On Blogging, Part 3 (final)

Now about this wonderful monstrous hydra we’ve created: blogging.  If not conquered, or at least managed, it will sink us all.  First some thoughts from others.

Rachel of Stitched in Color writes a fine post aimed at new bloggers, with her own list of Readers’ Pet Peeves.  I laughed when I saw two of mine on there: “blurry photos” and “people’s feet” (I get tired of seeing pedicured toes, so thought it amusing that others have the same reaction).

Ez of Creature Comforts gives her advice for blogging:

“Be passionate. Blog about something that truly matters to you. Believe in yourself and be an active and friendly member of the blogging community. Oh, and have patience! It might take a while before anyone knows you exist, but keep at it and never be afraid to ask for help when it is needed.”

Here’s mine:

No guilt.  No apologies if you don’t blog, but do give us an explanation if you’ve been away for an interesting reason, like you went to Australia, or had a class in color theory, or just spent time walking the beach with your children.  We do want to know how you recharge your batteries, and we might follow your lead.  I always love those posts about trips, esp. to New York’s fabric district!

Decide whether you are a “commercial” quilt blogger, or a “personal” quilt blogger.  While we’re happy to have both, it’s sometime irritating to have a personal quilt blogger suddenly start pitching a product or an online fabric shop in that “advertising” way.  I’m always happy to learn about new products from the bloggy world, but we readers recognize that those who take money from their enterprises have an obligation to sell.  And you know quilters: we love to buy, but hate to be sold. (And this includes Too Many Giveaways!!)

Blog only when you want to. While they say the muse inspiring writing only comes if you apply your backside to a chair, sometimes it’s better wait a day or two for an interesting idea than to force your blogging to a schedule.  Caveat: if you are blogging as a line of work, then you have to treat it like work.  You know, show up with interesting content, a new idea.  It’s about the showing up part that’s important (but be aware of the previous idea of commercial vs. personal). Which leads me to my last idea:

Avoid too much secondary content on your quilt blog.  This falls into two categories:
1) personal stuff that overwhelms the quilting stuff. Moderation in all things–open another blog for yourself if you find that most of your posts are about your cat.  Or kids.  Or whatever; and,
2) importing from others to fill your own blog space.  While those who run design blogs do this quite frequently (you can only redo your own house so many times), I think that we as quilters have many things we can write about as we sew.  And while a nod to inspiration is good, I like seeing all topics of the sewing universe on quilt blogs, from the new trend of sewing clothing (all things Old are New again) to how you like to put on your binding.  There’s also the technical aspect: too many videos is a drag on our bandwidth.  Again, moderation in all things other than quilting.

Be a blog reader and commenter.  We can’t read all the blogs all the time.  Choose a few of your favorites and read fairly regularly. I’ve made some great friends by doing this, and they have widened my circle as well.  Think of it as the new pen-pal system.  Follow some links occasionally to gain new inspiration.  But perhaps a time limit for  computer viewing is a good idea, as we all know we have quilting to do!

Forgiveness and Fun.  I’ve tresspassed just about all of the above listed pieces of advice at one time or another, and we should have a bit of forgiveness tucked away for bloggers, just like we do for when we stitch in a tuck and hope no one notices.  And FUN!  Yes, hopefully blogging is enjoyable.

Above all, write what interests you.  Be yourself.  Share with us your struggles.  Avoid cattiness, but healthy dose of snark can be fun.

Be true to yourself.  E. B. White, a famous essayist, noted that “Your whole duty as a writer is to please and satisfy yourself . . . the true writer always plays to an audience of one.”  But if you write it, we’ll read it!

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Coming Wednesday!

Project Gingham Reveal!

On Blogging, Part 2

Recently on Creature Comforts, Ez wrote “Things I’m Afraid to Tell You,” a discussion about life behind the blogging curtain.  Leave yourself some time, if you want to hop over there and read. One salient quote:

“However as time has gone on, and with the ever-expanding roster of blogs that are out there showcasing pretty thing after pretty thing, I’ve come to realize that all this beauty can actually have the opposite effect. The always-nice that we see on constant display everywhere we look (from blogs to magazines, etc) becomes frustrating because it doesn’t really look like how our life looks, right? Instead of visiting a blog and feeling inspired, we quite often leave feeling less than, and like our life can never really match up to what we see.

“As a long-time contributor to this trend of pretty-everything I should know better, but even I get sucked up in feeling like other bloggers are more successful, have better wardrobes, perfectly behaved children, gourmet meals pre-made weeks in advance…they host fabulous parties with every last detail glittered and festooned to perfection, take lavish vacations, sign book deals in their sleep and pose for photo shoots in their immaculately clean designer-decorated homes. Please can I at least get a raised hand if you’re feeling me on this.”

I’ve heard too many blogging friends say that they recently have come to a point where they hate blogging, that they just want to sew and walk away from the other part of having to put up photos and commentary on what they do at the sewing machine.

I graduated with an MFA in Writing, and this idea, that our private selves–or what we do when we create and spend time thinking about while move around our bits of cloth–can be in opposition to our public self, is not a new one.  Cezanne was famous for this, often packing up his paints and easel and leaving if he thought someone was watching him.  But even he participated in gallery shows, presenting his work for his audiences when he was finished with it.  The difference between us and Cezanne, is that blogs are DAILY (or at least WEEKLY) and are giant content sucking machines.  And usually that content comes from us.

