Monday, March 31, 2008

On the Occasion of "Madam Mayo's" 2nd Anniversary: Five Lessons Learned About Blogging (So Far)

So, it's the end of March; I've been blogging steadily for two years. Why did I begin? For a bit of an adventure, and to promote my then-hot-off-the-presses anthology of 24 Mexican writers, Mexico: A Traveler's Literary Companion. So, like most literary bloggers, I waded in somewhat naively and self-servingly (if promoting an anthology of 24 Mexican writers can be called self-serving... humph... no, I think not. Would somebody please award me the Aztec Eagle now?) Here are the five lessons learned--- thus far:

#1.Blogging isn't necessarily "blogging"
By which I mean, a lot of people, especially literary types my age and older, have set ideas about what blogs and the so-called "blogging culture" are--- and they are missing the whole point. It's a literary genre, kindasorta, but it's also a delivery system, the whole Web 2.0 social networking technology-phenomenon--- in sum, we do not yet have the precise vocabulary to describe this. I've told writer friends who resist blogging (with that inevitable oh-so-subtle curl-of-the-lip), if you have a newsletter--- and many do nowadays, as adjuncts to their websites--- you already are "blogging." Just call your newsletter a blog. And if you have some resistance to that, well, then, call your blog a "newsletter." Call it a cupcake, whydoncha! Apropos of which: "To Blog or Not to Blog, That is Not the Question".

#2. Good blogging is more than flogging.
I don't read "flog blogs"--- the thud of "me, me, mine," is deadly. The best blogs offer quality writing and quality information--- however quirky a combination (e.g., Phronesisaical's politics, philosophy, international affairs & fruit) or specialized (e.g., Seth Godin's Blog on marketing). (That said, um... why take ads when I can advertise my own books? Yes indeed, look over to right side of this screen for all relevant links.)

#3. My blog is not a log or diary of my life; neither is it a forum or a community bulletin board. It's a filter.
You want to know what blogs to read? Come see what I recommend here and here and here. Want to find out about some extraordinary books? Try this 1,000-year-old apparently true adventure that almost defies belief and Hypnerotomachia Poliphili and all 10 of these. And how about this mind-blowing (literally) video, this Icelandic movie and this sleep-inducing CD and the magic Baby Muse... I blog about my books, events and workshops (yeah, I'm flogging) but also, generally, my interests, my tastes, what I want to share (e.g., "All Hail E.T., Minister of Information!") and celebrate (e.g., Mexico's beloved English eccentric's masterwork, "Las Pozas"). If you don't like it, fine, there is an ocean of blogs out there, wade in. Why not start your own?

#4. Blogging (and balancing blogging with my other writing, and the ever-roaring cascade of e-mails, etc, etc.) requires increasingly advanced time-management skills.
As I noted in my recent post, Time to Blog & Read Blogs & Everything Else Everywhereallthetime, apropos of writers' blogs, " seems to me that, as artists--- artists who live in this world of unimaginable quantities of information 24/ 7--- we need to develop a set of skills we never knew we needed." I've learned a lot about organization and productivity (two of my gurus are Regina Leeds and David Allen) but I know I have yet to learn more than I can probably imagine--- and this would be true whether I were blogging or not. That said, I rarely watch television or use a cell phone, and I've moved this blog to a more regular (if flexible) schedule: posts on Mondays and in-between more often than not; guest-bloggers generally on Wednesdays.

#5. Lists are good. Links are even better. Lists of links, yay!
I love my guest-bloggers. Check 'em out. (Coming up in the next weeks: Leslie Pietrzyk, Graham Mackintosh, Daniel Olivas, and more...) Like I said, it' all about Web 2.0. More anon.

--->For the archive of Madam Mayo's posts on blogging, click here.