All of us are writers under the world-wide dome of the blogosphere. I don’t care if your only interest is selling mattresses. You write the copy, you’re a writer.
You can make your bed on it!
Some blog-writers—and I daresay that’s most of us—are also writers of novels, of short stories, of poems, of any other classes of the language arts.
And most of those write to be published.
With those who do “write to be published”, their blogs are extensions of their livelihood, or what they hope with all their heart will soon be their livelihood. So their blog serves a utilitarian purpose. Taken to its furthest margin, such a blog becomes a website, and their periodic posts are designed to angle toward this or that product.
I hope no one attributes any negativity in my saying that. I think owning a blog or website is a grand pursuit and should be integral to every writer’s marketing plan.
I’m merely trying to carve out distinctions between those two broad categories:
BLOGGERS OF THE FIRST DISTINCTION would be writers whose success depends, to varying degrees, on how well (or how poorly), their blogs “perform”. The name of one writer of our generation comes to mind. John Locke, whose seminal book on marketing deserves to be partying in every writer’s book-bag, speaks out in a strong voice of advocacy for self-publishing. His book, How I Sold 5 Million eBooks in 5 months, offers a step-by-step tutorial on how to use your website to write those short, punchy posts whose purpose is to sell your books.
THE SECOND DISTINCTION is for the bloggers among us who blog … well, just because …. I BLOG, THEREFORE I AM. God bless them, one and all, for simply B-E-I-N-G.
ONE BLOGGER OF THIS ILK might proffer a family recipe (an aside: My dear Aunt Dorothy called recipes “receipts”, or pronounced it such, which I never understood) for sweet potato pie. And given a scintilla of encouragement, that blogger will include a primer on when and where to find the sweet potatoes that will yield the creamiest filling.
ANOTHER BLOGGER might share the humor, the challenges, and the rewards of raising a pair of toddlers while struggling to maintain the structure and time restraints inherent in being a “writing” Mom … or Dad. If you haven’t had the opportunity yet, let me introduce you to Biff and Bash. The creator of their lovable antics might raise the corners of your mouth in a grin, one time, or render you hysterical … or in tears, the next. Sometimes, though, I’m sure Jean Lee might want a simple word of encouragement, maybe a hug, from the reader who can see beyond the hilarity.
I’ve dropped a couple of hints in the last several paragraphs about what the theme of this post is. Let me offer just one more:
Suppose you are a brand-new parent, your first child. You and your spouse are home from the hospital with the new joy of your lives. I don’t need to tell you how … beneath golden, coils of hair, her emerald-green eyes dart here and there with intelligent curiosity such as you’d ever seen in any other new-born.
Then throughout the day, the relatives and friends queue past your marvel of genetics. Each smiles, and produces a half nod and goes on. Of course, your parents are more ebullient than the rest, but you expect as much from them. They are reliving their own firstborn. Your neighbor, and best friend, smiles, shakes his head and announces, “I hope you don’t plan on sleeping any time soon.”
What’s going on here? Not all babies can be beautiful—though of course yours is. My wife, who always prided herself on her honesty, had a phrase she used whenever she confronted a less-than-pleasant-faced child. “Oh,” she would coo. “How precious she is.”
But that’s not your case. Yours IS pleasant-faced! What-the-blue-blazes is going on here?
As tired as you were, you prepared her for your visitors. A fresh diaper, a pat or two of baby powder, her hair brushed to a tee. Still, all you get is a polite nod, a smile. There is so much they should love about little Daphne.
Love? All they can muster is a like. Their smiles, their nods—those are likes.
I can see I’m beginning to strain the metaphor at the seams.
Let me just ask my question directly.
How do you feel Mister Blogger, Ms. Blogger when you’ve spent the better part of a day, or a week, scrubbing up your baby, dressing her as pleasantly as you can, and in all ways, preparing her for the waiting eyes of friends and strangers?
You take a deep breath and push the publish button. And you wait. And wait. In a few hours you check your inbox. Five people have read it. Five people have liked it. You click on the first one. “Wily Reader liked your post. They thought ‘The coronation of an Angel’ was pretty awesome. You should go see what they’re up to. Maybe you’ll like their blog as much as they liked yours!” I remember, years ago, my naïve reaction the very first time I read those words. “Well, at least they thought it was awesome,” I thought. And I probably clicked on one of their blogs.
That was then. Now you are wiser, and know there’s no reason to go through the same verbiage with the other four likers.
I find it all very disheartening.
If they take the time to read my blog, why not take the thirty seconds longer to leave a three-or four-word comment. Or for heaven’s sake, take another minute from their hectic days to tell me what they found helpful, funny, or thoughtful. What’s holding back one human being from connecting, for that tiny moment, with another human being?
Wait! Could it be they have nothing to say? By that I mean, the five likers are voiceless because they didn’t read it in the first place?
No, that couldn’t be it. The like button is at the end of the post. How can one push the “like” button if he doesn’t know if he likes it or not? Isn’t that being disingenuous?
Okay, okay! Getting all that snarkiness out of the way, if I’m not mistaken, I think I hear someone asking, “Jay, you mean to tell us you’ve never ‘liked’ something you hadn’t read?”
To that I hold up my right hand and swear, “Hell, yes, I have.” That doesn’t mean I don’t feel crappy about it, especially after all the barbed accusations I’ve been hurling about—metaphorically.
I’ll add quickly, though, “I haven’t done it recently—within the last several months.”
And I’ll solidify that statement with a pledge:
“From this day onward, any post I take the time to read, I shall leave a comment. I’ll do my best to keep the comment relevant to the post’s theme … and I shall push the “like” button only after I’ve commented.”
That’s my pledge to you members of my blogosphere family.
I don’t make it lightly.
That said, it would be impertinent to expect your pledge in return. Rather, I would ask you to give it serious thought, and tell me whether my arrow of logic shot far of the mark.
Have a lovely weekend.