How I Started Blogging

My first blog was created in the fall of 2008.  America was in the midst of a Presidential election, and debate was fierce.  While showering I came up with a few ideas on how to solve the financial crisis and the exploding cost of healthcare.  I published a few posts sharing my views, and dreamed of appearing on television news programs with the words “Freelance Public Policy Expert” floating under my talking head.

When I clicked on “publish” it was as if a jolt of electricity had gone through my body.  I imagined that my post would instantly show up on everyone’s screen like that persistent prompt to download the latest version of Abode Flash Player.  Now our leaders would know what to do.  But none of my posts got any comments, or any views, and every Sunday morning it was the same group of politicians, journalists, and well-established experts on the Meet the Press instead of me.

My second blog was daily vignettes and flash fiction.  I wrote about annoying cell phone conversations and chronic snifflers and people who carried large pieces of luggage onto commuter trains during rush hour.  I wrote a story about a device called the Descriptionizer Functioner, even though I did not know what it did, and another story about a man who can’t find parking in Manhattan until a UFO vaporizes a parked car right before his eyes.  I had a great sense of accomplishment with each story, but still no one was reading.  I figured it was because my characters had no depth.

At no point did it occur to me to tell anyone what I was doing.

Then it was early summer and getting hot, and I was taking another stab at the collected works of William Shakespeare.  I try this every summer.  I was supposed to have read Hamlet in the 12th grade, but I was busy slacking off at the time.  Better late than never, I decided a great way to learn the play was to write a humorous parody of it and post my work to a blog.  I wrote it up, and then I moved onto Macbeth, which I liked because it had lots of rhyming and is very short.  At last I had found my blog concept.  I would write a blog making a parody of each Shakespeare play.  But I hit the wall at King Lear.  At first I thought my problem was that I did not understand the text.  Then I saw the movie – the recent one with Sir Ian McKellen – and realized that the play is just really disturbing.

Then I was blogging journal entries about my daily life.  I wrote about coffee and cat food.  I wrote about looking for a copy of a video I made when I was running for class president.  I wrote about my office mate who seemed to do nothing but sip soda and chew gum.  And then I got bored and stopped.

The blogging thing just didn’t seem to be working.  I was glad I hadn’t told anyone about it.

Then I was home for Columbus Day and considered loitering in front of a convenience store to pass the time.  Suddenly I remembered a cartoon show called Beavis and Butthead that had aired on MTV in 1993.  I remembered how fond I had been of that show, and how the base and tasteless humor had spoken to me at a time when I was fairly base and tasteless myself.  And I saw how I could write a post about it.  The short post occurred to me all at once, and after I wrote it I thought of other things that had changed in the last few decades.

The topics seemed inexhaustible.  I blogged for a few weeks, and mustered up the courage to tell my mother about it.  I got decent feedback from my mother, and then I told my wife.  My wife gave me decent feedback, too, especially after I shoveled the driveway and took out the garbage.  Then I told my dearest, closest friends.  Then I told my Facebook friends.  And I saw that the feedback was good.  I kept blogging for them, and then one day I was Freshly Pressed and had the greatest experience I know as a writer – being read by thousands of strangers.

And now I can’t stop blogging.  I think about it when I’m supposed to be paying attention to people who are talking to me.  At least I have an inexhaustible concept for posts.  “Remember when…”  There’s no end to that!  No way would I ever break with such a concept.

So what’s your story?  How did you start blogging?

21 thoughts on “How I Started Blogging

  1. Interesting story as to how you started to blog and what lead to your “Remember When…” concept. I’m glad that you stuck with it and also, that you were Freshly Pressed. That’s where I first saw your blog, and I must admit… have been looking forward to it ever since.

    Keep up the great writing, as well as making me” remember when”. Who knows – maybe someday your blog will be publishes as some sort of modern history book, for the generations that have NO idea what a vinyl album is, other than the biggest floppy disk that they have ever seen!!! 🙂

  2. Very insightful! Glad you picked the theme you did of Remember Whens.
    I went through pretty much the same process when I started. My friend said “You should start a blog”, so I did. And I think I’m still finding my direction. But it’s addictive and I love it!

