|Nevada Road – see corresponding photo essay on wild horses
What a ride it has been! I started this blog in January last year because I wanted to have a web presence as a writer, and a friend had recommended a blog as an easy way to do that. Little did I know that blogging would open up a whole new world. I had no concept then that I would learn so much, make wonderful connections, and discover more about myself in the process.
Here’s some of what amazed me most about blogging:
- The generosity of commenters – A big thank you to all my readers who’ve taken the time to comment on a post, or a few posts, or many posts. You make me happy, and I love having a conversation with you. Each time a comment notification arrives in my inbox, my heart skips a little. A special shout out to Nancy, who supported my blogging efforts from the very beginning, and to Anjuli, who is, I believe, my most faithful commenter. Thank you!
- The sense of community – My first big experience of that was last May’s Blogathon, hosted by the amazingly generous Michelle Rafter. Then I took two blogging classes with Kristen Lamb (check out the #MYWANA hashtag on Twitter to see the great sense of community she builds). Slowly but surely I had friends out in cyberspace, other writers who were trying to learn the blogging ropes just like I was, or who were a few steps ahead of me, and generous in sharing their knowledge.
- The challenge of developing a voice – Naively, I thought the main learning would be dealing with the technology, but that turned out to be the easy part. Figuring out who I am as a blogger, finding a voice, learning from all that is out there and yet not getting distracted by it – that is the real challenge, and continues to be.
- The blog is shaped by its readers – I initally thought of my blog as an extension of my memoir classes, but soon discovered that there was so much more to share, and so much I could figure out about my views and ideas by sharing them on my blog. Posts that I thought were rather mundane could resonate greatly with readers – such as my riff on writing postcards. The color lists became a regular feature because you all loved the idea. My MFA Q&A series was an idea from a fellow Blogathoner who sent me a list of questions, and my series on artist residencies sprung from a question one of my students asked. Which brings me to the most unexpected discovery of all:
- The appreciation for my photography – I’ve taken pictures all my life, and learned a thing or two from my dad who would always stop the car and made us wait to “take a picture,” but I was amazed by how my readers cheered me on to share pictures of the road trip my family and I took to the Southwest last summer. A special shout out to Kelley Clink, whose question whether I’d blog about the trip prompted me to do so, and to Natalie Hartford, whose encouragement has cheered me on to create many more photo essays. Photos from my road trip ended up as a My Vacation story on SecondAct.
- The ideas keep coming – the creative process works the same way with blogging as it does with other creative endeavors: the more you do it, the better you get at it, and the more ideas bounce around. I blog about things now that I never even conceived of a year ago.
- The wealth of information on blogs – I subscribe to more than 100 blogs myself. I continue to be astounded by the neat things I discover, the knowledge others are willing to share, and the sheer fun to be had sometimes.
- The greatest link can come out of left field – such as a the Wall Street Journal article “How to Save an Unproductive Day in 25 Minutes” that linked to my blog post Hemingway on Writing. My page hits have doubled since that link appeared in December, and yet I have no idea how the journalists came upon my blog (I asked but didn’t hear back.).
As my blogging journey continues, I want to thank all of you, my readers, my commenters, and my guest bloggers, for your support, your interest, and your generosity. I started at zero more than a year ago; now more than 200 people read my blog every day. Thank you, and please keep the comments, the ideas, and the questions coming. I will aim to put them to good use.