Nobody cares about your blog

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There have been days, quite a lot of them actually, when I really wanted to buy this tee shirt. And on some of those days, once purchased, I think I’d actually have worn the tee shirt in public.

For a long time (in internet years) “blogging” has been the thing. Everyone’s doing it. But when I started this blog, back in the good ole days of the internet, the concept was new. We were all maybe a little paranoid while putting out all this personal and revelational material into the great vacuum of cyber land, even adopting a pseudonym (see: mrsmetaphor) to protect our identity. It felt as though I was shouting into the chasm. Nowadays it’s more like shouting into the storm of people shouting. Everyone has a blog. So what?

Many of my long time blogging compadres have left their cyber houses untended, letting weeds reclaim the yard and vines grow over the entrance. We can peer in the windows and see the layers of dust on the floors and shelves, white sheets draped over the furniture. I think back about the hey day of blogging, lo those many (internet) years ago and sometimes I sigh with wonder and appreciation. Those were the days.

Then the idea of monetizing came and the idea of viral posts and blogging for book deals and high profiles and millions of readers. It’s interesting to see how things shift over time. I was never much for monetizing or viral posts. I just write what I feel like writing and put it out there, no longer shouting into the storm but more likely whispering. That’s okay by me.

I have to admit that I don’t read a great number of blogs anymore. I just don’t have the time or energy. The information overload on the internet is too much and too often so now I subscribe to the writers I like and have it delivered easy-like to my email in box. I unwrap those entries at my leisure and savor them in my own time.

All that said, as recently as a few months ago I encouraged someone to start a blog. Even with all the saturation and monetization and the “nobody cares about your blog” feelings, I will sometimes still offer a big thumbs up when someone asks my opinion on it. In no particular order, here are the things that sway me on that front-

5 Reasons to start a blog (even in the modern soggy internet market):

  1. You love to write and you have something to say
    So let’s say you find yourself with a little time on your hands, a working computer and something to say but no place to publish or no interest in pursuing publishing as a career.
    Go for it.
    It’s a great way to start a writing discipline and begin to see words on a page. Just be warned that whatever you put out there is out there. I like to tell people that the internet has a long memory and a short attention span. Even if you remove a blog post or shut down a blog those words might live forever someplace else- someone’s hard drive, cached pages, etc. Don’t write anything you hope no one sees. That’s just asking for trouble.
  2. You have something to sell
    I hate that I just wrote that but nevertheless, it’s true. If you sell something like jewelry or essential oils or fitness practices (wink wink) then it’s probably a decent idea to have a blog connected to your website. Products are lifeless and cold, writing about what you sell or how it affects your life or even how much you love donuts or Disney movies helps to make you a real person, weirdly enough, and that will lend your product some edge in an overcrowded online market.
  3. You are an amazing writer
    It’s true that I know amazing writers who won’t go anywhere near the “blogosphere” (mainly because there are non words like blogosphere that describe it.) But if you are an amazing writer and are not published anywhere but want to have your work out there, go for it. It’s a good way to begin to build some presence online and perhaps even begin to build a readership for your work. My limited experience is that people who are amazing writers get blog traffic when what they write about fills a niche no one else is reaching OR fills a niche no one reaches with amazing writing. Let that roll around on your tongue for a while.I’ll give a caveat here though because I know from experience that if you are an amazing writer and have something to say, see #2 and heed that advice as well. If you “publish” a great essay on your blog but think you’d like to send it to a lit mag or online journal you may find they won’t touch it. The thinking on this has been shifting a little bit but for the most part the most respected journals won’t publish it even if it’s “just” on your blog. Take care with your work. Blog about “blog” things, keep ’em short and chewable and lovely but don’t stop there. Use it as a springboard to write longer and more interesting things to submit when you’re ready.
  4. You’re quirky
    For this one I’d say you also should be an amazing writer but that’s because I get tired of people trying too hard to be quirky at the expense of the writing. Unless you’re selling something or are already known it’s really hard to get your work noticed. People need a reason to visit or subscribe to your blog, they’re busy and distracted and impatient. If you’re quirky they’ll come back or trek along for the ride. If you’re not sure if you’re quirky ask your friends. They’ll tell you. Most likely that’s why they hang out with you.
  5. You’re already published
    Here’s the thing, most of my favorite published authors don’t blog and I respect that. There’s this little nagging thing in me though and I don’t think it’s only me. I want more. I want to know more, I want to understand more, I want to know what that author thinks about Ferguson or the deficit or the cost of higher education. Sometimes you can get that by following them on Facebook and, in fact, Anne Lamott does her own version of this on that site. She’ll post long status updates (blog length, I’d say!) and those serve the purpose. But if you’re not Anne Lamott and you’re published and people love your work and want more it may be worthwhile to start a blog. You can do it on an author Facebook page if that’s your bag but it may be a good idea to set up shop on an actual blog and just save Facebook for cat memes. That’s your call. In any case you want your work to be available and sharable. That’s the key.

