Sunday, April 20, 2008

Answer Questions for Big Mama and BooMama About That Thing We Do

In preparation for their blogging workshop at the She Speaks conference in June, the two “Mamas,” Big Mama and BooMama, have submitted call-outs for questions/comments about blogging. In this post, I will attempt to answer their questions because I’m pretty much an expert on all things bloggy, especially now that I’ve figured out how to create an actual button that actually links to an actual something that actually exists somewhere(s). And it only took me two years to figure that out, so you could say I took to the html tricks of blogging like a Pavlovian pigeon took to learning how to peck a dot and get a pellet after only 2,000 tries.

Anyway, feel free to offer your opinions, as well. More than “feel free,” please do, and leave your link in the comments.

And now to the questions:

1. What part of blogging don’t you understand?? No, just kidding. Question 1 is: “What part of blogging brings you the most joy and satisfaction? Relationships? Having an outlet for writing? Reading? Commenting? Building your traffic? Something else?”

A. Provides the immediate gratification of quick “publishing”
B. Serves as a creative writing outlet
C. Builds community with other Christian women who also enjoy writing
D. Provides small goal challenges such as traffic building, daily writing discipline

2. What is the most frustrating part of blogging for you?

A. Guilt about time spent blogging as opposed to writing for publication, spending time with family, exercising, reading good literature
B. Having my sphere of influence limited to Christian mom bloggers. I could justify the time spent blogging if I were reaching into people’s lives who do not yet know Christ. Unfortunately, I do not do this.

3. If you had to give someone one piece of advice about blogging, what would it be?

A. Post daily if you want to be read daily.
B. Don’t write long posts. People just skim them. (Chief of Sinners, here.)
C. Don’t use overly spiritual language
D. I had a quote in my header for the longest time that said, “The best piece of writing advice I’ve ever heard: Don’t write like you went to college” (Alice Kahn). I love that because I’m turned off by stilted, preachy, self-conscious writing.

4. What do you know about blogging now that you wish you had known when you started your blog?

A. Being overly friendly scares people.
B. You probably won’t agree with this, but here is something I truly feel. Some bloggers were out of my league, and I didn’t realize it, and I was probably annoying them with my comments, and now that’s embarrassing to me. It’s like someone who has a role in community theatre casually calling up Helen Mirren to ask, “How’s tricks? Seen any good movies lately?” In fact, this just happened to me last week. I’ve been chatting up someone who is much-read but seems so approachable. Then I read that she was listed in the Wall Street Journal top ten motherhood blogs. I immediately commented on her site that I was sorry for commenting so much on her site. I’m sure THAT wasn’t weird or annoying at all. Some people need to de-lurk; I need to embrace lurking. She was very gracious. But still. Embarrassing!

5. What draws you to blogs you read regularly? What elevates a blog to “daily read” status?

A. Humor, above all. Not a site full of jokes or cartoons, but a place where a blogger does not take herself or her family too seriously and is relatable.
B. Fresh insights into daily life or the world around us (like politics or entertainment)
C. Cleverness

Pet Peeves: Not being able to open those little plastic produce baggies in the grocery store. Oh, you mean about blogging.

A. I don’t like preachy posts full of “churchese.”
B. I don’t fully understand why people never share opinions on their blogs. I myself do not enjoy conflict, but having an opinion doesn't guarantee turmoil. I don’t think bloggers should be controversial just for the sake of making noise, but I have a hard time with hundreds of posts devoid of any opinions or beliefs. A person does not have to be disrespectful to have an opinion on something. I frequently write about disagreeing with Oprah and the Presidential candidates, but I do not think I treat them with disrespect. I just happen to have an opinion, which I share on my own blog. I guess I like a mix of silliness and substance. But that’s just me.
C. Although I’m not into husband–bashing, I don’t enjoy posts by women who write about their husbands as if they’re demi-gods who can do no wrong. I hope I’m never disrespectful toward my husband, but I hope I don’t come across as a Stepford Wife, either. It screams "phony!" and it doesn't help any woman who is struggling in her marriage.
D. I understand the need to protect and preserve privacy, especially children’s identities, but I grow tired, after a while, of never knowing what a person looks like or what her name is. I feel awkward referring to grown women as “Butterfly Cupcakes McQueen of Her House” month after month. If bloggers do not want to reveal their identities, I think they should choose a pseudonym or "nom de blog" for easy referral.

Why I started blogging:

A. I was hoping that writing regularly would inspire me to write for publication regularly. It turns out that blogging has actually distracted me from submitting for publication.
B. I saw it as a safe, paperless place to catalogue whatever I wrote.

