Posts Tagged 'Blogging'

A [Semi-Autobiographical] Tutorial on the Politics of Blogging

First things first: If you’re a new reader or subscriber, welcome! Whatever it was about yesterday’s post that intrigued you, I hope to offer more of that in the future. And do please continue to comment with feedback, suggestions, and (constructive) criticism.

This Weekend's Comment Moderation Madness

A good RLF (ahem. Real Life Friend) of mine who subscribes to this blog gave me some incredibly valuable feedback yesterday regarding my post, “Why Don’t Intellectuals Go To The Rodeo?”. He observed that my writing style (my “blog-voice,” if you will) was much more removed in that post than usual; that this detachment may have contributed to the sense of judgment that some readers felt.

As my hip urban friends would say: “Truth.” *

Compared to previous “lengthy sociological” posts, my discussion about the rodeo was far more journalistic. I place at least some of the blame for the stylistic change on having just re-read David Foster Wallace’s essay about the Illinois State Fair. Unfortunately, that essay is one of the few where Foster Wallace loses his compassion halfway through—and it works against him. Detachment is useful on occasion, but I wasn’t expecting my experiment to be featured on the WordPress home page.

Ironically, back in the infant days of my blogging career, I almost titled The Orchard “Blogging for Dialogue” because I was passionate about the importance of storytelling—in sharing life-stories—in the pursuit of understanding and sympathy across cultural differences. This idea emerged out of womanist theory, farming on a former Virginia plantation, and, well, my life.

The discussion in the comments section was a valuable reminder that detachment must be balanced with compassion and storytelling. It was only when I took the time to share my own background that the post took on the angle I originally intended it to. Some of my favorite comments came from readers who shared their own stories—rural or urban, lovers or haters of the rodeo.

In a weirdly serendipitous coincidence, I ran across an article from Stepcase Lifehack while entrenched in moderating comments called “31 Proven Ways to Get More Comments on Your Blog.” The #1 thing on their list?

Take a Stand. – Most bloggers wallow in moral cowardice because they fear backlash. Take some time to outline your beliefs on an issue that matters to you and publish your thoughts. …Readers love watching to see if you’ll lose your cool in the comments of a post.”

I guess I asked for it. Luckily, when it comes to comments, I take my mother’s (typically Southern) advice: “kill ‘em with kindness.” I also take her (typically feminist) advice: “learn how to say no.” So, when I chose to reject a few offensive or aggressive comments, I took the time to email them personally and have a dialogue that way. I highly recommended this strategy, for the record.

But hey, for all this touchy-feely business, bloggers also have to have some snark (of which I have plenty …I think. At least, in real life).

I’ve tried to maintain a fairly tricky balance on this blog—the balance between Real Things and Non-Essential Hobbies (or, as I think of them, “Pretty Things”). I’ll be honest: I enjoy posting about Pretty Things. It’s less risky. When it comes to watercolors and fountain pens, the worst I can do is bore an uninterested reader.

But with Real Things—well. That’s a different game.

Other important lessons:

  1. Cover all your bases.
  2. Walk the line between snark and sensitivity.
  3. Maintain Mutual Respect (for both readers and for yourself).


* Does anyone know if this is a TV reference? This past year, everyone at my college suddenly started saying in response to everything, and I was clearly left out of the loop.


Blog Talk (Some Recommendations)

Part of why I blog, even as somebody who generally fights for analog over digital, is because it can open doors to a kind of community. So, I wanted to talk up some blogs that I’ve enjoyed lately!

Darkly Wise, Rudely Great is the blog of philosopher, author, and commentator D.A. Young. He has some good things to say about a technological world, and I like the emphasis that he places on his real/family life in conjunction with his profession.

Leigh Reyes. What more can I say? Totally indulgent artsy-pen goodness, plus fantastic videos of nib action (sounds dirty?)

Drawing With A Squirrel is the blog of “Gentian,” whose delicate watercolors and drawings are some serious eye candy. Her portraits and still lifes verge on the edge of abstraction, but they definitely reflect a controlled drawerly discipline. Plus, she has some excellent art supply reviews.

Ten Blogtastic Resolutions

I suppose it’s that time of year for goal-making. BUT, for the record, I feel that I should be making goals all the time. New Years Eve is just a good excuse, I suppose– a way to align yourself with all the other people who are craving a blank slate.

1. Post more about feminism and farming, and less about art and pens. (I think this is seasonal, though– obviously I’m farming more often in the summer, and making more art in the dreary academic wintertime)

2. Continue blogging, even across the Great Divide (i.e. graduation) in May.

3. Don’t let my lust for art supplies make me more consumerist. It’s really easy for a blog about art supplies, or office supplies, or about shopping, to basically encourage readers to want things they don’t need. So that’s a related sub-goal: I refuse to become an “eco-friendly” bullshit blog. Interacting with the environment is way more infinite and important than a trend.

4. Write a damn good senior thesis –and make a few posts about it!

5. Graduate with a Plan. Yeah, that’d be good.

6. Graduate into the world as an open person. A kind person. A woman not afraid of her own capabilities, and not afraid to open her own doors. Also, full of humility and love– a person you want around, because your heart feels full and adventurous.

6. Become more open with my family. Sigh. Irrelevant to this blog, but still necessary.

7. Invest in a really nice (but not extravagant) pen. Nothing jewel-encrusted, please. Oh, and Self, make sure to write many beautiful letters to beautiful friends with this pen.

8. Do something with my art. Maybe make some prints available on here? Or even better, sell the originals?

9. Network more. This requires a bit of free time, but there’s no point in having a blog if you’re not going to participate in the things that the digital community can offer

10. And don’t forget: its a blog, not real life. I don’t usually forget about this, but it’s worth writing down anyways. The digital community won’t grow you any vegetables, or snuggle with you in a hammock in the late afternoon…

Art adventures, literary hangovers, rural politics and other songs worth sharing.

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