My blog had a wonderful long weekend! The party started out being Freshly Pressed for Sounds of the Blogosphere (a second time in the blog’s life after My Blog Audience) as part of the Weekly Writing Challenge–The Sound of Blogging on Friday. Then, the group of wonderful readers who had decided to become “followers” taking out precious time from their schedule reached 1000 Monday night.
I’m honoured that editors at WordPress, who read thousands of blogs, found something here and that readers too bothered to visit, read and comment. I’ve been visiting, reading and commenting on other blogs too which is where I’ve learnt much about blogging.
Can I wax poetic and say “do I wake or sleep” like Keats? I don’t know but Bottledworder is a good “mid-May’s eldest child” this year–my first attempt at sustained blogging.
Now that the weekend is over, I’ve thought about this blog and have realized it’s reached adolescence. I’m not sure which way it will go and sometimes it does dress and talk weird.
But I do know that it’s doing what an adolescent is supposed to do.
Growing up: I’ve been mixing up the content as it comes. But two broad kinds of blogs have developed–the long, “essay” style blogs that I’ve written in conversational form and the short, reflective blogs on writing, mostly blogging. While writing these, I’ve learnt some important lessons in compromise that’s an inevitable part of growing up. My heart might be in one blog and people might like another. I might want to write one way but it will have to fit the conventions of the genre, especially practical considerations of visibility on feeds and deliberations about people’s reading habits on the screen. I also realized I was doing nothing new. When new genres came into being in the past, people must have adjusted the same way.
Experimenting with surface vs. depth: I realized that readers are very sensitive and discerning. A hurriedly written blog with little substance always gets few hits and almost no followers no matter how well I dress it with headings and pictures. After all, people reading blogs are a self-selected group. They are not reading for grades. At the same time, I’ve learnt that images emphasize points and break monotony of the screen and sometimes serve as asides to the main point. So I’ve been trying to include images so long as they don’t distract from the main flow of thought. And headings only when they help. An important lesson I’ve taken from this: there’s no point having an attractive surface without depth but also that no one will look into the depth of the abyss without superficial markers on the surface.
Organizing the mess: Blogging every week can make the blog become chaotic without some organization. I’ve been trying to make it easy for the reader by providing a selection of different kinds of blogs on the sidebar so that if a reader is interested, s/he won’t have to try too hard to find the posts. My biggest challenge in this has been in determining how many titles on the sidebar is too much choice and therefore off-putting.
Engaging in a battle of wills: Through the course of reaching semi-adulthood, I’ve had little tussles between what I like to think of as “my will” vs “the great will of the reader.” I’ve tried to make readers read my picks by making my will prominent all over the page in the initial days but have realized readers will still read what they want to anyway. So now I’ve concentrated on providing both choices as top liked blogs (what readers want) and my picks. I continue to enjoy the play.
Talking non-stop: The best aspect of blogging is the interaction with readers. I feel that this is what keeps this blog developing organically through implicit conversations in my head with readers following from those on the comments section. In fact, my most liked blog so far (My Blog Audience) developed from a comment I made on a reader’s blog to which he replied on his blog and then followed up on mine. Some blogs such as My Blog Readers and Six ways to become a more productive writer have generated such extensive and thoughtful comments that I think there are a couple of nascent blogs in there waiting to be developed by both me and my readers!
Taking part in challenges: I’ve been following the WordPress writing challenges with interest not just because I think those prompts are great (in the sense that they achieve a good balance between the general and the specific so that they generate blogs on a common topic while providing readers great freedom) but because they challenge me personally to write on a topic I wouldn’t have chosen otherwise. For example, I would never have chosen to write a post on active and passive voice left to my own devices but doing it because of the prompt gave me confidence that I could handle any topic and could be flexible.
As I sit here, I remember the day I posted for the first time on this blog. It received no “likes” and hardly any views. Then, as people saw my other posts coming, some people went back and read it after many, many days.
Thank you readers for all your support. Hope you and I continue writing and reading!
[That reference above was to John Keats’ Ode to a Nightingale BTW. If he was here, he might’ve been blogging the ode today. He was young after all!]