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?