Rumination

[Hold on tight, I'm gonna get all "mememememe" on you for a few minutes...]

A lot has been going on in my life lately (not that you'd know it from how much I share around here), and usually these times lead to feelings of being overwhelmed. I don't yet think I'm at the point where pharmaceutical intervention is called for, but I feel the need to step back and assess things; to figure out what's really important and worth my time; to figure out if the things that are important are even on the list of things I've been spending all my time on. Family life, the career path, and all those extras (the blog, the camera, sports, the amateur scotch tasting circuit that consists of my living room, my dining room, and my kitchen) come to duke it out in one large, very oddly shaped, beige-coloured, louder-than-hell arena.

And it's about this time of year when I also start thinking about the blog and what, if anything, I'd like to do with it. I've discussed with a couple people that I'm not entirely certain this is going in the direction I'd like it to go (assuming it's going in one direction, what with nobody behind the wheel).

A friend said to me, in a conversation about blogging:

 "What happened to basic privacy? Everyone wants to be almost famous these days."

Which got me (re) thinking about (yes, ME!) my online persona and my writing style, two things you'll surely indulge me in assuming I have just for a moment. I replied,

"I still don't know if I've found my voice on there, or what finding my voice would accomplish. I mean, I like to be read by the people that read and come back for more, but what level of popularity would really make me happy?"

[Editorial note: After 2.5 years, I still haven't found my voice. Sounds like perhaps I just don't like the sound of my own voice.]

Her again: 

"Would you keep doing it for a bigger following? I'm not quite sure I follow."

Me again:

"It's not whether I'd continue if I lost my (meager) readership, but more about how popular I'd like to be. And would greater popularity (readership) come from some sort of style or writing improvement."
 
I thought about it for a minute, and added:  
 
"I don't really know how popular I'd like it to be. Everyone out there (okay, not everyone) claims they blog for themselves. Part of me is doing just that, but part of me likes the community aspect. If I wanted a diary or a journal, I wouldn't bother putting it online, so clearly I'm alright with admitting I like to be read as much as I like to write.
 
"In terms of popularity, I think there are a few broad categories: <50, 50-250, and +250 readers. There seems to be a "25 comment" threshold to being considered moderately popular. When I check my statistics, I find that most of the people who I don't "know" are finding me while looking for scotch."
 
And you'd be surprised how many people are looking for information on scotch.

So again it comes around to questions about what I'd like this place to look, sound, and feel like. This is perhaps a conversation worthy of the BlogRhet forum, discussing why we blog, what we get out of it, and what influences our writing.

I wouldn't deny that I get some satisfaction out of writing, but don't we always feel better when we produce something that took genuine effort and from that effort comes a quality piece? Sure, not everything can be the award winning comedy gold / tear jerker / thinker post, but without putting the effort in, you'd all (whoever you are, but not you scotch-review seekers) be reading about the potato leek soup I'm planning on making tonight. But sometimes I just don't have the time, or when I have the time, I don't have the energy to come up with it. At times like that, I'm more disappointed at my dedication to the blog, making me wonder if perhaps I'm just disappointed in my inability to dedicate to one thing (I may be starting up a "serial blogger" talking circle, if you're interested).

What are some of the solutions? Where might I find the renewed verve for blogging that I once had, and which I periodically enjoy? Would dot-comming myself, or moving to a fresh new location contribute to this? Only in the short term, I'd wager. After that, it's a little like having a fresh new house but it's still full of your grungy, grad-school furniture.

In the end, what I don't want to lose is that feeling of community, of camaraderie, kinship I feel with other bloggers of my ilk (and the ilk to which I aspire to be part of) -- some of you are reading this right now, some of you stop by only from time to time, and some of you couldn't pick me out of a police lineup, er... crowd.  That community, for the most part, consists of personal bloggers who blog about their daily lives and share funny and thoughtful anecdotes, a few photobloggers, and some who are more focused on the political scene. I fully admit I don't fit fully into any of these categories, yet I manage to dabble in all of them from time to time. Does that variety somehow devalue, or thwart my efforts in finding my voice?

I also believe that the definition of the self is augmented by the presence of the other, and presumably all my reader(s) have an opinion about what kind of blogger / writer I am. Most of you no doubt put up with the highly variable nature of my posts, and others have admitted that the variety can be refreshing (if not disturbing). Ultimately, if I'm going to rely on the approval of others for this ongoing venture, I'm going to need to take a hard look at what's popular and, well, figure out how to do more of it, to the extent that I'm consistently happy with the product, and not feeling stifled by what I'm not permitting myself to post. I don't think I have the energy to manage multiple sites, so let's hope I can maintain a decent level of satisfaction.

And now, as a final tie-in on this topic, and perhaps this is the worst time to bring this up, is that it's once again De-Lurking Day (as dubbed by at least two of my favoured reads), so if you're out there and still reading this far down, feel free to click, comment, and at least say hello. If you haven't figured it out yet, this blog is about me as much as it's about you. Okay, it's about me a little more. But don't feel bad. If it weren't for you, this would all be in a Hilroy scribbler under my bed.

-Mike



Edited to add:

Posted bythemikestand at 2:38 PM  

14 stepped up to the mike:

Candy said... 4:00 PM, October 03, 2007  

I totally understand what you're saying. I have to admit, when I post a couple of weeks worth of posts and no one comments, I get a little disappointed. So it's clearly not just for the creative outlet.

