Here’s a repost that was originally written on November 2, 2018. I’m reposting it because I still think it’s relevant, and because I have a stomachache. I’m waiting for my stomach to settle before I write fresh content. The featured photo is actually my very first passport photo, taken when I was two years old. It caused quite a stir when I finally canceled the passport in my 20s and picked up the canceled passport as a Peace Corps Volunteer.
Today’s post is inspired by a blog post I just read entitled “Why I Hate Bloggers“. It was posted on June 8, 2009 by Lisa Barone. I don’t actually read a lot of blogs myself because, like Barone, I don’t really find most of them that interesting. But, because I am myself a blogger, I am aware that a lot of people hate what I do. I can’t say I really blame them for that, although I maintain that no one is forcing anyone to read a blog post. If blogs aren’t your cup of tea, find something else to read. Seems pretty simple to me.
Although Barone’s title is provocative, I could sort of identify with what she writes in her post. She writes of a New York Times news article about people who were once fervent bloggers and eventually abandoned them due to lack of interest. A lot of people put their stuff out there and expect to get a lot of comments and interaction. When it doesn’t happen, they get discouraged and quit writing. Sometimes people get busy in their offline lives and the blog falls by the wayside.
Other people find their blogs becoming too successful and it unnerves them when someone recognizes them in public. I have been recognized in our local community, thanks to my travel blog. Although everyone around here has been really nice, at least in person, some people can be total assholes, especially on the Internet. When drama erupts, you learn that writing stuff for the masses has a significant downside. (edited to add– since we moved to Wiesbaden, I’ve made an effort to stay out of the local social media and now mostly let people find my stuff. I no longer get recognized where we live now, and I prefer it that way.)
Barone writes that blogs fail because most bloggers are “boring”. She resents bloggers who are boring because they give her “profession” a bad name. She maintains that most bloggers write the equivalent of “their Christmas letter to Aunt Millie”, which not even Millie wants to read. So, for that reason, Lisa Barone (at least in 2009), says she “hates” bloggers, even though she apparently is (or was) one herself.
According to the New York Times piece I linked, a lot of bloggers apparently thought they’d someday end up famous. We’ve all heard the legends of people like Heather B. Armstrong, who writes Dooce. I first read about Dooce on Recovery from Mormonism, otherwise known as RfM. Armstrong is an ex Mormon who grew up in Bartlett, Tennessee, interesting to me because that’s where some of my husband’s family members live. I don’t regularly read Heather Armstrong’s blog, although I can understand why some people do. She’s wickedly funny and profane. Dooce became a very popular blog and Armstrong was evidently able to make money from her writing. Advertisers began to notice and she started selling shit on her blog, which generated more money.
I must not be like a lot of other bloggers. Although I mostly like it when people read my blog, especially when they enjoy what I write, I have never had any visions of it someday turning into a book deal. I have a friend who knows me offline and reads this blog who thinks I should write a book. He’s often nagged me to write one, and has even told me he’d market it for me. But I feel like a book should be about something of substance. Also, I don’t like dealing with most other editors. I know they’re a necessary evil, but sometimes editors don’t quite capture the gist of what I’m trying to communicate. As long as I don’t have to write to survive, I’d rather not deal with them.
In spite of accusations to the contrary, this blog is not just about my husband’s ex wife. It has a pretty broad focus. How could I turn it into a book? And why would I want to? What if I wrote a book and it failed? Or… what if I wrote a book and it became really successful, and then I had to deal with people like “Wondering Why” all the time, criticizing me for writing about subjects they think are “inappropriate”? I do wonder who made those people the judge of what’s considered “appropriate” subject matter for a personal blog or a book. Seems like “appropriate” is a subjective term. (edited to add– “Wondering Why” left me a very negative and critical comment about how “inappropriate” she thought it was that I blogged about my husband’s ex wife. I vented about her a couple of times and, if you look, you can find those reposts in this blog.)
Blogging, to me, is kind of like keeping an open diary. Exciting things don’t happen every day, but writing is something I do almost daily to keep my mind active and kill time. I’ll read something in the news and decide I have an opinion about it, but I don’t want to post my opinions on social media. It’s mainly because when you post on social media, you invite people who want to debate. A little of that is fine, but some people are really tenacious and don’t know when to stop arguing. Or they get into fights with other people and it turns into a flame war, which quickly becomes annoying.
The blogging platform is better for me, because I can organize my thoughts into text. I may or may not get any comments on what I post, but I’m able to put it down in a format rather than keep it in my head. Sometimes my posts are like a letter to “Aunt Millie”, but sometimes they’re thought provoking and even helpful. I have a few posts that are “evergreen” and continue to attract hits even years after I wrote them. I get satisfaction out of seeing those posts succeed. My travel blog, in particular, has quite a few posts within it that make me proud and are legitimately useful. This blog, by contrast, is more where I dump my spew, some of which is “toxic”. Some people come away with the idea that I’m nuts. That’s nothing new. Many people offline think I’m nuts, too.
I enjoy the process of writing and editing. It’s like a puzzle. I like to write a paragraph and find ways to edit it creatively. I might find words or phrases I can omit, or come up with synonyms to words that might fit better or offer a different shade of meaning. It’s almost like creating art. I’m not necessarily a very disciplined person in most areas, but when it comes to writing, I can be disciplined. I cut out unnecessary words and remind myself that readers appreciate brevity.
When I find readers who like what I do, it’s a bonus. I’ve “met” some nice people through my blog. I’ve also run into some real assholes. The assholes tend to be people who read one or two posts and leave me scathing comments about how I’m a “bigot” or “crazy”. I’ve even had someone accuse me of being a racist because I once used the word “savage” to describe uncivilized behavior. My response was to post Dictionary.com’s definition of “savage”. There’s a difference between calling someone “a savage” and using the word savage to describe certain behaviors.
I fully admit that a lot of people dislike blogs and some people assume bloggers are “vapid”, “whiny”, and “self-absorbed”. I can’t necessarily disagree with that characterization. Nevertheless, I’m one of the five percent of bloggers who continues to update regularly and has done so for over eleven years. Why? Because it’s something to do, and something that brings me satisfaction. I like to write stories and don’t have anyone to share them with, other than Bill. Bill works hard all day, so there’s limited time to share these things in my head with him. He’s heard most of the stories before, anyway. And… even my “crazy” posts about Ex are somewhat constructive if they keep me from mailing her Fecalgrams.
To find Barone’s post about why she hates bloggers, I Googled “People hate my blog”. I found a lot of blog posts about things people hate about bloggers. I understand why people “hate” blogs and bloggers, but what can I say? Meh… hate me and my blog if you want to. You’d probably feel the same way about me if I didn’t blog. What you think of me is none of my business, anyway. This is my way to make a mark on the world. Maybe it’s more like a shitstain, but it’s all I’ve got for now. I’m going to embrace the stench.