Why I’m a Horrible Blogger

typinghands

I started blogging four years ago for no other reason than to get my work out there. I liked to write. People had told me I was reasonably good at it. At boredom’s gentle prodding, I developed my first blog. I can’t even remember what I used to call it. At the time, I had only been on Facebook for two years, I barely knew what Twitter was, and Pinterest, at least in my world, wasn’t even a thing yet. There was no “promotion” of posts, no partnerships to negotiate, no real “sharing” to speak of, at least not in the sense that we “share” now.

When the idea for Just Joywriting came to me, I quickly abandoned the old blog (title and content–it all had to go), and I set about reformulating my online persona. I had what I thought was a great new name. The design was, at the time, unique and reflective of my personality. I was getting two or three readers a day. On the surface, I should have been thrilled. But I couldn’t help thinking something was off. The Internet was supposed to be a great tool for reaching readers, a great way to engage in a “virtual community.” I had friends with fashion blogs who were making friends everyday. Somehow people just found them and engaged with them. That’s what I want, I thought. Where are my readers?

At the time I thought that maybe it had something to do with my writing. It just wasn’t that good (maybe it isn’t–maybe I am just trying to rationalize here). I could take it. At least I had been brave and put something out there, right? Then I started really paying attention to these other blogs. I started looking at what they did that I wasn’t doing. The experience was enlightening. From studying and reviewing other successful blogs, I’ve come to realize that maybe it’s not the graphic design of my blog or the writing or the name. Maybe I’m just a bad blogger. Here are some possible reasons:

1. Voluntary self-promotion. The blogs I read seemed to offer intimate glimpses into the lives of the people who wrote them. There were children’s names, pet names, husbands’/wives’ names. There were details about professions and weekend hobbies, pictures from vacations and cozy dinners. I wasn’t offering any of that. Somehow I thought that my blog could be about the writing, the writing, and only the writing. Sure, it was based on things I observed while enjoying weekend hobbies, family vacations, and cozy dinners for two, but my life and the details thereof remained largely removed.

ThisIsNotanImage

2. Visual content. I started noticing pictures for the first time as I was studying what made some of my favorite blogs tick. They had not just pictures, but good pictures. The kind that make you want to be wherever they are. The kind that make you wish you were doing or wearing or having whatever the subject was doing or wearing or having. I had nothing of the sort. In fact, I thought I was doing quite well for myself when I included a thumbnail picture of the book I was currently attempting to review. The pictures, though, are what drew me to some of my faves in the first place. Apparently, that’s how to catch and keep a reader’s attention. Part of it anyway.

InstagramlogotwitterlogoFacebooklogo Pinterest

3. An aptitude for social media. My favorite bloggers are invested in social media. They use Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram and seem well versed in each, using them deliberately based on the post’s content. Fashion posts lend themselves really well to Instagram and Pinterest, as do design and style posts. Twitter allows for daily glimpses into their everyday experiences and how they encounter the subjects and ideas for their blogs. So it would seem. The thing is: I’ve never been a big social media fan. I didn’t necessarily want people to know that much about me. More than that, though, I just didn’t think anyone would care. I’ve given it a good hard try, but I can’t help feeling phony when I post on Twitter, and my Facebook feed, well, you could say it’s a bit neglected. I tried Instagram, but I found myself focusing on searching for subjects and settings rather than enjoying the subjects and settings themselves. It’s an effort I continue to make, though, this social media stuff. I want to connect with people (otherwise I wouldn’t bother with any of this), but the introvert in me wants to cower in the corner at the thought of so much interaction, virtual or otherwise.

4. Platform, Platform, Platform. I’m drawn to book blogs and fashion blogs. I read them everyday, with my mid-morning coffee and biscotti. Wouldn’t it be nice, I thought, if somewhere out there someone else was having their midmorning coffee and reading my blog, my…what kind of blog exactly? When I first started blogging, I had no platform, and I continued that way for awhile. Over the years, I’ve played with the concept of platform, but I’ve never felt truly cemented to one. In my most recent overhauling frenzy, I’ve pulled the DIY section of the blog to focus specifically on reading, writing, and living, as these are the things I find myself doing most frequently. I’ve learned that by doing this I’ve not only given my blog more focus, but I’ve given myself more focus as well. When I think of a potential blog topic, I am now forced to ask myself under which category this topic would potentially fall. If I can’t logically justify its place, I don’t include it. This one, I feel, I’m getting better at.