I, like you, enjoy knowing that there are a select group of people who read my blog, and probably not daily, but they read it, and sometimes will comment. But when they don't comment, I feel like I'm not doing something right, so then there's that whole self-esteem thing to overcome.

Sheesh the more I think about it the more like work this feels. Maybe we should just open up a coffee shop. You'd make a good barista, Mike.

FrozenExtremities said... 4:48 PM, October 03, 2007  

I've pretty much dropped the blogging, mainly due to lack of interest (my own and anyone who may have read it.) It's funny, I was reading back to my first posts and back then no detail was too mundane. More recently I've gotten reserved and stuck to the topic (knitting). And now between Facebook and Ravelry I've totally given up all hope of blogging again.
Anonymity...what's that again?? ;)

chRistine said... 6:47 PM, October 03, 2007  

deLuRking :)

i was listening to a radio show about how with myspace and facebook and blogs and reality tv shows, everyone now expects their 15 minutes of fame.

i use my blog as my creative outlet to vent about things and express my endless opinions about the world around me, but somewhere along the way i became like the people i used to judge who covet readership and validation. so strange. and yet.. i don't, not really, and certainly not IRL.. but online? maybe.

great post.. nice to read something so honest, mike.

SRH said... 8:16 PM, October 03, 2007  

Wow, depth on a Speak into the Mike post ;)

It is an interesting phenomenon, the blog. I do think that many people re writing their bltherings in the hopes that they will be "dicovered." There is an aspect of fame searching inherent in posting stuff for public consumption. There is also a wish that what you have created is interesting to like minded people.

I started my blog because I was feeling creatively stiffled and I thought this blogging stuff could be a good way to rev up the creative engines again. I find myself now craving comments and seeing how many people come by daily.

I like the loose knit "community" that has developed around the blog and crave comments from the people that I know IRL and the great people that I have "met" online (Hello, Mike).

There are many times that I have seriously considered turning off commenting and see if I enjoy blogging s much without any external validation.

Well, it is time to give Littel Man a bath, so I will curtail my coment here.

If there are spelling errors or mising words I blame the keyboard o this laptop I m working from. I know I know, one shouldn't blame the equipment. Stop judging me!

canadian sadie said... 9:26 PM, October 03, 2007  

I think of you as part of my very tiny little blog family. While my ego is stroked a bit every time someone new stops by my blog, I really mostly just care about the regulars that have become 'family'.

And they're the reason I feel bad when I don't show up often enough.

Anyway...delurk. Love ya, man. And the single malt? Keep it coming!

Lisa said... 10:18 PM, October 03, 2007  

I feel obliged to post ever time I see that mofo mofo button. You know I'm reading, here

Jonathan said... 10:45 AM, October 06, 2007  

Just wandered in here from NaBloPoMo - you must be one of the 0.0002% guys taking part, apart from myself.

Great blog btw - and yes, I too struggle with style in my blog - how best to present thoughts and words.

Karen said... 9:44 AM, October 08, 2007  

It's possible that an adjusted focus would eventually result in a different (larger or different in mix) readership. So it's probably no mistake that you're considering all this right now.

Me, I love the connections that are forged through blogging, even if those connections are semi-anonymous. It's rather freeing to be able to be as real (or not) as one chooses.

Alejandra said... 10:52 AM, October 10, 2007  

For me I'm usually just curious about who stops by. When I see people on my stats who land here randomly and then read multiple posts for 20 or 30 minutes, I wish that they would at least drop an email or an anonymous hi. I know that people are reading, but I'd like to know more about the people who are. Anyway, I'm here. Present... :)

cronznet said... 5:26 PM, October 10, 2007  

I punish/reward myself with two blogs, one for family and one for me. The blog (with which I sign here) for me has been useful as I educate myself about current events and at the same time prepare for the lively discussions that occur around here all the time. I don't think I've ever had a post at either blog garner comments into the double digits, and most get zero comments.
For the record, I enjoy almost everything you ever care to share your thoughts about; the economic-based posts lose me so I just wait for the next post my pedestrian mind can comprehend.
Whatever form or voice you decide upon I very much look forward to it!

Anonymous said... 11:56 AM, October 11, 2007  

OK, i never comment, I admit it, but I do read :-) sometimes mostly cause I get lonely for my kids and I know there are cute pics of them on here. But, this post was intriguing for me, as it gave me insight into why you blog. thanks Hon.

sween said... 11:39 PM, October 11, 2007  

can i still delurk eight days later?

thestraightpoop said... 2:34 PM, October 14, 2007  

Hey Mike,

I started my blog as a way to practice my writing craft and to keep fresh...I believe that writers should do what they do - write - every day. Even when it's about inane topics, the practice (hopefully) keeps it fresh and lively. Theoretically.

And then I started to get some blog friends, and made a small online community of friends I have met, or not, and whose lives I can share in.

I do find that I focus less on storytelling now, and more on sharing news and updates...and I do post less often, and probably about less interesting topics.

But it's so difficult to tear myself away, and I don't think I ever will. I hope you don't, either...

Straight Poop

brandy said... 4:18 PM, October 15, 2007  

Ahh, well said Mike. I sometimes feel the same way when I look and realize the majority of people who hit my site are looking for 'girls sexing each other'.

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