Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The People in My Head

So, I've been thinking about what makes a great blog. And I was struck by what Paul Murphy said in comments on Friday, when asked about his blogging purpose:

My goal with the blog is to entertain and to appreciate the people who read the thing. If I do those two things well enough, I figure people will keep reading and new readers will find their way there.

And it struck me--this is what makes some blogs so great to hang out at. Great blog hosts are clearly starting a conversation for me. Yes, ME (and YOU). Paul knows we're out here, reading it, and he wants to entertain us a while.

There is a great atmosphere at Paul's blog because it is clear that the blog is as much about the followers as it is about Paul. It's no thinly disguised medium for self-promotion. Well, maybe it is. All blogs are, at their root, about self-promotion. But Paul does it really well, because of his intentions. And because his intentions are respectful.

Is this too simplistic? If you entertain, then people will appear, to be entertained? If you build it, they will come? Very mystical, very magical. But I think this is true, in this day and age when word of mouth has morphed into a world of clicks and links.

And respect is a difficult thing to achieve in a medium where sarcasm and humor can be misconstrued as insensitivity or meanness. I agonize over some comments that I have left on blogs. Did they know that I was joking? Should I delete it?

My intention for writing my blog? Well, it's funny. When I write for my blog, I feel as though I am having a conversation with the voices inside my head.

I see all your cute/handsome/meaningful little avatars over there on the right, but I still feel like I'm going a little crazy, writing all this as if you were real. It's why I love your comments, and why I post writer interviews. Because it's proof of my sanity. (Okay, and because I want to be able to say, I knew you when...)

I feel this way, I think, because at first, my intention simply was to carve out my own little corner of the universe, where I could tuck my thoughts, and writing journal, and goals, and links to fun stuff. And be able to find everything later. I never really believed that if I wrote it, you would read it. But, since you do read it, my blog is evolving into something much more meaningful than just a conversation within my head.

It's like how your writing changes after the first time you find a great critique partner. Suddenly you have an audience. And knowledge of that audience changes your writing. Intention translates into actions.

So, I thank you all, figments of my imagination. Thanks for reading. Thanks for sharing. Thanks for making this a meaningful place to be.

And, just in case your requirement for an entertaining blog includes stylish accoutrement, check out this awesome bag*.

So, what are your intentions for blogging, and what do you think makes for an exceptional blog? Do you feel you have a responsibility to your followers? And, if you have decided not to blog, then why not?

*Disclaimer--that purse is one of my aunt and uncle's eco-friendly bags, and occasionally I get awesome bags from them, and lots of love. And, even though I'm biased, their stuff is wonderful!

17 comments:

  1. Great post! You know, I've found something similar as I've been blogging. I love doing it because it makes me think about writing, books, etc. and forces me to put my thoughts into words. But I also love the fact that other people might actually respond to what I have to say with their own insights. I love checking in with readers and seeing how they're doing with their WIPs, for example. It makes me feel like I'm not the only one banging my head against the wall!

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  2. I love this post! I just sat down to put a post on my blog, which I'm trying to post on less sporadically, but I had to check the blogs I follow and here you are! I started my blog when I came to understand that I wanted to actually get my work published, be a part of the industry and thusly be forced to interact with other people in various ways.
    I agree that I feel little like a madwoman sometimes when I'm writing a post. I'm not a journal-keeper and so it was very strange at first. But now I love it, and I love seeing what people come up with in response. It's a great feeling. :)

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  3. Oh, and I LOVE that bag! It's ridiculously cute! And I adore the fact that it's a flower and eco-friendly.

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  4. Anna--I love the on-line writing community--especially the subset for children's writing. It has been so supportive. And--you are definitely not the only one banging your head!

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  5. A. Grey--Welcome! I think it is interesting--writers trying to put ourselves out there. Most of us are on the introspective side of things. I will continue my craziness by having these blog conversation with my imaginary friends, if you keep up the madwoman posting. Deal?

    I'm glad you like the bag--it's really beautiful in person.

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  6. Great post, Heather! My blog has really evolved from being a place just for me to a place for others. I'm not a very entertaining person, I don't think, but I love to be helpful, so I focus on that, knowing it's the best I have to offer. I love my followers and probably wouldn't be blogging still without them. I never had much to say when it was just for me.

    Keep up the great work over here! It's so good to know we're not alone in this, isn't it?

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  7. Very thoughtful post. I have tried many philosophies behind blogging, they seem to change as often as my writing habits. Maybe that's a problem? But you and PMM are great blogging role models(and many, many others). The community is wonderful.

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  8. Great post, Heather. I especially liked that you quoted me. Excuse me while I deflate my ego.

    I'd do more self-promoting if there was something out there to promote.

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  9. My blog is pretty young. Just a couple months old. I'm really impressed by people who can post several times a week. I am posting once a week. It's been great to connect with other writers. I've discovered some wonderful blogs and like commenting on them as much or more than I like writing blog posts.

    I'm sure my blog will continue to evolve. My hope is that I can offer something of value and spur a meaningful conversation. I know that not every reader will connect with every post just like we all put books down that don't engage us.

    Thanks again for another thoughtful post!

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  10. Casey--I love your blog. It is a very professional place to be. Whenever I'm looking for information, I find myself there!

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  11. Tina Lee--I love the book reviews you have on your blog right now--it sounds like you've been reading some great books.

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  12. PMM--I just like to give credit where credit is earned. Here's hoping you have something to unabashedly promote sometime soon!

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  13. Paul--You're posts are so engaging--and so well crafted. I can see why it takes you time to put them together. I love that there is always eye candy, and really wonderful tips for writing. I always come from your blog with a changed perspective. Your blog is definitely food for thought.

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  14. Oh cool blog! I read mostly for the conversation, and blog for it, too. I like the company. Writing is sorta lonely. I don't think it does much for bookselling, unless you have a humongous following, which most authors' blogs don't get.

    I'll have to say that lately, unless a blogger asks a question, I tend not to comment. Lately, I just can't think of what to say, LOL! And I agonize sometimes, too. :-)

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  15. I blog for two reasons. First, to network with other writers, and second, to share pictures and video of my coolio family.

    I've been blogging for about five years, and I used to feel compelled to 'write for my audience'. Then I sort of re-prioritized some things, and for the last year or so, I've only really updated when I've had something substantial to post.

    (Beware writer/blogger friends: blogs are great, but they can also become a creativity vacuum. Don't sacrifice the quality of your literary works for cyber-popularity.)

    Anyway. Despite all that, I like your blog very much, Ms. Lane. I'm gonna predict that you end up with a pretty big following. As such, I'm going to click the follow button so I can say that I got in at the ground floor.

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  16. Ray--Welcome! Thanks for all the kind comments. And I agree--blogs--both writing and reading--can be an incredible time and mind suck.

    Caution is duly noted!

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  17. Natasha--I too love the writer's underground world of blogging. That feeling of simultaneously being alone and connected. Good stuff.

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