Saturday, September 24, 2011

A Post About, Um, Posting: A Saturday Morning Soapbox

I don't usually take to my keyboard to discuss State of the Blog housekeeping stuff - presumably you're logging on here to read my thoughts on overpriced handbags, and not the writing process that gets them here - but no one reads these things on Saturdays anyways, right? *taps microphone*

I intentionally took a day "off" of my irregular regular posting schedule yesterday to chew on the blog frustration I've felt lately. The suspicion that I'd been writing posts from routine versus inspiration. That I was paying more attention to my number of readers than the quality of my writing. That I'd been reading posts elsewhere written more for marketing than entertainment or informative purposes. That unanswered comments and Tweets I'd left others had fallen into a black hole of indifference:

Worse, recent posts from you & you & you suggest that a number of you have recently had negative experiences, from hurt feelings to unbelievable deceptions, as a result of detailing your lives online. People being people, there's inevitably going to be some nastiness, both here and In Real Life. There will always be the trolls who read us simply to mock, if not worse, but watching Invisible Internet Friends go through the gauntlet has me worried. It's the risk we take in doing this online diary stuff - if we didn't want the attention, we'd be journaling at home - but between reading those posts and the flood of feedback from that Tweet above, I started to think I wasn't alone in my recent disillusionment. Have we - more to the point, have *I* - gotten off-base from the point of all of this?

I started this site lo these three years ago out of frustration. Isolated in a job where I largely worked alone and in a new town where I hadn't yet made friends, this blog and, later, Twitter, helped me to feel connected when I wasn't quite there yet in my real life. The comments I left with others, and the responses and return comments I received, were a lifeline. It also gave me a creative writing outlet, a welcome counterpoint to the excruciatingly dull dry, technical writing of my lawyerly day job. The sheer joy I had in trying to cobble together just the right words - emphasis on trying - was a release I hadn't even realized I'd needed. Oh, did I need it.

One baby, one blogging break, and three years later, I still find that sense of connectedness and release from my time reading your online brilliance and plagiarizing it here - mostly. It's just that the occasional ugliness - my own particularly - gets to me more. I miss those early days of community, back when it was more about the back and forth of comments and less about which blogs were "popular" and how to make yourself into a marketable "brand" (which, like "moist", should just be banned as a word).

Pointing the finger at others is neither Pretty nor productive, so instead I'm going to pledge to do the following:

- I want to do a better job of responding to reader comments and checking out your blogs. Unfortunately I can't read all of the blogs I'd like to, but since you're doing me the huge honor of reading my drivel, I'd like to check out your inspired words..  Leave me a comment with your site and, better yet, make sure if you're commenting using your Blogger profile that it has your email address and/or site linked to it.

- I want to write on topics I feel strongly about only when I feel I have something worthwhile to say about them. I struggle with this because it's only through the daily discipline of writing that I, on rare occasion, come up with a post I feel is worthy. I also enjoy checking in with many of you who write daily & can maintain a high quality at that pace. I'm not at all sure that I can do the same, so I may save more posts in the "drafts" folder until they're fully cooked.

- I'll try to mix up the "stuff", more material-driven posts with those of more substance - what little I have, that is. I'll still write the occasional frequent post about handbags I can't afford; I recognize that those aren't everyone's cup of tea, but they are mine - sometimes.

- I'll endeavor not to take it personally when someone never responds to my comments or Tweets. We're all busy people and can't always take the time to reciprocate; I'm very much as case in point here. Plus, this online stuff is a bit like dating at times - we find someone who intrigues us, put feelers out, and sometimes a person just isn't into the other or loses interest, no insult intended. We move on and find others who are interested.

- I will give others the benefit of the doubt. My better self recognizes that 99% of us are doing our best here; my lesser one percent gets irritated when I see what looks like secret blog marketing - despite Federal Trade Commission guidelines and good manners - and cliquishness. Most of us are striving to do good here, and I can simply stop reading the few who may not be.

I can't believe I, the alleged Ice Queen, am advocating something so cheerful here, but - let's be kind, darlings. Let's remember the fun of writing for its own sake, for connecting with one another when someone's writing - or handbag - matches up with your own makeup and nothing more.

*steps away from the caffeinated soapbox*


LPC said...

Kindness is underrated, since it has little impact on power. But I'm with you, I prefer kind to cool, earnest to snarky.

The blog thing, oh it's evolving, you know? I think it's made more complex by the fact that some people can just journal and be a brand. Think PW and Dooce. Partly that's their unique voice and talent, partly it was their timing.

The rest of us have to choose, are we writing blogs to become pro bloggers or one sort or another, or are we writing for ourselves? And when it's a blend of both, we've got to make tradeoffs and live with the consequences. Boo. Adulthood.

