post-page

And They Called it Bloggy Love

4
responses
by
 
on
January 11th, 2007
in
Blogging Essays, General

This is the Nineteenth entrant in The Blogging Essay Contest from WeblogToolsCollection.com If you would like to participate, please email me your entry at mark at wltc dot net. Please rate this article using the star system below. The competition will be judged primarily on the input from readers like you. Thank you.

This is written by Jessica Beck

I admit it: I have a love affair with my blog.

It started so fast, as these things do. I had a LiveJournal, which was okay as far as that goes, but after three years of friends-only journaling, the spark was gone. It just didn’t excite me anymore. I’d been eyeing the platform blogs for a while – the sexy, inscrutable Movable Type, the alluringly available WordPress. I told myself I was happy with what I had, but it was hard to deny that my eye was wandering.

Then, one day, I just did it. I bought a domain name, got a WordPress install, and jumped head-first into the world of blogging.

As a writer, I didn’t feel too much trepidation about getting my words out there. No, what I felt was a peculiar mix of self-consciousness and freedom. A new blog is a lot like moving to a new town and starting fresh: no one knows you, and you can be whoever you want. The question is: who did I want to be? A no-holds-barred confessional? A standard, run-of-the-mill mommyblog that doesn’t stray from topics of babyrearing and poop production? A highbrow book-review and product-critique site?

I finally settled on something in the middle. Since it was a personal blog, it could reflect more than one aspect of my personality. It might be a little schizophrenic, but what good story isn’t? Specialization is great for the niche blog, but in my favorite personal blogs, the thing that stood out was the writer’s rich and multilayered life experience.

The trick is to find a particular voice and stick with it. The way you write is sometimes more important than what you write about. Think about journalists like Jon Carroll or Dave Barry. Every week, their subject matter varies wildly – from cutting political commentary to personal observations to (in Barry’s case) hilarious essays about bad drivers and theoretical band names – but the author’s voice is unmistakable.

Now that I’d settled on how I’d be writing, it was time for some window dressing. It’s not widely discussed, but the way a blog looks has a lot to do with how the writing is viewed. I know I’m attracted to well-designed blogs, but the thing I find interesting is how repelled I am by a badly-designed one – even if the writing is good. If the writing is only average and the site is a mess? I can count on the fingers of one hand how many unattractive blogs I read regularly. It’s sad, but true.

With that in mind, I set about customizing my shiny new blog with the same verve I’d once used to get ready for a date. At first, I fell victim to over-accessorizing; my header was an enormous, flashy graphic and my sidebars were practically bursting with widgets and plugins and links. Sure it was fun, but it looked a little cheap, you know? The kind of blog you’d visit once, but probably wouldn’t call the next morning. Every time I looked at it I felt like wiping off some of its lipstick with a tissue.

My next iteration was more subtle. A nice, attractive theme with a gently customized header. Some sidebar glitz, sure, a few unnecessary widgets, but for the most part the site was pretty classy. A keeper. The “such a nice girl” of blogs. The spotlight was on my writing, which I liked. I was so charmed by that layout that I kept it, with only a very few tweaks, for a year.

The trick is to find a particular voice and stick with it. The way you write is sometimes more important than what you write about. Think about journalists like Jon Carroll or Dave Barry. Every week, their subject matter varies wildly – from cutting political commentary to personal observations to (in Barry’s case) hilarious essays about bad drivers and theoretical band names – but the author’s voice is unmistakable.

Now that I’d settled on how I’d be writing, it was time for some window dressing. It’s not widely discussed, but the way a blog looks has a lot to do with how the writing is viewed. I know I’m attracted to well-designed blogs, but the thing I find interesting is how repelled I am by a badly-designed one – even if the writing is good. If the writing is only average and the site is a mess? I can count on the fingers of one hand how many unattractive blogs I read regularly. It’s sad, but true.

With that in mind, I set about customizing my shiny new blog with the same verve I’d once used to get ready for a date. At first, I fell victim to over-accessorizing; my header was an enormous, flashy graphic and my sidebars were practically bursting with widgets and plugins and links. Sure it was fun, but it looked a little cheap, you know? The kind of blog you’d visit once, but probably wouldn’t call the next morning. Every time I looked at it I felt like wiping off some of its lipstick with a tissue.

My next iteration was more subtle. A nice, attractive theme with a gently customized header. Some sidebar glitz, sure, a few unnecessary widgets, but for the most part the site was pretty classy. A keeper. The “such a nice girl” of blogs. The spotlight was on my writing, which I liked. I was so charmed by that layout that I kept it, with only a very few tweaks, for a year.

