In yesterday's post, I detailed how I backed into a place in the blogosphere. Today, I'll look at those heady first months at the helm of Muley's World, including a development that left me challenging some of my earliest assumptions about blogging.
PART TWO: GIDDY AS A SCHOOLGIRL
After I had taken the plunge and started Muley’s World, I had to sit down and try to figure out how I wanted to use my new toy. Remember, I didn’t know much at all about the blogosphere, its characteristics or unwritten rules, so I was flying blind. Here are some of the things I resolved to do with my blog when I first began:
1. I decided to view my blog as my own personal online magazine. Forget trying to get some snooty magazine or literary journal to accept my stuff – I had my own! I was publisher, editor, writer, layout artist and circulation manager. I could print what I wanted, when I wanted.
2. As far as the content of my new magazine went, I decided I would concentrate almost exclusively on printing the essays, short stories and poetry I produced. Again, I viewed Muley’s World as my own literary journal. Or, if you like, it was my own free art gallery, open to the public 24/7, with endless wall space, allowing me to hang whatever pictures I wanted the public to see.
3. Knowing that one of my failings as a writer has always been the inability to write and produce finished works on a regular basis, I resolved to give my powers of self-discipline more muscle by committing to posting something every single day, with the exception of Sundays and times of illness, family emergency and vacations.
4. I would wait about a month or so to compile a “back catalog” before letting anyone else know about my blog (Mrs. Muley excepted, of course). When I did start getting the word out, I would begin with my closest friends, then include family, then -- maybe many months out -- include people I did not interact with every day, such as friends from church and kids’ sporting events. I thought that if any “strangers” ended up seeing my site, they would be friends of the friends I personally told about Muley’s World.
5. Because the place I work for doesn’t have a blog policy for employees, and because I was unwilling to have people I work with commenting on my daily posts, I decided to remain as anonymous as I could, without being too anal retentive about it.
6. I didn't really care how many people saw my blog site, as long as I could write the stuff I wanted and have a permanent home for it.
Alongside these early resolutions, I also had some early misconceptions about the blogosphere:
1. I pictured blogging as basically a one-way circuit. In other words, you put material out there, someone else read it, and that completed the circuit. The idea that as much time and effort would ever be spent in commenting on someone else’s blog -- or responding to comments someone else wrote on your blog – didn’t even enter my mind.
2. I thought that the blogosphere was a great home for all types of writing -- from the shortest quips to the longest, most detailed essays. I also thought it was most likely a great home for fictional work, where blog owners would post their short stories, poems and novellas for others to see.
3. I had no idea of whether the blogosphere was primarily liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican. I didn’t know and I didn’t care, because getting into any kind of discussion online about politics was the last thing I felt like doing. I wanted to write and create and be whimsical and funny and lyrical.
It’s no surprise, then, that my first posts were either humorous essays I came up with on the fly, such as a piece where I imagined what the mystery element Retsyn might be, or pieces I had dreamed up years ago but had never written, such as an evaluation of great sleepers of the Bible. I was having great fun, but almost overnight I began spending a lot of time with my new hobby. I was combing through old notebooks, writing first drafts, editing, then tapping out finished versions. I would post long pieces sometimes twice a day, often written late into the night after everyone else had gone to bed.
I could tell at first that Mrs. Muley was unsure if my new mistress was going to take me away for good. Looking back now, I was so excited about finally having this creative outlet available that all I seemed to talk about to her was blogging – my previous posts, the posts I was working on now, the post I had planned for tomorrow. I started taking my lunch hour off at work to spend it either writing posts, or reading the posts of others.
I should have known it was bad when at least two or three people who read my earliest efforts said, “You sure have a lot of free time on your hands, don’t you?” To some extent I did, since May and June are very slow months for me, but in another way, no, because I was stealing time away from family and other important tasks to blog.
An entirely unexpected event happened less than a week after I had begun Muley’s World. The one blog I had discovered and become a faithful reader of prior to becoming a blogger was Dawn Eden’s “Dawn Patrol.” She was my cyber hero. I so admired her writing skill, her humor, and her passion for great causes such as the right to life. Well, lo and behold, one day that first week I was checking Dawn’s site, and there was a mention of Muley’s World! Not only a mention, but Dawn praised me and my site far more than I would ever deserve. I was flabbergasted for two reasons: one, that she would have such good things to say about what was clearly a neophyte’s attempt to blog, and two, that she knew about me at all.
I was thrilled and giddy as a schoolgirl, but a bit shook up as well. What did this mean? I had never contacted Dawn by e-mail or commented on her site, so how in the heck did she know about Muley’s World? I knew nothing about things like trackbacks and site meters, so unless you left some sort of message, I figured you remained anonymous when you looked at other people’s blogs. I didn’t know what the little “Next Blog” button at the top of Blogger sites would do if you punched it. How did Dawn find me? How?
This meant, of course, that my original planning about having no one look at my site until I’d had a month or so to tweak it and build up a library of postings was now useless. People – strangers to me – were looking at my site, now. My art gallery’s doors were opened, so I’d better have something for them to see.
I kept on writing furiously, but I also spent more and more time looking at new blogs, trying to see how others were doing things. I found indexes of conservative and Christian blogs and visited many of the sites listed. And it was these visits that started turning me away from my first plans for Muley’s World into something quite different.
PART THREE: LOOKING FOR A HIT