How I measure success:
A. Well, I would like to have a high-minded answer like, “I just want to help people, speak into their lives,” etc. which is true, except that I rarely do that, since I tend to write about my dog and American Idol. So I guess I measure it by how entertained people purport to be.
B. I would lie if I did not say I measure success also by monitoring my traffic, which is a little like counting your own homecoming queen votes backstage--embarrassing! I maintain that Site Meter is the new bathroom scale. Every day I check it, and I’m usually slightly disappointed.
C. I feel successful if I have expressed my opinion well on some topic that I care about, like the death of Terri Schiavo.
D. I feel successful if someone says I made them smile. I can't buy a Starbucks coffee with that, but it is very rewarding.

*Edit: I must confess that after I published this, I clicked on all my links to make sure they worked because you know, it's rocket science. My She Speaks button did not work, and the link I first made to BooMama took me to one of her posts in 2007, which is weird because it is not a post I have read, at least lately. How that happened, I do not know. So it was back to the drawing board to earn some pellets.

25 comments:

Megan@SortaCrunchy said...

Thanks for sharing such insightful answers, Linda. I can really identify with a lot of these responses, particularly the part about beginning to blog with the hope that it would inspire "publishable" (is that a word?) writing . . . and then finding that blogging completely distracts from that purpose. Great thoughts. Again, thanks for sharing!

Queen B said...

This was really great reading!! However, now I am embarrassed to be commenting on YOUR blog too much...

Cayce's crazy life said...

Linda,
I've been wondering how to sum up why I enjoy your post so much, and I think you've answered it: being silly while still having substance!
Well done. I totally know what you mean about the heirarchical (is that a word) in the blogging world. Some people I love to read, but am a little intimidated to comment.
DO NOT TAKE THIS THE WRONG WAY - I am a bit intimidated by you, too! Kinda, not really, you are very approachable!
THANKS!
Cayce

Barbara H. said...

Just a couple of comments --

2B -- I think you can have a ministry among Christian mom bloggers as well as unbelievers. I know especially when my kids were younger, just being around moms who survived and who assured me that the things I was experiencing were normal helped me a lot.

You mentioned preachy writing a couple of times. I'm not sure when and how writing crosses over from spiritual and insightful and helpful into preachy...I do know I have read some posts or some blogs who do come across more preachy than not...but I don't know how to pin down what makes them sound so. Something in tone, maybe?

Re publishing versus blogging: I did sell one article that began as a blog post. It actually sat a while before I thought of submitting it.

Robin said...

Linda,

VERY thorough post here, so easy to follow your thoughts. I do agree that blogging keeps you from doing other "worthy" things...probably worthier, if we're honest :/. Ouch.

Your comment about reaching unbelievers is interesting. When I began blogging, I did so for six months COMPLETELY ANONYMOUSLY. No comments, notta. I read a lot of "religious" mombloggers...and decided that's NOT what I wanted to do. ALL my friends IRL are professing Christians; in blogging, I decided not to go that route.

That's good and not so good at times. I never hide my faith, but I simply don't talk about it enough. It's a daily pursuit, and I think my REAL struggles might speak to others sometimes....but it's just so hard to write, ya know? To write well, anyway. I take the easy way out and write humor mostly...and poetry. Oh, how I love writing that, something I didn't remember til blogging.

I've observed sometimes "Christian Bloggers" dismiss me quickly if they think I'm not "Christian enough". It's hurt my feelings at times...but...I realize, not everyone will find my writing appealing. Tough, but true. I have had WONDERFUL opportunity to share my faith (via emails) with others, to encourage them and share my Christian perspective when THEY'VE struggled, and I've even had non-Christians tell me they're praying for ME (like when my dad died last year). THAT was like a paycheck! It blessed me outta my mind.

Sorry to go on so long...I just really appreciated your post :).

Robin @PENSIEVE

Cindy-Still His Girl said...

Well, since you ARE out of my league, this is my last comment to you. ;)

I'm so with you on the preachy and perfect husband stuff. I married a good man but he just plain drives me insane sometimes. :)

Finally read your candidates post. Good stuff. :)

MoodyBlue said...

Very good post Linda! See, I am a believer & a Catholic...but I'm not a Mom. So you are reaching non-Mom bloggers.

marina said...

Linda, these was really good post when I first start blogging I was really scared b/c I am not a writer or a good speller so I was worried how I would come a cross and I have notice that the really good bloggers really don't come by my post even if I post a few times then I get embarrased and say to "myself what am I thinking I should not even be blogging.."
I am way out of my leage".
But then I remember your saying you use to have about writing and that quote Linda kept me going.marina

truth said...

Can I add one of my frustrations of reading blogs? Backgrounds that are beautiful and busy-but the font is difficult to read. (Maybe it is just me, but maybe white would work better than black?) I enjoy reading your blog, but I have trouble with the new colors.

Jen said...

