The paradox of blogging

English: Graphic from the licensing tutorial

A blog looks like a nice thing, but it’s actually very rough when you experience it. If I said that, I’d be echoing Benvolio in Romeo and Juliet in the very first scene of the play. Except that he said love instead of blog.

Sigh.

My blog is so mixed up. No central theme so far, no single tone, not a sign of my brand. My feelings towards my own posts are increasingly resembling Romeo’s oxymoronic feelings towards love, I’m afraid (why am I waxing Shakespearean today?).

Why then, O brawling love! O loving hate!
O any thing, of nothing first create!
O heavy lightness, serious vanity,
Misshapen chaos of well-seeming forms,
Feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health,
Still-waking sleep, that is not what it is!
This love feel I, that feel no love in this.

I have such an imperfect understanding of what might succeed.
I’ve put in a lot of effort on a blog post and it’s received a lukewarm response. And I’ve written on a whim while I’ve had just a few minutes to spare and it’s become popular. In fact, my most “liked” post was written while waiting a short while to go out somewhere.

Yet I know hard work matters.
In two ways. If I keep writing, I know a certain number will turn out good. But I never know whether the one I’m currently writing will or not.
But I know that the quality of the average post will improve with time the more I write.
More people will read if I keep at it long enough.

But there aren’t any real indicators of what people like.
More “liked” posts aren’t necessarily always better by the tenets of good writing I know. Better posts don’t always necessarily generate the most comments. Sometimes a great post leaves nothing more for people to say while a less perfect post provides openings for people to comment on. These indicators are not always the best to go by.

Yet, I know readers sense good writing from bad. They somehow always do.
Readers, collectively, have a strong nose for good writing. It does not matter who wrote it, what the point of view was, what tone or genre. If it’s good and it has a way of getting reasonable exposure, readers will show they’ve liked it and enjoyed it.

Then, there’s the process itself.

I never know when or where a good idea might strike me. In the grocery store, in the elevator, on the bus, when I’m sleeping.

Yet, I need to sit down somewhere to catch those ideas in front of a computer. But sitting down quietly is no guarantee that those ideas will come.

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85 thoughts on “The paradox of blogging”

  1. I stopped by to thank you for the “Like”. . .then I started reading this post and it really resonated with me. . .Somerset Maugham once said, “There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”
    The same saying holds true for blogging, short stories, poems, nonfiction, etc. You never know, no one does. .. I think at times of indecision or uncertainty, it’s best to trust the process. . .You do good work, Continue. But don’t write to be “Liked”, write to be true . . .to yourself.

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  2. Amen, and two thoughts: 1) Woody Allen never read his reviews, and 2) REM was better in the 80s. Word up! Nice to meet you. – Bill

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  3. It’s interesting that blogging about blogging is always so popular (I mean that these blog entries are read more often than many others). I would venture that there are an overwhelming number of people out there who want to communicate – and have a difficult time doing it, want to write – but not sure what about, what to connect – but not sure with whom and just want to be a part of something larger.
    I guess the irony of blogging is that it’s so easy (to set up an account, get a free theme and put your name on it) yet so hard (to continue to develop a theme in your writing that people will enjoy following).
    I write about science, but most of my followers are my students. Now that we are between semesters I see my numbers sag and get depressed that the only people listening are those I speak to several times a week in class anyway.
    Maybe I’ll start blogging about blogging more often.
    That… or maybe sex.
    That should work too, right?

    Best to you and keep writing, I always enjoy reading your work.

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  4. I think the fact that you have so many followers and so many commenters negates what you said about knowing what people like. Next month will be one year for me and I have a theme to my blog and exactly 42 followers. In short, I don’t think narrowing down your topic will help you expand your readership.
    Why does every post have to get hundreds of hits and likes? Sometimes what we have to say on this day resounds with people. Sometimes it doesn’t. You are getting words down and connecting with readers. What were you hoping to do with your blog?
    Keep writing and we’ll keep reading.

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  5. I hope you will be happy that I have nominated you for The Beautiful Blogger Award. The rules that come with the award are:
    1. Post the award on your page.
    2. Link back the person who nominated you.
    3. Tell seven facts about yourself.
    4. Nominate seven bloggers and let them know they have been nominated.
    My reasons for nominating the seven blogs are listed in my post. http://charlottecarrendar.com/2013/01/07/a-very-proud-spider-the-beautiful-bloggers-award-nomination/

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  6. Your posts are always gorgeous and wonderful. Your writing, to me, sings off the page, and your posts always make me think about things — usually in a way that I wouldn’t have discovered on my own. I often hesitate to comment because I’m so new on WordPress and so very new at following your blog. I don’t want to be a pest or seem weird or something. (I’m laughing nervously to myself as I type this.) And, also, there are many times when I hit the “like” button on your posts because what you have written has filled my mind with so many thoughts that I can’t seem to sort them out; I need time to ponder over them.

    This post, in particular, hit home for me. I feel so many of the same things you’ve mentioned in your post. These emotions and worries and such can be painfully isolating. I found myself thinking that there must be something wrong with me as a writer because I have these types of feelings and uncertainties. I know it seems (and probably is) selfish of me, but it helped me a lot to realize that someone with a lot more blogging experience than me — someone whose writing I admire a great deal — sometimes feels the same way I do. It made me think that, perhaps, I’m not such a loser after all.

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  7. This post has generated an overwhelming response. Thank you. In some ways, it illustrates the point I was making in the post–quick thoughts sometimes resonate more with people than longer, well thought out words.

    Many of you have helped me a lot to think through this blog. Some of you have said that you enjoy my perspective on things in the blog. That idea, I hope, will help me think through an organizational structure. My perspectives as a central theme.

    I responded to more of the initial comments. I am enjoying reading the later comments a lot. I think some of the points in the later comments find echoes in the earlier ones. So you may find my views on those points by perusing my responses to some of the earlier comments. Thanks again!

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  8. I never know where a post will lead me until I get there. Many times I start writing and end up in a direction I had no intention of following. I think it keeps us real, so keep up the good work 🙂

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  9. I think the best thing is to just be yourself and not worry about the “reviews.” We write our best when we do what comes naturally and easy. But, that’s just my humble opinion.
    But I would kill for 112 “likes” on one of my posts. =)

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  10. I have found there is no rhyme or reason to this blogging exercise. You want feedback, you want to get noticed, yet the things you put out there sometimes just wither and dry up, like forgotten fruit. Sometimes you come back to them and think, no, it was not overripe, it was just on the right side of done-ness. Sometimes the things that explode with sweetness in another’s mouth are the things you find bitter and acrid afterward. But I agree with you, I think we know, instinctively, when our writing is good, when it can do with a bit more editing, when it should be shelved and revisited another time or just forgotten altogether. I too wonder if writing is an end in itself, if finding the perfect sentence or a phrase that sparkles in the dark is enough in itself. For me, right now, and for you too, I expect, the answer is yes.

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    1. I enjoyed your comment–both the ideas and the tone. Especially “Sometimes the things that explode with sweetness in another’s mouth are the things you find bitter and acrid afterward.”

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  11. I feel that if people are emotionally invested in a blog they will hesitate to ‘like’. If you ‘like’ the writing over the content, there will be no reticence, but if a post is relaying more upsetting or negative news then to ‘like’ it may seem callous to the ‘liker’. I am one of those. This is where I think having a range of buttons would be useful. Then again, should we be writing for likes? And finally, when we release something into the world, it ceases to belong to us and people read what they want/need to into it (which reaffirms to me, that I personally ought to keep writing to me). 🙂 Good luck in your Shakespearean quest for the right writing!

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