Stick with your real voice. That's my vote. Then write about what matters to you. Limit the topics just enough to make you definable, keep your eye on quality. Otherwise, you're better off going all the way to branding, marketing, targeting, niching, etc.

Melissa said...

I think you have an excellent point here. You are saying what a lot of us have been thinking. It makes me so sad to see the immaturity and hatred shown towards some bloggers. This should be a fun, uplifting community (which I think it is, 99% of the time).

I am a self-proclaimed HORRIFIC blog comment responder, as well as a horrible blog commenter. I am definitely one of those who reads a post, smiles, nods my head in agreement, and moves on to the next blog without commenting. I am trying to do a better job of responding to comments on my own blog, because I have realized how much it means to me when I get a response from a blog I have commented on.

I appreciate your honesty here and for what it's worth, I say write what you love and don't worry about the content - it's your blog and you should write about your passions!

xo from the other legally blonde Mel ;)

Mrs. Lovely said...

I waffle on what I think about blogging. My first blog was during my engagement and first months of marriage but then I heard about bloggers personal photos being taken or stalkers and so I abruptly deleted that blog after receiving a comment from rando guy in India. I have since started off with a new blog that I "try" to keep private.

When I jumped back in the second time I noticed a lot of bloggers posting about "rude commenters". Granted some people are mean but some people genuinely just add a different opinion and there's nothing wrong with that. I at first wondered why some bloggers never wrote me back after a nice comment and started to think "they don't like me", but then I realized I had fallen into a hole of reading "popular blogs" where I was 1 of 30+ comments and realized maybe they just don't have the time. I'd like to work harder to find the newer or less read blogs. Nothing wrong with being a popular blog but I do find sometimes people shockingly agree with the writer on Everything which irritates me. We shouldn't tear each other down but we also shouldn't comment on the Big Girls blogs just to, I don't know- be seen?? I find the most enjoyable blogs are the genuine ones. I haven't seen anyone write like you and it gives me a giggle so write on. Good post. It's okay to get frustrated sometimes.

Whitney said...

I'm glad you wrote this. It's been something I've been thinking about for a while. I'm sitting here hovering with my fingers over the keyboard because there is SO MUCH to say regarding... just blogging in general! Even though I can't even begin to put pen to paper... or... characters to screen (?? IDK...), just know that you're not the only one contemplating this stuff.

SBCVandy aka PreppyChemist said...

I am horrid about not commenting anymore. Google reader, while marvelously convenient, makes it far too easy to just read posts one after another without commenting.
I stopped blogging for the most part when I moved from grad school. Whether I actually had more free time to blog then is up for debate, but it was also back when blogging seemed simpler. Fewer people had ads and sponsors and it felt more like friends just talking.
I think that's why twitter is something I've really latched onto. It's far more conversational and lots of the people who I used to read/comment on/commented on my blog are on there.
But twitter being only 140 characters can't compare with the way blogs really show the person.
Don't know *where* this comment is meandering to, except to say I think I will try more to click out of reader and actually comment :)

Beach Bum & Baby said...

Oh hun, really great post. I have been having some frustrations this week like everyone else. I have seen some of my sweet blog friends being picked apart, I have seen anonymous and not-so-anonymous commenters leave the meanest comments. (Um what happened to if you can't say anything nice...) I did't know how to react to this - our precious nap time shouldn't be spent in this mess of middle-school-type-drama.
I too have had a hard time with commenting and tweeting certain people (not huge, famous blogs, just normal ones) only to have them never even acknowledge my presence. And I'm not saying I'm perfect, sometimes people write on mine and I find myself forgetting to get back to them. I will say I do try to respond to most tweets especially if it's something specific. But those that I spent all of that time on only to feel ignored or unimportant. I finally took them out of my reader and/or stopped following them on twitter. It just wasn't worth it for me.
Great pledge, I need to do the same! I miss the camaraderie from "back in the day" blogging!!

Emily said...

Wow, I was blown away by the deception post. Wow, wow, wow.

I read your blog because you make me laugh (and bonus, I like your style.) If you turn into a big brand, I will go all hipster on the internet, declaring that I found you first. (whether it is true or not, of course.)

I write my blog like I would chat with my real-life friends: a catch up on life and a product recommendation. I am truly just as boring in real-life as I am on the internet. I have stopped commenting on the big name blogs or the "bent on branding" blogs. My one exception is The Pioneer Woman and her All-Clad giveaways. I just can't help myself.

What I enjoy most about blogging is the discovery that girls are girls no matter whether they are from CA transplanted in TX, born and raised in TX, or migrating across the globe. Everyone wants to look cute, feel substantial, and throw a good party on occasion. I'm looking at your other commenters today, and thinking I have some new blogs to check out!

Amy @ Forever 29 said...

