Thursday, July 24, 2008

Because that is the art of blogging...

I've been struggling since I've been back from the BlogHer conference. Struggling to find words, to put coherent thoughts into sentences. My rhythm has been interrupted by ...questions.

Do I want my blog to have a focus?

Can I write posts in 300 words or less?

These bullet points were raised in one of the sessions, and I'm having difficulty with both of these things. I'm finding my head rearing back and a snarky voice saying, that's NOT me! I don't want to do that. Fuck that! These are both valid ideas/concepts in building readership and I see the point, but I like the feeling on my blog right now. It's not for everyone and it won't ever be. And, that's OK. Truthfully, I'm really writing for me. And if I start to write with these goals that are not mine, I'll feel hemmed in and trapped, and God forbid...pandering.

I love having readers. Who doesn't? But, I'm not going to go after them by writing what I think other people will like. If there is to be any art in my writing at all, it has to be somewhat free form - a platform on which to grow, stretch... and make mistakes. A place where I can be in turns - raunchy and temperate. Some days expressing my feminist perspective, some days speaking as a mom, and some days just writing about what kicks up my skirt. That is what blogging is for me.

Here is where I get to pull out all my paint tubes and smear them on the canvas. Perhaps it's as simple as finger painting or splatter art one day, and then if I'm lucky enough- soaring in a sculpture of words with my muse. I've had a few of those moments and hope to have more. For today, I'm going to have to give myself a lot of rope, because then I can swing from it, jump over it or use it as a noose. It all works. Because that is the art of blogging...

***Painting titled: Infertile by JCK
Circa 1999

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  1. I am not at all sure about this BlogHer thing anymore.

    In the words of Billy Joel, "Don't go changing to try to please me . . ."

  2. The point of an organization like BlogHer should be to encourage the diversity and individual voices of women, not to mold them in to the same voice.

    I for one think the 300 words or less guideline is bullshit. People will read what is good and interesting. (Kyran Pittman gave an interview once about how she realized she should ignore that rule.) As far as focus, I think (or maybe I'm just hoping like crazy) that people will come back to visit a blog that they like, even if it addresses issues all over the board. I think people want something that adds to their day and breaks it up, whatever it is, as long as they're entertained or moved.

    But, then again, I'm just getting started, so I'm probably the one full of BS.

  3. 300 words? maybe in my comments. sometimes i leave two comments.

    i think the focus of a blog is to express yourself -- even if that expressing seems unfocused to you sometimes or to others -- who cares? it's about getting at the bottom of something or other -- whatever you are trying to get to the bottom of.

  4. I don't have ads, I don't have sponsors. Primarily because I don't have the readers to warrant either. Maybe if I followed the rules, I would or could. Right now, it's just a place for me.

    We define ourselves.

    It must be said; that painting is giving me a lot to think about.

  5. Since I don't have ads and shun all the buttons and bling on my blog, I'm pretty sure you know where I sit on this issue.

    I don't think there is a right or wrong answer. I think you hit the nail on the head that it should be a blog about what *you* want. Otherwise, I don't think it is very authentic.

  6. 300 words--I am in T-R-O-U-B-L-E ;)

    Your blog is perfect and has a voice, you. Don't change a thing!

  7. I'm with you! I started blogging to write about things important to me. I continue to do that - it's my way of voicing joys and frustrations that I might not be able to do vocally. Do I want more readers? Yes, cause I'm human and I want to be adored by many. But I'm not giving up the joy I get from doing it my way for a couple of compliments:)

    Stick to your convictions girl!

  8. I think you should just be yourself. Write about what is important to you and say what you want to say. People will want to read it!

  9. I agree...ya gotta write for you, and what you know about, and what you feel and think. Otherwise, it IS kind of pandering, isn't it?

    Just like in person, people want to know you for you, not for who you pretend to be.

    And the painting. At first I was like "What the hell?" But then I saw that you painted it and I thought about what you've been through and it completely makes sense. And just like blogging, you have to paint what you feel and who you are. Thanks for sharing that piece of you.

  10. Ok, first, that painting is priceless and brought forth the biggest snort of the week. Yeah, I know exactly how you feel, focus or no focus.

    And yeah, I need focus too. But it feels like trying to fasten a rubber band around a handful of jello.

    Celebrate focus-free!

  11. Oops. Should read title of painting before posting about snorts.

    Will clarify snort: referring to feeling about mine own anatomy at moment.

  12. Here, here!! My gut tells me this every time I venture out to those blogs with massive readership or when I read tips on "taking over the blogosphere"...ICK! I like to spend my time with people whose voices ring true and honest - not always coherent - but always honest.

    My blog started out being just for me, as a creative outlet and for a way to journal my life, shared only with a select few. But then I discovered all these online communities and started enjoying the shared experiences...but it's a slippery slope! When I write FOR others, self-doubt slips in and I freeze. My writing has definitely changed in the two years since I first started blogging. I'm less personal, more guarded, more concerned with keeping up with what others are doing and saying...

    I very much admire and appreciate those of you who really put yourselves out there. You have such a strong sense of self and you connect to your readers on a very personal level. I think that's an amazing quality. There's no cookie-cutter formula for that.

  13. Well, I'm struggling with that too - enjoying my writing for what it is, but also looking at that "Comments - 0" and feeling disappointed.

    Whenever I read about "building a readership" I have mixed feelings, that its gimmicks. But then I participate, and visit someone else, or someone visits me, and it seems like so much fun.

    OTOH, it was you, JCK, who told me when we met that blogging was like journaling, like "Morning pages" - and that made so much sense to me.