And we all know you have to have generate content to blog.  And if you don’t have content, you have nothing to write.  And if you don’t write, then you don’t have a blog, which many quilters use as a tool to decrease the isolation as well as foster a conversation of sharing.

Bridging this innate tension between wanting to create privately, with sharing what you are doing with the public, is a constant.

I have one more post about this.

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On Blogging

Do you like to blog?  The previous post discussed audience, and how we find our audience for our quilting and our art through some linky parties.  But this one is more about the blogging–the writing, the putting down of our thoughts and our ideas, the putting down of ourselves for others to see and (hopefully) comment on.

When I sit and read through lots of blog posts, like on a Linky Day, I am overwhelmed by how underwhelming my work is. I feel like I produce nothing, while all of you are out there with Bigger!  Better!  More Colorful! and looking like Jennifer Lopez or Jackie Kennedy (pick your icon) and I’m just sitting at my sewing machine/computer with unwashed hair in my slouchy pajamas.

I believe one place this feeling of inadequacy comes from is the deluge of interesting projects and quilts that I click through in short order.  It’s like going to a quilt show, with multiple projects all out there for you to see.  However, when we are in a giant hall, with loads of hanging quilts all around us, we recognize that we are at a quilt show and are there to gather ideas and inspiration.  But when we’re home breezing through blogs, we think we are looking at someone’s real life–that they are endlessly pulling quilt rabbits out of hats and never have a bad day, or one that they’ll write about.  I’ve been reading in Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows, and he notes that when we gorge on internet reading, we become “mindless consumers of data.”   He continues, “Our ability to learn suffers, and our understanding remains shallow. . . we’re unable to retain the information or to draw connections.”

Perhaps at this point, we need to push back from the computer and realize we aren’t looking at quilts. We’re looking at a “blog”– a constructed persona, full of sunshine, happiness and perfectly pieced points.  I love the following quote on how we portray ourselves on Web 2.0, the internet:

“That kind of thinking is precisely what I’m talking about, what lies behind the bland, inoffensive, smile-and-a-shoeshine personality — the stay-positive, other-directed, I’ll-be-whoever-you-want-me-to-be personality — that everybody has today. Yes, we’re vicious, anonymously, on the comment threads of public Web sites [I think of the recent brouhaha between Kate Spain and Emily Cier], but when we speak in our own names, on Facebook and so forth, we’re strenuously cheerful, conciliatory, well-groomed. (In fact, one of the reasons we’re so vicious, I’m convinced, is to relieve the psychic pressure of all that affability.) . . .

“Well, we’re all in showbiz now, walking on eggshells, relentlessly tending our customer base. We’re all selling something today, because even if we aren’t literally selling something (though thanks to the Internet as well as the entrepreneurial ideal, more and more of us are), we’re always selling ourselves. We use social media to create a product — to create a brand — and the product is us. We treat ourselves like little businesses, something to be managed and promoted.

“The self today is an entrepreneurial self, a self that’s packaged to be sold.”

Do you ever feel like this–that we package ourselves to “sell?”  More on this in next post.

Linky Party for Quilting, or Link-Ups

Linky Parties, or Link-Ups seem to be everywhere.  I’ve seen them oriented to crafting, to quilting, to cooking, to thrifting, as as the above image illustrates, fonts, teachery things and One Tough Mother.  The list goes on and on.  Below are some quilt links that I’ve collected.  But first here’s a lovely quote about why we love those linky parties, from Vincent van Gogh:

One may have a blazing hearth in one’s soul and yet no one ever comes to sit by it. Passersby see only a whisp of smoke rising from the chimney and continue on their way. 

I guess this is a way to share our blazing, quilty, hearths.  I didn’t include buttons of these linky parties, in order to streamline this post.

Monday:
Manic Monday Linky Party — Jenna at SewHappyGeek–sewhappygeek.co.uk

{Sew} Modern Monday from Canoe Ridge Creations  at www.canoeridgecreations.com

Little Quilt Monday–piecefullife-elizabeth.blogspot.com

Tuesday:
Quilt Story–Fabric Tuesday–quiltstory.blogspot.com

Tuesday Treasures from House on the Side of the Hill– thehouseonthesideofthehill.blogspot.com.au

Wednesday:
Lee, Freshly Pieced–WIP Wednesday–freshlypieced.blogspot.com

Esther’s WOW (WIP on Wednesday)–www.estheraliu.blogspot.com

Sew Much Ado We Did It! Wednesday–www.sew-much-ado.com

WIP Wednesday for Canadian Quilters Only—needleandthreadnetwork.blogspot.com

Thursday:

Think Tank Thursday, from making rebecca lynne–makingrebeccalynne.blogspot.com

Friday:
TGIFF on Quokka Quilts — quokkaquilts.blogspot.ca

Show Off Friday–from pieceful life at piecefullife-elizabeth.blogspot.com/

Finish It Friday is in hiatus (Crazy Mom Quilts)

Monthly:
Such a Sew and Sew—emsewandsew.blogspot.com
For this linky party, post what you’ve finished within that month.  See the buttons on her sidebar.

Lily’s Quilts: Fresh Sewing Day and Small Blog Meet, hosts on the first of each month at lilysquilts.blogspot.com

I’m sure there are others.  Leave the info in a comment if you have other linky parties to share.

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Coming Soon!