Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Blog Metamorphosis

You know, most people start a blog with not much of an idea of what they want it to be. Lots of people start one blog and kind of roam around for a while and then hit on something that works for them and, rather than delete all the past stuff that now seems about as embarrassing as those journal entries you wrote in college when you were drunk, they migrate things to a New-&-Improved Blog somewhere else.

I began this blog in 2005 at the behest of my editor. I was writing my 3rd book, and they wanted authors to have a blog so they could promote their book. (The next book required a Facebook account, and the one after that? Twitter.) I had no idea about blogs, having spent very little time reading any, but I jumped in and started this and then got really involved with it, and I loved it. (Just like, years later, the whole Twitter thang, when I had over 10,000 tweets in such a short, short time. The difference was: I never loved Twitter. I think it's silly, and the only reason I still have the account is so that, if we hear a ton of sirens or see huge big storm clouds, I can check the Twitter feed of the local news outlets. They hardly ever have anything there, but I'm hoping that, eventually, they'll get someone who will keep up with Breaking News).

Anyway, so I came to love this blog. I still do, but it's changed a lot in the past several years. Now I post very little except about stitching projects. There's a reason for that, and I was thinking about it as I was walking today. Three years ago, when my publishers launched and invited me to help build the community and blog there regularly, I had a chance to link that blog and this one with one caveat: no more Really Bad Words. Understandably, the publishers didn't want to be connected to someone who had fun cussing in print. That was OK because, like everything else, venting and using The F-Word in print had gotten old.

As an aside: like podcasting. When I started podcasting back in 2009, not very many people were doing it. I had to dig and hunt for information on what kind of equipment I needed and what kind of host would be best and a ton of other stuff, and I taught myself and learned a bunch and had a lot of fun figuring it out and getting comfortable with it. Now everyone does podcasts. When I quit doing them last year, I was seeing the same people being interviewed over and over by everyone and the same topics being covered everywhere and like anything else: if everyone else is doing it, what's the point? I have no desire to do what everyone else is doing, and I'm sure there are people out there doing a much better job at it than I would ever do.  When I started it, I thought there was a need for audio interviews with creative people. Now it's being filled. Sadly, it's being partially filled by people who want it to be a paying gig, but that's OK.

Anyway, back to the metamorphosis of the blog. The other thing that happened right around the same time was that I found out people were actually reading what I posted. Now, pretty much everyone who has a blog hopes that they'll get tons of readers, and I'm no different. I love the idea of being able to do something that costs nothing and can reach people all over the world and make them laugh (maybe even snort) or inspire them or encourage them to go have a colonoscopy and quit putting it off. But what I assumed was that the people who read this blog were the people who commented regularly. You know: us. People who sat down over coffee to see what I was doing and to tell me what they were doing and to share tips and ideas. What I discovered was that it's not just us. Nope. It's all kinds of people I know In Real Life. People we'd run into around town who would tell me they read my blog. Relatives. Co-workers.

And guess what? Mostly they didn't say this in a "wow, you're so funny and inspiring!" way but in a way that was either "wow, what a colossal waste of time!" or a little gritchy, maybe a little hurt or disappointed. There were a couple times someone read something I'd written about—gulp—*them* and were less than pleased, even if I never mentioned their name and maybe changed a few details (you know, maybe made them both taller and less hairy). There was some ugliness and hatefulness and some seemingly-hurt feelings, and I really had to stop and think about how I wanted to proceed. While there are some people who could really use having their feelings hurt, as in shot at close range with a cross-bow dipped in poison, most people do not, and I hate hurting people's feelings. I don't much worry about making people angry any more; you get to a certain age, and most people don't find you threatening enough to get angry with you. But hurting people's feelings? I hate that. Also, I do NOT want to cause trouble for anyone, see below.