You summed it up so well, friend! Aside from the general hurt feelings I totally agree with your diligence to edit and hold out for good content (something I've never seen you lacking.) I get so frustrated when it seems like some bloggers feel like they HAVE to post nearly every day, which often results in these "I have nothing to blog" posts every week or two that seem to drone on and on!

Your blog is personally one of my very favorites. You have such a unique voice and impeccable style. Oh, and that precious Master P ;)

Ashley Paige said...

It's a good thing you don't live anywhere near me or else I'd be quite tempted to kiss you on the mouth. Thank you for writing this post. I practically wanted to bust out a high-liter and go to town on the computer screen. My brain just can't make those mental notes anymore. You touched on so, so many great points.

It really saddens? irks? disgusts? me that the blogging community has changed so much since I started in 2008. I'm not really sure what's to blame. Too much estrogen? Heck. That's a losing battle. I went to an all-girls high school in the wealthiest suburb of New Jersey.. and even then.. there wasn't nearly as much drama as I've been privy to in the blog world. It's bad, baby. It's like.. junior high school all over again. I just wanted that cute 8th boy to dance with me, dammit!

I love the Pretty and I love the Smug. Keep at it. And the infrequent posting you speak of? Is totally made up for when posting with worthwhile material. But don't forget.. we all like to see an unattainable, drool-worthy handbag every now and then. Especially here in the M household.

Keep on, keepin' on, girlfriend... And as I've very recently learned, let the haters hate. Those of us who remain here and loyal readers for the right reasons will always come back :)

Jessica said...

I've never commented but found your blog through a friend of a friend's. I too am a recovering lawyer turned stay-at-home-mom with a fondness for pretty things, so I can relate to a lot of what you blog about. I'm guilty of not leaving comments as much as I should but... well, I know you know how life gets. Anyways, I thought I'd comment and throw in my vote for you to keep on doing what you're doing, as long as you get some enjoyment out of it. Just wanted to let you know I'm reading and liking it. :)

Classy Fab Sarah said...

I saw your tweet about this recently and I didn't think about it at the time... but I have definitely stopped reading blogs where my comments just seem to get sucked away into a vortex and never replied to. I mean, I don't reply OFTEN to comments but I make an effort to do it semi-frequently. I do love everyone who takes the time to comment and I don't understand how bloggers are SO busy that they never, ever reply.


Mrs. Type A said...

Good post. I've been feeling a lot of pressure to decide what's the "next step" for my blog lately after I just graduated law school and got my first job and got married. I definitely feel the pressure to limit the subject matter of my posts to fit into a more definable genre, and it's very frustrating. I guess I just have to let this transition in my life happen and the inspiration for my blog will come back!

Legally Fabulous said...

I've stopped reading a lot of blogs lately, but not because of the lack of responses to comments, which doesn't really bother me, but because I feel like a lot of the blogs I used to thoroughly enjoy have changed.

I feel like a lot of the blogging community has gone from "I blog for me" to "I blog because I'm going to be dooce someday".

Every time I see a tweet that says "can't think of anything to blog about today!" I want to scream... if you've got nothing to say, don't say anything!

I actually became IRL good friends with a blogger and we had a falling out recently... partly because I found out she was talkin shit (no thank you!), but also in in part because of her new obsession with becoming some BFD blogger, getting readers, getting advertising, getting sponsorships, etc. It got really old.

Maggie said...

Writing into the void is so unsatisfying, even if we hate to admit it. Sometimes it seems to me that the only positive adaptation of Facebook would be a simple "Like" button, so that if nothing else, we could know that someone was there, reading, and enjoying. As for vapid blogging that's about nothing but numbers and promotions... well you know how I feel about that.

Mrs. Smith said...

I don't think I responded to your tweet, but I wanted to comment and let you know that, while I don't always comment, I adore your posts. Your writing style is so unique, and I truly enjoy reading every word. :)

Beyond that... I agree. On all counts.

That is all. :)

bride4life said...

I invite you to read my blog....and I just signed up for twitter this week.....mogzgirl is my twitter. My blog is linked to this...Life of a Wife is it's name.

Jen said...

I've been reading for awhile but I got in the habit of google reader during my last job where it was my only non-internet banned way to check out the latest on my favorite blogs, hence why I also got out of the habit of commenting.

Either way, good points. The malicious nature of some of the things that happen on the internets always makes me sad. I think some of the trolls are getting exactly what they came for when they get so much attention from bloggers, but then again, that's easy for me to say since I have maybe three people that regularly read our blog.

Danielle said...

You are so right, receiving comment love on posts makes you feel appreciated and that you're not just talking to the air. As much as I'd like to say I'm blogging for myself, the truth is I want others to find some merit in what I have to say as well. For what it's worth, I look forward to having your name highlighted in my Google reader with a new post. It's like a little ray of sunshine. The same holds true when I see your name in my comments.

