Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Blogger, know thyself

I started blogging as a way to train myself to write every day. I'd long said I wanted to be a writer, and I thought creating a habit, flexing my writing muscles by blogging, would be a good way to start reaching that goal (almost four years later and I'm not limber enough yet). I thought I'd tell amusing stories, make a few people laugh, comment on the news and pop culture of the day, revive some bits of nostalgia, and just crack my knuckles and get down to the business of writing. What I didn't expect was the opportunity for self-exploration and connection blogging could provide. The more I blogged, the more I learned about myself. And the more I blogged, the more I learned about others, about how we're alike in our differences, about how people are usually more than you think.

What strikes me about today's reviewee is that he seems so self-aware. He knows who he is, what's important to him, what he likes and dislikes and dreams. I don't know how much self-knowledge blogging affords him, but whatever his motivation for blogging, whatever unexpected benefits he may gain from it, I'm glad he does.

Jacob at Jacob's Land of Bliss and Blisters says his blog is "... a little difficult to describe. I'm a scattered, random and eclectic person. So is my blog." And he's right.

He uses a standard blogger template, and though it's not horrible it's also not all that attractive or personal. I'd like a little more personality -- a photographic banner, perhaps. Though it is relatively uncluttered, the font is a bit small. Roll up your archives, Jacob, and consider tabs. Try to fix it so you've got no more than, say, six posts on a page.

Readers take note: he's got a great "about" page. This is what we want: just the basics, a little upfront information on who you are and what to expect. You don't have to shoot your wad there and give us everything, but give us a taste, just the tip. (Although, Jacob, consider linking to the blogs of those you list under "cast" right there in the text.)

Jacob is a frequent, long-term blogger with a backlog of EIGHT YEARS of posts, though only the last three have been consistent. Normally for a blog with that long a history, I'll go back to the first couple of posts just to see how it all started then stick with the current year. But I got sucked in and wanted to read the whole thing. I couldn't, though, not in the time I'd allotted myself to review.

I love a Georgia boy, and they love their football. But like Chris's blog (one Jacob and I both read), sometimes the football talk gets boring for me 'cause they're not talking about Florida State (except here -- Go Noles!). I can forgive him his low opinion of Florida. Barely.

But I just like his voice. Even when he's boring and fatalistic and misanthropic, he's entertaining and well-written and thoughtful. He's dry and smart and self-aware.

True, they're mostly loooong posts. He's got a lot to say and he usually says it very well. It's not that I think you should edit, Jacob, although you probably could prune a bit. It's that I'd like to see more variety in length. Acres of lengthy posts can be a little daunting for a reader. There's a tendency toward tangential and rambling writing, and though this is one of those cases where I think it works in your favor, it would work even better if you switched it up with some more brief, succinct posts thrown in (something it seems you've started doing more of in recent months).

They say you can tell a lot about a person by the company they keep, and I tend to think that's true. This is why a blogroll is, for me, as important as an about page. I wanna know who you are and who you like. In this case, I like who Jacob is, and I like who he likes.

45 comments:

  1. I'm going to be reading his blog frequently. Anybody that is 'sans religion' can have a few beers with me. Some of the posts are a bit drawn out, but I don't think that's a bad thing in Jacob's case, I think that is really him, not a blogger trying to fill space. Good review, Cal.

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  2. And he's definitely down with the beer, so you're good.

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  3. Vivian VonDoom6/10/2009 12:39 PM

    Great review and I love his his about me.

    This is an about me example if I've ever seen one.

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  4. Oh, I think I could really love him. Thanks. :)

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  5. Great review. Great blog. Any friend of A Free Man is a friend of mine.

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  6. I feel bad about hurting feelings with a blogroll.

    It was easier before I had one.

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  7. Which is stupid, I guess, because my feelings aren't hurt in reverse.

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  8. Okay, so I like him. I don't know if I have the patience.

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  9. Rassles - Aren't you on everybody's blogroll? You should be. This guy is very prolific. And my reader is just bursting.

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  10. No shit about the prolificity (I may have just made that word up) so I'm going to have to subscribe to Jacob and read him from here forward regularly and try to read past posts here and there. Unless I get sucked in and have to engage in severe work avoidance to get caught up.

