Friday, December 17, 2010

Reflections on Blogging

One of my friends, one of the most natural, witty writers I actually personally know, finally caved to the trend and started his own blog, overcoming considerable fears that he was being unpleasantly narcissistic in writing publicly about himself. I'm still figuring out what role I want my blog to take, so I find his self-deprecating guilt about beginning a blog fascinating. For this reason I'm going to provide a few of my thoughts:

I think that if you are going to attempt to update many people about your life at once, then blogging is undeniably the preferable format. (As opposed to the mass e-mailing option some people prefer.) I consider blogging superior for three main reasons:

First, blogging allows your audience to come to you. When the author of an e-mail update selects who to send the e-mail to, he or she might exclude interested parties, or burden disinterested parties with too much information about their life. I would never e-mail someone to tell them: "Hey! sorry, I don't actually want to hear about your life!"; personal listserves are basically impossible to extract yourself from. But with a blog, you can just stop reading it, and no one is the wiser. Basically, a blog is just a diary until outside readers decide to visit it. It's more like an invitation, without social obligations.

Second, blog formats are more conscientious of reader's/friend's time. Monthly e-mailing tends to take the form of long, this-is-everything-I've-done-in-the-last-month! messages rather than pointed, theme-specific posts spread out over the days or weeks (like blog posts). I find the latter to be the obviously less daunting option. Maybe I'm showing my ADD generation affiliation, but reader-attention-span is a legitimate consideration for online communications, and in this respect blogging is clearly superior.

Third, pictures! The e-mail format does not allow for easy inclusion of pictures or illustrations, while the blog format does. Obvi!

Next, the friend in question, (let's call him Winston), feels considerable guilt with using the pronoun "I" in his writing. For example: "It makes me feel enormously self-conscious; it’s like a giant pimple on the face of one’s writing." While this viewpoint is extraordinarily, charmingly self-deprecating, I would posit that as long as the author of any personal blog attempts (and this is crucial) to draw conclusions from their personal experiences that would be relevant to a wider audience, and remains humble as to the impact of their opinions, then there is no harm done. After all, didn't the wise men say: "write what you know"?

Finally, my good friend "Winston" states that one of the underlying themes of his blog is to encourage and foster his friendships. This is where my musings run aground. I, too, stated this as one of my objectives when I started my blog, but it hasn't been clear to me whether I've made anyone feel connected to me and vice versa through my blog. I don't feel like I'm sparking two-way conversations with friends on this end.

But then, I can think of two relationships in particular that have been fostered through my ability to read their blogs. Both blogs are incredibly important to me because of the connection they created. I also know that I feel fostered and inspired by the various crafting blogs I follow. So I'm not giving up on the format just yet.



  1. I think it's easy to feel like blogging doesn't help foster relationships a lot of times because people don't always (or hardly ever?) comment when they read something. For me a lot of times it's about keeping up with people I used to be closer to, since my interaction with a lot of old friends would otherwise be relegated to facebook status updates which are confusing and uninformative. I don't comment unless I feel like I have something specific to say, in that spare moment I was reading, but then when I do get to see/talk to them again, it's less like we've been apart for so long since we don't need to fill each other in on an exhaustive list of events.

    Also, what craft blogs do you follow? I spent like five hours one day this week just flipping through Craftster tutorials and being really indecisive about my next project.

  2. Caitlin,
    This post was REALLY encouraging. I haven't done mass emails in a long, long time - found out by age 14 that some people just don't want to listen. And you're so, so right about blogging getting certain "aspects" of things. You can write about themes, or trends, or a book you're reading. I think that is what really appeals to me about it. I've already got about 6 blog post ideas! And a finished post for later today.

    Now about "I" - I'm still scared of it. Maybe it's because a linguistic quirk of my home state (this is actually true) is that if I is the first word of a sentence, we drop it. At any rate, if blogging can help me write about myself and be modest/interesting at the same time, that would be really really good practice. Especially for the memoirs TFaust wants me to write. :-P

    Your musings run aground the same place where my writing often has. It's really hard to keep writing without tangible feedback (I'm kinda guilty of not commenting, sorry). This was especially true when I wrote in 07-08 for a print publication few people read called, uh, the Rice Dradnats. The truth is people might feel really glad to know how you are, and might be inspired, and might have a big ol' smile on their face, and you'd never know it without actual feedback. That makes it hard. You just gotta assume. :-/

    I'll be going through the same problems. When the first comment on my blog came up I went "ZOMG YESSS A COMMENT!!!!!!!!!!1" But when I remind myself to keep chugging along in the face of no-comments, the inspiration I will be turning to is at the start, not the end, of your post.

    "Basically, a blog is just a diary until outside readers decide to visit it. It's more like an invitation, without social obligations."
    That makes so much sense!

  3. I don't comment here because of limited time, but I read all of your posts. I hope snail mail is a fine way to respond!

  4. I wasn't intending to complain about a lack of commenting, goodness I knows that I don't comment more than most. :-)

    I think I agree with what all of you said: Sometimes the effort put into describing one's life over a blog makes it easier to interact with someone once you do see or talk or write to them again- because you feel you know them and their lives better. That's where the true pay off is.

    It is also true, however, that it is difficult to know if you are reaching your audience in any meaningful way.

    I guess that leaves up to the individual writer to decide whether it is better that a blogger's voice be pure and undiluted by trying to please others, or whether they should still try to keep their audience in mind while writing.

  5. Also, for Patricia:

    Design*Sponge updates daily by several people about what's going on in the design world. I think their daily e-mail feed is the least confusing way to scan the posts for interesting things.

    Under the Sycamore- by a crafty mom/professional photographer called Ashley Cambell is beautiful and inspiring.

    I also enjoy checking which daily has a repository of several different DIY projects.

    And of course, always,

  6. ah, i have to thank for a wonderful stuffing recipe I made last week! :-) ( heheh i feel ultra lurker-y for commenting on a comment, but hey, thats the net)
    Im very very in favor of smart, thoughtful people (Caitlin, PLadd and I presume, Winston) blogging, its such a great thing to give to the online world, its like a perpetually open invitation to tea where the host is always available and delightfully engaging. And at the end of the day, even if its a blog with a lot of follwers, blogs' greatest beneficiaries are the bloggers themselves, because they store mememories of how life was lived

  7. Wisely said Miss Rachel, wisely said!