It’s been a little over six years since I wrote a blog post.
I’ve really missed it.
What took me so long to reenter the blogosphere? Essentially, the lack of a platform. Or rather, my lack of being able to stick to my first blog’s platform. Which was, in essence, about getting “nifty by fifty.”
For the record, I’m past fifty and still nowhere near nifty.
I loved blogging. I enjoyed finding and sharing information with my readers – what few I had. The week a reader contacted me from Wales after an Internet search on the topic I’d just posted (about caloric restriction) was possibly the highlight of my brief blogging career. Somebody as far away as Wales was reading me!
But while I was talking the talk, I wasn’t walking the walk, and that blog (see sidebar) was abandoned in less than a year.
Six years went by – six years of reading other blogs and wishing I was still blogging. Six years of admiring the layouts of other blogs and wishing I had a blog with a cool layout like that. Six years of reading intelligently written posts and wishing I was still blogging with a cool layout and pondiferous things to say, so that I too could engage with thought-provoking readers.
In short, I was suffering from a serious case of blog envy. Last December, I decided to do something about it.
The decision came from finally realizing I was ready to take writing more seriously. I wanted to Call Myself an Author. But to do so nowadays, I needed not just to write, but a platform. An author website, with links to my published work, and maybe excerpts from my novel, even if it was still in progress, and, well, it would be great if that website included a blog, too…
Voila – the perfect excuse to start a new one.
I don’t know about other writers, but I suspect I’ve been taking the concept of blogging a little too seriously. In my defense, according to the experts, every blog should have a worthwhile reason for existing. Not only a theme, but a great name, alluring post titles, engaging content, certain keywords for search engine optimization, impressive photos, and, of course, room for comments.
When I finally figured out my new theme, I agonized over the perfect title, scrawling a couple dozen possibilities on a memo pad. Next came the design. Should I select a free template on a site like WordPress, or hire a designer? Was this template too cluttered, this one too simple? Would it be more professional to include an author photo? Did I even want people to know what I looked like?
Believe it or not, I was so concerned with the layout of my future blog – before I had written a single post – that I chewed my lip over what websites to include in my blogroll. (In the words of the inimitable Dave Barry, I swear I am not making this up.)
Finally, could I come up with enough post ideas? I knew relatively little about how to publicize a blog. Would enough readers show up to make it worthwhile?
Can you say “procrastination”?
‘Cause that’s something writers are fairly good at. I worried more about aesthetics than plugging away at my keyboard, in part, because it’s easier to do the former than the latter. But later, looking back at that list of concerns, I nearly laughed out loud – especially when a slightly exasperated voice in my head whispered, “Just blog, fool.”
Hence you’ll find me here once a week, talking about everything from Spanish moss to Pakistani teen Malala Yousufzai…from my grandmother’s needlework to the indomitable persistence of an 18th-century kitchen maid-poet who succumbed to measles before her 25th birthday…from crowd funding to the varied uses for rubber ducks. (What, you thought they only belonged in the bathtub?)
But not just because it’s a cheap remedy for blog envy.
Years ago, author Shelby Foote was vaulted to a new level of popularity when he served as a guest commentator for Ken Burns’ TV series on the Civil War. His courtly Southern drawl and manner of speaking as if he’d actually experienced the events he was describing charmed viewers both north and south of the Mason-Dixie line. If the resulting notoriety caught him somewhat off guard, he acknowledged its pleasures as well as its foibles. But a single remark stuck with me for years.
“It’s a very real thing, the desire for fame,” Foote told an interviewer. “We all want to say,’I was here.'”
And that, I think, is the real reason for this blog. While I don’t expect it to bring me fame, it’s my own small way of saying “I was here.”
Still, talking to myself gets boring, so I hope to see you here, too, and that you’ll let me hear from you with a comment, a suggestion, a rant, a chuckle, a photo, or whatever you feel like sharing.
Start by telling me how you say “I was here.” Do you have a blog? Write music? Share other artistic gifts? Volunteer? Write me and let me know.
And I’ll see you next week!