For instance: The Ever-Gorgeous Earl, Man of My Dreams, [and holy crap, is THAT weird: on my iPhone, I created a shortcut so that when I type "The EGE," it fills in "The Ever-Gorgeous Earl, Man of My Dreams" but I did NOT put that on the iMac, or anywhere else for that matter. Now that everything apparently syncs itself everywhere, any time I type "The EGE", there it is. Creepy, isn't it?) comes home with amazing stories from school. Amazing things that would make highly entertaining reading if turned into a blog post. But because a number of MISD people read this, and I have no idea who knows whom and how what seems to me to be an amusing story might, to someone else, be a retelling of the most embarrassing day of their young life, well. I don't write about it, never mind how it might make me snort my coffee every time I think of it. Just a note: if you're a seriously ill and twisted individual, please, please do NOT sign up to be a substitute teacher. You will be found out, even if not publicly, and people all over town will be pointing at you and gasping. OK? Get a job doing night work in an empty building or something. Clean office buildings on weekends. Something. Anything but subbing. Subs have had enough trouble without you and your shenanigans.

Or this: someone recently told me stories that made me laugh and made my jaw drop open. You would LOVE this stuff, and I would have great fun telling it. However, I couldn't tell you who this person is (fortunately, I don't know the name, but I couldn't give identifying details because it's too obvious) because people know her/him. And I couldn't tell you where we were when they told me because people saw us talking and this person was playing hooky from where they were really supposed to be. And I couldn't tell you the group around whom the story swirled, since there are other people involved in this group who read this blog and would be hurt if their group were maligned {Note: it has nothing to do with wine, OK?}. And the story itself, well, all I could write is that it had to do with yelling and lipstick. And as a funny story, that right there leaves a lot to be desired and pretty much sucks, doesn't it?

People I know do amazing stuff and say astounding things, and much of it would make hilarious stories, if I told them well. But nope. Can't go there. {And here I thought of half a dozen things I could write that would have hinted at the stories, but they would all be obvious to anyone who knew the story. Alas.}

So I'm left with only stories that involve just me, and honeys, I cannot even tell you how boring those are because they aren't even stories. Left to myself, I don't have adventures. I don't go anywhere but on a daily 2-mile walk (everywhere else I go involves other people, and we've discussed those limitations, above), and the things I do at home are routine, to say the least: I write, I stitch, I go through stuff to get rid of, I plan future projects, I answer email.

And that's it. But as 2013 comes to a close, I'm rethinking how I've been blogging because even I get tired of nothing but stitching posts. I want to tell amusing stories because I always make myself laugh. I don't know how I'm going to accomplish that without offending/hurting/irritating/embarrassing anyone, but I'll figure out something. At least I hope I will. I've been reading rather a lot of blog posts lately in doing some research, and of course that has me thinking about what's interesting and what's just *not*, as in "why even bother?"

The good thing is that this is the time of year when I take stock and make plans for what I want to do next year, so perhaps some fabulous solution will come to me. If not, I could just migrate this to another blog, change my name, make it password protected, and then write stories that would have us—you know: y'all and me—laughing until we peed on ourselves. And no one else would ever know.

Hint: it would involve demon possession and spaghetti.


jinxxxygirl said...

Whatever you do Rice... if you write it i will read it. :) I have the same constrictions on my blog. Family members don't want to be mentioned AT ALL... even in a totally incognito way. It gets tiring to write about your life when you really can't write about half your life..... So i write about the arts and crafts i do..... keeping it very unpersonable.... and honestly boring to write so i can only imagine how boring it is to read..... Again visiting the idea of dropping the blog... the enjoyment is gone from it... we'll see... I KNOW you'll figure something out. Hugs! deb

Laurie said...

I'm one of those who has read your blog occasionally for years. I don't have time any more to read all of the great artist blogs out there, but I stop in at my favorites from time to time, and I seldom comment. I love your rants and your stories, and as another blogger who has changed her content and style a few times, I get this entirely. It hit me when I was writing about local food at a time when it wasn't all the rage, and strangers who never commented would come up to me at the farmers' market and know all about me. Shook me up quite a bit. I was totally guilty of doing that to you, by the way.

I've always seen my blog as a personal journal and much of the pressure is off me now that I don't write about local food any more and my readers have drifted away. But I'm always aware that somebody out there might be reading something and it has changed the way I write. An anonymous blog just wouldn't feel the same, though, would it? I want people to know who I am, I want to write about personal things and sometimes those ideas will be offensive to them. Then it travels back to my mother, and HOO BOY. What to do?

I love your candor, and I understand about limits making blogging boring, although challenging. Guess that's why I don't do it much any more. I just started a project of a simple visual journal on the blog. So far I think that it will work for me, until I switch to something else.

Caterina Giglio said...

