Friday, April 29, 2011

A bad case of the bug

Image via Wylio
The blogging bug, that is. J  When I first put my toe oh-so-tentatively into the ocean that is the blogospere, I had no idea what I was letting myself in for. For some time I’d been standing on the shore following blogs (among them some extraordinarily good ones) but without commenting or getting involved in any way. Now it was time to get my feet wet and see for myself what all the fuss was about.

That was back in February, so what has the experience been like and what have I learned over the past couple of months?

The first thing I’ve learned - and all you more experienced bloggers could have told me this from the beginning, if I’d had the sense to ask – is that blogging is addictive. Very addictive. Blogging is so darned enjoyable that the addiction develops remarkably quickly. Once the first baby post has been launched into the ether, the urge soon comes to provide it with a companion and another and another….. 

After the initial short burst of beginner’s enthusiasm I haven’t tried to post every day and don’t intend to, but I still find that within a day or so of making a post, my mind starts to mull over possible ideas for the next one, sometimes at inconveniently awkward times like the middle of the night.

The second is that blogging can be very time-consuming. Mastering the ins-and-outs of Blogger itself and learning to apply what it offers takes time. Writing posts, especially the longer, more reflective posts I incline to, is extraordinarily enjoyable, but it takes even more time. Responding to comments, when people are kind enough to leave them, and reading others’ blogs and commenting on them in my turn, are just as enjoyable, but all this too takes time….

Luckily I’m retired, so time isn’t something I’m short of, but the ease with which you can find yourself discovering new and interesting blogs and clicking that deceptively innocuous Follow button means that unless you get a grip on yourself, your blog list can start to resemble a catalogue, rather than a manageable shopping list.

The third thing I’ve learned is how very varied the world of blogging is. In my exploration of the forest of blogs out there, I’m starting to learn which kinds appeal to me and why. I think what draws me most to follow a blog is when I discover a blogger who has found his or her own distinctive voice and whose blog says things that interest, entertain or challenge me. 

More practically, I’ve discovered that mostly I prefer longer posts to very short ones. I prefer posts which are the fruit of the author’s own thought and experience rather than a reworking of or even just a quote from another blog. I greatly appreciate serious, and often profound, posts, but humour is just as important to me, as is breadth of interest and a certain quirkiness.

I must confess to skipping over video clips, but that’s mainly because we have a rather slow and sometimes flaky broadband connection and video doesn’t play well for me. On the other hand I love photos and cartoons and other images, but prefer to have words with them. 

Our slow broadband connection also means that what I think of as fussy blogs, those with lots of permanent images and multiple widgets can be a bit of a nightmare to follow, as they are so slow to load and often unstable on the screen. Thank goodness for Google Reader or I’d probably have given up on some of them by now, which would have been my loss.

As I have fairly poor sight, legibility matters a lot and I much prefer black text on a white or pale-coloured background. Very small font size and very long paragraphs are really hard work, as is pale text on a dark background. Again I’d probably have given up on these if it weren’t for Posts Atom or Google Reader. However, these are minor quibbles when weighed against what I have already gained from the world of blogging.

Above everything else I value the sense of becoming part of a community of people who generously share their thoughts, interests and experience with me in their blogs. I value too the fact that this community is world-wide, spanning oceans and linking continents, so that what I write can be read not only by people close to home in the UK and Europe, but from the USA to New Zealand, from Turkey to Costa Rica and I can reciprocate by following their blogs in my turn.

In the last couple of months my life has been enriched and I’ve had a huge amount of fun and it’s all thanks to you.


  1. Hello:
    In the fourth week of blogging ourselves, we can so readily identify with what you write here.

    We agree completely that, in the end, it is the capacity of writing a blog to develop a global dialogue on topics and ideas of mutual interest which really captures our imagination and holds a fascination for us.

    Congratulations on getting this far. We have been encouraged in our own endeavours by what you write and look forward to more.

  2. Aren't you glad you don't consider yourself, in your retirement, a dog that can't learn any new tricks? Sometimes I am just amazed at the possibilities we have because of the internet. Congratulations on having found your own blogging voice!

