If you’re a counter, you’ll know that this is technically the 8th edition since last week was spring break edition (wooohooo! Spring break!). If you’re new to the series, I’m writing about writing and blogging, then giving a prompt and opening a linky where you can share your stuff. It’s a small community and I really want it to be a community, so if you don’t think you have time to read and comment, sit this week out and come back when you can. I’m so glad you’re here!
If I hadn’t gone to grad school, I would never have joined Facebook. (It was Myspace first, actually, and my page still exists somewhere, perhaps under the name Turd Furgason.) I was one of the older students at 27 and most of my fellow students were fresh out of undergrad. Facebook was how everyone in my small MFA program communicated about writing groups, meeting up for drinks, or dinners. So my introduction to social media came in a year where I had a job with one month’s worth of work that I was given nine months to do.
This also coincided with missing freshman girl at my brother’s college. The girl had been very active on Livejournal and a few other sites. The police and the media used her sites as part of their investigations, establishing times, dates, and relationships. The suspect (who eventually went to prison for her murder) had interacted with her online via Livejournal and Myspace and she wrote about the night they met and time they spent together.
I became obsessed, reading true crime blogs and poring over her personal thoughts, left publicly for the world to read, so much more significant somehow by her disappearance and her death. The interactions between this victim and her killer are preserved online in a haunting display of early personal blogging.
Blogs were born from early pioneer sites like Livejournal. Blog is actually short for web-log and carries with it the connotation of a sort of online diary. (Read more about the history of blogging here.) Most blogs still retain a sense of the personal identity, some still retaining echos of that online journal feel. As a young genre that is still developing, what should our blogging look like? Something like a diary? A letter to readers? A professional source of information, personal or not?
There is room for all of these in the blogging sphere. The real question is this: which is right for you?
The question should bring you back to the discussion of voice from a few weeks ago. Your blog is distinct because you are distinct, even if you are one of many Mommy bloggers or recipe developers. Paired with your voice, the way you address your audience helps develop and earmark your personal blogging (and writing) style. Perhaps you start each blog post with a personal greeting to your readers in the style of an epistle. Or maybe you dive right into a scene as though telling a story.
Taking last week’s spring break (WOOO!) posts, we can see some of these different styles. Blogging Blackbird tosses us right into the middle of a moment:
I hadn’t expected it to come in the mailbox, and so when I reached into the metal depths and dragged the pile of envelopes and junk-newspaper-things out and saw it there, my knees became hollow. I thought they’d email me. But they—one of the universities I applied to for graduate school (which will remain nameless)—had sent me a letter.
Beginning with a great hook (another previous topic) she carries us right along with her as we wonder what the “it” is, agonizing with her and her hollow knees as she finds the letter. Alice Chase from Thrill of the Chases employs a similar style, tossing the readers right into the middle of a tragedy in school.
Emily from Light and Loveliness sets the scene as she bakes a pie while discussing womanhood and worth, beginning with these words (that I clearly relate to): “Barefoot and pregnant.” Shirley from Light Hope Love takes a more formal approach, starting with an idea that readers from all walks of life can relate to: fitting in.
Any of these approaches can be effective, but if you’re struggling to find your voice and your personal space in the blog world, here are a few questions you can ask.
-Who is my audience? What might be the best way to engage them?
-What is the main topic of my blog? (Or of this post?) What approach marries best with this?
-How will I best appear a trustworthy source for this topic? Will I accomplish this by appearing more professional or technical or more personal and off-the-cuff?
-How have I seen other bloggers handle this topic or subject? Do I want to try something similar or move in a new direction?
-Do I need a special set-up for this post that introduces the topic or context? (This applies specifically if you are doing something a little out of the ordinary or if there are life events that might need to be addressed?)
-How personal do you want to be on a public format? If you fear being too personal, how can you be personable without crossing your own lines of too personal?
Keeping these questions and this idea in mind, this week’s prompt is PERSONAL. Whether you actually want to get personal in a post or write about something related to the idea of the personal, let this be food for thought than a constrictive idea. Go wherever “personal” takes you.
If you’ve been here before, you can skip over these guidelines. Again, let me stress the importance of visiting and commenting on other blogs to form community. If you’re new, please take a moment to read before linking up. Join our Facebook community and if you share, we are using the hashtag #notsosmallstories on Twitter.
-Write in ANY genre, but at least loosely find inspiration from the prompt.
-Please include a link to this post or use the handy button over in my main sidebar. If you don’t, I’ll politely ask, and if you still don’t, I’ll un-link you. This just helps keep building the community and bringing new readers to the linky itself.
-Link to your specific post, not to your whole blog.
-Write a new post or use a post that fits from within the last week.
-Please visit ALL the other blogs. A comment is a great way to show you were there and if you love something, share it!
-Don’t be spammy or link to a giveaway or another linky or something weird like that. Just a post.
-Try to find a sweet spot under 1000 words, if possible between 500-750.
-Be free, but don’t be overly violent or sexual or just creepy. This is a varied group, but that’s not the best fit.