    Also, Rassles is definitely on my blogroll. ZULU! <-- not relevant but I couldn't resist. Beating a dead horse and all that. :-)

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  11. I just ate a really good sandwich. I would add it to my blogroll if I could.

    I don't have one though.

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  12. "Okay, so I like him. I don't know if I have the patience"

    Every girl I have dated has said this to me.

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  13. Chris - then you just haven't found the right girl.

    I seem to be teeming with patience.

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  14. I think the fact I kinda look like Bruce Willis and always have three days of facial growth has something to do with it.

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  15. This blog irritates my ADHD.

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  16. Too much talk, too little sex/violence.

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  17. Jesus, Chris! Saying "Bruce Willis" has a Pavlov's dog effect on my libido. Ding, ding, ding!

    Also, I liked Jacob so much I didn't even mind the complete lack of sex. Barely even noticed it.

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  18. LB, you have such debilitating ADHD that you can't even stick to one comment per idea!

    Also, I miss you.

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  19. Zing bitches!

    If homer Simpson and Bruce Willis had a baby.

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  20. Cal, let's go drinking on Friday.

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  21. p.s. I'll have you know that there are way more ADHD people reading this site than thoughtful, introspective commenters.

    Hands down.

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  22. Being outnumbered isn't always a bad thing. In the world of the blind, the one-eyed woman in queen.

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  23. Whoopsie! My ess slipped into an en.

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  24. Can someone get me 29000 twitter followers like the feed that was created for Ask. It was discussed here a few weeks ago and I forgot by whom as I think of you all as one huge ball of hottness (Thanny included).

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  25. We have 29,000 followers? HOLY FUCK.

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  26. It was a thread with someone that created a killer twitter accnt, I think she said she created it on your behest.

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  27. It was Gap, I'm pretty sure, and she actually created it without telling us, which isn't odd or anything, is it?

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  28. That right, ty Calm. I want it and I will use it for self promotion, and to spread the word about Teen Wolf and possibly hobos.

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  29. Betsey Boom's comment made me laugh.

    More on topic, I'm pleased you decided to give Jacob a try. He does tend to make lengthy posts that could scare off those who do not know him personally but it's worth the time.

    Jacob is brutally honest and I find that refreshing. I also think he strikes the right balance between commenting on his life (for those of us who want to know) and his interests.

    It was fun to read your assessment.

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  30. Chris, I hereby allow you to go forth and tout our services and fantasticalness, along with your own, hither and yon on the Twitter machine.

    Not that my allowance matters.

    Also, "I'm gonna dip my BALLS in it!"

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  31. Cal: best sketch on The State, EVER!

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  32. It very much is, isn't it, Ghost? I still stay it more often than is probably wise.

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  33. Anyone know how to get a hold of GAP? I want to see if she is still offering to give away that Twitter account.

    The thought of updating people on how my back hair shaving and and asking over and over of "how do you spell Twitter" to 29k people is too delicious to pass up.

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  34. I heart Jacob. He's a better writer than I am and reminds me of why I loved living in the South. Solid.

    I share his disdain for Florida despite having grown up there. You need to get the hell out, Calamity. You're wasted on the Sunshine State!

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  35. Chris, you can Direct Message her at her Twitter thingy that's disguised as us: http://twitter.com/therudetypist.

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  36. Thank you my dear, I will think of you as I run my hands over my Bruce Will bald head and facial growth.

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  37. Tried and cant as she is not following me back.

    If you see her before I do, Im interested and will give her a Garth Brooks box set that I got for festivus.

    http://twitter.com/Project_Kickass

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  38. Tried and cant as she is not following me back.

    If you see her before I do, Im interested and will give her a Garth Brooks box set that I got for festivus.

    http://twitter.com/Project_Kickass

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  39. Oh yeah, I forgot about the following thing on Twitter. Hmm. Can you just @ reply her?

    Franklin, not today but I did yesterday... BABY!

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  40. Free Man, the state of Florida farts in your general direction. Of course with all the collard greens we eat around here that's no surprise.

    Find me a job editing near the beach and I'll move.

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  41. Great review-- and btw, if the State of Florida farts in Free Man's direction, I'll totally be getting a whiff of that... thanks.

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  42. A really big congratulations to XBox, your swim team, FTW.

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Grow a pair.