Where do I go from here?

Where do I go from here?

When I decided to write about blogging, I did what I often do, I went online to find out what I could.

That’s not entirely honest. I googled it and check two links.

I found an article in New York magazine on line called The Early Years by Clive Thompson which was basically a timeline of the history of blogging. Did you know that the first blog, ever, was created by a college student in 1994? Almost twenty years ago.

Quite a few years ago my oldest son told me I should start writing a blog. I didn’t listen to him at the time, much to my chagrin. If I had maybe I could have proftted from being one of the early people in.

Did you know that people actually made money off of blogs? You probably did. I’m always the last to know.

But like so many other things, it helps to be popular if you are already famous. We like to follow people who have been proven to be well-liked by other people. The same goes for authors. We like to read authors who are the best sellers. They don’t have a problem getting an agent or a book contract. Same goes for famous people. Just check out the tables in your local B&N. But you already know that.

Clive Thompson talks all about it in Blogs to Riches: The Haves and Have-Nots of the Blogging Boom also published in New York magazine.

I never intended or expected to make money with my blog.

That’s probably a good thing, too.

I started the blog to encourage myself to write regularly, even every day, and to start creating an online presence. Just a little over two years ago on January 21, 2011, I started my blog with a short post, A New Start with Clean House, that mentioned both my mom and Arthur. Arthur is still with me. Mom is not. I still write about both.

My second post, Missed Opportunities, was about the red fox that I saw run through our yard, but failed to capture on camera. I still have missed opportunities, but now I keep my camera on a shelf in the kitchen where I am sometimes able to catch the wood ducks, the pileated woodpecker and the owl, the groundhogs, my most recent good catch – the scarlet tanager, and even a red fox.

I saw this female wood duck this morning. I think she was looking for her mate. They’re usually together.

01-Wood duck - 2013-05-01 _32.-500

My third post,  Fiddles radio broadcasts, signing off and iPads, was one of my all-time favorites. Very few people read it.

I tried to find the stats. I went to “all posts,” and then filtered for the date. I clicked on the miniature bar graph in the column that says “stats.” I had one “syndicated” view. I have no idea what that means, but it can’t be good. Truthfully, after rooting around a bit on my stats page, I don’t have any idea how many hits that page actually got.  I’m not going to obsess about it.

I continue to tell myself I shouldn’t be concerned with my stats anyway. I continue to not listen.

But a blogging acquaintance, compatriot, friend (what are we to each other anyway?) named Sue Dreamwalker commented on that post and continues to comment occasionally to this day. She has a nice post up today about May Day. So while some followers come and some go, she has stayed with me. I’d like to say thank you to Sue and all the rest of you who joined me early and have stuck around. Another shout out to Nancy at Spirit Lights the Way for lighting my way early on. And while I’m at it, I have to mention the amusing William at Speak of the Devil who continues to hold the esteemed position of being my number 1 commenter.

But I digress.

They say to have followers you have to be a follower. Which sounds a lot like friendship to me. And over the months, now years, that I’ve blogged, I continue to contemplate how this approach can possibly work unless you are satisfied with a static, relatively small, but loyal group of bloggers. A little blogging community. I’m not criticizing that, I’m just saying that if it becomes nothing more than a quid pro quo, your reach with your blog is limited to the amount of time you have to read and comment on others’ blogs. Which also depends on how long-winded your blogging friends are. You can see I will not fair very well in this system, because it becomes fairly obvious fairly early, that you can visit many photographers’ blogs in the time it takes you to read one lengthy, well-written or not, story on a writer’s blog.

This is a dilemma for me.

I started my blog when I was researching how to publish my memoir Dancing in Heaven.

After reading articles online, I realized that to publish a book, either by agent and traditional publisher or by myself, I needed an online presence. After I wrote Dancing in Heaven, I fully intended to seek an agent and publish it through traditional means. My mind changed. But the journey gave me a lot of fodder for my blog.

The advice I heeded was that I needed to build a platform, which at the time I read it was a completely foreign concept to me.

I started a blog.

I’ve read other advice more recently, that if you are a writer, you will serve your goals better by not spending time blogging, but writing instead. I think there is probably some truth in that position.

But I’ve also read that if you are a published author, you need to have a blog where your readers can learn more about you and communicate with you.

But then, I’ve read that if you want to have a successful blog, you need to  pick a topic, carve out your niche, and stick to it.

