And we’re making up for lost time, because I forgot to celebrate getting a new job on Monday! I know. After a 2 week-long interview process, you’d think a bit ‘o pink bubbly would be first and foremost on this Project Manager’s agenda. But no. I was so busy on Monday, it wasn’t until the following day, when Husband #3 asked how I planned to celebrate, that it dawned on me: For once, I had a valid excuse for the cheap champagne I already drink daily in moderation.
And that’s not all we’re celebrating – today I’ve been “Freshly Pegged”! My friend, the hilarious and multi-talented Peg, of Peg-o-Leg’s Ramblings, is featuring a post I wrote in December about my writing process, and I’m thrilled – I really, really want to keep this conversation going.
Yesterday, the panic settled in – that WordPressurey feeling that’s become all too familiar: Oh god I’m so behind on reading blogs, people are going to think I don’t care about them, and why can’t I find my dashboard, and why is my comments widget missing, and WHAT AM I GOING TO WRITE ABOUT NEXT?
And that’s when I read one of my favorite blogs, She’s A Maineiac. Suddenly all was right in the world. Darla had posed a series of hilarious and compelling questions to bloggers.
I’d found my next blog post. Warning: We’re about to go deep.
Why in the hell do you blog?
I believe in taking baby steps, to JUST KEEP GOING, in order to survive and thrive creatively, and blogging has been the perfect medium for that approach. It’s manageable, yet lets me push myself.
How did you discover blogging? What was your initial impression?
Husband #1, Peppermeister, has a blog and urged me to start my own. My degree is in Creative Writing, but I’d let writing slip for many years.
My first impression was, “Um, hello? Anyone out there? Can you please tell me what HTML is?”
Were you shy and withdrawn as a child or gregarious?
A little of both. Still am. In social situations, if I’m with someone shy, I’ll step up to the plate and carry the conversation; if I’m surrounded by extroverts, I’ll take a back seat. I cater to others to distract myself from my own insecurities; it’s exhausting, actually.
How close is your ‘blogging’ persona to the real you?
Oh gawd. I get so nervous when I meet other bloggers in person; I worry they’ll be disappointed with the gal behind the ‘stache glasses. Nevertheless, this blog helped me find my voice, and sometimes I think it’s the most genuine representation of me.
How has blogging changed you or your life?
It’s given me creative momentum, which is huge, but what’s life-changing? The connections I’ve made with fellow bloggers. They inspire me every day – this post is a perfect example.
Do you consider yourself to be a ‘writer’?
It took a long, long time; I’ve been writing since I was a kid. One day in my mid-20s, it just clicked: I write, therefore I am a writer.
Do you prefer to write, then edit, edit, edit or just throw up on a page and be done with it?
I’ve never written a post without tweaking it at least 10 times. Usually more. Some of it has to do with the visual component – that’s very important to me. I’m still wondering about the text format I chose for these questions!
How confident are you after you hit that dreaded ‘publish’ button?
Do you view your writing as good, bad, so-so, or ‘eh, you really don’t care’? Do you ever look back at a post and cringe?
I think my writing has improved VASTLY since I started this blog, but there’s plenty of room for improvement, and there always will be. And YES, some of my old posts make me cringe (note how I’m not linking back to any here)!
When you write, do you have a certain audience in mind,or do you just go with your gut and let the words spew forth without a care who would like it or not? In other words, do you censor yourself at all?
Darla and I actually talked about this last week during one of our marathon phone chats. We agreed blogging [for us] has evolved to where we write with a specific audience in mind – regular readers that we like to tease or make laugh.
I know everyone says write for yourself, but I did that for years, and let me tell you: It’s way, way more fun to write for your friends – yeah, I mean you!
Aren’t these questions fantastic? If you haven’t already, please go check out the source post on She’s A Maineiac – I encourage you to answer them, too!
Lately, I’ve felt somethin’ coming on. Sometimes I mistake it for melodrama. Or, at best, awkward earnestness.
Though never insincere, I wasn’t always all guilty pleasures and goofy PowerPoint presentations. In my teens, humor only crept into my writing via dialogue. Everything else was angst-y and maudlin. I filled dozens of journals with lovesick poetry. Some of it wasn’t half bad.
In college, I discovered writers like Bill Bryson and David Sedaris, and realized that was the genre I wanted to pursue: humorous memoir. I’ve always found the truth more profound with levity. I like it when a protagonist’s journey makes me laugh despite the tears.
Nevertheless, the old poetry itch is back, and I don’t want this blog to suffer for it; we all know this place is the Uncle Jesse to my Aunt Becky. So today I thought I’d just quickly mention something a liiiittle more serious. A little behind-the-scenes look at my writing life.