    1. Thanks. It’s worked out well so far, and I agree that it’s addictive. The more I blog, the more I want to blog. That’s great that you got support from your friend early on – stuff like that is priceless.

  3. Your statement about how the blog thing wasn’t working, good thing you didn’t tell anyone, sums up most dead blogs I think. Great recap of how you got here and interesting to know. I started a blog for no reason than to stay fresh and have my work out there. Then I wondered why no one was reading. Took me about a year and half to get serious! Readers have to feel like they’re getting value. You definitely provide that.

    1. Thank you. The well-settled law of blogging is that value to the reader is paramount, and yet that value seems the hardest to gauge. The positive feedback is highly appreciated on this end. And it’s nice to know I wasn’t the only one who took a while to get something going. Now I just have to keep it up!

  4. I love the evolution of this. All the best ideas have evolved from failed ones, I think. (Well, I wrote it so it must be true. Maybe not).

    I wish the story of how I started blogging was more romantic. Basically, an agent at a writers’ conference told me I had to get my humour out there. I dug my heals in for a day. Two weeks later, IronicMom.com went live.

    But why I keep blogging has changed. That has everything to do with discipline, capturing brief moments in time, and community.

    1. I couldn’t agree more. I think that’s true for writing itself. I find a great deal must be typed out and then deleted before there’s something even halfway decent. What I love about blogging is that the writing becomes part of a community, which is way more fun than just saving my writing on my computer like it was an old photo album.

  5. I love your “Remember When” thing and wish that I had thought of it first. That said, I started blogging after my mother asked me not to publish the memoir I had written. And that I had received an offer on. From a bonified publisher. My agent (at the time) suggested that I start blogging to “cultivate an audience” so that one day when I do write a book, I’ll have instant readers. I ignored her. She lost her job, and I went back to teaching English. But the idea was intriguing because my students provided such great fodder.

    In fact, this semester that I’ve been away from the classroom has been tough for me blogwise. When I’m teaching, I feel like the material just walks through my door. Or lands in a pile to be graded. Over the last 15 weeks, I’ve had to work harder to create material.

    But like you said, that first time I was Freshly Pressed… it was like being published. Kind of. I mean, it filled some kind of hole. And since then, i have been “Squished Flat” three more times. As you said, there is almost nothing better than getting all that traffic. For a few days, you feel like a superstar. I can’t imagine stopping my blog, but I am having a hard time figuring out how to balance mommying and being a good wifey with blogging and tweeting and working on my novel.

    I have met so many cool people here, I can’t imagine ever leaving. It’s like somebody let me sit at the cool kids’ table. I hope they never find out that I’m the geek who loves to write. All. The. Time. 😉

    1. From this end you seem to be handling the second life of blogging just fine. And what could be cooler than a geek who loves to write? Thanks for sharing your tale.
      P.S. So what you going to do with your memoir?

      1. Right now it is becoming a highly fictionalized manuscript. My main character is actually much more interesting than I am. Adding jazz hands and pixie dust has been fun.

        And if no one wants this new and potentially improved version,,,well, I guess I wait until someone kicks the can and then haul out the original.

        Or just know that I had an offer. Once. Before the economy fell down and went boom.

  6. Love this post. It gave me that classic ‘Whew, I’m not the only one!’ reaction.

    I started a blog almost exactly 2 years ago. I wanted to get myself into the habit of writing regularly, find the discipline to put myself on a schedule for publishing, and to refine my focus. I’ve wanted to be a Real Writer for so long and I knew that there was no way to do it without, you know, writing. So I thought a blog could give me the kick in the ass that I needed to do just that.