But that sounds kind of boring to me, and what would I do with my bird photos, garden updates, travel posts, and art series among other things?

If you’ve ever held a digital camera in your hands, running around a sunlit garden or walking through a park filled with birdsong, you already know that snapping photographs is a lot more fun than sitting at a desk doing the hard work of translating your thoughts from your brain through your fingers and the keyboard to a computer screen. Just saying. So maybe I get a little distracted at times.

I organize and generate pages, primarily for my own use, and simply because it feeds my OCD nature, but the occasional visitor finds them useful at times. Particularly the bilateral knee surgery documentation we did. People have thanked me for that one.

What I really think is that there is way too much advice out there on the web, well-meaning though it may be.  My head is spinning. Yours may be too after reading this disjointed post.

My solution is to do what I usually do in these cases. I trust myself. I trust my judgment. And I trust my heart. And thankfully I am married to an outstanding provider, so I am not obligated to make money from my writing in order to be able to feed myself. Which I should be doing a lot less of anyway if I want to listen to the advice about weight, health and nutrition.

I started blogging to force myself to write everyday. I’d grade myself at maybe a C on that one. Because, like I said, the photography has been enticing. And I don’t really consider my photography blogs “writing.”

The commaraderie and support that I received from followers, friends, and commenters I found invaluable as my family entered crisis control in the beginning of December with the diagnosis of my mom’s cancer and through the next intense weeks before both of my parents’ deaths in January.

I struggle with keeping up. I question what it’s all about. I wonder about the best use of my time.

My world was turned upside down when my parents died. I had devoted a lot of time and concern to their care. My foundation was badly shaken. And even though Mom and Dad were well past the days of doing anything of consequence to aid or assist me, they were two people in my life who always loved me no matter what, who always believed in me. And they were gone. That is a tremendous loss.

As I try to make meaning out of my life, I’m asking the question. Where do I go from here?

43 thoughts on “Where do I go from here?”

  1. Write for your kids. Even if they don’t appreciate it now, they will in the future. Write for your grandkids. Both current and future. And, oh yeah, write for me. Yours is the one email that I look forward to reading. (Also, the photo blogs should count. Just as creative and take just as much time.)

    1. You’re so sweet. I just feel like I need to up my game and work on something a little longer, a little better, with a few revisions. If I took this to a writing center I’d be laughed out of the room.

      The photo blogs often take more time. Especially the travel ones. Because I like to add so much interesting and helpful information. 🙂

  2. I agree with Cathy, but I also say write for yourself.

    Like you, I’m trying to figure out what’s next for me. I don’t blog as often. I don’t comment as often. I have become somewhat disillusioned by the quid pro quo. I mean, I still love some of the friendship/relationships that I have formed on the blog, but that’s because the conversations have extended beyond blogdom. I don’t feel like those ones are “if you read my blog then I’ll read yours” relationships. I don’t want to feel obligated to read or comment on blogs. I read when something appeals to me, just as I do with books. I look at photos when the images call to me. I don’t always comment. So what does that mean, if the circle of blogging only exists in a quid pro quo kind of way?

    What I’ve finally concluded is that sometimes I have to say something that may actually appeal to other people, something that I want to go beyond the pages of my journal/morning pages. That is when I blog. If someone reads, yay! If not, well, I’ve tried my best. It’s not enough though. So now I need to look at where to take my writing next. I have no idea. But, you have a story to tell . . . tell your father’s story. Tell your mother’s story. Tell it because it is your story as well.

    Tell those stories, and I will read them.

    Hugs ❤ (Sorry for the long, rambly response).

    1. Thanks, Lisa. I almost mentioned you in the post today too, because I remember you from the very beginning. But then I started adding more and more names, and you know where that can lead.

      I haven’t been around to others’ blogs as much lately either, but neither do I want to lose touch with people like you who I’ve come to know in some small way, and at times not so small, way. I’ve started going to Google Reader (which I think I’m going to lose in a month or two and have yet figured out how to replace), and reading the titles of posts I follow and choosing which ones to read. It saves me time. I don’t see everything, but I read what most appeals to me. This can be flawed, I know, and is highly dependent on someone choosing a good title. But it’s the best I can do for now.

      I agree with Cathy too. We have to write for ourselves.