I spend a lot of time on creative exercises and figuring out how to find and follow my passion(s). I handwrite, stream-of-consciousness style, for 30 minutes every morning, first thing. I take a daily walk, and once a week, I try to go on a mini adventure that sparks my creativity. On Sundays, I spend about an hour or two ‘checking in’ with myself, writing about recurring issues and the little miracles that happen when you get in touch with your creative nature.
These practices are, yes, a huge time commitment; I shower at night and get up at 5:30 in the morning to write before I drive an hour to work. But these exercises are a lifesaver for me, and if they sound familiar, you probably read about them in The Artist’s Way. Much like blogging, Julia Cameron’s books have changed my life in unimaginable ways.
Thanks to this blog and The Artist’s Way, I’ve identified concrete goals and watched them spring to life. I’ve learned that if you ask for a creative helping hand, and open yourself to possibility, the universe always delivers. Some of you have been the messengers!
I’ve never met Julia Cameron, have no affiliation with The Artist’s Way, and never thought I’d talk about this here, but my blog has always embraced the things we all love -however logical or…not– without shame. And so: I love these books.
If you’re feeling stuck and really ready to make a change, they might help you, too.
Have you ever read any of The Artist’s Way books? What inspires (or blocks) your creativity?
P.S. – Lest you think I’ve fallen off the guilty pleasure wagon, I’m drinking vodka right now and I’ve got somethin’ spectacular in the works for you later this week. It might be the most bloggy fun I’ve EVER HAD.
These posts talk about flaws and sharing those flaws, whether they’re the flaws of your fictional characters or yourself. Please don’t mistake this, however, for the social media ‘over share’ disease. The intent behind this movement is to allow yourself (or your characters) to connect on a more real level.
As someone who swims in the memoir genre pool, I’ve stuck to the shallow end a lot. Deliberately so. After reading these wonderful posts, I thought, “You know what? Sure I’m shameless about sharing my silliest guilty pleasures, but I’ve never even used the word sex on my blog, and my memoir’s working title is Virgin!”
Aw cruddy stink nuggets, you’re probably thinking. It’s like someone just told me Danny Tanner is totally raunchy during his stand-up routines.
I know exactly how you feel (c’mon, Bob Saget), and I promise, I won’t get too inappropriate on you. Or too sullen-like-Edward-Cullen.
In Virgin, I wrote about things that made me uncomfortable, that could even get me in some hot water. It’s no Shades of Grey, but it’s not rated G, either. I wanted it to be raw and honest; I’ve never cried harder than I did writing that first draft. I called it Virgin not to sensationalize, but to capture the heart of the story. Being a virgin influenced almost every event the book covered, something I couldn’t have realized until looking back.
Ultimately, I wanted to write the kind of book I love to read.
While I worry I hold my feet too close to the ‘over share’ fire in Virgin (and in this post!), I’m willing to take that risk. I’m Go Jules Go now, and I want to tell you about the ugly awkward stuff, too. Awkward stuff like flaws. Like the flaws below.
That’s right, Chipmunks – here is some major, major ammunition if you ever want to hit me below the belt (like Babs). At least you’ll be prepared if Virgin ever sees the light of day.
I have massive (pun intended) weight issues. I’ve lost and gained over 100 lbs multiple times in my life. I (voluntarily) went on my first diet when I was 9, and it’s been a hot, gooey, cheese-covered mess ever since. Food is my ultimate vice. Speaking of vices…
I worry I drink too much. But that usually goes away after a couple of drinks.
I married my one and only boyfriend. I made the first move. If you don’t think that’s a flaw, well, just know that my chronic singlehood wasn’t for lack of trying, heaven vodka knows. I have enough rejection stories to, well, fill a book. I’m still shocked when the male species says anything nice about me, but…
I think I’m pretty. In clothing. With the right make-up. From the right angle. With good lighting. All of the pictures and videos on this blog are very carefully selected and/or executed to make you think I look a lot better than I do (read: I’m vain). Except for that one time when I was high on those heroin cough suppressants.
I want everyone to like me, and sometimes keep opinions to myself and agree just so they will. But you know what? I don’t like everyone. I don’t like a lot people! (…Did that make you paranoid? I’m sorry; I totally wasn’t talking about you. You still like me, right?)
I used to have panic attacks. I assume they stemmed from either abandonment issues or bullying. Or both. They were so bad I missed a year of middle school, and…
I never went to high school. I got my GED, took the SATs, and went to college, but I never got to wear an embarrassing prom dress still feel very intellectually inferior. Don’t ask me about chemistry unless it’s the kind between Jim and Pam from The Office.
Well there now. Don’t we all feel better? …No? Just me?
