Thursday, September 27, 2012

Pondering my blogging future...

I hope readers will forgive a post that's really just an excuse to think out loud, but to be perfectly honest, this is a post that has been on my mind for a while now.  Sure, Blogger's move to this ugly new posting interface with all its annoying quirks and headaches (literally) has been a catalyst for me to start putting these thoughts into words, but the thoughts have been circulating for a while now.

I used to post at least one thing every weekday, and I'm still most comfortable following that schedule.  As I've written somewhat recently, though, I've also gotten more comfortable with taking unscheduled or unannounced breaks from posting, and will probably need an extended break again soon as I get my second Tales of Telmaja book publication-ready.  I also post (though less frequently) on the Tales of Telmaja blog, and though I feel bad about neglecting the Coalition for Clarity blog as much as I do, I still post there on occasion as well.

One thing I've always said--and this is true--is that I don't post primarily to get page views or hits, or to pander to a specific audience, or to land a paid blogging contract.  I respect people who do, but the only writing with which I ever hope to earn any money is my children's fiction writing (and I'm perfectly content if that never nets me more than a pittance, because when it comes right down to it I don't do that for the money, either).  I don't think I could ever do this kind of writing for a living, for reasons that are both complicated and, ultimately, personal.

Nevertheless, I've noticed two things about my traffic lately: one, it has dropped off some from the past, and two, many of my page hits and views involve long-ago written, archived stuff, not my most recent postings.  (True fact: the post that gets the most page views is this one, proving that the power of a good headline is amazing.  Another true fact: I had one good headline in me, and that was it!) :)

Pundits have been predicting the death of blogging for a long time now, and yet some of us still truly enjoy this format as opposed to the fast-paced, instant-sharing, frenetic, "like" or "dislike" world of Facebook, Twitter, and similar pithy observation/cute pic factories.  Maybe it's because some of us are just wordy (always a possibility).  Or maybe it's because the joy of writing barely exists on those limited-character screens, where the pressure to say something replete with sound-bite cleverness so that a moment's thought becomes a viral meme is always present, and the pleasure of translating thoughts into words and paragraphs is subsumed beneath the demand for brevity which, however much it may be the soul of wit, is seldom the sum of it.

But just as people seem to prefer the quick posting of the other types of social media, so do they seem, these days, not to want to spend time actually reading blog posts.  I'm not the first person to notice, and I'm sure I won't be the last, but the truth is that blogs are starting to be as neglected as newspapers and TV news.  Well, some blogs, anyway; I can't speak for everyone here.

And yet--I'm pretty much addicted to doing this, and will keep on even if I end up with two readers and one of them is me because I forgot to tell the site tracking tool to ignore my visits again.

Because I'm contemplating moving the blog to a different platform (possibly Wordpress, though I haven't completely figured the move out yet), I'm starting to wonder if it isn't time for a reboot of sorts.  This blog was originally a place for me to share whatever it was I was thinking about, whether it was homeschooling or politics or Catholic thought or fiction writing or random silliness, but lately my posts have tended to be focused on Catholic teaching as it applies to social issues and culture.  I write about that stuff because it's important, and I don't intend to quit, but if I do restart in a new location I'd like to go back to being able to write just about anything instead of keeping to a self-imposed tendency to stick to things that have some sort of religious/cultural significance.

If I did "reboot," so to speak, I think I would more or less combine the fiction-writing blog (which is tiny anyway) with the overall blog instead of trying to maintain two separate ones.  The C4C blog would remain; I'm not the only writer who has posted there and it's possible at any time that the issues of torture and so forth would require that blog to be more regularly updated (though we can sincerely hope not).

I'd like your opinions, if you'd like to share them! 


Alisha De Freitas said...

Very interesting... I was thinking about you today. Wondering how you homeschool, cook, clean, write so impeccably well on your various blogs, author a novel, participate in church... Well, how do you do it? Seriously? Like really, I'd love to read a post on time management.

As for the death of blogs... Geez, are they over? Are they, like MySpace, so 2005? If so, I'm not surprised, but I didn't get the memo. I read a number of them daily. But I can see why, in this age of quick YouTube clips, Pinterest pics and 140 character tweets, many people can't be bothered with five whole paragraphs. Perish the thought.

I've got much to ponder. Including a switch to WordPress as well.

Will Duquette said...

Erin: IMHO you should write whatever you damn well please, wherever it pleases you to do so. Then, you'll either have an audience or you won't; but as you've noted you're not writing for page views.

As for Twitter & Co, I'm still a blog reader. Not everything can be expressed in a pithy sound bite.

Magister Christianus said...

I don't like the new Blogger interface either, especially from my iPad, but I am a guy will take the same route to a given destination over and over, whereas my wife will search out new and better routes. I am unlikely to leave Blogger.

As for blogging in general, I still read blogs because, unlike with MSM pieces, the bias or at least perspective of the author is usually fairly well known. I don't have to guess where you or Mark Shea or KKolwitz or Euripides or Frank Weathers, to name just a few, are coming from. I respect the opinions of the bloggers I read.

I would like to blog once a day, and have managed it som weeks, but this does not always work. What I like most about blogging is the chance to work through my own thoughts on an issue and in a community of other thinkers. Think back to times when you have engaged deep matters in passionate, well-considered conversation. For many of us, those were times in undergraduate or graduate school with peers or professors. It may have been at local pub near the church in downtown Austin, Texas (can I get a witness, Eutychus?). The blogosphere is a reasonable approximation of the productive engagement that can happen through intelligent conversation among adults.

In short, Red, don't give up. Those with the attention span of a gnat may prefer FB and Twitter. Serious interlocutors who cannot get together to talk face to face can do the next best thing in the combox.

L. said...

I recently stopped posting at my own blog, after doing it steadily since 2005. The time had just come for me to concentrate on other things. But I still read blogs (though I don't comment as much as I used to).

The only right answer is the one that works for you.

JMB said...

Hi Erin,
I've been largely absent from blog reading due to summer and some computer problems. I finally got my own laptop so now I'm trying to build up my favorites. I always enjoy your take on things, but I'm a little weary of politics these days, so I'll skip over those posts. It's not that I don't care or disagree with you, I'm just tired the constant political talk.

D. said...

Hello Erin! I'm a regular reader (via Google Reader). I meant to leave this comment earlier but better late than never.

I agree with the other commenters - write whatever it is that pleases you. But I must say - your (along with people like Mark Shea's) take on the social and cultural issues are much needed on the blogosphere. You are simply Catholic - you avoid the over-the-top rhetoric that even well-established Catholic bloggers sometimes can't seem to steer away from. It's an easy temptation to fall into - I know: I'm not even from the US and sometimes I get caught up in the partisan atmosphere.

I'm a Sri Lankan, living in Singapore. Events and issues in America are very much discussed here too, and often in (even more polarized) exaggeratedly partisan terms. But your voice rings with the familiar tone of the Church - thank you for that!

All the best with your decision and with the book sales!