Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Why I Still Blog

In the past year I've been seeking to simplify my life. I've taken a good look at just about everything I do and have evaluated what's worth keeping and what needs to go. Blogging has fallen under this scrutiny for me many times over the past seven years that I've been doing it. For awhile in the past year I was thinking of stopping because of the time it can take, but after much thought, I decided not to because I found that it serves many purposes and overall, it makes me happy.
My blog serves as an effective creative outlet for my writing, analysis and thought/opinion processing, and photo-taking.
It helps me keep my writing, editing, and photography skills up while I'm not working professionally.
It helps me stay connected with my family and friends. The family connection is especially important because we live halfway across the country from all of them.
It serves as a journal and a family history record.
It enables me to share things with the world.
It helps me connect with wonderful people who I wouldn't have "met" otherwise; I've made some great friends through blogging. One of them, Sharon, even rented our Cape house for a week this past summer (we still haven't met in person, but we've texted and e-mailed and are friends on Facebook and of course we've read each other's blogs for years and I feel like I know her well!). The human connection of blogging is very real, even though it takes place on a computer/tablet/phone screen. I find that I write better and am much more motivated to write well when I'm doing it for an audience. Technically, I don't blog for an audience because I write about whatever I want to write about and it mostly concerns my life, but I do often write with an audience in mind because it makes me a better writer and editor.    

Speaking of audience, the blogging community is much different now than it was when I started my blog at my good friend Alyson's encouragement in 2007. Back then there were many more people (specifically, moms) blogging and it was common to seek for a community of fellow bloggers whose blogs you'd read and comment on and they'd do the same for yours. This blog never got super-popular or anything, but for a few years there was a really good community of us and I'd get many comments on a lot of my posts from people all over the country, sometimes the world. It was nothing compared with a lot of the big blogs out there, but it was certainly something, and it's definitely more than I get now. But now, almost every single one of those women from our fun little community no longer blogs, or has chosen to make their blog completely private. Only a few friends remain from that original group who still write on their blogs. I'm not seeking after more, and in the effort of simplifying I'm cutting a number of the blogs I read from off my list--the blogs that really don't do anything for me anymore and aren't worth my time. It's not anything personal against their authors, it's just that it's not the right fit for me now. I enjoy getting a glimpse into other people's lives because I'm curious/nosy like that, and I truly enjoy the way that some people write and take pictures, and that is one of the reasons blogging is such fun. It's like reading--it opens up new worlds and windows into other people's lives, and it's not fiction! But I'm no longer trying to make more "blog friends" or open up more windows. So in that way, blogging has changed a lot in the last several years. Many of the smaller, personal blogs like mine no longer exist or are no longer open to the public. There are several bigger blogs and fewer smaller ones. 

A few things, though. I don't like my blog name. I'm not sure that I ever really did. It's so corny! "The Doll Sweet Journal" is a tongue-in-cheek mirror for The Wall Street Journal, which I enjoy reading. My thinking was that the blog was my form of a newspaper, with "business stuff" (like commenting on politics and current events) and fun stuff (a lot more fun stuff these days), like The WSJ does. I guess it served as my model for what I wanted the blog to be. When I created my blog I was trying to come up with something clever in a matter of minutes because I wanted to get the blog set up quickly, and "The Doll Sweet Journal" (sadly) is the most clever thing I was able to come up with. (You can read my very first post where I talk about my silly thought process here.) Since then I've thought of some better ideas for a blog name, and there's one title in particular that I really like right now, but I'm not sure how to go about changing the name--particularly the domain name, since I bought the URL of I need to look into how I can get that changed and have traffic re-directed to the new name. Then I have to make a new header, something I never figured out how to do well, and it all starts feeling like too much work! I'm looking for ease and simplicity these days, so I'm not sure that the blog name will change anytime soon, but it's something that I have on my mind and To-Do List.

Related to that, one of the things I dislike about blogging are the tedious technical aspects of it. For the past several months I've been getting e-mails when I publish a post that my posts aren't sending to some of the people who subscribe to my blog because of some new weird rules that Yahoo has imposed, or at least that's what I gleaned from the archaic explanation. Then yesterday I was commenting on other people's blogs and I got e-mails saying that they wouldn't send, probably because of the same issue, although I've never had that happen before. It seems to be a problem with Yahoo but I'm not totally sure and I don't know how to fix it. I don't know if Google has anything to do with it and if it's their way of trying to make me finally get a gmail address (Google owns this blog domain, or rather I do, but I buy it from them), but if it is, it may work because I'm thinking of switching to Gmail now. So that's a whole bundle of technical junk that I really don't feel like dealing with, but I should because I like commenting on people's blogs and they probably won't know that I've been there if I don't. This is a hold-over from the old-school blogging days when visiting/commenting on other blogs was very important. In any case, the technical details of blogging are not something that I enjoy. 

Something that helps me keep blogging are the kind compliments I get about it. Just today I was walking with my friend and she told me on her own that I do a really good job with it and that she enjoys reading it. Other people who I had no idea were reading it have come up to me or e-mailed me and told me how much they liked it, which has made my day. It's nice to be read when you write. It's nice to influence someone for good. I include my blog in my email signature because I saw someone's email years ago who did that and I thought it was cute and a fun, easy way of sharing. I often delete the URL when I'm e-mailing teachers at school and things like that, but otherwise I usually leave it. I've debated about doing that, and have asked Peter several times if I should, but he thinks it's just fine. So I guess I'll keep it. Don't sweat the small stuff, right?

Well, I've written long enough now, and I'm starting to ramble. Nobody likes an overly long blog post, myself included, and this one has definitely exceeded my usual length, and there aren't even any pictures yet! So I'm going to include a few now. Here's another reason why I still blog. This past year I started getting my blog made into books, and they are so much fun to have and to look through. So many little details of things that I would have forgotten, that bring me right back to a certain place or event, are recorded in these books, and it really is precious. 

This is my first blog book. Yes, that's a crib on the cover! It's a weird cover picture. It's the very first picture I ever posted on my blog, when John was only three years old. It was too cumbersome to select another picture for the cover of the book, so this one got the place of honor. 

The back cover:

Some of the interior pages:

This "Skirts 'n Dresses" post that I did back in April 2008 is one of the most popular posts I've ever written. It's gotten about 1800 hits over the years. I had no idea it would be anything like that when I put it together. I just wanted to wear a different skirt or dress every day because I liked them so much and it was a fun way of organizing my shopping options.

Two of my other blog books:

I forgot to include the year on the cover of this one. Dang it!

Blog books lined up on the bookcase.

I'm going to make the next book a combined one for 2013 and 2014 in January. The website I use to make the books is I tried Blurb but it was too complicated and time-consuming. Blog2Print is easy, the price is reasonable, and the quality is very good. I recommend it if you ever want to get your blog published into a book (or several books). This is just another reason why I still blog--it has turned me into a published author! Ha ha.

And for all of those reasons, my dear readers, I still blog!