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Monday, July 9, 2012

Does Your Blog Serve a Purpose?

I'm back from my short hiatus! If you read my last post, we had a dire emergency prior to the holiday that threw us into full-scale search and rescue. Because of nearby fireworks, Tank bolted and got lost for 12 hours. Worst. Night. Ever.

When things were looking their grimmest, I had seriously considered closing down both this blog and Back to Basics. That may sound strange to some people but my reasoning was based with my readers in mind. 

Had I lost Tank so tragically, I would've been a terrible blogger mired in grief. There would be no joy in writing about books, the homestead, or my quirky observations. It just wouldn't be worth it to me. You'd feel uncomfortable visiting and I'd be as dull as yesterday's news.

Pain is something I don't think should be shared in the long term. Blogging about a singular tragedy is one thing, but making it a running theme is depressing and too personal to share. People can console you for only so long.

This is why I turned off comments the day poor Murray died. I was too grief-stricken to respond like I always do. It wasn't fair to you. So I took some time off to heal until I could be an interesting blogger again.

I've never treated blogging as a public diary, but more as a collection of observations, anecdotes, and things I've learned along the way. Maybe that's atypical, but that was my choice when I started blogging. 

This got me to wondering how other people use their blogs.

What purpose does your blog serve? What do you want it to accomplish? 

Tank is safe and sound, no worse for wear despite his vagabond ways. Meanwhile, Greg and I probably aged ten years. It's not an experience I want to repeat any time soon.

We learned several things during our ordeal, not least of which is what the human body is capable of enduring during an emergency. We walked for miles and went without sleep the entire night and into the next day. I have to assume it was adrenaline and fear that kept us going. 

Poor Tank looked pretty beat up too. Thank goodness he's a big dog. Little dogs around here tend to get eaten. My biggest fear was that someone might've shot Tank, unaware that he is so docile and elderly.


L.G.Smith said...

I've really been questioning the purpose of a blog lately. To take the cynical view, lately it has only served to distract me from my writing.

But on the positive side it keeps me connected with other writers. I think it's a good way for me to share my thoughts on writing and learn from others. I think if I were published it would take on a different tone, but for now it's about the "aspiring" side of writing.

Mike Keyton said...

Baffled Spirit began as a family record and remains largely so. Sometimes I worry I have nothing to say but I value the discipline of the weekly deadline (I find it boggling that some people can write every day)And I find it useful in developing a 'voice'. I have you to thank for that, Maria.

Krista D. Ball said...

Blogs are a way for me to chat, rant, and vent. :D

Suzanne Brandyn said...

I think blogging keeps me connected to my readers. I try to have something about me occasionally and then I have posts for writers.
I also thought about deleting my blog, but it's a part of my writing so looks like it will stay. :)

Hope you are feeling a lot better. :)

Stacy McKitrick said...

I guess I use my blog to stay connected (and maybe to keep track of what I'm doing). I don't make friends easily (words flow when I write, not so much when I have to talk) and blogging is one way for me to do that.

I'm really glad Tank made it home safely. I know how hard it is to lose a pet, even for a day. Your mind always thinks the worst, doesn't it?

LD Masterson said...

I started my blog simply to create an online presence - because unpubbed writers are supposed to have one. Now I've sort of evolved into three purposes, each with its own day: to network with the writing community (Monday), and to make people laugh (Wednesday) and to share whatever I feel like sharing (Friday).

Okay, I really like making people laugh almost any day.

And I'm so glad Tank is safely home.

Maria Zannini said...

LG: Speaking strictly as a reader, I really enjoy blogs. I like reading other people's opinions and their experiences.

Mike: Yes! The deadline. That's really helped me focus and keep to task.

PS...You've always had voice. :)

Maria Zannini said...

Krista: And show off pretty cats. :)

Suzanne: Hearing from my readers are the highlight of my day. If no one visited and said hello, I probably would've closed shop years ago.

We all feel lots better. Thanks!

Maria Zannini said...

Stacy: The blog does have the added benefit serving as a calendar. Sometimes when I can't remember when something happened, I'll search for it on my blog.

