Blog Elementary School

Starting a blog is a bit like being the new kid in sixth grade. You don't know your way around the building, every room you walk into is a sea of new faces, and you keep discovering that you don't have the right materials.

The pressure to be cool exists as much in the blog world as in elementary school. As does the measure of numbers as a validation. Counting one's comments can become as much of an obsession as counting the size of one's crowd. And just like in grade school, there are those select few who everybody wants to know.

I mention this because I'm finding myself being sucked into this kind of cool kids-not cool kids response to my blog.

While in my heart, I believe that the only reason to write is for oneself, I have to admit that, in my head, I am measuring.

Last night I found myself going down the precipitous path of googling "building blog traffic." There are many, many links to this phrase, indicating that there are many, many people worrying about this. Among the suggestions: linking to the little sites instead of the big dogs, who are too important and busy to heed your tiny site; running contests or quizzes; leaving comments on other blogs with a link back to your blog; and "pinging to weblogs," whatever that is. Other ways to lure, I mean invite, readers to your blog included using lots of pictures, because of the visual allure, I mean content, and posting regularly and often. That last suggestion is usually accompanied with the caveat to only write when you have something significant to contribute; the ethical imperative apparently neutralizing the violent verbal handwaving of "look at me!"

Is it an American fascination with popularity? I'm so new to blogging that I'm far from being ready to make a cultural assessment. So, if any bloggers from another country wander over to my blog, perhaps you can let me know if your citizens are as fascinated with the Sitemeter readings and size of audience as English-speaking bloggers seem to be.

My goal is to go back to the elementary school model, and try to do it better this time around. I'm going to work to be content with the process of writing, rather than the response it draws. I'm going to try to focus my satisfaction on my own work, instead of comparing it to my neighbor's. And if I make a new friend, wonderful, and if I spend time alone, that's fine too.

Because I am truly enjoying writing again. I am finding that it is waking up parts of my brain that I haven't really used since I finished grad school. And I love being able to save beautiful pictures of my knitting, so that I have a permanent record. I'm learning some new skills and overcoming the challenge of a new language that seems almost mathematical to me, and given that I am still proud of the one A I received on an algebra test in ninth or tenth grade, comprehending something mathematical is a big deal for me. And I am connecting with old friends and meeting some new folks.

All in all, not a bad day's work.


Anonymous said…
On thinking about bloggers in other countries--last week my friend went to see a play called Baghdad Burning based on the writings of the only Iraqi woman blogger (i think her blog is of the same title as the play).
I do not know if the playwrights consulted the blogger, had her consent, sent her the play afterwards, or nothing...what do you think about this? Once you put a blog out there do you give up control?
Maybe someone out there is secretly making a knitting-yoga-writing play about you!
JANET said…
I don't think that you give up control by publishing your blog on the Internet. That said, every site has different rules about who owns content, and that can make a big difference as to what happens to something once it is put out there.
I'm thinking about karma here, though. It would have been nice, and approproate, if one was consutled when one's work is being used as inspiration, or source material. It's a complicated question. Look at the many convoluted ways that artists use culture or other art as material. I can't recall the title, but there' a work of criticism by Harold Bloom that suggests that American authors could not escape the influence of their "forefathers" in literature.
Did the blogger get any kind of credit for the play? I'm going to see what I can read about it this weekend, sounds interesting.
Hmm, who would you like to play you in the play about me??
FairyGodKnitter said…
Count me as a new friend. I'm a few months further into this blogging for friends thing and it is actually a lot easier than the sixth grade experience. There is much satisfaction to be gained from having your knitting/writing/life validated by others. I'm coming through a time in my life where privacy has been lost and my inner voice silenced. As I'm getting my health back, feeling connected to people who care about the message and offer the gift of approval has become important.
JANET said…
I'm so glad that you're doing better.
The part that I most enjoy is finding that writing helps to clarify my thoughts, and it helps me to think about all sorts of things in new ways. That's one of the things that I like best about being part of a blogger community: you get all sorts of viewpoints, hopefully coming together with respect for one another's ideas and differences.