Pin It Out on the playground, a little boy approached a girl sitting under the sweeping branches of a gnarled oak tree. She was reading a book. "Hi, Jane. I'm Max. I just wanted to tell you that I really like your red dress today. It makes me think of my Grandma Mertie's teapot. It's really cool. It whistles."
He waited, but Jane didn't glance up from her book. "Oh, okay. Well, bye, then. Guess I'll see you tomorrow."
Off he ran, to the swings at the far end of the playground.
In her mind, Jane pondered his compliment and smiled a secret little smile. A red teapot? That sounded...cheerful. Her inside smile grew bigger. That was a very nice thing to say. She smoothed the front of her red shirt, and resolved to wear it again the very next day, as long as her mother would let her...
I have this problem, and from what I'm hearing, many of you other blogger-people do, too.
Here it is. I'm just going to say it. I love blogging, but blogging is a time suck.
There's so much involved in creating and maintaining a successful blog. There's first the daily hour or so spent writing. That's the fun part. Actually, it's all kind of fun--that's sort of the problem. Blogging's a lot more fun than cleaning toilets and doing laundry.
You tap, tap, tap at the keys and then sit expectantly back and await others' critique of your brilliance or your folly, as the case may be. You check back at periodic intervals (read: every ten minutes) to see if anything's changed. You reply to comments. You obsess over why no one has commented, and of course you can't clean or cook while you're obsessing. You read other people's blogs. You comment on other people's blogs. You discover new blogs. If you Twitter to promote your blog, you tweet, and try to be heard amidst all the other self-involved tweeting going on. I'm personally not much on twittering.
Possibly the biggest time suck aspect, according to several posts I've read lately, is the whole replying to comments thing. Since I rarely have over ten or so comments, this really hasn't been too big a problem for me. I know several of you have been struggling with it, though, so I'm just going to lay it out there.
Blogging works because a connection is made between two parties. When I speak of a connection, I speak of the early give and take that forges an authentic relationship between author and audience. The blog is a curious genre where this reliable, present audience is an integral part of what makes the blog succeed or fail. It's as vital to its health as water is to a thirsty body.
I've visited blogs before that I liked and left a comment. If it's not acknowledged, but I really like the blog, I'll still return on a regular basis for a while and leave further comments. After several times without any kind of acknowledgment, though, I generally stop. At this point, it's like I sent a letter off to an author I liked and never even heard back from the director of the fan club. I'm not trying to be mean, but a connection has just not been created with the individual behind that blog, and let's own it: we're all just people behind a blog. We're not celebrities stinking up the blogosphere. Probably the only couple of blogs that are strong enough for me to return to continually with no real connnection are Pioneer Woman and Dooce. Even so, I rarely comment on these blogs. Who wants to be one of a couple thousand comments that may or may not really get read?
A problem arises when you genuinely want to give replying to all those wonderful comments a fair shake, but just have so many that it would take all day to respond to each one individually. Don't get sucked in to feeling like you have to! I don't personally feel like it's necessary. Readers comment in the first place because there was something in that post that rang true, that triggered a memory, that inspired them, that they identified with, or that simply made them smile. They just want to acknowledge that connection, and those are the key words: acknowledgement and connection. You don't have to write another post in response--not unless you're really driven to do so. I don't know about you guys, but as a reader, I'd be perfectly happy with a blanket ":) thanks, guys. Appreciate your thoughts." What do you think? Can we hereby institute a Declaration of Comment-Reply Independence, and not feel constrained to necessarily answer each and every one?
(And of course, if you want to comment, feel free. :)