I hate that this now feels like one of those “ask the expert” posts. Sorry about that. I’m no expert. I just have feelings, a whole lot of feelings…and I have a computer and some time on my hands. Maybe nobody cares about my blog or your blog these days, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing.

Good luck all my blogging people…make beautiful posts!

The magical mystery tour!

This morning when I stirred my coffee I picked up the wrong spoon. Instead of the nice clean spoon I’d taken from the drawer moments before I picked up a spoon left on the counter from dinner last night. Somehow it had missed the last train into the dishwasher before I went to bed and so it sat there all night, lonely and covered in spaghetti sauce. I stirred my coffee without realizing the error. I walked to my comfy morning ritual chair without noticing and I took that first sip, maybe even the second sip in utter bliss. The third sip revealed my error. Nothing like aged tomato sauce chunks in a person’s coffee first thing. I mean that.

All of this has nothing to do with my post this morning. I just needed to tell someone. Thanks for that.

Now, to the business at hand- my new friend, Cathy Warner has invited me to be a part of what she calls a The Magical Mystery Blog Tour 2014. I was very excited to be offered a seat on that tour. I love the Beatles. Imagine my surprise when I read her actual post this morning and found no evidence of the Fab 4, no walruses or no Strawberry Fields. It was not quite as bad as discovering the floating chunks of tomato sauce in my coffee but I’ll confess my initial disappointment that John, Paul, George and Ringo were not a part of this tour.

In any case, I moved past that because I really do like Cathy Warner an awful lot. Her writing is lovely. Her blog is beautiful and intimate even though it’s not psychedelic like the cover of that Beatles album that we shall no longer name in this post. It’s still pretty far out, man.

The tour itself is about connection. Cathy answers some questions offered up by her friend, poet Cary Taylor and then Cathy pays it forward by tagging other writers that she likes a whole lot. Thus explains how I’m involved in a blog tour (that has no walruses, strawberry fields or LSD inspired art work. Sorry.)

So, now that I’ve gotten a fresh cup of coffee (that has no chunks of tomato sauce floating) here’s my contribution to the cycle of questions and answers that make up this tour today:

What am I working on?

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If you’re my friend you know (because I have been pounding you over the head with this information) that I just finished a book, “Nearly Orthodox: On being a modern woman in an ancient tradition.” The book has just been published by Ancient Faith Publishers and now is wending its way through the world of books. I guess in theory I’m not “working” on that anymore as far as writing is concerned.

So, in light of that I’ll change my answer to say that I’m working on research for my next book, which is a sort of “theology of the body” for normal people. Most of the work out there about how we see our bodies (for religious folks in particular) is tough to decipher. I’d like to write a book we can all cling to when the couch is too comfy and the pastries are calling.

How does my work differ from others in its genre?

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When I began to write the book, Nearly Orthodox I wanted to tell the story of my conversion but I couldn’t just tell that story because I’m not a single story. I’m a collection of stories. All of us are collections of stories. We are the product of all the years we’ve lived and all the stories we’ve created. So, instead of telling you about my conversion to Orthodoxy I wrote the stories that explain why I’m so neurotic. It’s far more entertaining, and, it’s all true. I thought maybe it’d be like therapy and help me not be so neurotic but I’m pretty sure that didn’t happen. You’d have to ask my husband to find out, I guess.

