Tuesday, March 03, 2009

It's Only a Diary

When I lived abroad back in college I kept a journal. It was the only time -- before blogging -- that I was able to consistently write about what was going on in my life. And that was because I didn't want to forget a second of it. I knew that years from now, I'd want to remember the tacchino sandwiches at Noe, the Tequila Sunrises at Kikuya, and the way the cobblestone streets bruised my feet for the first week. I wanted it all written down for me to come back to when I was older and wiser and rich and famous (because I was supposed to be rich and famous -- damn you, fate, you motherfucker).

The beauty of that journal is that it's for me. I don't have to share it with anyone, and if I do it'll be with people close to me, people who care about the woman I am now and the girl I was then. There may be snippets tucked in there among the loopy swirly ramblings on Italian men and $4 bottles of Chianti and seeing grown men peeing on street corners that would be fit for sharing. But for the most part it's a record for my eyes only.

Bella at Earth to Bella has a similar journal (without my overblown horniness and rampant alcoholism and melodramatic musings about life and my place in it), but she lets us all read it.

First, this is a sweet little design. I really love it. It's simple, clean, organized (yay, TABS!), easy on the eyes, and has a precious header. The navigation is easy, there's no clutter, it's lovely.

But the rest of it... well. I wanted to fucking love Bella. Really. The design won me over right away, but she's also a reader and a student and a traveler. She's cute, tech-savvy, and eager and she posts pretty pictures and wears cute shoes and she's been blogging for forever and she writes often. What's not to like?

I'll tell you.

Her posts are aggravatingly long, and though her English is exceptionally good, there are some stumbling blocks for me as an American reader. She posts about her weekend and what she did and then after that we went here and so-and-so said this. We don't know the people you're talking about, Bella, and for the most part you don't introduce us. Like I said, when I studied abroad I wrote like this. I logged my daily activities and mundane happenings and thoughts. And while that may be compelling for me, it's not really going to do squat for someone else. Why should we care? These things you're writing about aren't for us -- they're for you and maybe your close friends. You don't take the effort to tell us a story, to make it about us, too, to draw us in. You just tell us what happened and hope we give a shit.

Bella, it's a bit like you're sending really long, detailed emails to friends. And if I were your friend I'd probably appreciate them. But I'm not. I'm a stranger on the internet. And though your life is interesting and filled with fun places and friends and school and snazzy internships and good times, it all reads kind of flat and impersonal.

And you know why. You're not anonymous and you admit to using the blog primarily as a means of staying in touch. This can kill your blog. When you post things like this -- when you cover up how you really feel, what's really going on in your life, by posting trivialities -- you lose us. Entirely.

"Let’s be realistic, the world doesn’t really care about me, and I doubt anyone will ever care what I thought of this book or that movie in 2005." Indeed. Unless you make us. Unless you draw us in and make it compelling and communicate with us and bring us along for the ride instead of just compiling the details and the photographic evidence. There are a zillion bloggers out there trying to be heard. Your design goes a long way toward bringing people in, but how are you going to get them to stay? How are you going to get them to care? By cutting out the surface bullshit and writing. I don't just mean words on a screen, because you've got that puppy nailed. You need to write like you want us to pay attention, like you want us to hear you, like you want us to come back and see what else you have to say. And you do that by editing (A LOT! You don't need 3/4 of those words you sling up there.), by crafting a post, by creating a unique voice, and by letting us see who you are, what matters to you, what moves you.

Look to these international blogging sensations for inspiration. They tell us about their lives and their thoughts and their hopes and their failures and their successes in ways that make us hang on every word and want to come back for more.

A Free Man
Florida Girl in Sydney
My Blue Streak
Xbox4NappyRash

In the meantime, you get an "I fucking love you" for your template. After the craptastic templates we have to see, yours is outstanding.

I wish I could say the same for the rest of your blog. I like you and I see the potential you've got here for a great blog, and I'm probably going to follow you because you've got some interesting stuff going on. Really. But the way you're writing it now excludes us instead of including us. We don't get let it, and you don't give us anything to make us tear the door down.

Take this "meh" and let it inspire you to greater heights. You know there's a problem with the way you're blogging now. Fix it. I'll be watching.

97 comments:

  1. She's just another secretary posing as a blogger.

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  2. Her template is nice.

    Her header was a freebie from http://deliciousdesignstudio.com/

    Just thought I'd throw that out there. Jess has some fantastic designs.

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  3. Good to know, Betsey. It's purty.

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  4. video of crow was cute. *shrug*

    Hot freebie giveaway... on my blog, if you're interested.
    www.miawatts.blogspot.com (honoring the horny, drunkin' needs of the illustrious reviewer)

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  5. So, Mia, you write about homoerotic vampire escapades?

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  6. "So, Mia, you write about homoerotic vampire escapades?"

    Uh, who doesn't?

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  7. Um, I don't. I didn't realize there was a big market for man on man vampire action. What's your readership look like? I'm guessing primarily female.