I am as always laughing out loud.. we are boring... artists are boring... we stitch, we paint, we create... who has time for adventure? but ... it is our job I think to create a blog post from nothing... just like we go to our studio and make something from nothing.. and you just did it.....AND no matter what you do and where you go, I will find you because I need my daily LOL! thank you!!

Ricë said...

Y'all are fabulous! Please come over for afternoon coffee right this minute, and I'll tell you (in whispers, so no one else can hear me) about . . .well, you know.

Elizabeth Bennett said...

The truth is, you manage to inject humor and interest into whatever you write. It's NEVER boring. I have missed your stories and vignettes (having been a reader for donkeys years) but I sure understand why they've been absent recently. You do what you have to do to make it good for you, cause if it's good for you -- believe me, it'll be good for us!

Jill Berry said...

Boy did this hit home. I had wondered, have to say, about the stitching down of your blog, and I have done it too. Far less interesting. I have teenagers who do not want to be mentioned now or ever, and it seems ever-so-easy to misconstrue the written word these days. When I thought I was being intensely sickeningly nice I offended a couple of people on FB, who then raised a ruckus. So, I miss the raw real stuff but like you don't want the backlash. I miss YOU!

Andrea R said...

I don't read blogs, but I do read yours, because you have style and grace...and you make me laugh. You make me point at my screen and nod and say, "Me too!" You make me look at things sideways. Please leave a trail of crumbs for me to find you, should you decide to skip out.

by the by, recently I was skimming through old Stampington mags before clearing them out, and had to stop to read the articles under your by-line. You always draw the reader in, and it is lovely. Thank you.

Overexposed and Slightly Bent said...

Maybe you could whisper it to one of your lovely cats, and they could figure out a way to start their own blog about some of the crazy things people do ! They are kind of famous though, so they might have to use a pen name (a paw name ?)

The Crow said...

I, too, am one who reads but doesn't comment much. Please let us know where you are so we can still follow you.

Love the new banner - great colors and designs.

Best wishes to you and the EBE.

theailurophile said...

Well, I know you keep in touch with people in the creative world all over the place and probably have opinions about what's going on out there...what's "in" and what's "out". And a good cat story always makes me smile... I just hope you find something that makes YOU happy to write. People will read that.

Beatrice, Bea, Bibi--That's me! said...

I read your blog faithfully and totally enjoy everything you write about! I totally "get" what you are saying about where to go from here because I have a blog that really is boring to everyone except me and I only have a handful of followers so it doesn't really go worldwide.

I will continue to read your blog whether you write about your cats or what you ate for dinner or even what you saw on your walk the day before! I just love your writing!

Ricë said...

Thanks, all of y'all! And Catarina, thank you for saying this, which is exactly right and which I had somehow neglected to consider: "it is our job I think to create a blog post from nothing... just like we go to our studio and make something from nothing."

I get it. XO

Cody Goodin said...

I for one would love to read your stories, as I love the way you write. Please let me migrate with you, I am in for more stories.

Denise Spillane said...

I love reading your blog and other writing. I will follow no matter, just please keep writing. I followed for years but just this year have started commenting(shy?). So many of us are in the background cheering you on.

see you there! said...

You blog is one I check daily and I comment occasionally. I understand your issues, there is much I censor as well. You are a great writer and I hope to continue to be able to read your stories wherever they are.


Angie Quinby said...

I always enjoy your blog Rice, and even though this year has been so blah I haven't given a rat's patootie about much, I have made a point to read your stuff for the chuckles and sideways glance at my viewpoints. I too have changed my blog several times over the past 10 years and it has been stagnant all this year, waiting for inspiration.

This post hit home for me. I just need to figure out WHY I blog and what I want to accomplish. And yeah, I feel like just posting my crafty crap is kinda boring. I will be interested to see in what direction you go. Whatever it is, it is sure to be unique and interesting, just like you.

