Sunday, May 3, 2009

On Blogging

I have been blogging now for 1-3/4 years. Here's one thing that has not changed in all that time: I have no idea what to expect when I put up a posting. This has been puzzling me for a while, and I think I may have finally come up with one reason for this.

In the print world book authors are pretty much categorized by genre. Mostly these book authors stick to writing the same type of books. We don't expect a Tom Clancy to be writing a Regency romantic romp, and he doesn't. Because the books fall into a category, the authors can draw on readers that like that category and are drawn to books that fall into that category. Readers become knowledgeable about the stock elements that have to be in a particular genre and can discuss a work with reference to how well it is written for the type of work it's supposed to be.

There are some bloggers and their blogs which parallel book authors and book genres. They write only about certain subjects and from certain perspectives. Their readers know what to expect when they come to these blogs. Because of interest in the subject matter they may also be knowledgeable about the subject matter. Both readers and the writer are like-minded individuals.

And then there are blogs like this one. They don't easily or comfortably fit into a narrowly defined genre of blog. The subject matter for postings runs the full gamut of topics (except for sex and politics, and even there the rule is not observed 100% of the time), from how to use vinegar to clean things to what to feed the birds in your backyard, to what it costs to be a frum Jew, to airplane shenanigans of bored frum wives, to the deplorable state of Jewish literature for children, etc., etc., etc.. I let my mind wander where it will, and what it comes up with sees print more times than not. In one sense I'm not worried about disappointing my readers by penning a romance when they are expecting a thriller; I don't think I've raised any particular kinds of expectations in my readers.

And that's where I'm sometimes puzzled. I may put up a post that I'm super enthused about and discover, through a dearth of commentary, that my readers don't share the same interests, or at least not enough to comment on a posting. And then there are the postings which I put up because the topic may have caught my interest for a moment, but I'm not really sure that anyone else out there will find them interesting. And sometimes that turns out to be the case, and sometimes I'll see an avalanche of comments on such a posting, or at least a fairly decent-sized blizzard.

What I have learned is to not take responses to a posting, or a lack of responses, personally. Sometimes a posting hits and sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes a posting comes at just the right time for the people who read here, and sometimes a posting is out of sync with where the readers are. Sometimes I seem to be channeling my readers' thoughts, and sometimes we seem to be occupying different thought universes. Sometimes information in a posting may present new information or a new way of looking at things, and readers are not yet ready to comment until they've given the subject some thought, if they choose to do so. And yes, sometimes a posting has gone up that is really just me talking to myself, and if no one else gets into the conversation, that's just fine too.

Why this posting? Someone sent me an email in which they commented that my posting on "It's Peanuts" was a real shock to them. They didn't know much about the subject matter, but what they found so interesting was the number of readers who stopped and commented, who carried out a dialogue on the topic. The writer of the email found the comments on the posting even more interesting than the posting was. I understand the perplexity of this reader; I feel some of it every time a posting either bombs or takes off. It's sort of like making shidduchim in today's world. Sometimes the shidduch that looks so perfect on paper gets shot down two minutes out of the starting gate. And sometimes the shidduch that no one believes is going to be successful succeeds beyond anyone's imagination.

I think I'm going to stick with my formula for this blog: have no formula. Hey, if it ain't broke, don't fix it!


הצעיר שלמה בן רפאל לבית שריקי ס"ט said...

People are philistines man, low-brow, uneducated. I don't think it makes sense to base ones posts on what people like to read, or at least I don't; I (obviously) just write what I want to write, I'm not here to entertain anybody..and neither is anyone else.

In regards to varying content; I'm a big fan of that, people are multi-faceted, and it's nice to see every side of a person, their lives and opinions. I mean, look at Napoleon; he's writing war tactics one day, thought-out love letters to his wife another day, and another day writing political philosophy. Life is diverse.

Ezzie said...

Funny. I usually don't post on posts about blogging, but... :)

I'm also a very varied blogger. This both frustrates and annoys and also makes happy my readers - it seems different people enjoy different things (shocker). Personally, I'm just going to post what I enjoy.

But I've always felt you just blogged about Jewish Life in general. :)

Anonymously said...

The blogs that I enjoy reading the most are the ones that aren't totally predictable, that have a variety of content. Sure, sometimes I like some pieces more than others and sometimes I comment and sometimes I don't. It's not really a commentary on what the writer wrote but more about what's going on in my personal life at the time.

Please don't tinker with whatever formula you are using or not using. I like this blog just the way it is, eclectic sort of like me and my interests.

JS said...

I agree 100%. I don't have my own blog, but I do guest post occassionally. It's hit or miss what people are interested in on that particular day. Perhaps this is een more true where one guest blogs and several posts may push one's own post down the page. Sometimes people don't feel like just saying "liked this" especially when it's SO hard to type in the "word verification." Othertimes people are just distracted or busy.

Suffice it to say people are reading your blog and enjoying it. Besides, it's cathartic and fun to post and get things off your chest and out into the open. Lastly, unfortantely, controversy brings comments, agreement doesn't (generally).

Keep up the good work!

frum single female said...

yes, i have noticed the same thing on my own blog. i think its just part of the fun. thats why its good to write whatever strikes you at a given moment because you never can tell who will find it appealing.
comments show that people are reading, but just because a person doesnt comment doesnt mean they didnt enjoy it. most people just read without commenting

G6 said...

I'm a big fan of the genre of blogging which I like to call "slice of life" blogging.
Keep up the great work!

Lon said...

Length has something to do with it. When it gets over 400 words I start skimming, and over 500 I start skipping, and more than 1,000 I usually don't bother reading. Nothing to do with the subject, just an inability to focus on a screen intently for so long.