      Thanks for the vote of confidence. I need to get back to my Dad’s story. I told him I would do it.

    2. Lisa – I agree with you on the quid pro quo. I sometimes wonder at the new subscribers and whether they are visiting because they like blog or are expecting me to now comment back. On the other hand, I’ve developed some lovely new friendships because I did visit back and we hit it off.

      But yes, I had to make my peace that I reply when I can and only when I have something worthwhile to say.

      1. I enjoy the friendships built through comments, but its when I feel like someone is just making a comment to get me to visit their site that I get annoyed. Friendship develops because it’s meant to, not because of obligation. 😉

    1. Hi Sis.
      I almost mentioned you in my blog today too, because when I went back to my first posts, you were there commenting. I need family. And as far as my family who supports my writing goes, you’re it. Don’t leave me now. And I’ll do the same.

      It’s beautiful here now. I almost called you yesterday to see if you are still doing okay. Your Facebook post made me wonder, but it looked like you figured out how to take care of yourself.

      I’ve always loved the month of May. This one may be hard to get through. I just want the Mother’s Day ads to cease and desist.

      Thinking of you.

  3. Hi, I have been following your blog and enjoy it so, todays being so informative, helps me think about venturing into the blogging world.

    I have been away from home for the last 7 months with my son Barry, we arrived home April 14.

    Barry is 42 married with 3 children. On his way to work one day he was hit by a speeding car. It has left Barry with serious brain injury. We have been to the Halvar Jonson Centre in Alberta for the past 7 months working on his recovery. The accident happened 3 1/2 years ago, Barry still has a long way to go in his healing, we see positive change all the time.

    Thank you for all the wonderful pictures & news

    Kind regards

    Roseanne Young

    1. Thanks for taking the time to comment, Roseanne. I’m terribly sorry to hear about your son’s accident. Our lives can change dramatically in one moment. I’m glad he is recovering. It must be so difficult for him, and all of you really.

      It’s easy to be a blogger, but not so easy to garner a large following. If you don’t really have ambitions about that, but merely want to share your stories with the world, and perhaps find some camaraderie online, you should go for it.

      Best of wishes to you and your family.

  4. I totally get what you are writing here! I used to be a little obsessed with my stats. The posts I thought were my best were hardly viewed or commented on. I took it as a slap in the face. I have a small “audience” but one thing is that they are faithful. I love the friendships that have come from my friends, like you, out in the blogosphere. It is difficult for me to think about not keeping up with my blog—after 5 years it is the thing I have stuck with the longest in my life most likely.
    You share so honestly and openly and I always love to read your posts—love your photography and your insight into things . You have a gift, my friend, and whatever direction you decide to go with your blog I hope that you don’t totally give it up. Write when you feel like it. I loved some of the other comments before me—-they said a lot of the same things that I feel!!!
    Hugs. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Beth Ann. Wow. I didn’t realize you’d been at it for 5 years. No wonder you wanted the beautiful facelift and redesign your son helped with a while back. 🙂 I’m still struggling along with my first wordpress theme.

      The blog does give me something to do, that’s true. And a way to be connected in an otherwise relatively hermit-like existence.

      One thing I really believe is that we all have our own reasons for blogging. And whatever your reasons are, they are valid for you. Mostly I’m concerned that I’m not spending any time doing what I would consider to be more serious writing. But at least I’m sitting here at the computer.

  5. Yours was one of the first blogs I found when I started blogging myself a little over 2 years ago. I feel very attached to you and your blog, and yes, I’m a follower but also consider you to be a friend. So no matter where you go from here, I’m glad we found each other on this blogging path!

    1. Thanks, Julia. I always thought you were here first. Maybe we’re blogging twins.
      You have been a good friend, and I hope you always will be. We’ll see what the future holds. Right now I am getting more and more interested in finding a writing group, or writing buddy either online or in real life. If there is such a thing.

  6. That’s not a decision that has to be made immediately. You can take your time, try new things, then follow your heart.

    1. Thanks Patti, I tend to be a little spontaneous, restless, or I suppose most accurate, impatient at times. I really am trying to be patient with myself. I know I have suffered a tremendous loss after a couple months of crisis control, all of which plague my memory as I try to sort through it all and make some kind of sense out of it.

      I do believe, through it all, I will come out the other side stronger, more optimistic, and hopefully much more patient.

