Or, on the passing of the 6-month anniversary of Poemless (the blog.)
I began this blog because I was told I wrote well, I identified a niche and I was sick of following other people’s rules. I didn’t set out with any grand plan or concrete goal. I tend to avoid concrete goals. I prefer my failure to be open to interpretation. I did not seek to make money (the wealthy are generally crap writers), advance my career (career?), put a political party in office (that’s what I do when I am not blogging) or achieve enduring celebrity (I’ve faith history will see to that). I just wanted an outlet where I could purge the madness from my mind when the mood struck. Hygiene – that’s all I was after. If someone found it helpful or enlightening, wonderful. If people just stop in to gape at the freak show, well, step right up. But the aim was: Low Maintenance. It’s no secret that I can be infuriatingly high maintenance, so I expect you will appreciate the challenge I created for myself. I got a WordPress.com blog that does everything for me but write the content. Free and pre-assembled, all I need to do is write whatever I want.
How hard could that be?
A List of Grievances:
1. I originally didn’t care much what the site looked like. But the header is not displaying properly. And I can’t post videos from their original sources. And I’d like to be able to move things around. And have subject fields for comments. And more distinctly blocked quotes. And I’d like to not have to deal with this new onslaught spam. However, I’m largely technologically illiterate. I don’t have the the first clue how to do these things, which seem like they must be the most tedious and boring things to do. They didn’t teach this in school. (They didn’t have the Internet in school!) So I begrudgingly google about… But it seems all the sites about blogging are focused on 1) how you can make more money, 2) how to advance your career or 3) how to become well known, all of which end up telling you to clean up your grammar and learn to game search engines. What if you just want to know how to have a classy little blog? Where are the instructions for those of us with souls? Halp.
2. WordPress.com tells you how many visitors you’ve had, but not how many are unique or where they’ve come from. I’m one of those people who do not give a damn what anyone thinks of me, except that I still I need to know. In the way I need to know if there is a bit of basil stuck between my teeth. I need to know! WordPress.com stats are like the crack dealers outside schools for people like me. They give you a taste. “Look, at the hundreds of visits, little girl… Yeah, you’re all that. What, like what you see? you want to find out more?, that’ll be $60/month.” I don’t have the first clue if the last 90 visitors are high school kids who accidentally wound up here trying to find a poem less than 10 lines long to memorize for English class, if they are spammers, friends, prophets or the KGB. Who are they? Why are they here? What do they think? What do they want from me? What if they are zombies?
3. As a result I find myself being unacceptably narcissistic. This is not good, given my natural diva-esque tendencies. I suppose you have to be an egomaniac to have a blog and take it seriously in the first place. To assume anyone in the world but the people already obligated to listen cares about your opinion on missile defence or German honey. But that, in addition to pontificating day in and day out, you are forced to be aware of your audience … Uhg, it’s all too terrible. It’s one thing to be an armchair policy wonk, another to be an egomaniac with a blog, counting your visitors, googling your name, wondering what people are saying about your (“opinionated,” “out of touch” …) or panicking because they are not saying anything at all. And suddenly, instead of writing for fun, you are writing for your share, for the lure of fame, for attention, for power, to defend your position, stake your claim.
4. And wondering… Why? Don’t misunderstand – it is great fun. But there’s a dark side to this blogging gig. I certainly don’t have the credentials of my peers, with their think tanks and PhDs and gigs representing jailed oligarchs, so I don’t even understand why I should care about these things or consider myself in their league. But I also don’t have that chillaxed stoner mentality that lets me say, “What’ev. S’just a blog.” I’m a control freak. (Which I suspect contributes to my empathy for VVP.) So if I am going to write about something, I am going to do it effectively and with intent and you are going to be impressed. It’s true I don’t care if you agree with me (if everyone agreed with me, I would have no motivation to write) but I need you to acknowledge my import – that’s all. Though… I’m still not sure why.
5. No really, why?
A List of Clarifications:
1. I have a political agenda, and oh, is it grand. But I really have no expectations of advancing it, let alone via this blog. 35 years of life on earth has tought me not to expect anyone to agree with me. Often, I find it more satisfying when people don’t … and want to talk about it.
2. I am not Russian. I cannot, do not and will not claim to speak on behalf of any Russian or claim know better than they do what is best for that country. Ever. Period. And if I do, by some freak accident or bout of blogging-induced narcissism, it’s bullshit, and I need to be called out on it. It’s a serious pet peeve of mine.
3. I blog primarily to empty my head and to learn. And not, that’s not a contradictory statement.
4. I write for myself, about what interests me, yes, but also to untangle thoughts. Something might make perfect sense until I begin writing it down and realize thought B does not logically follow from thought A at all. But I simply cannot do it alone. I could think AND write something and still be profoundly wrong. Everyday, countless journalists and academics do it. I am surely not immune. How will I know I am wrong, or delusional, or myopic if no one points out my faulty logic? Furthermore, I could think AND write AND be perfectly correct about something and wind up stuck in a rut of rightness. I’m an atheist for many reasons, one of which is I reserve the right to adjust my beliefs when presented with new information.
5. All that said, ok, fine Lyndon, I am opinionated. But I try to let it be known when it’s an opinion based on personal experiences or weird fetishes and one I don’t ask others to share. Mostly I will not use such opinions to seriously defend a political position. I will use things like reason, logic, verifiable facts and empathy. Or will try to anyway.
The Survey! Take It!
“Ok, enough about me. Let’s talk about you. What do you think about me?”
1. Do you primarily read this blog for mindless entertainment, to learn, to debate, to express your opinion or to find like-minded people?
2. Does the design, style, interface matter very much to you?
3. What about this blog annoys/frustrates/disappoints you? In your opinion, what does it not do well? What would you axe or change?
4. What about this blog do you appreciate/find helpful/enjoy? In your opinion, what is its strength? What should be given more attention or expanded upon?
5. Are there any topics, projects, etc. you would like to see here? [For example, there are people I would like to interview, but have not because right now that's Andy's thing.]
[Bonus Points!] Name one book or article you think I need to read to make me a better blogger/writer/Russia watcher. [Can I just tell you how much I hate that term, "Russia watcher?" Makes one sound like either a peeping Tom or a nanny. Ick. Ick, ick, ick...]
Please post your responses in the comments. I promise I will not take offense at any constructive criticism! But I will take offense if no one posts responses. You can also use the contact form (or e-mail me) if you want to be all sneaky and anti-social about it. Yes, this post is perhaps the most self-involved thing ever written, but ultimately, I’m doing it for the benefit of you, dear readers.
(Though I’m still not sure why.)