I had a blog before this one. It was similar in look, I guess, and similar in content. I started it when I went abroad to do another university degree and it was meant as a sort of mass e-mail, to stay in touch with people. Necessarily, therefore, it was a lot more personal. And after a few months, I stopped it in disgust because it was meandering, pointless (= no thread) and most of all, I hated that it had started to sound negative and complaining and vulnerable and whiny and annoying and a lot of other things that I can’t quite remember now, but that were bad. BAD. Like drunk-dialing or something. I vowed never to blog again. I couldn’t trust myself.
Then after a while I got over it and started again, with a new name, a new idea and an actual purpose – to get my voice, my writing, out there and see if it resonated with anyone or if it was all just in my mind. “It” being the notion that I wasn’t too bad at putting words together. At the same time, I promised myself that I wouldn’t post anything if I didn’t feel good and that even if I was going to write about not-so-good things, I’d better make damn sure it was funny!
And then today I got an e-mail from a friend, casually saying that he’s been reading the blog and thinks I sound depressed. And that was a shock. Admittedly, this friend is like a soul brother, so he probably picked up some stray radiation from reading my mind, as he’s wont to do, but still…!
It’s been bugging me all day, and I can’t stop thinking about it, so I want to clear the air about some stuff:
1. If I ever sound complaining, whiny, or annoying, please, PLEASE, kick me in the (digital) butt! I mean that.
2. I’m not depressed. Really.
3. I know what depressed is like, and while it’s true that I’ve been happier, chirpier, more focused and more positive in my life than I am at this point in time, I’m not depressed.
4. No, I’m not protesting too much.
5. I’m actually not very happy at the moment, and the problem is motivation, or lack thereof. Or rather, the strength to see things through and to be who I want to be. I’m not going to bore you with this stuff, just wanted to mention it, because it relates to:
6. I’ve been on the point of asking my friends for help in checking up on me at semi-regular intervals and using the naming-and-shaming technique to get me to accomplish things, but I dismissed that thought again, because that’s also whiny and pathetic, and it’d be a lot of trouble and some people would worry unnecessarily and so…
7. … I’ve decided to set myself challenges, and because it’s too easy to find excuses for myself (I’m such a sucker for a good excuse from myself), I’m going to set the challenges publicly and let the internet do the naming-and-shaming. And by internet, I mean of course you, the wonderful readers of this blog. Which brings me to this:
8. From this moment on, expect challenges. Not quite sure what that’ll look like, but be prepared for them.
9. If you’ve managed to read this far without falling asleep, you’re awesome and you get a cookie. Or some home-made gingerbread.
10. I’m done talking now, but ten is a much neater number to finish on than nine, so you get a point ten … *silence* … Anybody know any jokes? …
I started this blog as a writing blog, to have a place where I can put my word pictures and moan about not being able to finish any writing project. And that’s pretty much what we have here. Alright, sometimes I slip in something totally personal, like telling you of my dog’s lumbago or of how wonderful it is to meet friends. But all-in-all, this is mainly a writing-related blog.
However, I’m also very much into music, and a while ago, when I was still living in London, instead of in the middle of nowhere, as I do now, and was therefore in the position to experience a lot of live music, I started a music blog. It’s called Cresting the Sounds. Go and have a look if you want, but unfortunately, it’s not very lively. Not at all, actually.
That’s not because I don’t have anything to say about music – on the contrary, I have so much to say that I can talk about it the whole evening, no matter if the people I’m with are interested or not. I have no mercy in that respect. The problem is more… I don’t know. I feel I’m neglecting one when I look after the other. Does that make sense?
Well, I also like other things. Like photography. Like travelling. So, being the (sometimes) methodical person I am, I immeditely (read: one day when I was bored) rushed to install two more blogs, Cresting the Light and Cresting the Waves. Yep, I’m crazy, I know. And yes, the photography one only has two pictures and the other one is empty. I’m telling you, this was just an idea.
Maybe you can already tell where this is leading, but if you can’t, I’ll be more explicit. I have three options and I’d like your advice on what to do:
Option A: Continue with what I’m doing here and just forget about the others.
Option B: Try and build the others up (slowly, one by one) and try and juggle multiple blogs and hope they don’t interfere with one another.
Option C: Combine. Integrate travelling, phtography and music here.
So, what’s your opinion? Are blogs better when they are topical? Or does it add to them when they are about a multitude of topics? And what should I do?