  3. You've said it all. Which is why I love your blog and why I am delighted and proud that you read mine and leave me such lovely comments. I am so pleased to have such a wonderful friend found through the blogosphere!

  4. What a lovely reflection on Blogging. I agree with all you are saying - and isn't Blogging fun!

  5. Thanks so much, Jane and Lance. When I wrote that first small post I had absolutely no idea how widespread this network of comment and contact would become and how quickly. It's been such fun and continues to be very satisfying.

    1. Hi, I live in Tasmania and found your blog through a blogger in Scotland whom I enjoy. I too am retired and have had a travel blog telling how I collect my old Penguin books but have just started a more indepth one about what I do with my 1400 Penguin books. I play with them a lot. haha I enjoy your writings and can certainly relate to them. I have found some bloggers quite snooty but the majority of them are heaps of fun. All the best from Hobart, Pam

    2. Hi Pam, as one book-lover to another, welcome to my blog. I love the serendipity of blogging which leads someone I Tasmania via someone in Scotland to someone in Wales. :-) I'm a book-reader. rather than a book collector but I shall enjoy visiting your blog to explore what its like to be the latter.

  6. Penny, my husband would entirely agree with you. He's a firm believer in the idea of lifelong learning :-) I've always been willing to tackle new things, but I've surprised myself by just how much I've enjoyed this particular learning process. It's encouraging to know that others are enjoying the result.

  7. What a lovely thing to say, Annie. Thank you so much. I've gained so much from reading blogs like yours, which give me an insight into life in another country and such a lot of enjoyment too. Friendship takes many forms and blogfriends are one of them :-)

  8. Oh, such fun, Curate's Wife! It's hard to describe to non-bloggers, but the combination of reading and writing and commenting is so very interesting and enjoyable that it adds a whole new dimension to life.

  9. I'm very pleased you joined the world of blogging. I enjoy your blog and it seems like you are attracted to much the same style of blog as I am. It certainly is addictive...I can't believe I've been doing this for more than 2 years and can still find things to talk about.

    Your blog is great...keep on blogging! xx

  10. Thanks, Ayak, and lovely to see you back commenting :-) I don't think there's much chance of my giving up blogging anytime soon, if you and others are anything to go by. Once bitten by the bug, life just isn't the same afterwards,,,,

  11. Hi Perpetua,
    I concur with everything you say. Blogging is addictive, time consuming, (especially trying to write & phrase things coherently), but great fun. I shall enjoy exploring yours & thank you for your recent comments on mine.

    Here's hoping as I leave my first comment here, that Google Blogspot doesn't think I'm Sybille (because I use her Analytics account) as it did on another friend's blog!

  12. You are so right about blogging...I started because it was easier than writing the same thing to a number of friends (idle devil) and then discovered the sheer pleasure of meeting people through blogging!

    I owe Ayak a tremendous debt in respect of coping with the computer generally...her ability to empathise with my computing autism and to explain in words of one syllable what to try doing as opposed to boiling head and throwing heavy items around has given me a great deal of confidence...and it all came about through blogging!

    I am glad you started...your blog always gives me something to think about, which is what I value.

  13. Hi Ricky, nice to see you and hope you enjoy what you find. No problem about Blogger mistaking you for Sybille this time, I'm glad to say :-)

    It's comforting to discover I'm not the only one to find it takes a great deal of time to express oneself well. I'm amazed by those bloggers who seem to be able to dash off lots of posts, sometimes several a day, but I could never be one of them. Slow and steady, that's me....

  14. Thanks so much, Fly. Yours is one of the blogs that inspired me to try blogging myself and I can't tell you how thrilled I was that yours was the second comment I received after Wylye Girl so kindly put me on her blog roll and made my blog visible to the world.

    It was you who introduced me to Ayak's blog as well, which was a wonderful discovery. These small kindnesses mean such a lot to novice bloggers.

    After much struggle I'm now reasonably computer-savvy and am lucky enough to have a husband who really knows computers. However, Blogger is the one thing I've been determined to try to master on my own, with the result that it's been a VERY steep learning curve and it isn't over yet!

