It all started with a clown.
Not just any clown, mind you. Oh, sure, he had the shiny red nose, the giant shoes, the rainbow-colored hair and all that stuff.
But this was a special clown. A foul-mouthed, French-Canadian clown. I immediately detected a horrible smell, which upon further investigation, turned out to emanate from burning clown ass hair. Pretty soon, the pompiers came round, put out the flames and shoved a water hose up his butt.
And that’s how I met Le Clown of A Clown on Fire.
Eric’s manically insane, insightful, well-written blog was, serendipitously, the first I happened to run across when first I typed www.wordpress.com into my browser’s address bar back in March.
You should visit him, by the way. Not only is he funny as heck, but he has a heart of gold.
I no longer recall how I reached his blog, but likely it was through Freshly Pressed, an honor that has bestowed on His Magnificence™ three times now.
After all, when you’re checking out WordPress for the first time, you mostly are faced with prompts on how to start a blog. If you’re not sure yet whether you want to start a blog, and even if you do, whether you want to start one here, there aren’t a whole lot of options that allow you to check out some existing blogs to determine whether this is a club you would like to join. So, yes, I must have clicked the Freshly Pressed link for lack of a clue as to any other way to navigate. I kept wishing there were a Random Blog button as there is on Open Diary.
Alas, as all thespians know, every comedy has its corresponding tragedy, as the “happy” and “sad” masks so readily remind us.
About the time I discovered Le Clown, my wife’s grandmother passed away. After the funeral, I wrote a short piece expressing my feelings and started looking around for a place to post in online for family and friends to read. That piece was Grandma’s Funeral, Post #1 on A Map of California. Even though I had absolutely no clue what I was getting myself into, I still believe that it is one of my best efforts to date.
Ten months later, this is my 148th post.
Let me tell you a secret: I still have no idea what I’m doing.
As much as I love this crazy blogosphere that sends me “likes” from the Ukraine and followers from Turkey and New Zealand, I have no advice to offer as to how to plan your posts, please your readership or improve your stats.
I take it one day at a time and let the chips fall where they may. My blog reflects my life; in both cases, I fly by the seat of my pants and pray the seams don’t rip while I’m out in public. The only problem is that, in our bloggy world, we’re always out in public.
I am not necessarily advocating my freewheeling approach to blogging. I keep reading about bloggers who “schedule” publication of their posts in advance and those who cover specific topics on particular days of the week to better target audiences interested in some of their topics. And then there are bloggers like Mindy Peltier over at In the Write Moment, who wax poetic over “Cool Tools” and possess an understanding of technology that goes straight over my head. There are apps out there that can make your blog look better, ones that can generate interest from social media sites outside WordPress, ones that can help to keep you organized, and probably ones that can clean your house and wash your car. I do not understand anything about this stuff. I should probably learn, but right now I’m too busy writing.
I am told that my blog should have its own Facebook page, that I should maximize my use of Twitter and that I should take steps to improve the position of my posts in Google’s page ranking algorithm. I routinely ignore this advice. I don’t like Facebook for reasons I have previously discussed in this forum. I have a nominal Twitter account, which I primarily use to see what interesting things others are saying, rather than to make like a birdie and tweet tweet tweet. As for page ranking algorithms, that is a language which I do not speak. I have been gobsmacked more than once to learn that a reader landed on my blog following a search for something on Google.
But the most basic and persistent problem faced by bloggers is how to come up with interesting things to say day after day. My advice on this score is: Follow your passion. Write about what you care about and others will care about it, too.
Many bloggers take this advice by narrow focusing, writing single-topic blogs in such areas as cooking, crafts, books, travel or pets. Check out the WordPress Recommended Blogs for a sample. For example, you might be surprised at the number of cat bloggers and dog bloggers we have here on WordPress. My current favorites are Bailey Boat Cat and Ruby the Black Labrador. Bailey is a world-traveling Siamese who lives on the boat Nocturne, docked on the Mediterranean in Nice, France. Ruby lives in Australia and enjoys eating dead things. Both bring a smile to my face on a regular basis.
Then there are the mommy bloggers and the daddy bloggers, who have an endless store of anecdotes at the ready as their readers grow up with their kids. I write so much about my burgeoning relationship with my little grandniece that, some days, I feel in danger of falling over the precipice and ending up in this category.
Despite the above, I believe there is still plenty of room for generalists like myself, whose blogs are more in the nature of journals than anything else.
The problem with journaling (as anyone who has ever tried to start a diary knows) is that most of our days aren’t very interesting or exciting. Even Twain’s Tom Sawyer was moved to give up the effort when “nothing happened” for three days straight.
When I was in elementary school and had to write a composition, I used to whine to my father: “What should I write it on?”
“On paper would be good” was his standard answer.
Turns out he was right.
I believe that the key to success in blogging, and perhaps in life itself, is to appreciate the little things. If you noticed the colors of the sunset this evening or had a conversation with your sister or visited the supermarket or watched TV or cooked dinner or helped your kid with her homework or received some junk mail advertisements or did a load of laundry or had a doctor appointment or read an article in a magazine, you have something to write about.
So, as you can see, there really is something to write about every day.
Don’t worry about your post being just a few lines long. Remember, brevity is the soul of wit. I need to take this advice myself, as I tend to be longwinded and frequently belabor the point beyond all reason. As my mother always said, “too good is no good.”
And to those whose slogged along in the trenches with me day after day during the month of November for NaBloPoMo, I say: Congratulations! We did it!