Thursday, February 9, 2012

Reflections on a Year of Blogging

Nevada Road - see corresponding photo essay on wild horses

What a ride it has been! I started this blog in January last year because I wanted to have a web presence as a writer, and a friend had recommended a blog as an easy way to do that. Little did I know that blogging would open up a whole new world. I had no concept then that I would learn so much, make wonderful connections, and discover more about myself in the process.

Here's some of what amazed me most about blogging:
  • The generosity of commenters - A big thank you to all my readers who've taken the time to comment on a post, or a few posts, or many posts. You make me happy, and I love having a conversation with you. Each time a comment notification arrives in my inbox, my heart skips a little. A special shout out to Nancy, who supported my blogging efforts from the very beginning, and to Anjuli, who is, I believe, my most faithful commenter. Thank you! 
  • The sense of community - My first big experience of that was last May's Blogathon, hosted by the amazingly generous Michelle Rafter. Then I took two blogging classes with Kristen Lamb (check out the #MYWANA hashtag on Twitter to see the great sense of community she builds). Slowly but surely I had friends out in cyberspace, other writers who were trying to learn the blogging ropes just like I was, or who were a few steps ahead of me, and generous in sharing their knowledge.
  • The challenge of developing a voice - Naively, I thought the main learning would be dealing with the technology, but that turned out to be the easy part. Figuring out who I am as a blogger, finding a voice, learning from all that is out there and yet not getting distracted by it - that is the real challenge, and continues to be.
  • The blog is shaped by its readers - I initally thought of my blog as an extension of my memoir classes, but soon discovered that there was so much more to share, and so much I could figure out about my views and ideas by sharing them on my blog. Posts that I thought were rather mundane could resonate greatly with readers - such as my riff on writing postcards. The color lists became a regular feature because you all loved the idea. My MFA Q&A series was an idea from a fellow Blogathoner who sent me a list of questions, and my series on artist residencies sprung from a question one of my students asked. Which brings me to the most unexpected discovery of all:
Mesa Arch - see corresponding photo essay
  • The appreciation for my photography - I've taken pictures all my life, and learned a thing or two from my dad who would always stop the car and made us wait to "take a picture," but I was amazed by how my readers cheered me on to share pictures of the road trip my family and I took to the Southwest last summer. A special shout out to Kelley Clink, whose question whether I'd blog about the trip prompted me to do so, and to Natalie Hartford, whose encouragement has cheered me on to create many more photo essays. Photos from my road trip ended up as a My Vacation story on SecondAct.
  • The ideas keep coming - the creative process works the same way with blogging as it does with other creative endeavors: the more you do it, the better you get at it, and the more ideas bounce around. I blog about things now that I never even conceived of a year ago.
  • The wealth of information on blogs - I subscribe to more than 100 blogs myself. I continue to be astounded by the neat things I discover, the knowledge others are willing to share, and the sheer fun to be had sometimes.
  • The greatest link can come out of left field - such as a the Wall Street Journal article "How to Save an Unproductive Day in 25 Minutes" that linked to my blog post Hemingway on Writing. My page hits have doubled since that link appeared in December, and yet I have no idea how the journalists came upon my blog (I asked but didn't hear back.).
As my blogging journey continues, I want to thank all of you, my readers, my commenters, and my guest bloggers, for your support, your interest, and your generosity. I started at zero more than a year ago; now more than 200 people read my blog every day. Thank you, and please keep the comments, the ideas, and the questions coming. I will aim to put them to good use.

    19 comments:

    1. Happy one year blogiversary! I'm glad I've gotten to know you over this past year, and I'm looking forward to many more years of your posts. :)

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    2. Congratulations on a successful first year of blogging. I always look forward to your posts. Thanks for sharing yourself with us.

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    3. Congrats on passing your first year :) That places you ahead of so many others. Most blogs die out in under six months.

      I really liked your insight that "the creative process works the same way with blogging as it does with other creative endeavors: the more you do it, the better you get at it, and the more ideas bounce around." I think a lot of us expect to be perfect right out of the gate when blogging takes work like everything else.

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    4. A whole year? Congratulations. You've already defied the odds on blogging as a huge number of bloggers let the negatives drown the positive aspects of blogging (many of which you listed above). I agree whole-heartedly with you on those positive items. I've truly enjoyed your blog, Annette, plus I think it's helped me know you better, too.

      www.writergrannysworld.blogspot.com

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    5. Wow, 200 per day is huge. Congrats Annette!

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    6. CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!

      Your blog really is one of my favorite ones- I have learned so much from it. I loved each and everyone of your points and found myself nodding with each insight you made in today's post.

      The blogging world is an amazing community and I do find it spans continents - each person finding their own voice...and maybe even evolving as they find it.

      Congratulations again- you really have outdone yourself in a year's time and I know this next year will just get better!!!

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    7. Happy One Year Anniversary! I'm constantly amazed by the friends I have made just by blogging. It is a wonderful experience!

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    8. Herzlichen Gl├╝ckwunsch!

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    9. Happy Anniversary, Annette! Social media has opened us all up to a more accessible publishing world. I'm glad you're out here with us! :)

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    10. Kelly - same here, it's been great getting to know you!

      Gillian - thank you, nice to hear that!

      Marcy - thank you and yes, it is very important to remember that it's all a process and you gotta do it in order to figure it out.

      Nancy - you have a great way of putting things into perspective. Thanks again for all your support!

      The Desert Rocks - thank you! Not sure if 200 is huge but it sure is more than what it was a year ago. Thanks for being one of my most faithful readers!

      Anjuli - thanks but it's really thanks to readers like you who comment and share something of themselves as well. Blogging into a void would not be fun.

      Kara - same here. The community is amazing.

      Stephanie - danke!

      Diane - thanks!

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    11. Congrats Annette!!
      I love seeing your photos when I pop over here--you are talented!

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    12. Congratulations on your anniversary. I started blogging much farther back than you, but I've only tried to improve since the late fall. I hope by this fall I can see evidence that I've improved. However, the technology still does hinder me.

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    13. Oh, and I need to add that I have found this blog to be a great resource. Thanks for all the wonderful information for novices like me. Hoping to hook up at AWP.

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    14. Hooray Annette! I have so enjoyed reading your blog and looking at your photos. Looking forward to another year. (ps. Thanks for the shout out!)

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    15. Congrats! I can relate to all the things you said.

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    16. Annette,
      Congratulations on a year of blogging! Started following you during WANA711, and although a lurker, I have been subscribed and save many of your travel posts. Just this January, on its very first day, I started blogging. Of course, commenting is next, as you know. Truly, I enjoy your blog, and it's time I said so. Again, congrats!

      Karen

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    17. Congratulations, Annette!! I began blogging just three days before you and so much of what you wrote in this post resonates with me -- amazing how much there is still to learn, too! I loved your postcard and vacation posts!

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    19. You have a way with words. Excellent work!
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