Friday, April 18, 2008

Just Marissa's Sex Life

Wow, this has been an exciting and eventful week at Ask. I think I'm speaking not only for myself when I say I'd like to thank Laurie, Key, Nigel, and Anonymous Stalker (Dude With No Penis) for the fun you've provided in the last few days. It's been a veritable cornucopia of schadenfreude.

In all honesty, Just Me...Marissa was one of the most difficult blog reviews I've ever done. Reading it was literally the emotional equivalent of having an eating disorder and being assigned to review a pastry shop.

On to content...I like the blog design, Marissa. Do three things for me, okay, sweet britches? Get rid of the calendar, you don't need it, you already have an archive list. Make your archive list a drop-down one. I don't use wordpress, so I'm not sure exactly how this is done. Do a search of "drop-down archives wordpress" on google, and see if you can figure it out. It will be cleaner and neater. Lastly, you have already created topical buttons underneath your header. Create another one called "Blogroll" or "Links" and move it up there. That will make your sidebar clean and minimalistic so that it doesn't distract from your writing. You only post one post per page, so you need to shorten your sidebar for aesthetic purposes. You don't want it dangling way down below your post like a nasty bit of toilet paper stuck to your pants after a big job. It just looks sloppy. Capiche?

I'm going to use your review to address sidebar issues just for a second. Your sidebar is the primary navigation tool of your blog. It also is the place where people are going to look first (because we're programmed by standardized blog formats at this point) to see who you are and why you're blogging. If you are using your sidebar for other purposes besides navigation and to explain yourself, you will ultimately find yourself in a blogging Catch-22, where there are so many busy distractions on the page that your reader will have difficulty focusing on your priority--the content. You've done relatively well at keeping your sidebar free of annoying blinky twinklies, and for that, I commend you. Clean it up a bit more and I think your blog will look even better.

I have one other template related issue, and I think it is some kind of janky wordpress bug related to the template you've chosen. When you look at the individual post pages, it took me a while to realize, because I had to scroll down so far (because of your exceptionally lengthy sidebar dangling below your post), that your posts even had comments. I think that reducing your sidebar size will fix this bug, and you should do it for that reason alone. Comments are how your readers engage with you. Making the comments difficult to find reduces that interaction.

Now, last but not least, the part of the review I've been dreading: the content.

Clearly, you are a gifted writer. I was immediately hooked in after the first post, and read for a long, long time. And, after reading for a long time, I found another clear issue: Your blog lacks soul.

For the uninitiated, your blog is a story, told in chapters. The way you've done it is confusing, but having the chronological navigation tool helps immensely. Reading in those chapters quite extensively, I came to the heart of the matter. Namely, that there is no heart. You're the sexy tin woman.

Your blog delves deeply into your sexual journey, and you write erotic prose quite well. But, after reading a dozen or more posts, I realized I'd found the ultimate irony: You are willing to show us the very inside of your vagina, but you won't show us your heart.

Sex is all well and good, but for me at least, if there is no emotional connection, it gets old. Reading your blog, at this point, Marissa, is like reading a well-written but trashy romance novel. You write sex like nobody's business. But really? The plot is just an excuse to connect the sex scenes. At this point, for me, your blog is like watching Debbie Does Dallas. Oh, another penis. Another blowjob! And another penis. And whoo hoo! another blow job. *yawn* Ah, fuck me, another penis.

At this point, while you are trying, there IS no story, it is just one sex scene after another. There is no emotional connection to the protagonist. For instance, while you delve deeply into how you felt when your ex-husband watched you have sex, you never tell us why that marriage ended, even though you tell us after that you miss the compatibility you had with him. So, ultimately, after a while, your blog rings hollow.

You can write. I'll give you that. And I'm sure there are a ton of other sex bloggers who read your posts and love them. But, as I told Honeybell last week, just naked isn't enough for me. The blogs I get addicted to are the people that I start to care about, deeply and personally. And you didn't give me enough, emotionally, to feel engaged with you. Sadly ironic, because of all the bloggers I've read, you and I have the most in common.

So, perhaps this reveals more about my biases than about your blog. All reviews, though, are inherently biased, because they are rooted in personal opinion. Here is my bias: I find a person's emotional journey far more interesting than their sexual journey. And, I would like to encourage you to go there. In fact, as someone who has walked in the same set of shoes: I think you need to. I think it will help you heal.