I just found your blog yesterday and I'm hooked. Especially because you're in Muncie and I lived in Castleton for so long (13 years, now in Nowhere, NC. Here here on the things that annoy you on blogs! I loved the Pawla Deen recipe, especially since I have serious trouble now understanding the people among whom I live. It's kind of like visiting my husband's relatives in Salem, IN -- anyway, you go girl! I've put you on my daily list of people to read! What a pleasure! I promise not to comment TOO much . . .

Lelia Chealey said...

Love your honesty!
Answer 4A~Crap! I take back that I can hardly wait to meet you at She Speaks!
Lol~great stuff!

Gayle said...

Wow. I agree with every single one of your answers.
I just popped on over here from Cindy's blog, and I am glad that I came. :)

Ann said...

I need to embrace lurking too. Sorry about that! Thank you for the tip!

dcrmom said...

Great post! You made some excellent points here.

Susan said...

Linda,

I liked this post. I don't worry too much if I'm "out of the league" of a blogger. I comment if I feel I want to let them know I've been there. I realy don't have time to "lurk" too much without commenting. I figure I love commenters, so I comment. If they don't like me being there and commenting too frequently, oh well.

As for the attracting non-Christians thing...I DO have a friend who removed all things Christian from her template in order to do this. She went out seeking those blogs that she liked and didn't seem to be "anything". I think she's accomplished her goal...

I liked this post very much. I think you have many wonderful insights here. I think one of the things I love about the blogging post is the same thing you liked about "breasts" above..."all God's chillun got a place in the choir...some sing low and some sing higher." (You know?)

Hugs,

Susan

Carol said...

Linda,
I have to respectfully disagree that some bloggers are too out of one's league to comment regularly. Just the fact that they have a blog is an open invitation to comment and if they didn't want them, they should close comments. Now, if someone is constantly commenting and practically writing a follow up post to the main post everyday, that's another story. I tend not to comment if they already have 599comments, because, really, what's one more at that point? but it has nothing to do with intimidation for me.

Are we still friends? Love ya & big hugs! ~ Carol (Throws like a girl)

Rhonda said...

Great answers Linda! Thanks for the tips.

And I love the colours of your blog. I, for one, find it very easy read. I like the size of your font.

(And since I read 'Editorial Corrections' first, I'm still here commenting. LOL!)

Rhonda

Grace said...

a) My husband walks by me blogging at the computer and says, "I just don't get it."
b) Monk is my hero.
c) I prefer checking the time zones and location tabs on site meter....daily.
Grins.

Cyndy said...

I really like what you have to say here and want to apologize if I've been too friendly! I've had many of these same thoughts more or less especially the one about blogging taking time away from some other more worthwhile pursuits.
It's sort of a balancing act.

Mocha with Linda said...

This was great. . . .at first I thought it was multiple choice and I was supposed to pick the one I identified with! LOL

I must admit I lurked this morning. Sometimes I do that if I'm eating or if I run out of time to comment when I have to take the kids to school. Yesterday when I came back, this post had mysteriously disappeared. Guess it was lurking too.

And just wanted to be sure you aren't intimidated by ME. . . .

As if!

Cindy Swanson said...

Linda, totally off-topic--and I haven't even had a chance to read your post yet, I'm about to run out the door--I posted a link today to yet another story about the American Idol contestants singing "Shout to the Lord," and this one is really a must-read if you haven't done so yet!

Love Bears All Things said...

Enjoyed your answers to the questions and I Read The Entire Post!!
I don't like rants and raves on blogs. I don't like desertations. I do enjoy reading about life in other parts of the states and the world. I love forming relationships with other women with similar interests.
I try not to feel guilty when I don't have time to visit or blog. I don't depend on the number of comments to feel good about what I've written.
Mama Bear

Darlene R. said...

Ditto :-)

Lisa writes... said...

Site meter and the scale, truly a worthy comparison...

SJ said...

Great answers! Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and insights. (I also thought it was multiple choice at first! LOL!)

I thought you were out of my league when I first started reading, which is why I just lurked. That's why I was so blown away when you left a comment on my blog...li'l ol' me...(and I reacted so embarrassingly!). But because you did that it showed you were approachable and that you give-a-rip about those who read your blog. I appreciated that.

Your pet peeve regarding husbands...oh yes! Thank you! Me too. 'Nuff said.

I love that your blog is a great mix of rolling on the floor humor and being "real." You do a wonderful job balancing it.

Also, dont underestimate the ministry of being an inspiration to other tired and depleted (Christian) women. You may not be "saving" souls, but you do revive souls...and we need that.

Thanks for the blogging advice and the things you wish you'd known. That helps.

Very interesting that you started blogging to help your writing and get published, but that it actually distracts. Hmmmmm. I was starting to lean toward the same thing myself...working on my writing. (But I tend to censor myself on my blog instead of just laying it out there...just makes me feel too naked! LOL!)

Anyway, you've provided lots of stuff to think about. Thanks for being approachable.