First of all, “Is this thing on?”
I’ve learned a lot in just over a year’s worth of blogging, and yet there is so much I still don’t understand. Take of my observations and opinions what you will, and feel free to provide your criticism, comments and suggestions. I greatly value your feedback and interaction, as the social component of WordPress, the community of fellow writers, is the reason I’m here.
Writing is hard, and writing well is really fuckin’ hard. I agonize over the words I commit to the page and sometimes can’t create a complete sentence no matter how many ways I twist and turn a phrase. So many false starts and drafts that will never see the light of day. I must love punishment, because I keep coming back for more. So it must be for many other bloggers.
I can’t tell you how to grow your audience, leverage social media, or maximize your Search Engine Optimization. After a year, I can boast of my 56 followers, but I do know this, for anyone to take the time to really read a piece of my writing, and especially to offer a comment or encouragement, that is love. I respect and appreciate the talent and dedication of my blogger brothers and sisters.
What have I learned? For me, the greatest gift has been vision, the understanding that it is better to show than to tell, to enlighten, illuminate and awaken, rather than cajole or preach. So much may depend upon a red wheel barrow, but I need you to show me why I should give a shit. Thanks to those of you who have succeeded and inspired me in the process.
Me giving advice about blogging reminds me of a favorite baseball story I’ve repeated to family and friends ad nauseam. Former St. Louis Cardinals catcher and baseball announcer Tim McCarver recounted one misguided trip to the mound. As McCarver approached Bob Gibson, the Hall of Fame pitcher shouted out to him, “What are you doing? The only thing you know about pitching is you can’t hit it!”
Here are a few of my takeaways:
Readers love stories and photos of travel adventures. My posts with most likes–term most is relative in my case–are those about interesting destinations and day trips. Travelogues are some of my favorite follows as well. I admire the bold spirit in others and like to live vicariously through their chronicled adventures. Unfortunately, my personal exploits are few and far between, so wouldn’t provide enough content to sustain a blog dedicated to travel.
Poetry, especially short poems, are also popular. Many bloggers post quality work on a daily basis. I don’t consider myself a poet, but appreciate the music in my native tongue and will write a short piece when the spirit moves me. Whether it can be defined as poetry is a question best left to more talented writers.
If you are attractive and photogenic, include pictures of yourself in your posts. It can’t hurt. Pictures of me that I would wish to share are few and far between.
Frustrated with the lack of feedback, I’ve read a few articles on why bloggers struggle and a lot of that can be explained by the frustrations of being a writer. Central to the advice in one article is that if you write something of value the readers will find you. I do understand that bad writing is bad writing and no amount of social media savvy can change that, but I am relieved that I never quit my day job.
Ego often gets in the way of art, as it does with spiritual awareness and relationships, but sometimes you just need to take the attitude of baseball Hall of Famer Ted Williams as chronicled in Jim Bouton’s book Ball Four:
Ted Williams, when he was still playing, would psyche himself up for a game during batting practice, usually early practice before the fans or reporters got there.
He’d go into the cage, wave his bat at the pitcher and start screaming at the top of his voice, “My name is Ted fucking Williams and I’m the greatest hitter in baseball.”
He’d swing and hit a line drive.
“Jesus H Christ Himself couldn’t get me out.”
And he’d hit another.
Then he’d say, “Here comes Jim Bunning. Jim fucking Bunning and that little shit slider of his.”
“He doesn’t really think he’s gonna get me out with that shit.”
Know thyself, and understand why you decided to create a blog in the first place. It’s you, it’s yours, and nobody can take that away from you. It’s entirely possible that sometimes they just don’t get it, or they don’t get you. But, it sure can make you doubt yourself sometimes.
I really wish I knew how to put more asses in the seats…