--and yes, we did think the worst.

Linda: Well, you make me laugh--despite the groaners. ;-)

Thanks again for your emails and prayers. We really dodged a bullet this time.

Sarah Ahiers said...

Ugh, i'm still just sick thinking about you guys looking for Tank. I know the few times i've had to look for a missing dog (George or Tula) after about 3 minutes i start to sob. Thank god in all those cases they were found like 30 seconds later, but i don't know what i'd ever do if i lost them for a significant amount of time. It would be that "what if" that would get me.
Ugh, i got to stop talking about this before i start crying.
I'm just so glad he's home safe.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I think it's important to have a purpose behind our blogging. I like making contact with other writers and readers through blogging because I learn things, receive support and hope I can share some little bits with them also.

Jackie Burris said...

Blogging opened up my whole world, literally! I am naturally a private person, an avid reader whose family and friends do not share my passion for the paranormal genre so it has been more fun than I ever thought possible to find like minded people across the world to share book recs with.
Not only that but the chances to meet in person and chat with some of the authors whose work I read and enjoyed has been an experience that is beyond compare.

So the purpose of my blog is still the same, to help spread the word about books I enjoy and authors that write them. Also to share things that are non book related on occasion.

Maria it is my sincere hope to enjoy all your online endeavors for a long while, stopping to read what you share is always interesting and since it is very easy to understand just how cruelly you and Greg would have been shattered if Tank's "misadventure" had turned out differently your "leaving" the blogging community would have been the best decision for you. That said it is such a relief to myself as well as your other online comrades that the outcome was positive and we all have your input on all things wonderful to look forward to in our readers or emails.

Charlee said...

Glad you and Tank are doing better!

I started my blog to help raise awareness of SFR books. I included general SciFi media and geekery posts to help draw in folks not already reading the genre. Unfortunately, while I'm happy with the blog following I have, I think I would have to boost the blog's visibility to actually achieve that original goal.

My current post is actually about reviews because I thought that bringing in reviewers might be one way of boosting the blog's value and I wanted to gauge the reader perception before taking that step.

What my blog has done very well is help me connect with other bloggers with similar interests. That has been a source of great value to me personally, but I question constantly if I should continue or give it up and just stay in touch with the community by commenting on their blogs. With my current schedule, I really need to make my time productive and blogging takes up time I could be writing.

So, I understand why you might be tempted to shut down your blogs, but selfishly hope you don't. ;)

Maria Zannini said...

Sarah: I have a habit of not breaking down until after an emergency is over. I was good and stoic up until I saw Tank safe and happy to see us--then I turned into one big soppy mess. :)

Susan: Writing is such a solitary life that I think blogging and social networking in general have been integral to writers' mental health.

Maria Zannini said...

Jackie: Greg always remarks on all the online friends I have, some of which have become quite close. It's amazing what the internet has done for us.

Charlee: I LOVE your blog. You have an easy-going manner that introduces all manner of SFR in books, film and tv.

It's very easy to get preachy when it comes to talking genre and you've never done that. It makes me feel comfortable when visiting.

Jenny Schwartz said...

Jackie, your blog is great! The fact I don't comment means I'm a slacker (Maria is one of the few people who lures me out of lurkerdom to say a few words. Even Dear Author no longer manages that!), not that I don't read your blog. Your personality shines through.

Actually, personality shining through blogs is what I look for. Don't know if I achieve that, but friendliness and community is why I blog -- that, and publishers tend to request/demand it :)

Maria Zannini said...

Jenny: Personality is at the top of my list too. There are some blogs with good content, but the blogger is so unlikable (to me) that it keeps me from commenting.

Angela Brown said...

Blogging started as a challenge for me, something I wasn't sure I could do, something I didn't think others would be interested in. Then it turned into an obsession. I couldn't get enough of posting. With the natural course of maturing as a blogger, I focused more on making my blog a a place where people could come to enjoy me banter with myself about books, find out about new books, learn about new authors and share in the experience of my journey to getting published.

Shelley Munro said...