*hint: if you follow this blog, be sure to check out the P.S. at the bottom, even if you don’t read anything else!*
Usually when I write a post here, I just sort of ramble along. I’ll have an idea of what I want to say – roughly – and then it develops while I write and very often ends up something totally different from what I thought it would be, but hey! that’s a good thing! I don’t do much editing and polishing on my posts, except for spelling mistakes and sometimes I’ll exchange a word when I notice that I overuse it. Once written, I hit ‘publish’ and voilà. Why, then, does it take me FOREVER to write a post on my music blog, Cresting the Sounds?
Case in point: the post on Dylan that I just published took me over three weeks to write. I knew what I wanted to do (= a review of his first album), I started listening to the music a lot and made notes on it all the while – and then it still took me almost a month to write it. Part of that, I guess, is that I feel so much more under pressure to write the ‘correct’ thing. I don’t know by heart who wrote which song, so I had to do research (only a little, but still). Also, and more importantly, there are thousands of Dylan fans out there and probably every one believes themselves an expert on his work. So how to write something that was honest, and yet did not turn out totally embarrassing, because, for example, I expressed my admiration for a song that everybody else, all the ‘experts’ thought horrible and immature?
Tough. I had to remind myself all the time that I was really only expressing my own, personal, private opinion – that I wasn’t writing a book based on facts – that all I had to do was be honest and say what I think about each song – that there is no ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ in tastes, especially in music taste. If someone else disagrees – well, too bad. It happens. So what.
It’s not that easy. It’s a question of confidence. I’m quite confident on my opinion, but not so very much on my ability to adequately express it. And although I said that here, where I’m surfing words instead of music, I write without notes and without drafting and without overly polishing, I don’t write so very often, because here the hurdle is: do I have something to say? And often my answer is: not really. And even more often: yeah, maybe, but who’d want to read it anyway?
Recently I’ve gained a lot of followers. A lot for me. I haven’t addressed this at all, so far. I see other blogs, where the authors thank their readers and express gratitude. I can’t bring myself to do that, because I’m so much more astonished than anything else. Even scared sometimes (‘The responsiblity!’ *wild-clutching-of-head). Even paranoid (‘Did they really mean me? Why? Why would they choose to follow me? I guess they must have some ulterior motive…’). I keep thinking it must be a fluke, or that people are just clicking the ‘follow’ button in an attempt to get a follow back. Or maybe it’s all just a huge conspiracy to make me believe I can actually write and then – suddenly- they’ll pull the rug from under my feet! It can’t really be about what I say. Not because I think that what I say is so very horrible – but rather for the sheer number of mind-blowing, astonishing, beautiful, amazing blogs out there.
I read so many, and I know you’re not supposed to compare (yeah, right), but … well, so many blogs are just so much better! I keep thinking: ‘I’d kill to be able to write like that!’ or ‘I will never be as good!’ or even ‘I might just as well pack it in right now.’ And it’s HARD to overcome that. Sometimes I even have to get angry at myself and tell myself to stop the self-pity-party and the envy and concentrate on my own thing: no, I don’t have anything to say that nobody else hasn’t said a thousand times before. No, I don’t have a style like Hemingway, I can’t characterize like Jane Austen and I don’t have the humour of Dickens or Wilde and no, my poems aren’t fit to swallow the dust of Leonard Cohen’s and no, I’m not an expert on Dylan, neither his biography, nor his discography.
But I have my own view on things, I have my own voice and nobody perceives the world exactly the same as I do, so maybe… yeah, maybe it’s alright. Maybe I’m not just shouting into an empty wood. Maybe there are people in there listening. And it might just maybe be possible that they like what I have to say – not because it’s so very special, so very beautiful, so very perfect, but maybe because it’s unique?
P.S. And by the way – I AM totally perplexed and grateful and humbled by all of you who have liked one of my posts, commented on something I wrote or are following my blog – I never expected this. Thanks for making me happy. And thanks for making me freak out. After all, if it didn’t mean anything, I wouldn’t obsess about it so much!
(Disclaimer: This is not meant as emotional blackmail to make you say that ‘of course’ you like my blog – although if you really want to say that, I’m not stopping you! 😉 I’m not asking for reassurance, I’m really only bringing to paper the frequent dialogue / struggle that goes on in my head!)
I’m passionate about music. I used to live in London for a while. What can the intelligent reader conclude from these hints?
Yes, of course: live music. Lots and lots of live music. Quite some for free, other concerts I had to pay for, I didn’t go to enough (what’s ‘enough’ anyway when it’s about music?), but I shared my experience of some of these concerts on a music blog I created – Cresting the Sounds – and that I had been contemplating creating for some time before then anyway, because not only do I love listening to music, I also love talking about it and exchanging experiences and songs and reactions. So that seemed like the perfect way forward!