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  8. Jesus Christ, I´ve missed this place.

    great review as usual. I don´t really understand why someone that writes a blog just to stay in touch with people would ever want a blog review, unless they wanted more than just to stay in touch with people. Maybe she should start over anonymously. Hmmm, maybe I should take my own advice.

    Thanks for the mention, Cal.

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  9. I never understand that, either, Blue. If you're writing for yourself and a few pals, to keep them updated and to keep a journal of what's going on, why the hell do you care what we think of it?

    Methinks there's an impetus toward something else, something better, that compels them. Perhaps the power of Christ. And green vomit.

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  10. Never underestimate the power of Christ and green vomit, especially together. The Exorcist fucking rules.

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  11. Sometimes when I'm stumbling through the interwebs, I come across one of those sites where somebody has found a box of old, anonymous snapshots and posted them.

    This was kind of like that - interesting for a bit, but not enough to keep me reading.

    She does write well, though.

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  12. Why yes GoK, among other things. The sequel isn't m/m but still dark and spicy.

    Love men. Alpha men in particular. Two are better than one. Readership indeed primarily female. But I am a woman after all, and had to inject some menage.

    Did I scare you Gok? Insecure much?

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  13. Mia, I doubt, in your lifetime, you will find a way to scare me. Especially when it comes to sexual themes. As for being insecure, well, I most certainly am not. I was simply striking up a conversation that didn't relate to pretty templates.

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  14. GoK was gonna take it up the rear from a Canadian just to please his fiancé. A Canadian, people. I think he's probably ok with boy/boy plotlines. Maybe it's the vampires that are an affront.

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  15. Cal, I'm still negotiating that US/Canadian Free Sex Agreement. I love vampires, vampire movies, the idea of immortality is great for fantasy. I was just asking questions.

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  16. Just tell me you hate Twilight as much as I do. Please?

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  17. Cal, I haven't read nor have I watched. Its a tad bit statutory, even for me. Look, I've read trashy skin/punk novels, I've glanced over some Anais Nin, I like to think I'm pretty well rounded when it comes to human depravity. A scholar, you might say.

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  18. Vampires suck.

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  19. I think what GoK is saying is that he likes a pretty "template" as much as the next person.

    We just have to question the definition of pretty.

    Oh and template too.

    I'm totally talking out my ass for no real reason at all over here.

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  20. I heard Teen Wolf hates pretty templates.

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  21. Teen Wolf doesn't care about your templates. All he cares about is riding around on top of vans and howling at the moon and dunking sweet baskets.

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  22. And sunglasses, Cal. He cares about sunglasses too.

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  23. All Teen Wolf really cares about is getting. a keg. of beer.

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  24. Having a password protected post is lame and makes me hate this blog. Go private if you don't want me to read your posts.

    Teen Wolf hates vampires.

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  25. Breaking News! A building collapsed!
    Just thought I would add that since I have no desire to go look at a 'pretty template'.

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  26. Also? Blogger users...is there something going on with your posts not loading today?
    Or did that building collapse on my head?

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  27. Thanks for the review. You are right, I would like to write a blog that reaches out to more people, but at the same time find myself limited by trying to protect myself as far as I can (seeing as I am not anonymous - see my blog post the other day). And honestly I wasn't expecting anything better than a 'Meh', just a perspective of someone that won't sugar-coat their opinion and isn't biased, though I feel your review has been quite kind (compared to some others on here), and I essentially agree with you. Thanks.

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  28. Being cordial is rarely fun.

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  29. Teen Wolf Too3/03/2009 3:27 PM

    Viviane is not on board with teen wolf.

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  30. Yeah, I've been a total bitch ever since that building collapsed on my head. It's lots of fun.

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  31. Seriously, Watts, you could write about male vampires lodging blowfish in their rectums with legless, toothless senior citizens trying to gum the fish free from their anal trappings and I'd still take you out for sushi.

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  32. Yeah, it's like Watts thinks she's going to get God's gag reflex going or something. I think not, dear Watts. I think not.

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  33. Ah then I am most pleased you aren't the terrified type. Twilight not my cup of tea. Strong men, in any form, are. Bring it.

    Non-templatic dialogue noted.

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  34. "LOL, GoK. I'm game."

    Famous last words.

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  35. Oh whatever. I was going to say something but remain utterly uninspired. Sorry, but I'm a lazy ass Saint today.

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  36. No doubt Betsey. I'm hearing the word 'obituary' being typed as we speak.

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  37. Yeah, good call, BB.
    Watts: if you truly cherished your delicates, you would never ask me to 'bring it'.

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  38. Are last words required? Or simply quoting other people? Hm? As there is little I won't try once, I have no fears.

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  39. It's almost like the person doesn't even know you, GoK.

    It's apalling. ;)

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  40. This is just sad. Profoundly sad.

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  41. Well that would be true, wouldn't it Betsey. I don't know any of you. I amuse myself by reading the blog and occassionally comment. Little did I realize I had entered private territory.

    So tell me. What are the stakes?

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  42. Well, she doesn't. Ballsy, this one.

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  43. "So tell me. What are the stakes?"

    Profoundly sad and entirely depressing as well.

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  44. Mono, do you have a thought of your own? Quoting gets a little lame.