P.S. That sync thingie unnerves me sometimes-my phone, my tablet, my computer.... I need some anonymity sometimes!

mo said...

i have been following your blog for years and have loved reading it all, whether it's something i do or not, like sewing and stitching. it's still a good read. and your take on current events, when you venture down that road, is priceless. yes, i've noticed the subtle shift in content, and your explanation makes perfect sense. but how does one have a blog that's truly honest, without posting in a completely anonymous way? it's the conundrum of a blogger, and as a neophyte i struggle with how much to reveal and what to NOT reveal without sacrificing the story. i LOVE your blog and the way you write and your wonky sense of humor ... it's just so perfect and speaks volumes to us who are similarly inclined. the upside (only if you look at it that way) is that you've gained fame and notoriety far and wide and now people are flocking to your blog, lol!! while you're mulling over how best to proceed, know that you have "US" who love you and will follow you, and EGE of course, to the far reaches of the universe. ;)

Debbie said...

I understand trying to keep from spilling events that people would recognize, but it's so unfortunate. People, and oh boy do I include myself, and how they interact with the world are a constant source of amusement. And we really do need to learn how to laugh with ourselves. It's such good medicine.
Meanwhile, I love reading about your interaction with the world around you, and seeing the amusing parts of it. And reading and seeing your fab art to wear!

karenc said...

Good grief, don't go AWAY! Laughing at anything is good, even if it's me you're laughing at. Just invite me to the party. You'll figure this out, and so many of us will be around to read the next step in the adventure.
abrazos y ajugas, karen

Linda Teddlie Minton said...

Count me in as one of your ardent readers. Although I do miss your more exciting rants, I also enjoy whatEVER you write, just because you do it so well. I had already assumed that some of your publishers or affiliates had asked you to tone down your more "colorful" rants, which is kind of a shame but totally understandable. Thanks for letting us know that that is exactly what happened! And if you start a New and Anony-mouse blog, be sure to somehow let us know! In the meantime, I'll continue to look forward to your wonderful posts here. You make me smile every day.

Effie said...

I read, laugh and occasionally snort!... It's all good stuff.

Emie58 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Emie58 said...

Sorry to delete the first post... typos!!!
LOVE reading your blog... no matter what the content. Would definitely miss you if you were gone!

Maddie Can Fly said...

I check your blog daily. It's never boring. I do miss the rants. They were always my favorite reading

Sharon Robb-Chism said...

First off, let me say I have been reading your blog for at least two years. When I first found it, I enjoyed your crazy stories so much, I went in time another two or three years to read stuff I had missed. Two that stick in my brain were 1) Something about giving blood at a doctor's office, and 2) A confrontation with a guard at the courthouse. I laughed till I peed (well, almost). If your intention is to start those kinds of stories again, I will be thrilled, 'cause most of them made me laugh out loud, and some actually had me nearly spewing tea into my keyboard.

People who write blogs are not just doing it for themselves. If they were, they could keep private computer journals and never have to worry about offending anyone, because no one else would be able to read them. If you do a public blog, you are doing it with the idea of sharing ideas, art, thoughts, rants...whatever, and hoping you find like-minded people who enjoy the same things. I get all giddy every time I have noticed I have a new follower (and I don't have hardly any, a mere 14), and I think, "Oh wow, someone else likes my posts. Isn't that grand."

Also, simply because there are so many good blog sites out there, it's impossible to keep track of all of ones you'd like to follow. I follow two...yours, and Zom's. I may pop in to others on occasion, but those two are my "go-to" blogs, even if I don't always leave a comment.

So, bring back the funny stories, the crazy rants. Every time you post one, it makes my morning, even if it puts my keyboard in danger of tea damage. :=)

Caatje said...

Boring is about the last word I'd use for you, but I do get it. Whenever I tell people what I do most in my free time I feel like such a sad individual. I walk, I read, I do artsy stuff. The end. I don't even go dancing like you and the EGE. :-) But I love what I do, so that will have to be enough. I rarely write about or show other people on my blog or facebook and when I do I always ask permission. My theory is simple: anything you post on the web will be read by everyone. On that I base my choice what to show and what not. I cannot decide for others what they want to share, it's as simple as that. I feel I share a lot about myself, but about the other people in my life not so much.
I love your blog and I actually love you sharing all your stitching projects. I also love your rants. In my opinion you don't need to change a thing or try to be more 'entertaining'. Your blog is one of my faves.

madhabitz said...

I get why things have changed for you as well. I've still enjoyed your posts a great deal, but I am kind of wondering if you should suck it up and take the hits from Those You Know. ;-)

On the other hand, there was a whole TV show about nothing-- just about the best show ever. Nothing is pretty wonderful and I am thinking you do Nothing very well, indeed.