  15. The addictiveness of blogging has had me in its thrall occasionally since I started about six months ago, but I guess I deal with it in the same way I have tried to handle other addictive habits which become bad ones when they take over one's life, or jeopardise one's health and/or bank balance (such as clothes-buying and shoe-shopping, or smoking, a nice glass or two of wine of an evening, swearing roundly and a little too enthusiastically, Facebooking, etc, etc) I try to observe the Nothing To Excess advice as posted up thousands of years ago at Delphi.

    So my own blogging is done in dribs and drabs, and I have a VERY short list of blogs I follow. For me it's a creative outlet and a combination of letter-writing and journal-keeping. I have a loyal baker's dozen of Followers, and I am not setting out to try to acquire more (although I peruse my stats with interest, especially the countries of residence of my small audience, whichgI find fascinating).

    I think I blog when I have something that needs to be said, or a good joke to tell.

    It's been 18 days since my last comfession ... so perhaps some writing is swelling up in me like a pimple begging to be popped, but I will wait until it's nice a ripe, I think, as that's so much more satisfactory! What an appalling analogy, but you know what I mean...!

  16. Ah, you put the appeal and the frustration of blogging so well! And it is interesting to read about what sort of blogs appeal to you; very much the same as appeal to me. Pale text on dark background is a particular turn-off for me.

    When I first started, I used to spend hours or even days crafting each piece of writing. More often now (and especially since my accident, as I tire more easily) I find that my posts are shorter and less eloquent than I would like; but I still think it's better to try to get something down than not. I, too, feel that it has been a privilege to join the blogosphere and to encounter so many interesting, interested and amiable people across the globe.

    I very much enjoy your thoughtful blog and look forward to reading it as long as you keep writing it!

  17. Baby Sis, your comment encapsulates nicely one of the big appeals of blogging: that it can be what you personally want it to be - a major interest or an occasional pleasure, and can take whatever form you choose to give it.

    Not being on Facebook, I enjoy spending time reading blogs (beats a lot of what's on TV any day!) One really good thing about blogging as an addiction - it doesn't cost anything but my time and effort, which are more than compensated for by the amount of pleasure and satisfaction it gives me.

    At least, unlike some addictions, it doesn't cost anything but time and energy :-)

  18. Thanks, Dancing Beastie, it's always nice to find people who are attracted to the same things as oneself :-)

    I can imagine that it must be very frustrating not to have the energy to give to writing that you had in the past, and I sympathise. To be honest I would not have guessed this from the quality of your posts, which keep me coming back to your blog with great enjoyment.

  19. I have to say that I agree with all of the above. You don't yet mention having reached the "blogger's block" experience - a bit like writer's block. I don't get it often, but when I do I have to sometimes force a blog - then it flows again.
    I like the fact you write about why you read other blogs and what you like about them, that was interesting. I love blogging, it is a way of sharing thoughts, feelings and quite strong opinions and reading those of others!

  20. It was interesting to read your reflections on blogging. I am glad to see that you are still enjoying it. Long may this continue. I have been giving a lot of thought to starting and have been working on a first piece. So keep a look out, it may take some time though!!

  21. THanks, Sue, I found it interesting myself to analyse just what it is about different blogs that attracts me or that I don't much like.

    I haven't been blogging long enough for blogger's block to make an appearance, but I'm sure it's just lurking and waiting to ambush me:-) When it does, I'll probably try to deal with it like I used to have to do with sermon block - get something down on paper, go and do something else and let my thoughts mull and then come back to it. when it happens I'll let you know....

  22. Hello, fellow pilgrim, yes, I'm still enjoying it very much and find it so satisfying when a post comes together as I want it to and when it says something to those who read it.

    Good luck with your first attempt. I shall look forward with great interest to reading it when you're ready to take that first step.

  23. I have come to your blog via TF.
    I have to agree. I started a blog using my Dad's letters home from his POW camp, and since starting that, decided I wanted a blog for me too.
    Not satisfied with that, I am currently in the "creative and thinking" phase for another.

    Addictive, mais oui!
    Bon continuation.

    Kathy aka POW 16783, and formally NannyP (banned from TF a few years ago).

  24. Kathy, how nice to see you here :-)

    I must confess to having been a dilatory poster over the summer - too many other things to do here in France, but am starting to get the itch again. I look forward to exploring your blogs.


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