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  45. I'm sorry, did I emit some kind of disclaimer that announced this was private territory?

    (Sniffs pits) Do I OH-FEND. (Ah, Duckie!)

    Eh, whatever. GoK can fight his own battle. I only warn that once he sticks the battle ax in he typically breaks the handle off.

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  46. She is pretty new around here. I'm not really sure what the stakes are. Is this a challenge?

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  47. "Mono..."

    And then she lifted my spirits. Alas, not so much.

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  48. Warning acknowledged and appreciated Betsey. How far is too far for GoK?

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  49. Have always enjoyed Mongolian Barbeque...

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  50. Oh, and here's a thought.

    'Mono' is going to take a nap.

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  51. GoK typically goes where a tank of gas gets him.

    But the ride there is usually pretty fucked up.

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  52. All I know is my review rocks and y'all are unherded cats.

    Well, and I also know that Edward Cullen can eat a bag of dicks.

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  53. Technically, I think Edward Cullen would only suck a bag of dicks.

    However, I know that he could probably find a good stock up sale and load his freezer full of bags of dicks to make sure he never runs out.

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  54. Excellent analogy Betsey. Love the picture it brings to mind. And Calamity, fab blog indeed. Though has one ever attempted to herd cats? Would imagine it quite difficult.

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  55. Dick-cicles. Hm. Would chaffe a bit.

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  56. I herd pussy like it ain't no thang

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  57. Duh, you thaw them out first.

    Jeez.

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  58. You would be better off herding cats than you would be trying to out-dirty me.

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  59. Noisy little twats, the lot of them. Throw them in with the frozen dicks. You'll have a bag of copulating tricks in no time.

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  60. As little I know of you GoK, I'd never try to out-dirty you. You swear like my sainted mother. And she could make Satan blush.

    I can admit my short-cummings.

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  61. I have a feeling that Ms. Watts's form of dirty is a bit more highbrow than GoK's.

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  62. Betsey may be my new favorite person. Wisdom and humor in one.

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  63. It's rare day.

    I think it's something I ate.

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  64. Gok, Do you ever feel like you're Charlie to a bunch of Angels?

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  65. --------------------->>>>>>
    Note pitch-fork.

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  66. I feel like I'm in Mean Girls.

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  67. How d'you herd cats?
    Rassles?

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  68. I just feel bloated.

    I was really nice.

    That hurt.

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  69. If I herd cats can I have little tiny lassos and western cat themed clothing?

    Perhaps some catskin boots?

    Ooooh, ooooh I can play City Slickers and do one armed push ups. I'm so Jack Palance only with cats, it's not even funny.

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  70. Formerly Fun: yes, I feel exactly that way all of the time. But instead of angels, I've got a bunch of filthy mouthed homewreckers. It's fucking paradise, I tell ya.
    Also, high brow? Where's the fun in that?

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  71. By "herding cats" do you mean "flock of pussy?"

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  72. That was a lot to take in there. I'm too exhausted after reading all the comments to even contemplate looking at this blog. I'll just take your word for it Cal.

    And Rassles "flock of pussy" is fabulous. Maybe it's like that 80's group Flock of Seagulls only with better hair.

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  73. The post about the class schedule-- probably even your closest friends don't need that much information on it.

    Calamity, this review was right on-- blogs that are basically a daily summary of "what I did today" are boring... even for people who know you. Maybe it's best to post less, when there's something to say that's entertaining or exceptionally interesting. And of course you were right on about those expat bloggers.

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  74. "damn you fate-- you motherfucker..." --my sentiments exactly

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  75. Nothin'...

    Just wanted to say your name.

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  76. Gwen, I think ideally, a flock of pussy would be sans hair.

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  77. Especially with FF hanging around all the time.

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  78. I'd say KY is wise when dealing with the KEY.

    But I'd go for the silicone-based lube, it's less sticky and lasts longer. Just my dirty 2 cents.

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  79. Gap, you're wonderful, lady.

    LB: There you go with all that silicone talk. I think I might have to agree with you there. Also, anybody want sushi?

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  80. Ky, I love my new 8 year old cat so much..

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  81. That's great gap, I'm very happy for you.

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  82. Whoa, I'm a sensation? Sweet.

    I've seen her before, I kind of look for expat and displaced blogs and 'meh' is right on. It's right purty though.

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  83. He makes me feel like a tub of red jello inside. I kiss him with my lips while my eyes rest on Nuzzie's autographed photo.

    Keep the balance, you know..

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  84. Good call, gap. I'm sad that my month is over.

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  85. Your month isn't over in my living room, darlin'.

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  86. I liked the design of this blog. Neat, clear and tidy. Regardless of where it came from, I also thought the crumpled paper header was good.

    Personally, I look at blogs as living vicariously through someone else’s life and therefore wouldn’t want every piece to have been laboured, pruned and edited until it was wrung of all personality.

    ‘Punching out’ a killer post is always great but sometimes you can understand a person more from their trivialities rather than their over polished highlights.

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  87. Sure, but when it's almost entirely trivialities? I start to nod off.

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Grow a pair.