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On blogging regularly and kinds of blogs

Dear friends and readers,

My friend, Diana Birchall, has announced she will try to blog regularly, each Monday and Friday.  I think it's a lovely idea to blog regularly -- if you enjoy it.  If it's gratifying to you and fills a need or if you want to reach out to people and become part of a world, whatever world that be.

If you begin with a readership -- as both Catherine Delors and Diana already have -- it can grow.  And not to be discouraged if you get only brief or no replies sometimes:  as on lists, the world of cyberspace is filled with people who read others but do not post themselves.  My two blogs are on wordpress and live.journal and both have ways one can find out how many "hits" one had a day, and I notice these do go up when I blog on a popular topic (Austen say or a recent movie), though sometimes I am puzzled when a blog gets a lot of hits I didn't expect.  Or you can post to a listserv about a blog whose matter is of interest to that listserv (but you feel what you wrote is too long or involved to send to the listserv) and then readers from the listserv come over.

One way to get a larger readership is to aim your blog at a "niche."  Catherine's is aimed at French 18th century history and historical novels or novels in general.  Just about all her posts are about this. My friend, Judy, has two blogs, one on costume drama movies and the other "classic" movies. She is consistent about it, all her links are to other blogs on these two respective topics and she has gotten a readership of others like hers. Her blog is part of a circle of blogs now.  There are many many Austen blogs. There are poetry blogs where people post about poetry or poems.

For me this doesn't work. I can't get myself to blog to a narrower niche -- I'm not into conveying information for information's sake on a topic (which I find some bloggers on narrower areas do); nor am I commercial (Teach Me Tonight is a commercially oriented romance blog); nor am I news-oriented (Austenblog is a newsletter in effect).  So my "Reveries under the Sign of Austen" is frequently not about Austen (though it often is), but topics I think relate: by women authors, on the 18th century, similar film adaptations, on Austen criticism.  And I like to blog autobiographically seasonally. I like life-writing, diary writing.  There's nothing wrong with that; you don't have to bare your soul to write in the diary journalizing way.  And I notice some readers will come over to read "you;" that is, they came over to your blog because (like a columnist) they like your tone, presence, kinds of statements and so on.  I read friends' blogs.

Blogs evolve.

Ellen

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( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
misssylviadrake
Apr. 23rd, 2010 12:20 pm (UTC)
"My life is for itself, and not for a spectacle"
Diana wrote:

Do you know, that actually never occurred to me before! When I first began my blog, two years ago, I determined that I would never feel driven by it, or count numbers. I felt, "My life is for myself, and not for a spectacle," as Thoreau is quoted by Louisa May Alcott in Rose in Bloom. So I happily and obliviously chattered away like a tree dancing unseen in the forest, whenever the spirit took me. At the same time, I was uneasily aware that
nowadays those who write books must blog about them, and so I made a few gestures in that direction from time to time.

But it was Catherine herself, authoress and charming historical blogger extraordinaire, who pointed out that my blog was too infrequent for anybody to follow, even if they would! "You haven't had a post since February," she gently chided. Ah, true, that. So, I have turned a cyber-leaf, and shall prattle away publicly and more frequently, posting twice a week, and, I
daresay, becoming quite as proficient a rattle as John Thorpe himself. (That gives rise to an insight about him. He is a complete displacement from the 21st century. Would definitely have been driving a leased Mercedes while text messaging!)

Seriously, I must thank Catherine for encouraging me, painlessly, increment by increment, to update and technically advance and reinvent myself. Do you know, I actually feel that I am on the very threshhold of Twittering! Never thought I'd see the day, but soon, I believe, you can expect an unseemly tweet-like noise to emit from me. (I only pray it is from a ladylike
orifice.)

< My two blogs are on wordpress and live.journal and both have ways one can find out how many "hits" one had a day

(Glumly) "Do not attack me with a watch." Oh dear, I have no wish to torture myself with such a mechanism. Surely one can try to be entertaining, without having to count *how* entertaining? But no, I know the answer. In order to count, we must count!

So here goes. To Light, Bright, and Sparkling, add Twittering, and
Counting! (Come to think of it, Jane Austen herself was no snob about book sales and Pewter.)

D."
misssylviadrake
Apr. 23rd, 2010 12:21 pm (UTC)
"Do not attack me with a watch"
I love that apt quotation from Mary Crawford. Yes one must not take attendance on a blog (or listserv or website).

But answering in more earnest, I'll suggest blogging is a new genre -- as our listserv postings (letters which are sent to a group of people publicly and can be copyrighted), website postings. The individual thing about blogging is that while it's a diary (my life is for itself), the reality is diary writers (I think and others have too) really want their private thoughts to be read. They want to be a spectacle. I've heard a number of papers about how Fanny Burney partly faked her diary; remember how she copies and recopied it and how she left it to her great-niece to publish. This ambivalence -- to begin by addressing herself to nobody, never to publish so she can talk about what's verboten -- is part of the blogger's terrain.

It's also social because there are group blogs and it's aimed outwardly immediately. Thus the pseudonyms emerge.

And as Diana's account of Catherine's advice shows, many use it commercially too - as do publishers when they send review copies to bloggers. Twitter and facebook have become quick-fix commercial sites so say a "star" of a given niche marketplace will deliberately tweet or twitter on a day he or she have some gig in order to make the fans semi-believe (or believe) that they have glimpses of the star's intimate life and thoughts.

Life writing is a fascinating phenomena and has been with us since writing began. Some write (I think) to make their lives feel more lived -- that was Boswell who planned to do things so he could write about them.

Ellen
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