Tuesday, November 1, 2005

On the Couch

Yesterday a friend sent me a link to a web guru's top 10 blog design mistakes. It should surprise no one, least of all me, that in my short tenure with my blog I have committed--and am committing--almost all of these sins. Nondescript posting titles, unmarked links, calendar-only navigation, irregular posting schedule, being on Blogger: yeah, I've done it all! I'm sure when I write anything remotely classic I'll be guilty of burying it, since everything is buried. If I were CEO of an airline with this track record, I'd be worth billions by now.

Ah, but the granddaddy of them all: Mixing Topics. I could claim that his suggestion is wrong, as I seem to have attracted a loyal readership of one or two people for each of the 17 subjects I seem to write about (well, except for my fake news stuff. Oh yeah, and the stuff about classical music. Oops, yeah, there's the yawning silence after most aviation posts, too. OK then, let's just say I offend equally on all subjects! Where's that skill in your little list, huh Mr. Smarty Slacks?).

But mostly, the list raises the question of what my blogging goals are in the first place. This rather lets the huge, hairy beast out of his cage, since I've struggled with this from the moment I contemplated doing this little adventure. Derek suggested to me when he so kindly answered my earliest questions about blogging that there is no right answer, that the reasons for blogging are as numerous as the bloggers themselves. But I've always been a bit afraid that my own motivations to do this amount to a character flaw.

I've never been clear about what I wanted to accomplish. (Is this what therapy feels like?) I guess mostly I was looking for a reason to write something other than a journal which nobody reads but me. (What a brilliant solution: a blog that nobody reads!) Yeah, I suppose that's pretty much it.

No one is self-contained, and I'm learning there's no way to put my stuff out before a nondescript public and not be tempted to follow their lead. But it's a Jekyl & Hyde thing: I simultaneously want to write whatever the hell I feel like writing, but I'm then (I feel rather silly admitting it) a bit crestfallen when certain topics just kinda go nowhere. I can't have it both ways.

But after contemplating this all a bit longer, I think this is the deal: I don't think I ever have had any illusions about my writing, quality-wise, and I don't think at any time I envisioned, or desired, that thousands of people would be reading what I wrote. I don't think that was any part of my motivation. No, I rather think I hoped to meet some interesting and like-minded people by way of this (does that mean that if I post on 17 topics that I'm hoping only to meet those suffering from multiple personality disorder?).

And in these three months I've done exactly that. I've discovered a bunch of bloggers whose writing I greatly admire, and whose comments on my own writing I value and pay attention to. Whether these new cyber-friends are people I have contact with in the long-term or not remains to be seen. But according to my own little yardstick this has been a grand adventure. So take your little top-10 list and shove it, you cock-gobbler* you!

Thanks for listening.

*(Not that there's anything wrong with that.)


Joshua said...

I started blogging for a class at college. We actually had to answer the questions above, and read Bebecca Blood's book on blogging, that told us, basically, not to blog if we just wanted to journal.

I learned through that class that only the people who expect somethign from blogging will be disappointed. Sure, we want people to read our stuff (why else would we post). And sometimes, dammit, we want to start a huge dialogue. Mostly, though, I think the experience of blogging is like talking through the confessional: you know SOMEONE'S listening, and maybe they will comment. So you sort of tailor your comments accordingly, and you gain a sense of purpose, however small, for your writing.

And I say, nuthin' wrong with that.

Anyway, I enjoy your blog, and am glad to have stumbled upon it. Top 10 list be damned, you have a blog worthy of (at least) this reader.


Lizzie said...

great post!

I definitely want people to read what I write, but I find I really just blog because I enjoy it. I have a lot of random thoughts in my head but am rather shy and quiet in real life so a blog is the perfect forum for me. I've found that blogging is the one thing I do everyday purely for the reason that I want to. There aren't too many things I can say that about. I'm not a great writer or terribly original but I like saying what I have on my mind and I really like the sense of connection with other bloggers - not in a creepy way :-), just in that it's comforting to see there are other people out there that think the way I do or about the same things (or about completely different things I know nothing about - aviation!).

wunelle said...

I hope this didn't sound like a pity party! I actually haven't lost any sleep over whether I'm posing the right things or not, and I don't really care about most of his little rules. But it's a bit disconcerting to see so many "don'ts" with your name under them!

Joshua, I think you were the first person I didn't know who linked to my site, and I think you have probably been my most consistent single reader. I'm very glad you're here and grateful for your thoughtful comments. (I'm sorry I can't comment intelligently on any sporting issue, unless you wander into MotoGP or Formula One!)

And Lizzie's is my new favorite blog (hence the obsessive checking and rechecking)! I think you're a good model to emulate for writing because you want to write. Even my own wife told me a few months back that I should spend less time thinking about it and more time just DOING IT.

(/pity party) (Just in case!)

derek said...

"/pity party"

Code humor. You're nerding out big time, Bil.

wunelle said...


Who's winning?

We are, for the nonce.

What's the disposition?

Last night, four to one: Dany Cudahy went up with the house.

And theirs?

One burned.

The others?



Leo's. The old man's still an artist with a Thompson.


Joshua said...

If you REALLY feel you need to post to make me happy (you may be right) I have started a movie bashing blog that should be great fun to comment on.

Otherwise, don't hold your breath on the racing: I just can't get into it (and we live next to a nascar track). I think I am more of a team sport guy, with athletes (that was bait)


wunelle said...

Ah, you live next to a Nascar track. But what about RACING? (Just kidding.) (But not really.) Nascar to me is like watching paint dry. Stock car racing fans lament that difficulty of passing in F1, but all the passing in Nascar is meaningless until the last five minutes or so. I just don't get ovals. At all. It's like pro wrestling on wheels. I'll give them that the speeds are pretty high, but the rules are totally artificial and the drivers are called upon to do about 10% of what a Formula 1 driver does. Or World Rally. That's even more insane. And those guys are doing something closest to what a regular driver can relate to.

I have to agree that to call a race driver an athlete was, until a few years back, kind of lame. But the forces exerted by an F-1 car on its driver would be near-fatal to a glob of fat like me (of course, so would my facing down a linebacker). And to suffer these forces for two hours is quite a feat, even if not in the traditional athletic sense.

But I've made only one or two converts to F1 in my day. My wife would rather go to the dentist than watch a race with me!

green_canary said...

Heck Wunelle, I don't know what I want to accomplish in life, let alone my blog. But that's the beauty of The Blog. It's the one place where I don't have to have a point or a goal. I don't even have to make sense :-)

At first I didn't care if anyone read my blog, but when no one did I got a little sad. Sort of like the junior high lunchroom when no one wants to sit with you. I was standing alone, holding my tray in the Internet cafeteria, so to speak. And then came one, and that opened the door to more. Now look at us... We're all sittin' at the same table :-)

Lizzie said...

Thanks Wunelle! I don't think I've ever been anyone's favorite anything before. groovy.

"Nascar is like watching paint dry"- reminds me of what my mom says about nascar. She lives in a big racing town and is constantly amazed by how into it the fans are. She always says "why pay money when I could just sit in a lawn chair on the side of I-95?" so true.

Green Canary- love the internet cafeteria analogy! I'd like to think we're sitting at the cool kids' table ;-)

green_canary said...

Lizzie - Damn straight we're the cool kids! And if anyone says otherwise, we'll beat them up and take their lunch money (because we're also the school bullies *grin*)