I’m not sure that answers the question but it’s been a rough start this morning, with the coffee and blog tour shake up and all. Forgive me.

Why do I write what I do?

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Remember that part of me being neurotic? That’s why I write. Online quizzes on Buzzfeed and the like tell me I’m a verbal processor which means I need to talk about things to understand them. That was driving the grocery store clerks crazy so instead I put my creative writing degree to a good use and began to write about things instead. I have to write it down to understand myself and that’s why I write what I do.

I also write poetry which is what happens when too many words on a page make me want to dig my fingernails into my skin. Poetry is a way for me to make beautiful little tasty morsels instead of a full on Cake Boss cake wreck. That’s not to say the kitchen is any less a disaster area whilst creating those tasty morsels. The process is always messy. I could really use a cleaning lady.

How does my writing process work?

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Remember that disaster area and cleaning lady comment?It’s safe to say that that’s an apt metaphor. I wish I could emulate the sort of writer who can just sit quietly each morning, soak in sun rays, sip coffee (without tomato chunks) and summon the muse but it’s messy. My best ideas come when I have no chance of writing them down. It’s like the best conversations my kids want to have with me come at bedtime when my brain cells are gone and my attention span is depleted. I have to force myself to find time to put it down someplace and hope I can decipher my notes later. It always reminds me of that episode from Seinfeld when he wakes up late at night, laughing, scribbles down a note for a joke then spends the rest of the episode trying to figure his handwriting. When he finally does, the joke is not funny at all. I feel some days I spend a whole episode reaching for that great idea I thought I had and some days I never do reach it or I reach it and realize it’s all about the flaming globes of Sigmund but some days there’s gold and those are the best days.

What’s next for this tour?

Well, this is where things get really interesting because I’m tagging my pals for posts. You’ll get to click on over and see posts from my friends, Karen Beattie and Lance Burson.

Karen has written a beautiful book about loss and grief and gifts in the process. I hope you’ll check it out and while you’re at it, read her, a lot. She’s awesome.
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My pal, Lance has written a few books over the years but his latest is here. Also, check out his blog if for no other reason than that picture of Brad Pitt. Why not?

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If that doesn’t do it for you, you can also read him on LeftyPop, his hard left leaning, news gathering, opinion spouting website.

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Look for their posts in the coming week or so and continue on this magical mystery tour! It’s a virtual pub crawl of awesome, except I’ll tell you right now there is no actual beer being given out. It’s BYOB, people.

 

a lesson in metaphor making….

Alright so my ‘make your own metaphor’ day was not greeted with as much enthusiasm as I’d hoped. I’m not giving up so easily. I won’t rest until we’re all walking talking metaphor, people! Alright, maybe I’ll settle for you being accutely AWARE that you are metaphor for about 15 minutes every month.

Some generous feedback suggested to me that perhaps I need to step back a bit and give more direction so in light of that we will have Lesson One in metaphor making.

I’ve already given you a description of what makes metaphor..it’s a transferring of one thing to another…from the latin word meaning to “carry.” You’re in effect, carrying the traits of one item onto another.

Generally, what makes metaphor really interesting to me is when we take two VERY DIFFERENT things to carry across to one another but you can always go for the easy load and choose things that have some well known connection. So today we’ll focus on choosing those things, you decide how far apart the shores you plan to bridge, alright?

Think through what is happening in your day or your week. Look at your actual calendar. Go ‘head…I’ll wait.
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Now, choose an event that either is happening in your life…carpool, school project due, dinner party, dentist appointment. Choose something quotidian or something extraordinary, it’s up to you. Choose the first thing that jumps out at you, even if it’s SWEEP BASEMENT STAIRS! This is the point where I’d ask you though, why you had to write SWEEP BASEMENT STAIRS on your calendar…not judging, just asking. I ask questions…it’s what I do best.

If you have your “event” from the calendar then sit with that thought for a moment. SWEEP BASEMENT STAIRS. How do you feel about this event? Have you done it already? Have you been avoiding it? Are you looking forward to it? Does the thought of clean basement steps have some SPECIAL meaning for you? Are you on medication for this weird clean steps fetish?