    I did keep a journal when I was quite young, and its been almost thirty years between my last written journal and starting my blog. This feels create and fun and fullfilling, just like journaling did. Should it matter that anyone is reading it? I'm not sure.

    Your painting - wow! that's such a powerful and brave and revealing expression.

    The other thing I wonder about is my tendancy to hold back too much when writing, to write at a distance, to be too detached. Your painting certainly isn't detached! It's wonderful!

  14. I understand that those are just guidelines for newer bloggers or bloggers looking to boost readership or whatever. But I also think they will stifle some very creative writers. I think most of us blog for us. Those that blog for others are more obvious as far as I am concerned. I don't read them as much, and I certainly don't comment very often.


  15. exactly what jenn h said...exactly.

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  17. If you focus on one thing in your blog then what do you do with all the other stuff of your life? I have a very long list of blogs that I read and they can easily be divided into two catagories.

    There are the ones I read because they are focused on things that I like, or things I find funny, or something that caught my attention and provided a temporary obsession to keep my mind off of things I should be doing. Whatever the reason, I will read a blog with specific focus until I'm bored with the subject then I take it off of my list... or if it's really well written I'll check in every couple of weeks.

    Then there are the blogs that I read every day. These are blogs about PEOPLE not about things. They are about LIFE not the elements of living. They are written by unique writers with an idividual voice that literally leaps from the screen to tell me stories about what's really important. To qualify as a blog that is worthy of reading every day it must have depth and color and movement. It must make me think, and laugh, and cry.

    My standards are high... not even my own blog qualifies... but you are on that second list. Take what you learned at blogher and bend it to your purposes.. it's nothing more than a tool. You are the artist.

  18. If you can't blog the way you want there's no point in blogging at all.

  19. I read blogs for the author's unique voice...not because their posts are less than 300 words or have a "focus."

    I'm glad you are who you are. Stay that way.

  20. While it is always good to want to grow and improve your writing it is still YOUR writing. You get to decide which sugestions will make your writing stronger and which will kill you slowly.
    I've pondered these questions a lot and come to the conclusion that my writing makes me happy and right now that is all that matters.

  21. I'm truly enjoying your blog and so enjoyed meeting you at Blogher. Funny how we kept bumping into each other; there must be a reason.

    I know what you mean about having more questions than answers about this whole blogging thing. But, I feel like you're right on when you say you'll do what feel right for you; you've a great voice and I know I'll be back for more!


  22. I look at Blogher like an all you can eat buffet. Just because the food is there does not mean you have to eat it. Choose what works for you. If you like the bling bling desserts and coffee and commercialized food - run with it! If you want home grown fruit and grain bread only, do that. As for me, I am struggling as well. I write for pay, but what I write I believe in. And if I could have more sponsors I might. Not because I'm a sell out, but because I like being home with my babies. Having sponsors doesn't always mean you're less real. Even famous artists had patrons. Didn't make their art less impactful. Nice blog.

  23. Blog is like a diary to me...a record of my emotions, thoughts and experiences at the very moment...

    if I had to write to suit the taste of others so that I could get more readers, I'll rather not have them as my readers....

    MY Blog is mine...I write it the way I like it to be...isn't that true? That's what make all of us unique isn't it? And we draw people who are 'like us' to come to this space of ours to share and comment...

  24. So glad you've written this - I think you were in the same session I was, when the speaker called posting everyday "Bullshit." It completely deflated me.

    I think I might be ready to address that...It's been hard; I wanted BlogHer to be amazing & inspiring.

    You. Are brilliant.

    Rock on.

  25. I found you through another attendee's post about the BlogHer Conference. After reading several "reviews" of the conference by people who have my respect and admiration, I'm not so sure what BlogHer is about and who it is for.

    When I started my blog, it was just for me; my way to say what I wanted, when I wanted and as part of my process to work things out in my mind. It never even occurred to me that people might read it. Not that tons of people do, but I have a small loyal following of people who have become treasured blogger friends. I will probably never get 50 comments, or even 20. I will never have ad people seeking me out. I will never be known as a "mommy blogger," I will never be the subject of a TV morning show/magazine interview, and I most definitely will probably NEVER be the type of blogger that the powers that be at BlogHer are targeting. I post everyday (usually), 300 words would be my title only, and I will never write what somebody thinks others want to read. I am selfish, and my blog is all about what I want.

    There are a few "commercial" blogs that I read; when I first started reading them, they were not that way--but turned out that way. And that's fine. To each their own. If it bothered me too much, I'd just stop reading. If a person wants their blog to be a business, that is an option. If a person doesn't, that's an option, too. Or even something in between. Whatever. As far as YOUR blog goes, I personally LOVE, LOVE, LOVE what I have read so far and intend to put you on my list of "must stalks." :) -- I jest, about the stalking. I will be checking in everyday, though--and commenting when it's right. Hope you don't mind.

    See why 300 words would NEVER work for me? :)

  26. I agree with you, Jennifer. We're all blogging for ourselves; otherwise, why bother? If someone's rules are useful to you, fine. If not, forget them. By the way, I think the infertility painting is incredible. It plays into something I was just writing in the novel I'm working on -- realizing that describing or recreating menstruation is just not done. Well, to hell with that, too. -- Ruth

  27. Well, shit. I missed that session and I'm glad, or I'd have to quit blogging all together!

  28. Okay, first off, as someone who dealt with infertility, that painting is disturbing and powerful. I must say it brought back the stress and anger I felt at my own body. THAT- my dear friend, is what you do, whether it be in a painting or a poem or a post about poop - you make people FEEL something. That's what it is all about. Putting rules on artistic expression of any kind is bullshit. Don't change a thing.


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