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I Need a Reset (Thoughts On the Nature of Blogs)

I’ve been finding myself a reluctant to post lately and some of you may have noticed that I haven’t been very consistent.  Recently I realized that when I was writing funny posts I seemed to get a lot of hits and comments.  Which was great; I even got links from other bloggers and new visitors stopping by.  But then I noticed that when my actual life encroached on my posts both comments and visits to my site went down.  This was a really disturbing trend.  Especially considering that I think my blog sees a lot of my personality and outlook, but not always the in-depth day to day details of my life.

I didn’t know how to react (I mean, a little inadequate, a little letdown, confused) and I’ve been pondering what to do about it a lot.  Of course, the knee-jerk reaction is to write more funny posts.  And I actually really like to write comedic pieces.  I’m usually upbeat and a natural smart-ass (couldn’t you tell?) and it extends easily into writing.  Except… I really don’t like the idea of feeling I have to write a certain way to stay entertaining (dance, monkeygirl, dance).  I mean, yeah, that’s the point of A LOT of writing - to be entertaining, to have aesthetic value.  But I didn’t know if I wanted this blog to be the place for that.  I originally intended this blog to be a dumping ground where I could have some fun and write about whatever I felt like, both a creative outlet for me and a place to gather my thoughts, like in a journal.  Except with an audience.  And, except for the fact that I like to write entertaining, comedic pieces.

Crap.  See, I was confused and I started thinking about the nature of blogs.  It’s not really a journal because you have and expect an audience.  But at the same time, for me, this is not the place I wanted to write pure fictitious works either (i.e. more traditional pieces in which I might take a lot more time and effort to be entertaining).  I do other creative writing, as well as write for work, and this blog is different from either of those mediums.  I needed to reset not only what I think of and expect a blog to be, but also what I wanted this blog to be.

The other element (and I think the source of all the mixed emotion) of a blog is interaction and community.  In any other writing you still expect an audience, but they don’t normally interact with the author. And the fact of the matter is, regardless of what I’m posting, I do crave the interaction.  I get so excited whenever I see comments pop up on the screen.  There are some amazing people on the web and I like feeling like I’m part of that community.  (And the problem with any community, is that you then open yourself up to relying on them, right?)  In real life, I don’t normally worry too much about other people’s opinions.  I put myself out there, act like me and just let the rest take care of itself.  But with the web it’s a little like being blind.  In real life you can read peoples’ expressions, hear (and see) their thoughts, get a “feel” for what they’re like, and make connections.  Or you realize you’re not connecting with the person and you both go your separate ways.  It’s very definitive, in real life, and I never realized how much so until I started blogging.  On the web I feel like I’ve made some connections, met like-minded individuals who I’d love to meet in person - but without (and until) that real life component there is always a little bit of doubt.    

Forgive me if I’m rambling.  I’ve been trying to work through not only what I want to do with this blog, but how I feel about it, how (and why) it’s making me react, and how and why it’s different from other writing I’ve done.  And equally, how I react to and think of other peoples’ blogs.  There’s something about the mixture of creative process, real life components, and interaction of a blog that stirs up some deep emotions (even though, I think it’s kind of trite to make a blog=life metaphor).  It’s different from creating a piece  of art (alone) and then trying to get published / put in an art gallery / etc. (alone).  With a blog it’s a little like wearing a piece of your creative process in your life (along with your life) everyday. You’re vulnerable, not because you’re putting EVERYTHING out there, but because you’re putting pieces of yourself out there (and creative pieces at that) - without anyone being able to read your expressions, or get a “feel” for your intentions/sincerity. 

(It’s such a tangled web, and this is only touching on what a blog can invoke.  You want to discount it… I mean, it’s the Internet, and we’ve all inherited a certain amount of bias about the Internet.  But anything that can stir so much emotion in its readers/writers is definitely something.)

