A to Z Recovery and Reflections

Hello all! Thanks for stopping by my blog once more. Last week saw the end of the A to Z Challenge here on DBCII, and a great many other blogs, and it was a genuinely fun time. Just looking at my archives, that was by far the most posts in a month that this blog has seen. It adds a fantastic collection of reflections on writing to the blog, really beefing up the purpose of the blog. And, with completing the challenge on two blogs, it really got me writing!

survivor-atoz [2014]I did a reflection and looking-forward post on Comparative Geeks yesterday, and it was good to do so. For Comparative Geeks, it was a zero-sum change in the amount of content we did in the month: we regularly post Monday to Saturday, once a day, so the challenge’s rules matched perfectly. We went with a theme, so it got us blogging about characters for a whole month, which I think is good. Our character studies are regularly some of our most popular posts, so I think all of these are going to remain popular over time. At least, I hope so; I hope that the challenge-themed titles and such don’t detract from the posts. The one that got away from me was the one on Hermione and Harry – and the recent J.K. Rowling comments surrounding them. Which is a fun and relevant post here, too: does the author really get to challenge the meaning or content of their stories once written? Feel free to check it out and join in the conversation!

Anyway, I’ve been thinking and decompressing, and a four-day vacation helped. But it has me thinking about the state of the blog; the purpose of the blog, and my blogging; the future of my writing. Which is all supposed to happen, I think, doing something like this challenge. So below are some of my thoughts after working through the A to Z Challenge.

Honesty and Blogging

Part of the challenge was in reading other people’s blogs, something that was hard for me. Hard, in part, because I started watching all of the blogs that commented on my posts during the challenge. I have followed some, and have them all still saved as bookmarks to consider and follow at some point. Which really, I should do soon, or it will have been some wasted effort. Anyway, if I’m going to use a heading like “honesty and blogging,” consider that an honest confession from me. Reading blogs is a lot of work!

The most impactful post I read during the challenge, I think, is the post on Honesty on The Writing Catalog. I’m not sure why, entirely. I think it made me think about things not even really in the post, things only adjacent, or maybe even only happening in my mind. So let me try to unpack that all a little.

One of the points, and really the most basic, was about being truthful and representing things accurately. And that got me thinking about the fact that what I really tend to post are opinions and speculation. One of my favorite examples – in part because of the bold and probably completely inaccurate title – was “Doctor Strange – A Movie We’re (Sadly) Not Going To See.” That was a pretty bold title for the fact that I was pretty much 100% speculating. And it got me a comment that read as such:

“…Doctor Strange has already been announced as next after ant man so yeah you wasted your time on this article.”

-TheMan

I replied with a long and detailed response that I still remember pretty clearly, because I was kind of upset at this comment. It’s kind of trolly, I guess, in its anonymity and brevity, but still, it had an important point in it. I had failed to make my post sound like I was just speculating: I made it sound like I was confirming something. In my defense, Doctor Strange is still not a confirmed movie – but Stephen Strange was name-dropped in The Winter Soldier, so it’s just about as good as confirmed. But I think my concerns and speculations are still valid.

Now, there are ENTIRELY DIFFERENT ways I could have written that post. For instance, there’s the news style, like I linked to in my response. But I didn’t even really look for those sorts of posts. Then there’s the sort of post that actually includes that research for the readers: sets up the problem, presents the news and elements of it, and then maybe gets into the speculation. There’s the sort of post where I could write up how I would solve their problem (that being introducing Magic into their realistic though improbable science sort of franchise).

But no. Instead I wrote the sort of post I usually do: the sort of post where I am assuming a good deal, both about the subject, and my reader’s knowledge of the subject. In many ways, my posts are not set up to explain or instruct – they are intended to geek out with others. Others who share my interests and knowledge.

Which gets me to another great post from The Writing Catalog – on Audience. Something that really has not been something I have been thinking about with my blogging. Here on DBCII, the site functions almost more as my e-portfolio than it does as a blog for intended readers. I don’t post regularly, it’s often personal, or about Comparative Geeks. The A to Z Challenge really broke me away from this – so what do I do next?

With Comparative Geeks, we seem to have an audience in mind of ourselves, if anyone. Not necessarily a bad thing, as many of our geekdoms and fandoms are pretty mainstream. And we try to do more introductory posts, spoiler free or reviews, for more obscure items. And I think our sense of audience has grown as we’ve blogged. But still, I’m not blogging there in a way that I feel puts audience first, nor that is wholly honest, I suppose.

Audience and Purpose

So it has me thinking again, what is my purpose for these blogs? And maybe thinking for a first conscious time: what is my audience for these blogs?

I kept going with DBCII after it was done being used for classes as a blog about what I learned about writing and blogging. It’s a more personal sort of reflective blog, and hopefully anyone who stops by learns a thing, or has a thought to contribute. I hope this was the case during A to Z.

Comparative Geeks had a few purposes. One was to get geeky ideas out of my head and out to the ‘Verse. I used to say things like “I’ve been thinking a lot about that.” Now I say “I wrote a blog post about that” or “I’m going to write a blog post about that.” I have a huge accumulation of blog post ideas, enough that with no new ideas I could probably blog another year or two at our current schedule. So I’m not too worried about content generation there.

