Saturday, August 23, 2008

Should I Write Shorter More Blog-like Blogs?

Last night my wife did this all-night girls outing with some other women from our church at a hotel in downtown Tempe. She's done things like this before, usually not all-nighters, but sometimes, and its her chance to get a break from the kids, spend some quality talk time with friends... Maybe a chance to let out some steam (ok, its her time to gossip, she denies this, but it is what it is)...

Cool, well, the next day I always try to pry as much information out of her as I can, but inexplicably, she has trouble remembering, or maybe that is her cover, I'm not totally sure...

But she did tell me about one thing that came up, my blog, and there were two specific areas of constructive criticism discussed:

Criticism 1:
My blog entries are too log.

My Response:
This would be true, except for the fact that my blog is not really a blog. It looks like a blog, acts like a blog, and smells kind of like a blog, but its not a blog. Unfortunately, I'm using blogger to host it so people kind of assume because its on a blog hosting website, its a blog. I understand that, but its not.

Someday soon (after I finish this massive project to re-organize my office), I will transfer everything to a format that will make it much more obvious what I'm trying to do. And maybe I will start doing more bloggy like things at that time as well, when I can clearly differentiate what I'm doing here with something like that...

Because what I'm trying to do here is to write essays, and not those toy five paragraph essays you learn to write in school, but essays where an idea is fully flushed out to an appropriate amount of depth. These sort of things can go on for pages... Shorter than a book, but a well written, researched, and thorough essay can easily go on for 20 or more pages.

We subscribe to the New Yorker, and the articles in there are essays. After I get through reading one about Barack Obama, for example, I really feel like I understand the candidate in a deep way. It usually takes me about 3 or 4 sittings to get through one (yes I bookmark that magazine), but its worth the effort. Reading good essays are one of the most enjoyable things I do; I feel more informed, smarter on a particular topic, and usually very excited about learning a new idea.

Nothing I write is anything near that quality, but one of my goals is by doing more serious writing, I will get better. And its my hobby. Writing is a form of personal discovery, so I'm able to really understand and even discover new ideas as I write. It's satisfying to me, even without an audience... It helps to have one, though, because having at least the prospect of an audience is a motivator.

Criticism 2:
I'm not writing to my audience.

My Response:
For some reason, most of those who read my blog (or at least check in on it on occasion) are my wife's friends.... I did not plan for this to happen, but I think it did for maybe two reasons:

1) When I first started my blog, my wife advertised it in our family newsletter, and some of her friends are subscribers. Second, I'm linked to her blog, so readers of her blog (her friends) found mine, and through my association with her, come to mine.

2) None of my friends write or read blogs... It seems, at least in my small circle, that blogging is a more female-oriented activity. This is certainly not true in a broad sense. There a a ton of sports and political related blogs out there that have a lot of male participation, but I don't know too many people personally who write those.

Two and a half exceptions of men I know that blog:

Bill's and Matt's, and Davey's, that he really shares with Rachel.

So, Sara's friend's blogs are true blue blogs, and as "web logs" where the term comes from, tend to be about their family and daily events, are chronologically written, tend to be short, are written on a almost daily basis, and include lots of pictures...

And the blogs they read are written by their friends who are doing the same kinds of things. I have no problem with that, obviously, my wife blogs in this way, but I'm not doing that...

So, if these are the people who come to my blog, and find an entry that just goes on and on, with no pictures, isn't about anything specifically to what's going on with my life right now, necessarily, and/or about a topic they could care less about, they usually just skip it.

Which leads me to the problem my wife was trying to solve when she gave me this feedback:

The no comment problem
Obviously, I do have plenty of comments on some of my blog posts. There are millions of blogs out there, so I have no expectation of being one of those famous bloggers with 50-100 comments with every entry. I would have to really stand out for that, and since I have a day job....

But because my blog is not a blog, but a collection of essays, some of my blogs even those written several weeks ago are still relevant, I could have easily written them today...

So, occasionally I get a comment on something I wrote some time ago...

But because I'm on blogger, my old essays are kind of hidden from view, so people who aren't checking regularly will miss some of those, and not know to look. Here are a few examples of some I've written in the past that easily could have been written today:

Are Democrats Smarter than Republicans....

Why We are Homeschooling

Faith Quandries

So, I'm not worried if one essay gets no comments, maybe something will resonate with someone later. It's usually a timing thing, you are ready for information when you are ready for it and not always when its available. So, just because a topic is interesting enough for me to write about, doesn't mean it's interesting enough for you to read about.

Or, it could be the essay just sucks, and that's ok too. I have thoughts and ideas about pretty dumb things, and it would be better that nobody reads those anyway... In fact one of the good things about life, is that if you do or say (or write) something dumb, as long as you realize it eventually, you can correct it (or remove it from public view), and people will eventually forget about it, as long as you don't keep doing, saying, or writing the same kind of stupid things...

Or maybe my "audience" is just getting tired of what I'm doing overall, and everyone just collectively stops reading. I guess that's always a risk with everyone's blog. But this is all more for me than for you, anyway, so I guess it doesn't matter.

I also have a goal to go back to some of the old essays, revise and refine some of them. Keep some around, maybe trash others...

So, I really don't care about the "no comments" problem... It's nice to get comments, don't get me wrong. It's even nicer to have a discussion, but many of the readers of this blog might not realize is that I also belong to a yahoo political group.

One thing I have been doing is to link a blog I write here on that group with some surrounding commentary, and we can have those discussions there in that forum...

So I do get my chance to discuss outside of this blog...

The problem is that yahoogroups is not a great place to organize essays, e-mails are not linkable, and the stuff I do there seems way too temporary... Here, it is open for everyone, and available for me to reference any time I need to.

So, everyone still with me (I'm sure some of you saw the length of this entry and decided to skip it altogether or have tuned out one paragraph in - no worries), I appreciate your concern, and maybe I'll write a true-blue blog someday, but right now, I'm having too much fun writing essays.

With or without comments (or readers)...

5 comments:

Jaylee Draney said...

Maybe it's because you're just so flippen smart, you make all the rest of us feel bad. We're just a bunch of whiners who wish we knew as much as you.

Rachel said...

This post cracked me up, Scott. You're hilarious. And I feel the same, I don't really know "who" I'm writing to - mostly just me and my posterity, but kind of to the world too. It's an odd kind of medium, but I like it anyway. Maybe I should do a DTR of some kind on my blog too...we'll see.

tempe turley said...

But Jaylee, that's not true... I'm not that smart, definitely not any smarter than any of you... I'm just really, really interested in certain topics and so that's what I write about...

You may not be as interested in the same things and so you just haven't invested as much time in the same areas.

One reason I "publish" my thoughts is the hope that someone out there might benefit from my perspective...

That's all... But no worries if you just aren't into a topic, again like I said, timing is everything...

H said...

Chuckle, chuckle. I'm still with ya (most of the time).

I definately don't write essays, I like to have conversations with nobody in particular.

H said...

Oh Scott, I was reading The Horse and His Boy for a book club and laughed when I read this:

"...story-telling (whether the stories are true or made up) is a thing you're taught, just as English boys and girls are taught essay writing. The difference is that people want to hear the stories, whereas I never heard of anyone who wanted to read the essays."

C.S. Lewis is usually worthy of a good quote!