So what it’s come down to, and the reason I’ve been an inconsistent (or maybe that should be incontinent) poster lately, is that I haven’t been enjoying the (purely internal) pressure.  I was starting to feel insecure about my writing, insecure about having/keeping an audience, and feeling like I needed to write funny posts all the time.  (And especially when real life interferes, sometimes that’s impossible.)  One thing I knew I didn’t want this blog to turn into was something that made me insecure.  I originally wanted, and still want, this blog to be fun. 

After all that rambling and hesitating and unsure musings I’ve decided to keep writing about my real life when I need/want to.  Even if that means the posts aren’t always funny.  Even if that means I don’t get as many hits or comments.  Blogging just hasn’t been as fun lately as it used to be, and it’s a lot harder to write funny pieces when you’re not having any fun. 

I’m pretty sure it’ll all come back.  I’m also pretty sure that most bloggers have the same occasional mixed emotions about their blogs that I do.  And it's so damn addictive... we’re all in this something together, aren’t we?           - the weirdgirl

Comments

Chag

I love your voice, whether you're writing about something funny or something serious. I go through the same thing on my site every weekend when I talk about the Yankees. I know 99% of my readers don't care (and some have even said they hated it), but I still write about it because I like to.

That said, you've got to be true to yourself. Write what you feel, whether it be a funny piece or an account of your day (or a funny account of your day). Just be true. The moment you start writing with the intentions of getting a certain response from your readers, you stop being a writer and start being a performer.

Sorry I rambled. Just don't give up. Like I said, I really enjoy your site.

Motherhood Uncensored

My commenting has been pretty random. I like to comment on posts equally, regardless of their content, because I think they all have value and certainly I can find value in them (particularly in those from folks I read often and have formed some type of bloggy-friendship with).

I can understand where you are coming from -and I think for me, it seems like folks tend not to know what to expect from me, which sort of helps things. I think if I was funny all the time - perhaps when I did a strongly serious post, folks would think WTF? and run for the hills.

It's your place - you do what you need and want. At least I know I'll be around no matter what :)

Mary P

Write what suits you. If comments go down, so be it, but I think Kristen is right when she says that as you write more varied posts, you will get the audience for the other type. Perhaps it will never be as big as it is for the funny posts, but there will be people who will be drawn to the more thoughtful ones, and the more day-to-day ones, too.

You're worth reading, sweetie, no matter what your mood! This is YOUR blog. Do what suits YOU. (I know, I know: it suits you to have an audience, too. I think you'll grow one for the not-funny posts, too, if you persist.)

MetroDad

I've always said that when I feel like I'm writing solely for OTHER people is when I'll just stop writing on my blog. You bring up a lot of great points, WG. There's a lot more to this whole blogging thing than I think most people were aware of when they started.

ktjrdn

I've gone through a lot of this before. My blog can't actually be a free outlet for me because it's not anonymous. ALL my family knows about it. So a lot of the time, I have to consider my audience before writing. It's very limiting. Try not to limit yourself. We're here because we are your (internet) friends. We read not because you're funny, but because friends talk about things that are happening in their lives. Whether or not it's funny. Personally, I don't always comment, because a good "uh huh" just doesn't come across the same in written form than in person. But, I read whenever I get a chance.

Chris

Real life isn't all funny...no one should expect it to be. Keep writing about what you want, about you. The interaction is great, yes, but you also have to write about the things most important to you.

Annie

Amen! Variety is the spice of life, isn't it?

the weirdgirl

Wow! Thanks for all your encouragement. It's good to hear that other bloggers feel similarly. And I agree, I think this blog experience is much bigger once you get into it.

I have to admit, I've been inconsistent on my commenting lately too. And though I try to keep up on all the reading (even if I don't comment), there are days in a row where I just get on the computer (except for work - blech!). When I DO get to my reading I really enjoy catching up with you all!

Kevin

I have to agree with ktjrdn about the limiting factor. The less anonymous I make the blog the less people I can be snarky about. :)

Like most things it is cyclical in nature. Write what you feel like and I really enjoy your style.

Jenny

I've noticed the same thing on my blog. The truly loyal post all the time but for the most part just the funny posts get the comments. The way I look at it is that when I'm reading others poignant posts I'm less likely to comment just because they're often so beautifully written that I feel I can't add anything to it. I try to think that others are doing the same to my more serious posts.