Once I’d found a layout I liked, the business of writing became my focus. Blogging is excellent for writers. It keeps the creative muscles limber. All the how-to books say that you should write something every day, but how are you supposed to come up with something new to write about? After all, you have a life, right?

With a personal blog, the what is figured out for you. You’re the what. Writing isn’t so much an exercise as it is an experience. You learn to make your life into something other people want to read about. There are no deadlines or expectations; it’s just you, your keyboard, and your words. The phrase “I’m blogging this” may be a punchline for jokes involving the word geek, but it’s also an indication that thousands of writers are using their everyday experiences as inspiration. I love that. I love being a part of that.

A little while ago, though, I found myself feeling restless – not with my writing, but with my blog. The simple, classy theme was getting stale. It may not have bothered anyone else, but I looked at it every day and it no longer made my heart go pitter-patter. I switched around my sidebars a little, added a few buttons, but nothing felt right. I found myself trolling the WordPress theme collections – furtively at first, then openly. I downloaded a few of the more exciting themes, but never installed them. They were just reference, I thought. I was just admiring the design.

Maybe it was easier to stick with the status quo. The old layout was fine. There was nothing wrong with it; I was just bored. The problem was with me. Maybe I couldn’t be happy with just one blog. I started a couple of other blogs on the side, specialized blogs. I told myself that they were “for the business,” but the truth was I was enamored with the new sites and their themes. Was it over between me and my blog?

Once I’d found a layout I liked, the business of writing became my focus. Blogging is excellent for writers. It keeps the creative muscles limber. All the how-to books say that you should write something every day, but how are you supposed to come up with something new to write about? After all, you have a life, right?

With a personal blog, the what is figured out for you. You’re the what. Writing isn’t so much an exercise as it is an experience. You learn to make your life into something other people want to read about. There are no deadlines or expectations; it’s just you, your keyboard, and your words. The phrase “I’m blogging this” may be a punchline for jokes involving the word geek, but it’s also an indication that thousands of writers are using their everyday experiences as inspiration. I love that. I love being a part of that.

A little while ago, though, I found myself feeling restless – not with my writing, but with my blog. The simple, classy theme was getting stale. It may not have bothered anyone else, but I looked at it every day and it no longer made my heart go pitter-patter. I switched around my sidebars a little, added a few buttons, but nothing felt right. I found myself trolling the WordPress theme collections – furtively at first, then openly. I downloaded a few of the more exciting themes, but never installed them. They were just reference, I thought. I was just admiring the design.

Maybe it was easier to stick with the status quo. The old layout was fine. There was nothing wrong with it; I was just bored. The problem was with me. Maybe I couldn’t be happy with just one blog. I started a couple of other blogs on the side, specialized blogs. I told myself that they were “for the business,” but the truth was I was enamored with the new sites and their themes. Was it over between me and my blog?

Not on your life. The brilliance of the blog is the possibility for reinvention. I slapped on a new theme, cranked out a new graphic, tweaked some CSS…and just like that, the love was back. Once again, I found myself visiting my blog in the middle of the day, just to admire it. I lovingly installed some new sidebar widgets, only to remove them when they didn’t complement my site in just the right way. Nothing was too good for my site!

Me and my blog, we’re in it for the long term. Assuming, of course, I can get that sidebar to look right…

heading
heading
4
Responses

 

Comments

  1. Rirath (14 comments.) says:

    I know what you mean about private blogging versus public. I kept a personal, private blog for quite some time before going public with an idea, and once I put that idea up there I got hooked.

    I also know what you mean about crafting and tweaking the look to be just so. My blog is fairly media heavy in content, so I wanted everything to look visually entertaining, as well as being interesting to read. I’ve tweaked and tweaked for hours for a minor change sometimes. One that even if nobody else knows is there, makes a difference to me.

    I see a blog’s theme and layout as being nearly as important as the content itself. It depends of course, but the web is a medium where if the presentation is poor, the content doesn’t stand much of a chance.

  2. Pi (9 comments.) says:

    A rather shortened essay, and where is the voting section, why the adverts instead of content?

    Ah, a bug …

  3. Gay (1 comments.) says:

    My friends have been blogging for personal use and I haven’t really caught on the fever. But when I started reading about other blogs, that’s when I took the plunge. Got myself a domain, installed WordPress and voila! I got me a science blog!



Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. cranky mama says:

    [...] In other news, I wrote an essay for the Weblog Tools Collection about my love affair with my blog. You should go voite for it, right now. Go. Do it. [...]

Obviously Powered by WordPress. © 2003-2013

page counter
css.php