How do you feel about sharing flaws in a public forum (yourself and reading others’)? Do you think it’s necessary for honest writing? If you’re uncomfortable with all of this, who’s your favorite character on The Office (mine’s Jim. Duh.)?
Photo Credit (“It’s all your fault”): stickerchick.com.
I love blogging, and I love bacon. For some reason, I rarely talk about either.
One thing I love about both is their ability to bring people together. Run a contest on your blog, or put out a plate of bacon-wrapped appetizers, and the result is the same. Better yet, run a contest with a bacon-chocolate bar prize.
I love when other bloggers talk about blogging and/or bacon. Like Peg and JM. Yet I feel self-conscious doing so, like eating bacon and not having a napkin. You guys don’t mind if I make a mess though, right?
When I started this blog in February 2011, I had no idea what lurked behind the blogging curtain. I thought it might be scary. And not in the hey-girl-you’re-almost-out-of-bacon way, but more in the I-like-to-make-pictures-out-of-toenail-clippings way. I didn’t fully appreciate the prevalence of blogs; I never thought about the fact that some websites I frequented, like Perez Hilton, were really blogs.
My favorite bloggers inspire me to step up my game and invite me to participate in their dialogue. As a writer, this is such a gift. And it’s free! So, you know, you can still bring home the bacon.
To pay tribute to all of those who inspire me (and if you’re wondering who that is, my Blogroll page is a good start!), and to those who are new to this wacky and wonderful world of bloggy deliciousness, I thought I’d offer a few wise words.
Dang, Chipmunks. This is exciting.
Here are the 3 most important things I’ve learned from almost a year and a half of blogging. You may or may not be surprised to find the same principles apply in every day life.
1.) Sincerity – “enough about my bacon, let’s talk about yours”
There is no faster way to shoot yourself in the foot drop your bacon on the host’s white carpeting than to leave a comment that proves you didn’t read the post, or to leave comments plugging your own blog. Typically, if commenting on another blog, you should try to keep the focus on that blogger and their content.
I had no idea when I started a blog that it was a community, and a community that wants to TALK! I didn’t ask questions of my readers (not that I had many!), and I didn’t even realize I should respond to comments. Now I crave that dialogue, and try to answer every single comment I get. Often that’s far more rewarding than the writing itself.
2.) Generosity – Share those Tips Strips (of bacon)
One surefire way to increase readership is to read other blogs. Be generous with your time and support, and you’ll reap the rewards.
When I started blogging, I only read 2 or 3 other blogs. Now I follow almost 100. It’s not realistic to keep up with everyone, of course, but I genuinely enjoy all of the blogs I follow, and typically devote over an hour a day just to reading them. I also almost always comment. Leaving thoughtful comments is one of the only ways to get noticed in a world jam-packed with people vying for the same bacon.
If you’re intimidated by big name bloggers, like Kristen Lamb or The Bloggess, don’t be. Remember they feel the same as you do about getting comments. And probably bacon.
3.) Perserverance – Makin’ Bacon
We all experience writer’s block, have personal obligations that take our focus away from writing, or simply just don’t ‘feel like it.’ Even if you miss a week, or a month, don’t give up. Blogging can truly open doors.
When I started this blog, I had very few followers. My mom. My husband. I tried to post 2-4 times a week, but even after 6 months, I had posts that didn’t get a single comment. I kept at it, increased my engagement, and as of this year, I’ve had almost 100,000 hits on this blog. I’ve also gotten several paid writing jobs and opportunities to write for highly trafficked websites. I say this not to be a Braggy McBaconBoaster, but just to encourage you and let you know: You don’t have to be serious to take your blog seriously.
…Is anyone else hungry?
What are some lessons you’ve learned about blogging? Or a question to fellow bloggers? To non-bloggers: What keeps you coming back to your favorite blogs?
I’m in good company with the past contributors; their lovely posts have covered a wide range of topics woven together by their theme of gratitude. All are more than worth reading (you can do so here).
Many of you know Deb, but for those of you who don’t, don’t be misled by her blog title – Deb Bryan is currently in the running for sainthood. Her ability to encourage writers and build blogging communities rivals her ability to write kick-chipmunk-tail young adult novels. I recently read The Monster’s Daughter and you should DEFINITELY check it out! Deb is also the winner of my first video blogging contest, which is one of my favorite posts to date. (I’m not sure I could ever pick a favorite post of Deb’s, but this one is up there.)
In other guilty pleasure news, I’ve got lots of goodies to share with you over the coming weeks! Gingerbread may or may not will be involved. And don’t worry – I haven’t forgotten about my plan to bring back slap bracelets (mentioned in my vlog). Stay tuned.