like but it’s not bad. The posts themselves are written in a word processing form, with options to do things like insert links or italicize, assign to a category, etc. Thankfully, drafts can be saved and/or revised. There’s even a “Preview” button! Yay!

The main area in WordPress, the command central if you will, is called the Dashboard. I love that, the word itself. This may sound peculiar, but I have good associations with dashboards. It probably goes back to childhood and the mysterious lights and numbers and buttons that captivated a child (but couldn’t be touched). I also have good memories of sitting in a car talking – let’s go with talking for these purposes – listening to the radio and staring transfixed at the dash. I’ve always found them visually appealing. Sadly, the “dashboard” in WordPress looks nothing like the dashboard on a car [insert sad face].

There are also notifications for whenever someone likes or comments on a post, a list of followers, links to blogs followed, and blog stats. WordPress is decidedly fond of numbers. There’s a business-like feel to most of it, although a few auto-comments from WordPress are goofy and stand out in contrast to the overall vibe. They make me think someone in the 16 to 22 year old range is writing them. If I could, I’d be giving them a withering look in response.

I have no direct interaction with “management” if you will; WordPress doesn’t send me any personal messages. That said, they write articles geared to bloggers with advice or information. Also, they do change things around from time to time, without notice. That’s a little weird. If you preferred the “old way”, tough. For example, when I first started, I could post large photos, but that’s gone away, at least from my blog “theme” (the layout the reader sees that a blogger chooses).

To blog, it helps to have a knack for ferreting out information and solving problems. I generally like a challenge so it suits me. Without that inclination, someone would probably grow frustrated and/or bored with the mechanics of blogging. Luckily, there are forums available to ask questions, and they’re archived. I’ve never needed to ask a current question; when something comes up I Google it and invariably find an old answer.

While I’ve chosen a free blog (with ads I have no say-so over), there are paid options to upgrade, get dot-com added to your site name, or just to add fancier stuff, colors and so forth, to your blog. A blogger is not pressured to cough up cash, so much as reminded it’s a possibility.

The whole kit and kaboodle is definitely a learn-as-you-blog endeavor. For the first two months I wrote this blog I thought a small headshot of me was displayed on it. Come to find out, only I could see it. In the early months, I’d find something, a way to accomplish a task, and later not be able to find it again. The right hand side of my blog, that you, the reader, can see, with its lists of categories, recent posts, and tiny calendar, are all things I selected to put there (from a list of options). They are called widgets, who knows why. I can make ’em disappear too!

I have my limits. I don’t really need or want to become a WordPress savant. I’m here to write above all else. The mechanics are secondary. In the end, the prose is what matters.