What I’ve learned in a year of blogging

 One of my early blogs was about how this  fireplace  caused a near disaster!

One of my early blogs was about how this fireplace caused a near disaster!

On October 13, 2016, with a deep breath, a prayer, and a mix of trepidation and pride, I hit “publish,” sending my first blog out into the great beyond.

Blogosphere, here I come. 

I’ve written 48 posts since then. It’s been the hardest professional challenge I’ve faced and there’s no paycheck on Fridays. The compensation has been in personal growth. I could fill a book, but instead I’ll give you some snippets on what I’ve learned:

I hate listicles.

That’s why I didn’t give this blog a title such as “Twenty nine blogging mistakes that made me pull my hair out.” 

Listicles attract readers, I’ve learned, but they’re rampant on the web with not much distinction among them, and they’re uncreative, IMO. I don’t read them so I don’t write them. (With one sort-of exception.)

Besides listicles, I have a whole new vocabulary.

Click-bait, linky party, SEO, web-host, RSS feeds, vlogging. I try not to show off at parties, but I do feel smart.

Speaking of feeling smart, I’m not as technology-challenged as I thought. 

My resident tech guru (i.e., my husband), knows nothing about building a website, so I couldn’t use him as a crutch like I used to.

I clicked a lot of tabs or buttons, not knowing what they would do, and that’s how I found out what they did. (Duh.) And I had to read online instructions S-L-O-W-L-Y, several times, and watch and re-watch the videos.

As a result, I learned. And actually REWROTE A LINE OF COMPUTER CODE to tailor my RSS feed. Yup, ME.

Some of the writing rules have changed.

For example, double spacing after a period is taboo in the digital age.  Oops.  Old habits die hard.

Some rules are the same but I was absent that day in english class.

I know that it’s means it is or it has (duh). 

But I think I was out with the flu during the lesson on its—with no apostrophe—which is the possessive of it. As in “The apostrophe lesson and its importance were lost on Karen.” 

And I must have had lingering head congestion when I returned because I never grasped where the punctuation goes with “quotes,” (inside), or with parentheses (outside). (Unless the whole sentence is contained within the parentheses.) 

Maybe I slept through the invention of the em-dash and en-dash, too, but I was perfectly content with a simple hyphen anyway.

Writing is humbling, whether you follow the rules or not.

When I have a fantasy that a post will go “viral” and all I hear is crickets, it keeps my ego in check. It’s a reminder not to write to please others; but to tell my own truth.

My truth is that I strive to be an excellent writer.

Some blogs are all about linking with other bloggers, or selling, or giving advice. My blog is about stories told well. I’m not The New Yorker quality yet, but that’s the gold standard to which I aspire.

I’m an artist and my medium is the written word. 

Just as a visual artist starts with a blank canvas, I start with a blank page and transform it through the creative process.

I AM a writer.

A year ago, I would have said, “I do some writing.” Today, I know in my heart, and the universe has confirmed that I AM a writer.

I must be a writer because I have muses. 

People who weren’t absent in english class may know about muses, but I didn’t until I had four of them arguing in my head. These characters created themselves and all I did was write about them. I’ve heard about that phenomenon, but to experience it was fascinating.

Apparently my muses aren’t enough company because I’ve started talking to myself.

“OK, Karen, finish editing chapter four, then you can break for lunch.” Or, “Where did I put that cupcake scene?”

Sometimes I’m funny.

 Sometimes I’m not.

When I cry, I know it’s good.

When I finish writing a piece, sometimes I cry, not because it’s sad but because it’s good. They are shameless tears of pride.

I’ll stand up for my words.

Even if I haven't always stood up for myself.

Blogging is a full time job.

Some bloggers give themselves twenty minutes or less to write a post. 

I wish! 

It takes me multiple days and many hours to give you my best work. Then there’s managing my website, marketing, and learning my craft. It’s a real time suck. 

Writers sometimes need to refocus.

I’ve gotten pressure from my muses VORonica (Voice of Reason) and Voila! (Voice of Inspiration) to devote more time to my memoir. They remind me that telling that story—of surviving my young son’s brain tumor—is why I became a writer in the first place. And my muses know it’s not going to happen unless I make some changes.

They’re right. So I’ve decided to cut back from weekly blogging to a couple of times per month. 

You’ll still get stories from my simple life and you’ll see more morsels from my memoir, including scenes and sections that have fallen to the editorial floor. 

You’ll get a better feel for the story so you’ll know why I feel compelled to tell it. 

It’s the final lesson I’ve learned this past year: that finishing my memoir is my ultimate goal as a writer. 

I’ll hope you’ll stick with me!