Now, I live in rural southern Germany, in my hometown. It’s nice, it’s pleasant, it’s green, it’s outdoorsy, summer is coming and I have a huge garden to lounge in… all great. The big drawback? No live music. Nothing except a few local bands that do mostly covers, or some small, potentially interesting bands that play in some remote village that I can’t get to. *sigh*
What’s the point of this tale? Just to announce that I have reanimated my music blog, because I found that I still have lots and lots to say about music, even if I cannot share concert experiences. My sparklingly new post at Cresting the Sounds is asking if music is seasonal and I’d be very interested in your answers!
As part of my let’s-keep-busy campaign, I’m working on a crazy idea I had some months back: to start a group blog with all of my classmates. ‘All of them’ being roughly a hundred people.
Yes, I mentioned that it’s crazy, it’s right there in the first line!
So I’m busy setting up this blog, which will be all about human rights, from human rights law to personal experiences in working with a human rights NGO, to … basically, whatever my classmates want to write about. As long as it concerns human rights. Which is what we all studied.
One obstacle, the one I was fighting with tonight and certainly not one of the dozens of others that have gone before it, is how to manage a blog with – let’s be realistic – about … fourty authors. Most of whom will only be contributing twice a year. Probably. Judging from the number of names that I have written on my ‘not only enthusiastic and positive about it, but actually really on board’-list, it might be a blog with only seven people.
Even then, however, we’d still have the problem that I was trying to figure out tonight: how to manage that many different people in one blog.
I have some pretty good ideas of how I want it to look and to work once it actually works. I’m also trying to make it as smooth and uncomplicated as possible. So I sent myself invitations to the (not yet public, because not ready) blog, using all the different options that wordpress allows (author, contributor, etc.) and trying to find out which one would be the least hassle. However, the only way in which each post will be credited to only one person, and that person can make comments on that post and answer comments by readers with the same name, is by giving everyone an account on wordpress.
Now I’m left floundering… Should I send everyone invitations and hope that nobody is turned off by setting up yet another account (thinking up a username, trying to remember another password, …) or should I set up very simple accounts for everyone and just send out the log-in details for everyone? Or even just set them up once they have submitted a post?
The second option would be an insane amount of work and concentration, trying to keep everything straight, for me and any one helping out with the administration in the future. The first option means that some people, especially the less tech-savy ones, will be deterred from contributing.
Decisions, decisions, decisions. I really don’t know what’s best to be done.
Does anyone have experience with group blogging and the technical details behind it? Anyone?
(note to self: must never ever again use the expression of an award being awarded! also, must give urgent warning about way-beyond-reasonable-length of this blog post)
*warning: very long blog post!* (but read it nontheless!!!)
Blogging. It’s fun. It’s even more fun when you get feedback and you know that people are reading something you wrote. That something is read and maybe even appreciated that is basically your brain chewing up inpressions and thoughts and spitting them out in chunks of letters that form words and sentences and hopefully convey some meaning.
Two people have, in the last days, told me that they appreciate what I write by passing the honour of the “Versatile Blogging Award” on to me. This is a sort of informal award that is more or less a way for new bloggers to connect and to learn about/from each other.
********** the award and the first rule **********
However, when I heard from one of the two kind people passing this on to me, I thought it was spam. Really! (I’m sorry!) It was just that it came out of the blue, that I wasn’t even aware that the person had ever seen my blog before (and since it hasn’t been around that long, I think the chances for that are pretty high). Anyway. I couldn’t believe it. That’s why I will accept it, but I’m going to alter the rules a little. More about that further down. But first things first: the accepting of the award. Here we go:
Thank you, thank you, thank you! *blushing and bowing* First, to the kind person running A Story Every Day, whose name unfortunately I don’t know and whose blog features short stories, non-fiction, all kinds of other writings by a wide array of writers. Then to Iris B, who is a romance author who posts some very intriguing glimpses into her work and whose blog you should definitely check out. These two very kindly gave me this award.