Once you have an EMOTION we move from here. You see, metaphor isn’t just comparing two very different things…it’s not even pasting one on top of the other…it’s not Bacon Donuts. (Don’t go off on me about how awesome Bacon Donuts taste, ok? Let’s not go there.) Metaphor is MORE than comparision, it’s more than cut and paste. Metaphor is actually a distillation of these two things…they move together because they ARE connected…well connected….in the fabric of what knits US together. It’s unseen, it’s mysterious and yet when you hear it, it makes PERFECT sense. Metaphor that DOES NOT work is easy to spot. We don’t feel a connection to it. We don’t get it. We don’t BELIEVE it.

So get back to your basement stairs. If you felt dread about that event you might think then, what else do you dread? Visitng the dentist? Breaking up with your hairdresser? Admitting you were wrong to a friend?

We now have two different “things.” Sweeping the floor and calling to apologize to someone. If it was me, I’d do put it this way:

The phonecall would be messy. The phone call was the dirt on the staircase to the basement I never get around to sweeping.

Now, you CAN leave it to stand on it’s own but because I’m Mrs Metaphor I expand the metaphor…draw it out:

The phonecall would be messy. The phone call was the dirt on the staircase to the basement I never get around to sweeping. I had put off that mess for too long. Each time I walked down the steps I saw the dirt there, so I avoided the steps. I had a broom, I don’t know why I would not make the call. I could so easily clean it up. Every particle of dirt was a mistake I’d made, a word I’d said in anger. Sweeping it away didn’t mean it would disappear, certainly, it just meant that I was taking ownership of it, making our friendship clear again. I was still responsible for those stairs. I was still responsible for that dirt and clearing away the injury.

Alright, that’s enough for today…there’s no written homework required today…just read pages 75-225 in your textbooks and look around your life….seek out the metaphor this week. See where it takes you to just pay attention to how things are connected.

care…

Someone turned to me at a party recently to enlist me in his tirade about the possible changes to the way the deductibilty of charitable contributions are calculated. At that moment I had to wonder about that discourse so I didn’t answer him right away.

“Don’t you agree though? I mean, this will shut down non profits all together!” he spat at me.

Now, I run a small non profit. It is, of course underfunded, I expect that. I budget for that. His tactic was meant to hit a nerve I suppose. It did, but not the one he expected.

Here’s what I think. I wonder what kind of narrative we’ve adopted in our culture that bases our desire to GIVE based upon what we GET. I personally, do not give money to charity because I will get a deduction for it. Many times I give and do not declare it as a charitable contribution. I give to my church because “tithing” is part of my faith narrative. I give to charitable organizations because it is part of my personal desire to support good causes. I have to believe that MOST of us who give to charities have this conviction, I have to believe that.

I may be wrong, I often am wrong in fact but it’s in my basic nature to think the best of people, to hope for the best in people. So to put out there into the world the idea that non profits will disappear because the amount I can claim on my taxes will decrease just degrades all of us. It imagines the very worst possible nature for us, as americans and as citizens of the world as well.

Can we not think better of ourselves? Can we not bring each other UP instead of down on this? I say that in light of the tax changes (if they happen) the response ought to be a hope in the goodness of people.

It’s an issue of care. We must begin to see ourselves as a people who value CARE more than money, more than politics, more than personal gain. If we do not become a country filled with people of care then we are indeed at our own end and no amount of legislation can cure us.

Ask Mrs Metaphor

Since I’m coming up on this NaBloMo assignment of writing a blog entry a day for the entire month of November I thought I’d begin to stock the pond, so to speak. I am proposing a new feature here at Mrsmetaphor.com called “Ask Mrs Metaphor” wherein, basically, you ask me, Mrs Metaphor, about whatever is on your mind. I shall endeavor, in my very best metaphorical style to answer said question.

So there you have it. You can email your question to me mrsmetaphor@mrsmetaphor.com or merely place it in the comments of this thread. I will keep your identity as hidden as you require and I will try to answer in a timely fashion but give me a day or two at least to summon the Muse and compose your response, alrighty then?