  7. I read through this post a couple of times and, it seems to me, that the you have answered your own question quite well. May will pass, whether you write or not, blog or not, do what works best for you today. Tomorrow will take care of itself. blah, blah, blah, blah, eh.

  8. I’m spending more time reading other blogs and leaving comments than working on my own. I’m okay with that. I’ve been able to reach out and encourage a lot of other people and am not as interested in developing my content as I was two years ago.

    I think I started following you with the post you did where you were playing around taking pictures of yourself with your iPad. It wasn’t too long after I started regularly posting in February 2011. The time has flown by.


    1. You’ve been one of my long-time supporters, too, Nancy, and have given me advice or support that has been dead-on at times. So thank you for that.

      Writers can’t be writers without readers. I am an avid reader myself although I read mostly books. I try to keep up with blogs, but it is hard at times.

      You may decide you have a story to tell that doesn’t involve a blog. There are other ways to write as well. I really should get back to it.

      I’m still trying to take pictures of myself with my iPhone occasionally, often when I am the passenger in the car on a long trip. I figure eventually I will get a good photo this way that I can use for my online imagine. It’s my only hope.

      The time has flown by.

      1. I really enjoyed your comment back to me. I haven’t written about it on my blog, but I have gone back to my personal journals. Interestingly, they’re handwritten, which I haven’t done since oh, 1997 maybe? But they’re meeting my need and scratching an itch that the blog isn’t doing.

        I got some good self-portraits last year, but yeah, the trick is to just keep doing it. Eventually one works.

  9. you mentioned looking for a replacement for the Google Reader….I access the blogs I follow (135 of them!) via the WordPress App on my smartphone. I find it’s the best/quickest way to keep current with everyone. I use the WP App for Android, but as I recall you’re a Mac person? You can read about (and download) the IOS version at https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/wordpress/id335703880?mt=8

    a few other comments.
    My sole reason for blogging is to leave behind “a scratch on the wall” for future generations; consequently, I’ve been to my Stats area exactly twice in 18mos

    Long before I wrote a blog, I read tons of other people’s…I’ve always been naturally curious about people whose lives differ from mine. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I enjoy reading and learning more than I do writing or teaching, so the whole quid pro quo thing didn’t really occur to me.

    Anyway, I thoroughly enjoy reading your posts and hope you find the answers you seek!

    ps. I also hope your female wood duck found her mate! I loved that pic! 🙂

    1. Thank you so much for stopping by and taking the time to comment. Can you access Blogger blogs through WordPress? I follow a couple of Blogger bloggers. I suppose I could use their system and just check both. I’ll have to look into it.

      It’s so refreshing to read your philosophy on why you blog and your sense of satisfaction with it. I suppose I got off on the wrong foot because of my history and seeing blogging as a means to an end of needing a platform and followers to sell my book. Now that I’ve abandoned all effort at marketing the memoir, and now that I have found a lot of other reasons and rewards for blogging, I should quit checking my darn stats too.

      Only two times? Really? 🙂

      The female duck flew off. But it seemed like she was communicating with someone, from my amateur perspective, so I suspect she found him and left to join him. I did see another solitary duck fly overhead shortly before she left.

  10. Sign up, on the blogs you want to follow, to follow them by email. You’ll receive an email each time they do a new post, as I’ve done on yours. That’s my solution. It does clutter my email, but I don’t have to go searching.

    1. Thanks, Richard. I actually did that when I first started blogging, but I got so bogged down with blogs that I moved to reading them on RSS feeds through Google Reader. I felt a little more in control.

      I’m sure I’ll figure something out. Thanks.

  11. Christine you have put so much effort here within this ONE post.. … Where do you go from here? The world is your oyster! really it is… You have such a diverse way of communicating and have so many interesting posts.. I too find it hard to ‘Keep Up’ with blogs especially those who post daily.. I post when the subject calls me too.. I spend more time travelling around reading others posts.. And then I feel guilty believe it or not when I miss a particular interesting one.. LOL..
    So imagine my surprise today as I read down your excellent posting here to see Sue Dreamwalker pop out at me…. You are too kind dear Christine.. You have gone through so much in the short time we have come to follow each other on our blogs, and I know you are always there same here, even though Life gets in our way… Life has to be lived and family to me always come first as they do with you..
    I didnt know half the facts here about Blogging..
    I happened by accident to create a blog..this was in 2007 back in the Windows Live Spaces days… and I found I had a space in which I could write.. So I thought long and hard about what I wanted to convey and named my site Dreamwalker’s,,, WLS then closed and bloggers were given the chance to upload their entire blogs to WP .. So I pressed Transfer and I am so pleased with WP … I have met some very lovely people through blogging And I am so happy to have met you Christine and to have been with you along part of your journey..