With this, apart from being polite and expressing my gratefulness at being seen and being appreciated, I have also fulfilled the first ‘rule’ of the award. Although I think they are more like guidelines. 🙂
********** the second rule **********
The second ‘rule’ is to post seven facts about myself. Aha. Instead of telling you seven things about me, which would probably bore you to death, I will save your life by giving you seven causes that I feel passionate about and that are more important to know about:
1. In Thailand, bloggers and other users of social media, are being held responsible and put in prison for comments made on their blogs or websites by others, even by anonymous users. I believe that everyone who uses social media has to stand up against this injustice. (information with Asian Human Rights Commission; access has more information and a petition that can be signed)
2. In Botswana, the San are being denied access to water on their traditional land, where they have the legal right to live, but cannot, because of said lack of water. Instead they live on the outskirts of the preserve and some have returned, living in extremely harsh conditions and having to rely on water handed out to them. Meanwhile, there are luxury hotels on the preserve with swimming pools and bars. (more information at Survival International and the BBC)
3. Slavery is alive and kicking even now in the 21st century. About 21 million people world-wide are affected. Children that are abducted to work on cocoa plantations, bonded labourers in cotton-producing countries, tomato pickers in Florida, USA, domestic workers all over the world, … it’s everywhere. Do something. There’s plenty that everyone can do. (more information and campaigns at Anti-Slavery)
4. People of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender) community are being marginalized, threatened, abused and even killed in many parts of the world. It is unbearable that in this day and age someone has to die for something as his or her gender identity or sexual orientation. The not-so-obvious things like bullying, ill-treatment and discrimination are maybe even worse. (more information at Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International)
5. This is closely related to point 3, but as a chocolate lover I find this particularly jarring: more than 100,000 children work in horrible conditions in the cocoa industry, and at least 10% of them have been trafficked. This cocoa is destined for chocolate factories that produce the sweets that we eat in the western world. This is totally unacceptable. (more information at the BBC and the International Labor Rights Forum and on information about fairtrade chocolate, see Fairtrade Foundation)
6. Closely related as well: the right to education. Worldwide, there are 75 million children that do not have access to basic education and 150 million children currently enrolled will drop out before completing primary education – at least two-thirds of these are girls. Education is the key to counteract so many other abuses and to improve the circumstances of the individual’s life. Everyone has to have this chance. (more information at UNESCO and the Right to Education Project; information on action you can undertake can be found with the Global Campaign for Education)
7. No big words needed for this: GREEN ENERGY!!! We all need it and I want it, I support it, I’m all the way for it. (Find information with Greenpeace and Explore Green Energy; also check with your local energy provider what green options they have – most of them have them by now! Let’s increase the demand!)
********** the third rule and the amendment **********
What a lot of information on extremely important topics in a very condensed space… On we go, to the third and last, you’ll be relived to hear, ‘rule’ and the one I really want to change/amend: pass this award on to other newly-discovered blogs (up to fifteen). What I want to add is: and give a reason for your choice! And one that is personal and not generic. Otherwise, the whole idea of connecting really looses value, I think. 🙂
note: the following are in no order or ranking whatsoever!
Fitri Adi Anugrah – Fitri is a funny and clever advocate for multiculturalism, with a passion for food, photography and witty writing. Check out her post on dreams, it’s very inspiring. And I’ve been thinking about her post on escaping consumerism all day today. Some very thought-provoking questions, all with a good helping of humour and self-criticism.
Bursts of Brilliance – I only discovered this blog some hours ago, but I LOVE the voice of this woman, who is, apparently, a displaced Alaskan. She’s into writing and she confesses to being shatterbrained, she’s a fellow adventurer in the upcoming NaNoWriMo challenge and she made me laugh. Out loud. Very much recommended.
All the pieces fit – Juan is a writer of inspirational poetry. Her prose, however, is not any less inspirational. The post on decluttering your life really hit home with me. She’s smart, she can express herself extremely well and she has a very warm and embracing writing voice. This blog comes with all the attributes of a comfortable chat with a good friend over a delicious cup of hot chocolate.
Catherine Noble – Catherine is very new to blogging, something you wouldn’t know from just looking at her website – it’s highly professional and very pretty in pale pink with grey flowers. Which leads one to think that this woman must be a perfectionist. And this would be right, as she admits herself. Like me, Catherine is a first-timer in the NaNo-challenge. She also runs a food blog, which I haven’t checked out yet, but which looks good enough to eat!
That’s it guys. Or rather, girls. (no, it’s not intentional that my winners are only girls! maybe girls write more?) CONGRATULATIONS!!!
Remember to: 1. link back to me (although I’m giving you permission to neglect this point…) 2. write seven facts about yourself (original version)/write seven causes or facts you feel passionate about (amended version) and 3. pass this award on to other newly-discovered bloggers (original version) PLUS tell us what is great about them, why you give them this award, what you like about their blog (amended version).
Oh and girls, don’t forget to go to those blogs and tell them they got this award from you! 😉
********** the last sentence **********
Thanks for reading through till the end – if you’re reading this right now, you ROCK!!!