The Snake That Eats His Tail: Blogging About Blogging
Before I yammer, you have some reading to do.
First, Will Hindmarch blogs a blog post on the subject of blogging at his blog.
Second, Monica Valentinelli has an article over at SFWA about your online reputation.
Third, and finally, you should witness the wisdom of Uncle Grandpa.
Done yet? Okay. Good. Okay, so maybe that last one wasn’t particularly important.
But the other two, they’re worth a read. They both bring up compelling points, and each is responsible for me examining the way that I blog. (And by the way, no matter how in-the-culture that word becomes, I kind of hate it. Blog. That is as unpleasant a word as you can find. It’s the sound my dog makes when he pukes up the paper towels and tissues he’s been secretly eating when I’m not looking. It’s the sound my stomach makes after I eat a lot of spicy food. It’s the name of a goblin wizard with rotten teeth and a rat-bone staff clutched in his mucusy hands. Blog. Ugh.)
It’s the word we use, and so I use it.
Terribleminds has been around for nine years, now. This has been my platform for all manner of rants and rambles, and will continue to be until someone saws my hands off and then staples big foam blocks to the still-bleeding stumps.
Here are my philosophies related to blogging, for better or for worse.
One: Blog Often
This is a fairly new philosophy. Before I put up this WordPress installation, the frequency of my blogs was timed with various rare comets and other celestial events. This is no longer the case. In fact, you may have recently noted that I’ve generally got about five or more posts up a week. Why do this? Why go through the trouble?
First, it keeps me in tip-top shape. It’s like exercise. Writing is a muscle; fail to use it often enough, and that fucker will atrophy on you, withering like a snake’s body on a sun-baked road.
Second, it engenders repeated visits. I’m very habitual with my Internet viewing. I check a certain number of sites a day, and I gotta be honest, if those sites don’t see regular updates, I don’t visit them very often. I check in once in a blue moon, and that’s it. By posting every day here, I hope to inject this site into people’s Internet reading habits.
Two: Blog Honestly
This relates to that “managing your online reputation” article at SFWA. It’s a good article. I don’t disagree with it. This is the Internet. You best watch what you say out here in the Land of Ones and Zeroes. This is a frontier town. You say the wrong shit, next thing you know you’re being shot in the street like a dog or dragged behind a horse out to the Badlands. A meal for ants and vultures.
That being said, over the course of nine years, I’ve opened my mouth and said all kinds of crazy shit. Even now, I can be found saying controversial or profane nonsense all over this damn site (in fact, that’s pretty much par for the course with me). This is a calculated risk, I understand this. I have no doubt I’ve turned off some readers.
Still, I also have no doubt I’ve gained readers because of it. While I don’t think I’m a tactless cur, I do blog openly and freely and I don’t conceal my personality (in fact, you could argue that I amp it up for purposes of this space).
Not blogging honestly would, for me, lead to a worse sin: being boring. If I’m boring, you won’t come here. If this is just an “author space,” then it remains inert, and I’m gaining no audience, I’m gaining no new friends, I’m not finding like-minded people. The fact is, most creative people are opinionated and strange. We want that from them. In many ways, I think we expect it. I don’t always agree with the most opinionated people on the web. But I’m also likelier to go back and read them, and they gain my respect by speaking honestly.
There exists a line, of course. That SFWA article continues to make excellent points. Don’t go slagging others. Don’t make unprovable claims. Don’t be insulting or say stuff that’ll get you sued.
Of course, Monica also suggests seeing how people are finding your website via search engines.
This week, I’ve had at least four readers find this website by using the search term: “turtle penis.”
I think I’m pretty much fucked in that department.
Three: Blog Funny
My online persona can be blustery and abrasive and all that, so I like to temper it with humor. And a lot of that humor is self-deprecating. I’m a jackass. I know it. You know it. Laugh at me. I certainly am. Listen, being a writer is a crazy journey. It’s on par with Alice’s tumbling trip down the rabbit hole. Madness left and right, with turtle penises coming at your head from every angle. Know that, even when I’m being serious, I’m not being all that serious.
Four: Blog With Variation
You don’t want to hear me talk about writing all week. I don’t want to hear me talk about writing all week. You don’t want me to post day after day about one particular TV show, or bowel obstructions, or astrology. Variety is the spice of life. (And, by the way, cumin is the spice of death. Just so you know. Anubis will ask you that when you die, so do not fuck it up.) Seems best to cover a broad variety of topics. I’m a writer, but that’s not all I am. I have lots of bees in my brain, and those bees bang constantly against the window of my skull. Might as well let them out, see where they fly. It’s certainly more interesting for me that way, so I have to believe it works for you, too.
If it doesn’t, don’t tell me. I’m sensitive. I cry easily!
Five: Blog Without Anxiety
Will’s post speaks to this. Any act of writing — blogging amongst them — can come packaged with a face full of anxiety. Writers are neurotic creatures. I am. I’m itchy and twitchy. But I resolved not to let that anxiety get its fangs into my writing, and that includes my blog posting habits. (Of course, that anxiety affects all other corners of my life, but so it goes. Have I mentioned I’m a hypochondriac?)
I endeavor to write well in this space (it is public, and I am a writer, so the best representation are wurds that our written reel gud), but I also don’t nit-pick the writing like I would with any other writing project because… well, shit, I’d never get these things posted. Thus, I don’t over-burden myself with perfect and precise writing. Blogs allow for a degree of sloppiness. I’m showing you my hands, and that means you get to see all the calluses and hangnails and skin tags.
Mmmm. Skin tags.
I try not to worry. This is my space not to worry. This is, in fact, my space to take those worries out behind the shed and shoot them in the back of the head.
Blogs, I think, are beholden to a certain openness — sure, this is public space, but it’s also my lawn, and I can stand out on my lawn in nothing but my tighty-whities, screaming at neighbors, ripping up hunks of grass and rubbing them on my bare chest. I might do a sexy little dance. Could be that I’ll do performance art. You don’t know. I’m unpredictable. This is my lawn. Don’t make me get out my shotgun full of rock salt!
Seems I’ve lost the point in there. I’m just saying, I let it all hang out. I don’t worry much about what goes on here. You come here to watch the crazy guy on the lawn, that’s your business. But you know you enjoy the sexy dance. Nnnngh. Yeah. Wriggle it. Just a little bit. Sexy time. Ooh.
*writhes unsexily in the grass, rubs dirt on chest*