    It was a fitful start and I also didn’t tell anyone until I felt more confident that I would keep writing. It took me a long time to gather up the nerve to tell people what I was doing. I wrote semi-regularly last summer, and then got overwhelmed with teaching in the Fall and didn’t post at all. In February, I decided I had to get back to it, and so I moved over from Blogger to WordPress and started posting. Three weeks later, I was Freshly Pressed. And I’m not ashamed to admit that I fantasize about it happening again 🙂

    Like other folks, once I became involved in interaction with readers and the community of other bloggers, I got hooked. I don’t see myself stopping anytime soon!

    1. I know what you mean about wanting to get something out there. Writing is a lot more rewarding when there are readers, especially so when those readers give feedback. Thanks for letting us know how you got here. And keep it up!

  7. I started blogging back on Yahoo 360 to prove how inane and pointless it was. My only rule of thumb was that I would never use anything true. I wrote about my trip to Thailand, my Arctic expedition, how Great Aunt Ethel was Fidel Castro’s lover and started the Cuban missile crisis…. Trouble was, 360 was a good community, and people started coming out of the woodwork and talking to me. Eventually I began to break the rules and post real information about myself and the weasels. Then when we made the move to Canada, it seemed sensible to chronicle it properly for the benefit of folks at home (and, of course, any potential publishers who would demand I write it up as a hilarious account of emigration).
    Since then it’s evolved again with the help of Kristen Lamb into a well-honed business tool. Well, fairly honed. A bit honed. Ok, there’s still some honing to be done. Do you have any advice on honing?

    1. I’m still struggling with honing myself. But I do find myself deleting about half of what I write, probably more. Then I have to take a break, put some distance between the draft and myself, and look at it later with fresher eyes. Then I see where sentences can be tightened, needless words omitted, and awkward phrases retooled.

      That’s quite an exotic story you have about how you got into blogging. Thanks for sharing it.

  8. So glad you started blogging. I really enjoy your wit and humor, as well as all of those things I Remember When.

    Kristen Lamb got me started blogging. I had thought about it from time to time, but never seriously. I’m a total techno-moron, and the thought of everything I needed to learn to blog was a bit intimidating. Then I met Kristen at the DFW Writers Conference, my first writers conference, in fact. She saw how totally clueless I was and thought I would be a good guinea pig to try out her social media marketing ideas. She got me started, and I kind of took to it. 🙂

    1. Thank you. It’s a lot of fun. I’m glad you ran into Kristen Lamb and started blogging, too. It’s funny how things get started. Thanks for sharing your experience. Although I confess I already read about it in Are You There Blog? It’s Me, Writer. Good stuff.

  9. I could see classroom texts turning into online blogs soon. Where will all the history books go then? Sooner or later everything will be read and practiced over a wireless intangible connection. All of our posts are like the first chapters of a revised history text in the making. Google and other search engines are the new generation of cataloguers and “book keepers.” I think my first book will be called, From Couch to Desk Potato… Something about growing up in front of a TV, then moving to a desk or table with a desktop computer and then finally, a portable laptop that weighed less than 20 lbs and a cell phone that weighed less than 10! Wow, look how completely off track I got in your comments section. ‘Remember when’ is brilliant subject matter and I hope you don’t mind me sharing my two cents of it here.

    I got started with Word Press and blogging about a year ago in my Marketing for Artists class. I studied photography in college and my teacher told me it was a good way to be seen and get work out there without breaking the bank. Prior to Word Press blogging the only other blog I really had other than myspace occasionally was livejournal and a physical journal kept in high school with a friend. I loved rhyming, or trying to, and writing poetry. I even remember submitting one of my poems into this “international poetry.com contest” that promised results for everyone and instant fame… Ha! I don’t know if I even got a book with my poem yet. It was still kind of fun at the time but I got out of it for a long time afterward except an occasional birthday gift. I am writing this and reflecting on my life writing. I love my blog but like you and others am still struggling with finding who I am as a writer and what my niche is in it. This topic has been fun and a temporary release from the painstaking process of narrowing topics to write about, looking at the same ones in my drafts, and editing old ones. It brought up some memories of my first internet experiences that might appear in a future post, who knows. 🙂 Great posting everyone!

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