In thinking about it, most of the content takes the form of Reviews, Recommendations, and Speculation. Something we’ve experienced, or something we geek out about and want you to as well, or something we’re thinking about. Then there are a number of Meta posts, I suppose, about the world. Science Fiction Today, for instance. Or my posts about the definition and purpose of Science Fiction, most of which I have re-blogged on this blog. A solid critique post, as I think about it, would include a basic introduction to it with more depth than what we tend to include; I see posts on a number of blogs doing this, and doing things like weekly episode reviews (with recaps) or other sorts of reviews and critiques of this nature.

I think we’re happy with what we’re doing on Comparative Geeks, though. We’re not blogging there to be professionals – no matter how much I think about what we could do to get there. We just don’t have the time – to work, and to consume the media, and then to write about it in a really formal style! And then to do anything else, as well, with all of the boards and committees and volunteering and everything else that we do.

And where then would be time for me to find to write fiction? Because that is my other purpose behind writing the blog. To get into the habits of writing. To that end, I think I am doing pretty well. However, it’s not like I have all this extra time I could also be blogging, and am not. Do I stop blogging, to write? Do I turn wholly to blogging, grow the social media, and be more purposeful? I have a few thoughts.

So where do we go from here?

For DBCII, I think this needs to remain my personal space, where I am writing about my writing, maybe highlighting my writing, and connecting with writers. I would like to get better with the whole idea of the Sunday Re-Blog – maybe do more with it to connect with other writers, either by just re-blogging their posts, or maybe even by compiling good posts from the week. Though that could take a while.

Something I read recently (the start of a series on Twitter) said that as a writer you want to grow an audience. And while it’s great to have an audience of fellow writers, at some point – with a finished, written product – it’s readers you’ll need. Really, I’m not doing @mollygreene justice:

Do not fall into the trap of following authors exclusively. You want readers. Author friends are wonderful and they will educate and support you, but readers will become fans and buy your books. Find and follow readers. Readers, readers, readers.

-Molly Greene, How to Twitter: Tips for Newbies

I think I have the potential to pull off both things. Have this blog, where I am showcasing some writing, and asking questions of writers, and communicating with writers. It’s good. It’s been good. I’m just thinking of how much I’ve learned from reading all your work, and the A to Z Challenge: it’s great.

Comparative Geeks, though, with its more-frequent postings and content, has the potential to be a much bigger and better place to build an audience of readers. Readers want content to read (back to assumption there, but really, it makes sense to me as a self-reflective definition), and that’s where we are making that content.

So it’s DBCII where I need to grow my content creation: need to really get into writing fiction (probably through Tumblr still, but I should mention it all here too). And it’s Comparative Geeks where I need to work on growing the audience, work on the social media of it and connecting in with people. That’s the Twitter that could really use the eventual thousands of followers. Right? Then, if I end up with a written product, I point them in the right direction.

Too Long!

There’s so much more I want to talk about! I have an award nomination to give out (was nominated for the WordPress Family Award by The Writing Catalog), and that seems like a great way to highlight some of the writers I’ve found through the challenge and otherwise here with the blog. And we’ve been invited to contribute to another blog – and I’m thinking of doing more of that on other blogs, as well. Lots happening, but for now, that’s some of what I have been thinking about these current blog spaces, and what we’re doing with them, and their future. Fun times!

Advertisements

About CompGeeksDavid
Co-founder, editor, podcaster, web comicer, forum moderator, and writer for Comparative Geeks. Father, husband, geek, nerd, gamer, librarian, Christian, Libertarian, Science Fiction philosopher, and probably a number of other descriptors.

16 Responses to A to Z Recovery and Reflections

  1. One of the considerations we all need to weigh in on is the length of a post when blogging. It is a touchy subject because people work hard to present a post, or I hope they do. But, in my opinion, even this reflection you have presented is too long. If we are realistic about the amount of time a reader is willing to spend, I ask myself the question….if a long blog turns you away, than what about the length of my own posts? I would love to know what others honest reactions are to this subject. (Hope I’m not banned from our blogging world for raising the subject.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I think you have a great point – and short posts was one of the great (and somewhat manageable parts) of the A to Z Challenge. And I am realizing that it could really handle two problems at once. If I write a long post – like the one above! – I could cut it into several parts, string it over several days, and suddenly it’s like I have more content. But it also makes it more manageable and might actually lead to more people reading – and thus interacting – with it.

      Especially on Comparative Geeks, we try to keep our posts a bit shorter, although occasionally longer on a really specific topic or one we’re passionate about. Also keeping them on-topic and having images and all. Of course, saying that doesn’t mean we succeed all the time!

