A Second Riff on Breakfast with Pandora: On blogs, Facebook, reality shows, and aerobics

P7040032 There are a number of blog posts that have been floating around in my head lately, but they hadn't coalesced until I read Facebook and the Greek Heroization of America at Breakfast with Pandora. Now, they've all come together in one long post. 

Now, as I wrote in A Riff on Breakfast with Pandora OR The Purpose of Blog-Reading AND "You're Not There" by Pierce Pettis, BwP and I seem to have very different approaches to online interactions (and he's far better at writing brief titles). Although I differ with BwP, I'm not criticizing (even though this is a lengthy post). 

In his very thoughtful post, which you should go read in its entirety, BwP discusses how recent innovations have changed the previous anonymity of everyday life:

...But now, with the reality show culture, video blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and the rest, potentially all of us are now in a global competition for eyeballs, as we consider the most ordinary details of our everyday lives worthy of being published to at least our larger set of friends and acquaintances.

We are becoming the poets of our own myths, in 140 character plus segments.

We are becoming micromythologists...

I can see his point, and it makes lots of sense.

But it is so foreign to me. 

P7040039 Not that I don't like having people read my blog.  I definitely enjoy it when more people read (and comment), but that's not my major goal, and it certainly wasn't the goal I started with* (although, if you want to make me happier, you could go check out our new blog, (grin)). 

In many ways, it's similar to teaching aerobics.  Some aerobics instructors have huge classes, others don't, and I've usually been somewhere in the middle.  The huge classes are definitely an adrenalin rush to teach, but a small class of enthusiastic participants really makes me just as happy. 

If only one person shows up?  I try to throw myself into teaching that one person just as much as I would throw myself into teaching a large class.  That's part of professionalism. 

Earlier this week, I came up with a fun Broadway/aerobic routine to Greased Lightning, and I was disappointed that I wouldn't get to share it with the class I've taught for six years at the club that closed two weeks ago.  I know that they really would have gotten a kick out of it.

Two weeks ago, I went back to visit the class, which I still couldn't take, knee-wise, in order to say "Hello again/goodbye" before the club closed.  The class was only a shadow of its former self, number-wise.  The club was fairly deserted, and the lights even seemed dimmer, but I was glad to see people again.  I've enjoyed interacting with them for six years, and they've been an inspiration to me as far as choreographing routines.  They pretty much  have been able to do whatever I've thrown at them, though some did it high-impact and others low. And they loved the Broadway routines. 

I'm really going to miss them. 

P7030014 There's the intellectual side to choreographing the routines, which includes making sure that all the muscle groups are used and the moves are varied enough.  There's the more artistic side, making sure the moves go with the music and that it all flows well.  I can do all of those making up moves at home.  But it's the interaction and enthusiasm (mine and theirs) that make it all come alive in a class. 

It's the same with blogging.  I can enjoy putting the ideas together.  Actually, I hate proofreading and editing.  I do them because then the ideas come across better and a connection may happen. 

Would I rather write something that a thousand people read but don't necessarily understand, or would I rather write something that five people understand and connect with? 


Do I consider "the most ordinary details of our everyday lives worthy of being published" (emphasis mine) to be the point of blogging (or Facebook updating) about myself and my everyday concerns? 

No.  I don't consider them worthy.  That's part of why I'm a quiet person.  I don't push myself forward or expect people to listen to me.  I'm amazed at those who do put themselves forward.

However, I blog, or Facebook, because I know someone out there is concerned or interested, whether they are family, friends, readers, or casual, internet passersby.  On Facebook, it would be nice if the  notices could be more specific.  Not everyone that I have as a Facebook friend wants to know my results for the "What musical are you?" quiz (Phantom of the Opera).  The same is true with blogging.  Some people may read the musicals posts and skip the homeschooling ones, or vice versa.  I don't expect everything I write to be equally interesting to all readers.  

Back to BwP:

...Maybe we will get tired of hearing each other's stories, and loading up on those microbursts of pleasure and satisfaction from hearing about someone's trip to the DMV with Junior ("They grow up so fast!") or that someone else had papaya for breakfast (I read it, Beth. Brava!)...

I've had my DMV story (What I Didn't Say/"The One Who Knows" - Dar Williams).   It's actually one of the posts I was the most pleased with - complete with book references, a Star Wars quote, and a beautiful Dar Williams song.  I like the way it flowed from beginning to end. 

And, although it's a familiar story and old hat to many, some people will connect with it (I can name a few (grin)). 

P7020010b As far as reading is concerned, the subject of a story also matters.  If a story says something about the person, I'll find that more interesting than a story that just seems to be recounting details.  The latter I find harder to focus on. 

Maybe this emphasis is because I'm at such a busy stage of my life.  I can write and be interested in analytical posts.  But the only ones I usually carve out time to write are the ones where my emotions are more involved.

The same is true for reading.  Because of our busy summer, I haven't had much time for blog reading.  I keep up with (online and offline) friends' blogs and with a few informational blogs.  Besides those, however, the blogs I'm most likely to read right now are ones where I feel something in common with the blogger - often personal blogs and momblogs.  They may write about very common experiences, but they're writing well, and, in general, without a need to show off or condemn others (in other words, I'm not spending much time on political blogs). 

I don't have an opinion on Twitter or video blogs because I don't know much about either, and I don't understand the appeal of Twitter.  I would have agreed about the reality shows.  After all, why would someone join one, and risk embarrassment and failure on prime time TV, if they didn't want fame and lots of people looking at them?

P7040033 However,  my daughter pointed out, recently, you get a different view if you look at the interviews with the dancers on So You Think You Can Dance.  Although many dancers do mention the fame first, and I'm sure all would like it, many of them emphasize the opportunity to dance many different styles, from ballroom to Bollywood, choreographed by excellent artists, as their primary incentive to join the competition.

The first Riff on Breakfast with Pandora was about reading blogs; this second one is more about writing them. For me, blogging is about expression, and creativity (and proofreading), but also about connection.  I'm happy that I still occasionally get comments on my Christian themes in Rent post from people who can relate to it in some way and who like what I expressed. 

Does every post bring a connection?  I don't know, but I always hope, and I've gotten to enjoy the writing also.  Not as much as I enjoy taking photographs or choreographing, but, being not a very verbal person,** I was surprised to find that I enjoyed it at all.  Being a very quiet person, I was even more amazed to find an audience.

Thank you. 


*  Actually, the reason I started my blog was to give myself a reason to practice writing.  I'm really amazed (and quite happy) that you guys read it (grin).

** Remember, it's not polite to mention the length of my posts when I say that! 

[It's lily and delphinium time in the gardens.  Older son took the photo of the gladiolas in the vase.]

[Hey, look:  One of my favorite aerobics instructor/trainers just accepted my Facebook friend request!]

Getting Out of a Rut/"Pharaoh's Song" from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

P5310443 Do you find that vacations are good for getting you out of a rut?

I often come back from vacation to look at our everyday lives with new eyes.  I (and we) have changed various things after vacations - painted rooms, started blogs.  This time, there was one re-arrangement, but mostly I had a change of attitude.

[Altitude helps.  Here's the view from Craggy Gardens, on the Blue Ridge Parkway.]

Before vacation, I was getting resigned to my knee being the way it was - and I wasn't even noticing that I was resigned.  My knee was (and is) still often stiff, and I still occasionally ended up limping by the end of the evening.  If I do too much - particularly driving or standing - the occasional pains get a lot worse. It still limits a lot of what I do. 

Continue reading "Getting Out of a Rut/"Pharaoh's Song" from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" »

People as projects

P5150217  A recent online discussion started with the question:

Is is a sitcom stereotype, or do women really tend to be interested in improving their man/boyfriend/SO/husband?

Here's my response:

{dryly said} I suppose, if they have no other hobbies. Thinking of most of my friends, I would say not, but I may have a strange bunch of friends who are too busy to turn their husbands into projects.

Any marriage is going to require adjustments, although we've solved a popular one by having our own tubes of toothpaste. But major changes....?

You're never going to turn your scholarly introvert into a social butterfly, you're never going to turn your night owl into a morning person, and you're never going to make your absent-minded professor be highly organized.

And, because men can turn their wives into projects just as easily as women can (just in different ways), we've warned all our kids - sons and daughter - not to marry someone who wants to change them.

Because you're never going to turn a spouse who wants to make you a project into a live-and-let-live spouse.


[Note:  The Blue Ridge photo is from our recent, Mother's Day, day trip to the Blowing Rock area.  Many thanks to dear husband, who drove us up to my happy place and back, and who is quite wonderful and not at all a project!]

[More photos in a few days]

Not Quite Yet...

P4240072 We were going to unveil our new blog today, but we're having a bit of trouble getting it together, and things have been rather busy.  We had the first meeting for Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat - regular rehearsals start Monday!  Daughter had a job interview today, and younger son has been working on his standardized test. 

Tomorrow is a garden bloggers' bloom day so maybe we'll get the blog together this weekend. 

You can keep guessing!

[Right:  Paddlewheel on the ferry between Norfolk and Portsmouth, VA (taken by older son on our recent trip)]

You Guess

Lina Older son and I are going to start a new blog. 
Okay, now that you've stopped laughing because I've not been keeping up with any of my blogs lately...

What do you think it's going to be about?

What does my blog overflow with? (that I don't already have an extra blog for)

Not links - those are on/will be on Flitting Through the Internet.

Not music - that's what Musiclectic is for.

Any guesses?

Remember, it will be a joint blog.

The lucky winner gets to bask in the knowledge that they are right.*


* If this were a proper contest, I would have a proper prize.  However, this is just a ramble-y post late at night after a very full day.**

** Thank you to all who commented on recent posts.  I'll respond tomorrow.

[Gratuitous kitty photo]

Link Snack: Saturday, April 25, 2009

P4040622 Some recent items of interest:

[Photo from (where else?) Duke Gardens]

On Writing and Reading: Part 5, Conclusion

P3230014 This will be a short post because I don't have much of a conclusion - just a few ideas on how internet writers can get paid for their work. 

The recent Time magazine mentioned that one way for newspapers to make money online would be to have a very simple payment method (they mention something similar to ITunes) where one could pay online to read an article in a paper, or pay a bit more to read the paper for the day.   You wouldn't have to commit to a subscription, but could make use of the paper's writing when desired.  This makes sense with a newspaper or magazine where you know what to expect.

How could this work with other online writing?  It's far more difficult with blogging.  For instance, Breakfast with Pandora discusses the writers at Online Salon.  It would be possible to get a community of bloggers together who decide to (somehow) charge for access to their blogs.  If the writing was good enough, overall, or topical enough (sci-fi blog community, food blog community, etc.) that might be possible.  You would still have to allow for, say, a free trial period, because the blogs would be unfamiliar.  You wouldn't want to buy a pig in a poke. 

Continue reading "On Writing and Reading: Part 5, Conclusion" »

On Writing and Reading, Part 4: Relationships and (or versus) Pay

P5060025 In these posts, I've carefully kept my own blogging out of it.  I'm an amateur at blogging and writing.  Maybe a knowledgeable amateur on subjects such as books, or gardening, or musicals.  More than just a knowledgeable amateur where music is concerned.  But, even though I think I write the occasional post worth reading, and take the occasional photo worth looking at, I don't ever think of going professional. 

In all this talk of amateurs and professionals, getting paid or not getting paid, I've left out my own experiences - music and aerobics.  I majored in music for two years at the NC School of the Arts.  I was going to go into it professionally, but my asthma and other concerns got in the way.  I've only been paid a few times for playing music - even though, when I'm in practice, I play well, and was well educated.  My problem, now, is not finding paying flute jobs.  It's finding any opportunity at all to play for an audience. 

I do get paid for aerobics.  It's a good part-time job.   On a recent holiday, one club that I teach for decided not to have classes on a three day weekend.  Some instructors asked if they could teach their regular classes anyway - even though they wouldn't get paid!

This sounds like writers voluntarily giving up paid writing to become unpaid bloggers.  Why?

Continue reading "On Writing and Reading, Part 4: Relationships and (or versus) Pay" »

On Writing and Reading, Part 3: Professionals and Blogging

P3100069There are all sorts of ways you can take "Professionals and Blogging."  There are bloggers such as Female Science Professor who write about their professional life.  There are bloggers such as Chris Caggiano who write about their subject.  There are bloggers who have turned their blogging into a professional deal such as Stuff White People Like.

The ones I'm concerned with here are the bloggers who have learned how to use their blogging, and their online presence, to enhance their offline careers.

One example is Peter David, a science fiction/fantasy/comic book author.  I read many author's blogs, but he's one who seems to really understand how his blog can interact with his writing career.  He combines more practical posts on what new books of his are coming out or his travels for conferences with posts on other current things his readers would like (Watchmanlive blogging the Oscars), and with his opinions on other topics (genetic manipulation, politicians and their families as public figures).  He doesn't answer every commenter (his comment threads often run in the hundreds), but he does discuss general ideas in the comment section.  People feel that they're interacting with the author.  He posts almost daily which keeps people coming back.*  He posts on a variety of topics which makes the readers feel like they are getting to know him.  I don't know how much it helps his book sales, or if the time spent blogging is worth the time not spent on other writing, but I know that reading his blog daily makes me think more about his books, and it makes me more likely to read them.

My favorite example of a creative person using the internet, however, is not a writer, but a musician. 

Christine Kane is a singer/songwriter who also blogs, has a YouTube account (and Facebook and Twitter accounts), tours and performs, and gives retreats.  I don't know how she does it all. 

Continue reading "On Writing and Reading, Part 3: Professionals and Blogging" »

On Writing and Reading, Part 2: The Cult of the Amateur

P3170031 [Part 1, here]

Some of my favorite blogs are written by professionals: writers, academics, journalists, etc.  Some of my favorite blogs are written by amateurs: people who write thoughtfully and well about their interests, but who don't have any goals of ever being published. 

This reminds me of the musical situation in the Regency period.  There were professional musicians, many (or mostly) poorly paid and of rather low status.  There were also amateur musicians who played for others of their class at "musicales," parties which included a concert.  The amateur musicians were of the upper class, and they could be talented or horrendous.  An upper class musician, no matter how talented, could never perform for money.  A professional musician, no matter how talented or wealthy, could never be part of the upper class. 

Throughout history, there have been amateurs who have reached high levels of proficiency in their craft - whether music, writing, research, or a variety of things.  Many of them were like the upper class, Regency musicians - people who could never become professionals in their field because of their class, but who contributed nonetheless.  They could also possibly be people who had an interest in a field which could not support them and their family full time. 

In most of these cases, I've not read that the amateurs "take something away" from the professionals.  They're working in different spheres, or the amateurs are adding to general knowledge.  However, that has not been the case in various articles I've read about the demise of newspapers.  Free online articles are blamed for newspapers' difficulties, which makes sense, but so are bloggers. 

Continue reading "On Writing and Reading, Part 2: The Cult of the Amateur" »