Blogging is a means of keeping my website from becoming too static. I like the sense of community that blogging gives one and it's a way to discover new things and talk about subjects I enjoy. I also like sharing books and helping other writers with promo. And lastly, I get to show off some of my photos.

I'm so glad Tank is doing okay after his adventure. I bet he was pleased to get home.

Angelina Rain said...

I'm so glad Tank is doing okay. Give me a few big hugs from me.

My blog used to serve a purpose. It was for me to talk about anything and everything that popped into my head. But now a days I post so little that it no longer serves any purpose. I plan on posting more and prewriting a bunch of things to post so that I'm not stuck doing it at the last minute.

Jennifer Shirk said...

Oh thank goodness he's ok. I'm sure I would have gotten a few gray hairs too!

My blog? I don't know. I like to do fun stuff and talk, but sometimes I wonder what I'm doing. LOL Every time I think I'm done, I get sucked back into it.

Anonymous said...

My blog covers four areas: writing, publishing, science, and miscellaneous. So I cover a lot of territory and try not to limit myself.

Nadja Notariani said...

For me, blogging is a many faceted creature. My blog is a means to connect to fellow writers, an extention of my writing, a format to engage with readers, and a source of accountability within the writing community. It also has been a platform in which to learn on my part the ins and outs of publishing, formatting, and a great way to discover great books to read and recommend. Reading around other writers and readers' blogs has taught me a great deal and stretched me to improve in my own writing journey.

I'm glad you didn't close up shop, Maria, I gain a great deal of enjoyment from your regular posts. Thank goodness Tank is home safe and sound - a no worse for the wear! :}

Darke Conteur said...

Is it not weird that I JUST did a blog post about the relevance of blogs?

Blogs have evolved. They're more now than what they were when the craze first started. I use mine to let others get a look at my life and hopefully, connect to other people who share the same interests as I do, about other things than writing.

It's all about me, baby!

Give Tank a dog treat. He so deserves them! :)

Raelyn Barclay said...

I'm so glad Tank is home safe and sound and that you didn't need to close shop. Your blog is one of the highlights of my day :)

Now, my personal blog started as a way to keep the family updated after we moved. Everyone is on FB so having the separate blog completely lost its purpose.

I started the writer blog mostly because Kristen Lamb said so, LOL. Actually, it is more to connect with other writers at this point. If I pick up some readers along the way that's a bonus at my non-published stage.

What do I want it to accomplish? That's a big one and actually something I'm taking a closer look at this summer.

A nice thought provoking post Maria.

Barbara Ann Wright said...

I want people to have a good time on my blog, and if they learn something, all the better.

I also love swapping pet stories, so I gravitate to blogs of pet owners. ^_^ Glad the big guy's okay. Give him a cuddle from me.

Dru said...

I'm glad that all is well.

Maria Zannini said...

Angela: Obsession? That explains a lot. LOL.

Shelley: I've always wanted to incorporate my web site with the blog, but back then I didn't have the know-how for it. It's an excellent idea.


Angelina: I will definitely pass on the kisses. :) He's been spoiled rotten lately.

Maria Zannini said...

Jennifer: Every other week, I think, that's it, I've got nothing else to share. And yet, there's always more.

I think as long as people keep reading, I'll keep writing.

Stephen: It's excellent advice to newbies too. At least with a variety, you're sure to attract a varied audience.

Nadja: I'm glad you like this blog. So often we never know. How often do we tell people that we like what we read? I know I'm guilty of not complimenting people enough.

Maria Zannini said...

Darke: Great minds think alike. :)
I always have to laugh when "experts" say blogging is dead. I have nearly a thousand blogs on my reader. Blogs are my favorite form of entertainment, education, and enlightenment.

Raelyn: Aw, thank you. I enjoy blogging, even if I don't have as much time as I used to.

Every so often I like to reassess my blog, in case I begin to get sloppy.

Barbara: Blogs that post about pets get me every time. It is the one sure thing that gets me to comment.

Dru: Me too. I don't want any more emergencies for a while.

broken biro said...

Sorry to hear you (and Tank!) had such traumas!