Or maybe they just don't like me. The bastards.

CroutonBoy

I was hanging out with MetroDad a couple weeks ago, and I mentioned my obsession with StatCounter and comments. I was feeling a little pressure to post regularly, like I had an expectant public or would lose friends if I didn't. He just looked me in the eye and said "Dude, just forget about it. Do what you want. It's your blog." Simple words, and true.

Here's my random thoughts on the topic:
1) I come here because I like the Weirdgirl, in all her flavors
2) I don't care how often you post or what you post about. I may not comment on them all, or even read them all, but I'll keep coming back.
3) My favorite authors write about what's important to them. Their stories aren't always the same, and they may be funny, sad, or stupid. Authors who crank shit out just to feed the masses or get attention (I'm looking at you, Ann Coulter) just aren't that interesting in the end.

Don't worry about it WG...the ones who don't come back weren't worth keeping in the first place.

zygote daddy

Ditto CroutonBoy. Whenever I feel like I need to be posting more just for the sake of my readers, I try to give myself a little reality check. On the other hand, I would be lying if I said I didn't like having people read it; after all, if I didn't care if people read my blog, I would have a diary with a pink heart lock that I would keep under my pillow.

cyndi

WG,

I don't comment on your personal stuff much because.......I feel inadequate. Sometimes you read that and think "Gosh....what can I, a lowly, nerdy blogger, do to help or contribute?". It's not just you......it's lots of moms who I adore reading and who are in the secret top five (oops! now it's only a secret top 4!) of blogs I REALLY read.

But, yeah.....I feel ya. I made the choice a long time ago that mine was my journal. The end. And I know I'll offend or scare some people away. But I need to write it and so I will.

xo

siren

I know exactly how you feel; it's difficult and there is a lot of give and take when it comes to blogging. Commenting sometimes can be difficult too..if you feel maybe you don't have anything else to add, or even second guess what you're saying (that's me and that's sad). So, ultimately, it's your choice. I just hope you know that I think you do a great job.

Black Belt Mama

Sorry for the lack of commenting. I've been on vacation and took a vacation from reading blogs as well while away. It's very time consuming, writing and reading what other's are saying. I feel a lot like you do about not knowing what to write. I have my mommy readers, but I also have my karate readers. What it all boils down to is write what you want. Variety is the spice of life.

the weirdgirl

PLEASE no one apologize for not making comments! (I really didn't mean to fish for comments or make ANYONE feel bad!) I also go through periods where I don't make comments (or as many) for the exact reasons you all mentioned above, or even periods where I can't even keep up on my reading. You all have shown me SO MUCH support and I really appreciate that and hearing your thoughts.

This post was more about where I was going in my head, the mind trips I was playing on myself when I noticed the trends in content. I was just getting to a point where I wasn't enjoying myself so I wanted to take a step back and reset. (And of course, because I was still working it out in my head I blogged about it.)

And thanks again, for everything... the visits, the comments, the laughs, and most especialy for your own blogs!

Izzy

Wow, WG. I followed a link from Chag to this post and it's amazing...I could have written it myself. I mean that I feel very much the same way. There is a lot of pressure. I'm aware of it, too, sometimes. Taking a break and "resetting" is an absolute necessity. Excellent post :)

Fuzz

Write what you want when you want. It is about you readers will understand. If I worried about what people would think, I would be to nervous to type a single keystroke. Some of the drivel that I spew on second reading is in my mind pure crap but I post it anyway and it never fails that it is my most commented on posts. So you never really know what will click with people.

ann adams

I've noticed a little of that as well. One of my most popular posts was in my first month of blogging.

I did a toilet paper survey. Over or under the roll? People came in from everywhere.

I've seen you around but I haven't been here before. I'll be back.

Ann (aka granny)

Brent

Though I'm new to blogging I find that I am already constantly monitoring how what I write performs. Initially I was writing only for myself but that first visitor, that first comment... it changed everything and I guess I can never go 'home' again. Very interesting thoughts here, thanks for putting it 'out here'.

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