Thanks for caring!

Whitericebryce said...

"Moist" is a word that Erin hates, though my guess is she would prefer a "moist" cupcake to a "dry" cupcake any day of the week. "Fart" is another word that is a bit of a cringer.....around our house the kids use the Japanese word "Onara" instead....which leads me to "Moist Fart", which may just be the most horrific combination of two words in the English language.

Mrs. C said...

Great post!! I'm somewhat of a newbie blogger and I really look up to you guys who have been doing it for years...just know that you're still affecting people and new readers are finding (and enjoying!) you every day. :)

Kate said...

I think this is the toughest part of blogging. I wish I had time to respond to every comment and read every blog. I'm trying to comment on other blogs more often, especially since I bring my computer for naptime. I do REALLY wish everyone would add an email to their profile-makes it so much easier to respond to comments!

cMe said...

I don't always comment, but as a Texan I love the Pretty and I love the Smug...keep 'em up! Thanks for the SAHM encouragement last week, it was a rough week for me but just what I needed on my mind to go in and resign. Also, any particular reason you get rid of Disquis? I rather like it but couldn't get it to upload properly to my blog awhile back.

Perfectly Imperfect said...

I just want to come give you a big 'ol hug and a share a big glass of wine with you. Can we make that happen?!?? Thanks for saying what so many of us can't get out. And for saying it so stinking well.

I comment on a lot of blogs. Probably less than half of those comment back. It makes me crazy. And it makes me wonder what on earth they are getting out of this. What are they blogging for if not to make relationships? Whatever. I'll keep at it because of my friendships with people like you.

Mrs. R said...

Good article! I usually visit the blogger that leaves a comment and then add her to my blog love roll so I will remember to visit her page. I figure if she took the time to comment, surely we must like the same things. Why not check her out?!!

I love my blog "friends". It is nice to have a community where you can get things off of your chest or make someone else laugh. It is nice to know that I am not alone!!

quintessence said...

I found you through Lisa (LPC) who mentioned this post on her blog today. These are all issues I struggle with as well. Just researching and writing my blog takes an inordinate amount of time. I try and visit most of my commenters to see what they are up to and leave comments as often as I can. I have stopped for the most part posting return comments on my site - there is only so much time in the day and I think my readers know that I read and appreciate each one. I agree with you that most of us (but not all) are doing our best and with Lisa in that kindness is underrated!!

Terri said...

I did a similar post last fall and attached a name "black hole bloggers". Gradually I came to realize that some bloggers are only it for performance sake and don't really desire the "relationship" that makes blogging desirable to me. I'd like to follow, but don't want either of us to feel obligated. I'm here from Privilege.

The Preppy Princess said...

Reading this a week after you initially posted it has its benefits, that being the perspective and insight contained in all of the comments.

Even though we chatted about this on twitter, I would add my voice to those saying "Don't go changing...," or something like that. Because we do love you just the way you are, or we wouldn't be here. Your success at Prettifying my Planet is indisputable, so there. :)

As far as those not ever "commenting back" per se, I have come to believe that there is some quid pro quo. I do hope for some level of exchange, or dialogue, when it comes to commenting on blogs. That's the currency we have, our time and our thoughts, sharing them is a two-way street.

For years (I mean *years) there were probably 20-30 blogs at which I left comments several times a week that never (it really was never-ever-ever), or rarely, commented on the blog I write. That strikes me as far different than those where I know the person has immense time constraints and they leave a comment every few weeks or so, that's great, it works for me. But the blogs where never we heard any kind of word? I have stopped reading and commenting.

As far as the meanness and nasty stuff, I fear that somehow I am out of touch, for I haven't experienced too much of it firsthand. (On the other blog? Oh yes, lots of it there, it's very odd.)

I do recognize the 'blog branding syndrome," it has become painfully evident at a number of spots I used to visit. I have actually turned down advertising and other commercial stuff to avoid conflicts or the shilling of something I don't like or believe in.

Way too much information Miss Pretty, I apologize!

Karena said...

Melissa, I came over from LPC and I agree with you completely.

My site first focused on my own art,other artists, interior design, architecture, art events, etc. Then I found a way ( when my own health deteriorated) to pay it forward by offering giveaways and have had some very generous sponsors.

Once in a while I get a rude comment. For the most part though, people are kind. I feel so fortunate to have made friends all over the world.

Don't you wonder about bloggers who never comment back or visit, ever!? If they do not care for me that is fine. If they think they are above having manners to respond; well that makes me sad for them.


Art by Karena

craftosaurus said...

Hi there! I found this post through a link from LPC, and it's timely for me, to say the least. Thank you!

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