I need to think more about why and what I'm blogging. I started out to develop 'a following' to demonstrate an online presence, but then it became almost like a group penpal letter as I got to know people. It has brought me friends, an online editorialship (Poetry24) and is a great place to group info/pics on a particular subject I might want to refer (myself or other people) back to. I should probably be more 'professional' about it, I suppose. Ooh, you've got me musing, now!

Maria Zannini said...

Broken Biro: Blogging etiquette straddles a thin line. I try to keep this blog friendly but with boundaries--not as easy as it seems.

DeniseCovey _L_Aussie said...

Hi Maria. I'm sorry to hear about your pain. I don't think any of us would keep blogging is a tragedy happened in our lives. We'd need to pull back and recover.
To me, blogging is about online friends. I really value those who've connected with me. Look, currently I'm in Fiji staying in Nas Dean's house for 8 weeks while she tours the States. How's that for trust and friendship?
I learn so much about writing, publishing etc from my blogger author friends. I'd really miss it for example if L.G. Smith stopped blogging. I learn so much from her.
I only hope I give as much as I get.


Maria Zannini said...

Denise: I've been following your adventure in Fiji! That is just so cool.

I regularly get offers for a place to stay, but with so many animals, a trip is a rare thing nowadays.

Giacomo Giammatteo said...

I blog strictly for my animals, in hopes that some of my stories reach people and even change a view now and then. Every now and then I try to tie writing into it, but it's mostly about the animals. I like what you do, Maria. Your blog comes from the heart, and that's good.

Maria Zannini said...

Jim: Blog posts about animals attract me faster than any other. Anyone can talk about writing, and half the time they parrot something already said a dozen times before. But animal posts are unique because no pet or companion is ever the same as another.

Cate Masters said...

I've been wondering lately if blogs are beneficial at all. Some claim blogging is dead, but they seem to be dying a slow death, lol
I do my best to keep my personal life, especially problems, out of my social networking posts. I prefer to keep everything on a positive note.
My blog has to also function as a web site, so I pack it full of info. Dog pics I post on FB. :)

Maria Zannini said...

Cate: I have so many interests that blogs have become my #1 source of information. Homesteading, gardening, canning, dogs, first aide, remodeling, building, and yes, even writing. I laugh when people say blogging is dead. They're more reliable than web sites and less annoying than Twitter.

Shirley Wells said...

My blog has no structure to it whatsoever. My readers are friends and, if I have a bit of news, I like to share it with them. I am in awe of people who blog on set days with set themes. As for blog deadlines ... nope. I'm a hopeless blogger. I do love reading everyone else's though. :)

Hope you've all recovered from Tank's 'adventure'. That really is the stuff of nightmares.

Madeleine Maddocks said...

I can well empathise/ understand with your reasoning. So glad the outcome was a good one. I use my blog to share my writing and writerly things, occasionally I mention personal things to explain an absence, but I prefer, like you to keep my blog on one theme only.

KarenG said...

If you read my last post you know my answer to that. But it's taken a lot of pondering and questioning and analyzing to get to why I blog. I'm with you, that a depressing, negative series of posts is a real turn off. So glad your beloved dog is back safe and sound!

Maria Zannini said...

Shirley: Surprisingly, recovery took longer than we expected. I think we realized just how close we came to losing him.

Madeleine: I'm glad I didn't come across as extreme. It's just that my blogs are very much an extension of me. If I go down, they go down.

KarenG: I did read that post! Blogging is such a personal thing, even when it's business related. A good blog can't be separated from its personality. At least that's my opinion.

Margaret M. Fisk said...

Hugs on the stress and I'm so glad you found him okay.

My blog is an extension of my desire to help people, whether helping them find interesting reads or things they should know about. I reserve Mondays for random posts on whatever I feel like talking about, though I don't use it as a diary. I talk about things that impress, or worry me. I talk about concepts I think people might need some help on, and I spin out tech help every once in a while too :).

Maria Zannini said...

Margaret: Extension is a good word. A successful blog should be an extension of ourselves.

Margaret M. Fisk said...

And to live up to my comment, my Monday post is an "extension" of your question :).