I’m including a list of blogs I read regularly here. Take one look at any of them, and you will see exactly what I’m talking about. I still have a lot to learn. Obviously. The important thing is that it’s gotten better, this whole blogging experience. If growth is the point, if the process of improving is more important than the improvement itself, then I can honestly say I’m doing pretty well for myself here in my corner of the web.

Carrie Bradshaw Lied

Book Riot

Cupcakes and Cashmere

Could I Have That?

That’s What She Read

A Beautiful Mess

Life Abundant

Nerdy Book Club

Brooklyn Blonde

Poor Little It Girl

The Wordy Truth

“Why do you like to write so much?”

An innocent question. No subtext, no implication. Perhaps a little incredulity, but I expect that from freshmen composition students. If only the answer was as simple as the question.

I haven’t written in awhile, not for lack of things to say or words to say them. I really don’t know why. I’ve noticed an ever-growing compulsion to hoard myself, to gather the thoughts and feelings that compose who I am and keep them from those nearest and dearest to my heart. No excuse for that either, except that sometimes, when she can’t belong to the one who really matters, a girl simply needs to belong wholly to herself.

And writing is a promiscuous activity.

Writing is the drug, and I am bound to it. I’ve stopped asking why, for the answer is shrouded in the mystery of addiction. My fingers itch with the sharp points of the words that jab and poke, waiting to be bled out. Hyperbolic and overly figurative? You caught me, but I haven’t done this in awhile, so please be indulgent.

The urge is easy to ignore. Most of the time. The voice in the background crying, “Write me! Write me!” is easy enough to silence when you heap upon it steaming piles of life. And perhaps mine is a twisted literary masochism, a sick predisposition to delayed gratification. Because the time inevitably arrives when holding back ceases to be a choice.

The words adopt minds of their own. They rush forward and assume places on the page without care for or acknowledgement of the one from whence they’ve sprung. They settle there, take up residence in what they (in their wordy naïveté) believe to be permanent printed bliss, while I, their careful curator, am left with less of myself.

And oh God, does it feel good!

Writing Miss Daisy

Patience is not a virtue of hers. She is far too busy for that. Miss Daisy barely has time to sit down and introduce herself to you, which may or may not bode well for her future joywrites. So before she scampers away, take the time to get to know her:

Hi. My name’s Daisy. What’s yours? Oh nevermind. I’m too busy for that. What’s that over there? A leaf! Oh my gosh it’s a leaf! That’s so exciting! What? Introducing myself? Oh yeah. I’m Daisy. I’m super-curious which means I’m super-busy. A squeaky toy! I’ve been looking all over for this thing; it’s so my favorite. Except when it isn’t. Huh? Right…super-curious…

I’m not very organized, and I’ve never really thought about trying to tell people about something. Isn’t that what blogs are for? Oh my gosh, that person looks friendly…I could be friends with them. Ugh…right, organization. Anyway, I don’t really know what I’m gonna say to you folks, and I’m kinda glad I only have to do this once every other week. Because really, I don’t have the time!!

You should know that I’m real friendly. I consider you my best friend. Right now. As you sit reading this. Until the next person comes along, then hello new best friend!! What can I say? I’m fickle. No, not fickle. Just busy. Oh my gosh!!! It’s a butterfly! I just love butterflies. They’re so pretty, and I like to look at them and try to catch them…but yeah, best friends.

Another thing about me: I LOVE attention. I mean seriously, if I’m in the room, it is MY room. I own it and the people in it. And you just better tell me how cute I am. Don’t worry. If you forget to say it, I’ll remind you for sure.

Anyway, as much as I would like to stay here and chat, I have spotted some dust motes that require investigation. And maybe that sock over there. That wasn’t there a minute ago. Oh well. Belongs to me now. Just busy, busy, busy…

Look for Miss Daisy’s coming joywrites. Who knows how many there will be…

20120125-143225.jpg

Meet Mr. Peay

For many people, blogging offers a source of catharsis, a way to release that which we keep pent up within ourselves, a therapy of sorts. But as with anything else, every now and then change becomes necessary. The blogosphere is great for that. Adaptable and fluid, a blog offers its writer the chance to grow when he or she wants to or to remain in a virtual comfort zone indefinitely.