    Many thanks for the mention…. and compliment… Love and Blessings ~Sue xxx

    1. That’s interesting about WLS. I never heard of it. You have been at it a while. Good for you.
      I am happy to have. Met you too.

  12. Hi Christine .. at least you’ve loads of ideas here … and as you mull things over to clear your head .. you’ve had so much going on – it will take a while to clarify in your own mind the way forward – don’t rush it .. keep your eyes open and ears peeled!!

    Be patient … my next post may help a little … and I’ll be doing some things during the Summer that may give you other ideas ..

    Relax, make notes, mull and generally keep on writing .. the A-Z posts may give you some thoughts of other ideas .. cheers Hilary

    1. I’ll try not to miss it, Hilary. I’m not keeping up very well. And we’re out of town this week.
      I do need to keep on writing. Yesterday I had a surge of hope about writing. I suspect it will come back to life within me eventually.

      I’ll check out your posts as soon as I can. Thanks, Hilary.

  13. I’m not sure what I’m looking for, when I pop in on someone. I only know when I find it. I find it here. Sometimes, your honesty unnerves me, but it draws me back and I find myself hoping you’re having a great day in which you’ve laughed. As for your dilemma, i think you answered it when you said, “I trust myself.” Amen, you have every reason to!

    1. Thanks for stopping by and for the kind words. Although I’m not sure that “unnerving” is necessarily a compliment, but I’ll take it as one.

      I am having a great day today. We are visiting our grandchildren who live out of town for a few days. Life is always joyful here. So you can think of me laughing my way through Wednesday.

      It’s nice of you.

  14. Good luck, Christine, whatever your decision may ultimately be. I’ve been questioning the role of blogging in my life lately, too. I’ve been at it since 1999, and haven’t made much (a few pennies here and there on prints of photos). I started out wanting to write. I ended up taking photographs. Now… I dunno. I’m waiting to see what happens after the move.

    1. Thanks Robin. You’ve been at it a lot longer than me. I don’t know if I’ll make it that long, although it might be the kind of thing that the longer you do it the harder it is to quit. Write, by all means, write. You probably have something you need or want to say. (You can still throw a picture in, or two).

  15. I let myself fall behind in blog reading… and am now trying to catch up. I do think that you do have to write for yourself… and at the same time, writing these can be a record for your children down the line.

    I also think you’ve found a niche for yourself in the various themes that you do bring across in your blogs.

    1. Thanks, William. I am so far behind that I’m going to have to start over I think. It seems like since Mom and Dad died I go three steps forward and two steps back. I’m really having trouble staying motivated. I get motivated, and then it dissipates in an instant.

      I hope you are doing okay.

  16. We’ve come a long way, baby!

    I enjoyed this post, and when I saw the link to SLTW, I smiled.
    What a lovely surprise. Thanks!

    (My one complaint about WP is that I only receive notifications of link backs to specific posts and pages . . . but if someone links to my home page, WP does not let me know).

    I loved reading your back and forth on all the divergent blogging advice out there.

    * If you write, you need a blog.
    * If you spend too much time blogging, you’ll have no time to write.
    * You must carve out a narrow niche.
    * You must not bore your readers.
    * Etc.

    Whenever I don’t know which way to go, I give myself time to pause and catch my breath.
    And, like you, I trust my instincts.

    Write on!

    1. Yes. Well, I do remember you from my early days of blogging. I was drawn to your title.
      You’re welcome. Not that it does much good, in my view, to link to someone else. But maybe the occasional reader will be curious enough to click it and fall in love.

  17. I hear you very searching in your posts – and I am mid-life too: I relate.

    I really enjoyed this, and I enjoyed reading the feedback. Great stuff.

    Blogging is a self publishing. It’s wonderful it is so much easier to be read these days – and in fact, to read those hidden away poets.

    1. You’re right about blogging being a form of self-publishing. And the truth of the matter is that that was one of the driving reasons that I started my blog.


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