I give you two stars for the well-written sex posts:



But, I give you



for the lack of soul.

12 comments:

  1. Interesting. I don't know how much you've read of my recent posts but I figured I'd get blasted for being TOO emotional! lol

    Thanks for the praise on my writing. I am actually a paid sex columnist so that part of the reveiw means a lot.

    Ellipses...:)

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  2. I think I'm being given a bad rap. I don't hate ellipses. They are useful little marks. I just hate when they're used inappropriately and ad nauseum. Throw an em dash in there every once in a while, why don't you? The semi-colon is your friend, too. I even like an interrobang.

    As for Marissa's blog, I'm a fan of the template, generally. I like how clean it is, but I definitely agree about removing the calendar and rolling up the archives.

    The writing is nice, too, but I am so not getting how I'm supposed to read this thing. But I want to figure it out, so that's a good sign. I might actually subscribe to this one (love the sexy) and give it a shot. Especially if she begins to give us more soul.

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  3. Also, great review, Love Bites. You got to the root of it.

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  4. OK...fixed the calendar and archive issue. I didn't even know a drop-down was an option. I like it. The blogroll might take awhile to correct but I do like the shorter sidebar. Thanks for the suggestions.

    And thanks Calamity. I like that it is a bit confusing at first. When I started writing it, I thought detective story, give them a little at a time and let them wonder. I got off course a bit with the time shifting but I'd like to go back to that. One of those damn men in my life derailed me!

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  5. I know Marissa, and to me the blog gives a lot emotionally. I suspect she was nervous about letting me see her blog because of our background... it showed me a lot more of her than she would show in person!

    But I felt the earlier posts gave a lot more engagement than the later ones. Like me, Marissa can tend to get caught up in the sexual side of things because it's such a rush, and fluff over the parts that help you connect to her. (does that sound like me or what? lol)

    When she is writing from her memories the posts seem more thought out, deeper. Stuff I can relate to. The more recent posts she is writing from emotions rather than memories, so I feel her rush but not the connection.

    I absolutely LOVED the sequence, or lack there-of. I'm not quite sure why. I could almost feel her thoughts scrambling around in her brain, and her trying to make sense of the randomness. She is trying to figure out who she is, based on all of the events in her life. It's a random process. It was confusing, especially at first, but it fits.

    As for being a blog without a heart? I think perhaps Marissa is struggling to find her heart and this is her way to try to do it. And I hope she does. :)

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  6. I definitely think the heart is there. It is just a matter of being able to reveal it as openly as she reveals her sexual exploits. ;)

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  7. Thank you Lara! I don't reveal quite as much as you do...umm...lol. Your last comment was very interesting, about finding my heart. You might be right. I'll have to figure out how to make some changes to my writing to make it better.

    Love bites - I'll work on that. :)

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  8. Love: you're welcome. Pile?

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  9. I've been thinking about this review all day and wanted to say a bit more about it. I asked for the review for two reasons...

    1. To get an opinion on what I do from someone that reads and reviews blogs regularly. I admittedly don't have time to read as many as I'd like to.

    2. I'm a stat whore. Aren't we all?

    The format suggestions were very helpful and after making some changes I completely agree with your assesments.

    The content:

    I think when I started writing this blog I was trying to be a little detached from it. I wanted to get it out and not in an overly sappy way. Maybe I erred on the side of too detached. I think I've gotten over that over time. My posts in the last couple of months have been more emotional than sexual (mirroring my life)so I think some of that has worked itself out.

    As far as writing about my husband, I've done that in small ways so far and always meant to get back to it but got caught up in an emotionally intense and complicated recent story. That is definitely an important backstory that needs fleshing out.

    Honestly, I don't have much to say to argue with you Love Bites, and I thank you for acknowledging some positives and helping me to improve my layout. I'll be thinking about the "soul" aspect and trying to find ways to be more open that way.

    Thanks again for the review.

    And Calamity...come on over...I'll try to add more soul to the sexy for ya!

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  10. You're a cool chick, Marissa. I wish you all the best in your journey of...discovery. ;)

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  11. She IS a cool chick. ;)

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  12. Ms. Bites, one of the many reasons that you rock is the Abercrombie rating you've just thrown down. You are boss.

    As for Marissa, not really my thing. She does write well. Where are all these pros coming from?

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Grow a pair.