Unquestionably, offering new and various perspectives is a great way to keep things fresh. Bringing on guest bloggers opens up new possibilities and outlooks and can help to remind us of the things we take for granted. For that reason, it is my hope that both of the guest writers you see here will offer a unique perspective on the world as he and she see it.

So without further ado, meet Mr. Peay:

That’s pronounced Mister Peeee. It’s European. Hello and welcome. Where to begin explaining myself I’m not quite sure. So allow me to start at the beginning. I was born in a small town in Tennessee. My family was not what you would call close, and we never see each other. Despite a questionable childhood, my sensibilities remain fully functional and, normally, fully employed. Some people prefer to call me nervous, twitchy. I, however, view myself as alert and attentive. Someone has to be, you know.

I have lived in a number of places, some nice and some not so nice. I try not to let geography dull my abilities to maintain order and a sense of correctness, and most of the time I am successful.

In terms of personality, you should know that I appreciate and demand order. I do my best to constantly order my surroundings, and I make every attempt to create some sense of organization in the lives of those around me. Despite their resistance. It is my firm belief that the only way to live a productive, healthy life is to live in as regimented a way as possible. You could say I love a good routine.

While it takes me awhile to warm up to new people, once I accept you as one of my own I am deeply loyal and (probably) overprotective. Some people mistake my suspicion as aggression, but let me be clear: I am not an aggressive being. On the contrary, I am gentle and loving. I feel I need to be clear about this because it bothers me to no end when people assume my personality is something it isn’t. It makes me fretful and needy, and I dislike feeling vulnerable that way.

As far as interests and hobbies are concerned, I appreciate a good movie. I can stare at the screen for hours, completely captivated, and I am particularly fond of animal movies. While movies are certainly my favorite, I sometimes fall victim to the allure of a good television program. My only quarrel with television would be the commercials; they break my focus, and it becomes difficult to remember where I left off.

I am new to the computer craze, and I am fascinated by its ability to perform so many tasks. When it first debuted itself in my life, I sat watching the woman with whom I live pounding away at its keys, hoping someday I might know it well enough to do the same. While I’m still learning, I feel I’ve made tremendous progress, if I do say so myself.

This is to be my first attempt at blogging or, indeed, communicating on a grand scale via the Internet, and I’m hoping to make it a success. I do love a good, well-deserved pat on the back. It is my sincere hope that my perspective will bring both enlightenment and humor to the reader’s daily life.

Until we meet again,

Mr. Peay

Meet Mr. Peay:

20120118-155858.jpg

When the Newness Wears Off

First of all, allow me, Reader, to wish you a very belated but nonetheless heartfelt Happy New Year. I find it difficult to believe that this blog is one year old. Last year proved to be full of learning experiences both about myself and about my writing. May this year be as fruitful.

The beginning of every year offers the opportunity to make promises to ourselves with an optimism that suggests we might actually keep them. The gym is full of people with good intentions and great expectations, and because they are coming down from the high that is NewYear’s, they can honestly (earnestly) believe that things will be different this year.

For me, New Year’s always brings a similar optimism that I will grow as a writer. I tell myself that this will be the year I write something important. This will be a year of perpetual blogging with no embarrassing month(s)-long breaks. Well, that’s what I told myself last year. What I learned in the ensuing months was that in order to continue growing, I had to continue experiencing. And sometimes that meant taking a break from the writing to spend time on the living. I also learned that change can be a good thing, even when it is small or seemingly unimportant. Sometimes a girl needs a new look to keep things fresh; otherwise the writing becomes stale, and everything starts to read the same way.

With that in mind, I hope those of you who are familiar with Just Joywriting like the new look. Hopefully this will prevent any literary doldrums over the course of the next few months. I also have some new ideas for content, including weekly alternating guest contributors. They’ll get a full introduction soon, and I hope you find them as hilarious as I do. I also have something else in mind that, hopefully, will prove to be entertaining as well as current. But more importantly, the random happenings in life will continue to be the most important inspiration for this blog. These are the things that give me joy. After all, life is a joywrite. It’s about enjoying the ride.

What were some of your resolutions?