      Thanks for weighing in, and you’re certainly not banned here! I was already starting to break up some of my further thoughts after this post into different posts and setting them up, now I think I should do that even more!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I vote for this idea for the reasons you name. Shorter post…more folks take time to read it AND you have subsequent posts ready to go. Good time management all the way around.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Gene'O says:

        I do that “break it up” thing all the time. It’s one of the reasons I seem so prolific. I can turn out three pages of rough draft blog post in an hour and a half once I get into the zone. That’s enough for at least three posts. I don’t have enough content to post 1,000 words of it all in one go, unless it’s the sort of piece that just demands to be published all at once.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I think on Comparative Geeks we do have enough content, and here I don’t. On Comparative Geeks, part of our weakness (when it comes to short posts, at least) is that we’re alternating days for posts, so generally a series will be broken up in some way.

          But on this blog… not only could I do it, but I’m thinking I should!

          Like

    • I liked your reflection post over on http://stephenyhoughtlin.com/2014/05/02/a-reflection-on-the-atoz-blog-challenge-april-2014/ You did quite a bit of blog reading during the challenge!

      The list I am still planning to work through of blogs was put together by Gene’O (who I only referenced like ten times during my post…): http://gno112.wordpress.com/april-a-to-z-2014/

      Liked by 1 person

    • Gene'O says:

      That’s actually an important consideration. I didn’t realize it was touchy. I talk about it with collaborators all the time. I write some longish posts sometimes, myself, and I read long posts when I have the time to spare. I enjoy them, but I think you’re more right than wrong about shorter being better for blogs.

      My general rule is 250-650 words. If I look down and see that I’m at 750, I start thinking about how to turn it into two posts. That’s not always possible, though. Sometimes it just takes a lot of words to get a point across, and sometimes breaking a post into pieces makes it less coherent.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. yaykisspurr says:

    A to Z brought to mind a lot of thoughts about us and our blogs didn’t it? I didn’t discuss my thoughts about my blog in my post but I love that you did so in yours. It’s really interesting that your goal is to write a fiction book. I know I struggle to balance blogging and writing my own series as well. I do know blogging does help you hone your craft as you seek to clearly communicate ideas to your audience. It’s also hard running a blog because there is so much talk about community and reading other people’s blogs. I’ve made a conscious effort to keep my posts shorter even before A to Z and find myself wanting to reduce my words even more now.

    Anyway a lot to think about. What about your wife’s goals? Since you guys blog together i’m rather curious as to her POV too! Cheers and good luck!

    Liked by 2 people

    • My wife’s goal at the moment is to start up her own independent blog as well, but still kind of as a pet-project.

      I did some hard looking at whether we could start making a little bit of money from Comparative Geeks, and it just looks so hard! To really and truly make money from blogging. The advertising money can be so small, and you want to have a number of streams (affiliate, advertising, preferably merch or a book) to really make anything at it. What I mean to say is that to be much more than what we are would take a lot of work and commitment. Thinking about that… we’re pretty pleased with where we are.

      It’s easier to do that more work with more people – so I think right now the thing we’ll really be looking hard at is contributing to other blogs. On the one hand, it generates more for us to do, and might detract/distract from our own blog and projects… but on the other hand, it might be the way to move forward.

      Oh, and for anyone looking for the A to Z reactions from @yaykisspurr: http://perspectiveofawriter.wordpress.com/2014/05/06/power-of-relationships/

      Liked by 1 person

      • Gene'O says:

        That’s an interesting idea – the contributing to different blogs. And you’re right, more people makes it easier. The first thing I said when Diana started asking me about blogging to build a real audience was that we had to have contributors from the beginning unless we wanted to wait 5 years for the audience. Because building an audience requires a steady stream of content, and the quality has to be there. That’s more than one person can do, unless that’s all they do.

        It also requires a lot of networking, which takes time. My biggest challenge so far has been finding the right balance between networking and creating content that’s good enough to put my name on.

        I talked a bit in my six-month posts about the fact that we’re already further ahead than I expected to be at the end of the first year. We’re ahead because we’ve had so many other people writing for us. And there’s one very important milestone that we’ve yet to achieve. We don’t have a regular contributor at Sourcerer loading their own posts. That’s an important part of my plan – if we don’t have at least one contributor doing that by the end of the year, I’ll have to think about restructuring and consolodating my two blogs. I’m not advertising on the blogs, but I’m actively seeking new contributors and looking to recruit a co-editor by the end of the year.

        The Writing Catalog’s important, and I can’t do what I need to do there unless we can turn Sourcerer into a truly collaborative project.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Gene'O says:

    One more thing. Thanks for highlighting what Molly said about finding readers. My Twitter following is very writer-heavy at this point, and that’s fine for now, but it won’t be fine when I have 100K followers (a man can dream, eh?).

    That quote touched off a conversation with Diana, and we’re agreed. Writers are wonderful to know, because they all know tricks you can use to improve your writing, they tend to be very supportive of other writers, and they’re mostly cool. But they don’t read consistently. Of course, there are exceptions, but writers tend read in binges. Because most of the time, they’re busy writing.

    At some point, the social media does have to turn into a way of finding and connecting with readers.

    Like

    • I know I tend to read in binges, that observation seems just right. My spare time is thinking about what to write, either for the blog or for fiction. Or else actually writing. Then I remember I’m behind on blog reading and go do some binge reading.

      Realizing you need to connect with readers is a good thing to realize and to think about intentionally.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: