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Blogging Lessons: Lesson 1

May 2, 2013

Cry Like a Baby

For my one year blog-iversary, I’m taking a step back and letting you all in on a few secrets I’ve noticed in my first year of blogging.  Okay, okay… so technically I’ve been blogging for more than a year.  Really, I guess, a LOT more.   But I have only been running this personal blog for a year.  In the past, I wasn’t responsible for such things as SEO content and writing excerpts and tagging and categorizing and all that stuff.  I just wrote what I wanted to write, and let the webmaster worry about all that boring traffic driving nonsense.  But things are different when you start blogging on your own, and for yourself.  You become deeply concerned about cold hard numbers, like how many views your site got and where people were coming to your blog from.  Stupid charts and graphs begin to take on entirely too much meaning.  For example…

Shit like this will mess with your mind if you let it.

Shit like this will mess with your mind if you let it.

As you can see, according to the chart above, people really fucking hate it when I post new material on my blog.  OR maybe I just happened to post a couple of blogs on very low traffic days.  So, I guess if I really wanted to, I could make Lesson #1 “Don’t Sweat the Numbers.”  But that isn’t Lesson #1.  Not by a long shot.

Because the numbers actually DO mean something.  They are a guide to what people want to see and what people want to read when they look at a blog.  Just don’t flip out over a small sample size.  The results over a two week span are nothing in comparison to the results over the life of your blog.  So, when I give these little lessons, they will in fact be based on numbers — numbers gathered over the full year this blog has been here — and what they have taught me about blogging.  The first lesson: cry like a baby.

A Little Story About Crying

Before I get to the blog lesson, I have a little anecdote related to the whole crying thing.  The story takes place in Florida in 1985, when I was ten years old and visiting my grandma.  My grandma was my mom’s mom, my maternal grandmother, and she had one of those old-lady tricycles which I just LOVED to ride.  You know what I’m talking about.  Those things with the wheels the size of 10-speed bikes with a giant basket between the rear wheels so you can carry groceries home from the corner store long after the state deems you too blind to drive a car?

Like this, only shitty with a pistachio green and rust stain paint job

Like this, only shitty with a pistachio green and rust stain paint job

Well, as all ten year old boys do, I only liked to ride bikes fast.  Entirely too fast, actually.  So, one day on this particular summer, I was riding  “grandma’s green machine” (as I called it), way, WAY too fast through the senior development where she lived, when I came to a sharp bend in the road.  I put too much faith into the stability created by a third wheel and leaned hard into the turn as I attempted to round the left hand hairpin.  The outside wheel dug into the gravel at the side of the road and the trike immediately flipped, sending me flying through the air.

I landed, tumbled, and rolled to a skidding stop, only to look up and see the trike flipping through the air in my direction.  It slammed down on top of me with a crash and, at last, everything was completely still.  I lay, motionless, trying to catch my breath, and waiting for the inevitable pain to come.  But… there was no pain.  I slowly sat up and looked myself over.  Where I had landed was soft and spongy, with thick lush grass.  There were no broken bones, of that I was sure.  But amazingly there wasn’t even broken skin.  No skinned knees or elbows, no trickle of blood.  Then I looked at the tricycle.  It had landed perfectly, the seat buried into the ground between my legs an inch below my crotch, the front wheel and handlebars an inch from my ribs on my right side.  It was, incredibly, a perfect landing, with both the trike and myself completely unscathed.  I rested my head back on the ground and breathed a sigh of relief.  I looked up at the clouds in the sky and took a moment to really enjoy just how lucky I had been.

That’s when I heard it, though.  A man’s voice calling to me, “are you all right young man?”

“Yes!” I meant to say, but my voice caught in my throat.  I coughed and sputtered, embarrassed at my foolishness.

“Is the boy all right?” Another man’s voice called, this time from a different direction.

The realization washed over me.  Holy crap, I just wiped out in front of my grandma’s entire retirement community!  I started to sit up, but my hand slipped on the wet grass and I fell back onto the ground.

“Careful, young man.  You could be seriously hurt!”  A woman said, as she and her husband crossed the road to me.

“I’m fine, really!” I finally managed to say.  But I didn’t sound fine.  I sounded like I was starting to cry.  I didn’t hurt AT ALL, and yet I heard my own voice becoming choked with tears.

One man carefully lifted the trike off of me and moved it to the road.  A second man stooped over me from behind and placed a reassuring hand on my shoulder, “now don’t move, son.  Is anything broken?”

I shook my head, “no.  I think I just got the wind knocked out of me.”  I wanted to sound confident in my assessment of my well being, but an unwarranted tear rolled down my cheek.

“Let’s take a look at you then.  Can you sit up?”  Another woman was there.  This was apparently how possible head wounds were treated in her day?  I don’t know, but I obeyed, raising myself to a seating position.

After several minutes, I finally convinced the good Samaritans* of my grandma’s retirement community that I really was fine, even though the tears kept coming down.  No matter what I did to try and calm myself, the tears streaked my face as if they had a will of their own.  I climbed onto the tricycle, did my best to thank the two couples who had come to my aid, and rode back to my grandma’s house with tears flowing the whole way.

Finally, I parked the trike and sat on the bottom step to the carport, and wondered what it was that had made me cry.  Why did I burst into tears when I was completely unhurt?  Was it the embarrassment?  The Shock?  The realization that I would be grounded from riding grandma’s green machine?

In the end, I realized it was none of those things.  It was the fact that these strangers — these people who had never met me before and didn’t know me — cared about me.  They were genuinely concerned for my well being, and saw to it that I was safe and unhurt.  Is it really SO strange for someone to come to the aid of an injured child, even if they don’t know that child?  No, not really.  Is it an eye opener to a ten year old boy?  Absolutely!  Because I didn’t believe that people would worry and care so much about a person they did not know.

Blogging Is a Community

Welcome to the blogging community.  Here, you will find people who care about you without even meeting you.  Here you will find support when you are feeling weak or depressed or frustrated.  People WANT to know you, and want to see you as the real, honest, vulnerable person you are.

So, Lesson #1 REALLY is: let them in.  Open up to the people who read your blog, as dangerous as that may feel.  Sure, it’s great to share a laugh.  Laugh, and they will laugh right with you.  But it’s also okay to share a cry.  Let them cry with you.    Cry like a baby.

I’ve had a number of deeply personal moments on here, but here’s a link to one which is probably the most personal of them all: Road Trip Memories.  If you feel like reading it, please do.  After all, we’re part of the same community now.  Let’s share a cry.

* Since good Samaritans is the topic for the next Theme Thursday… maybe consider this an early submission?
NOTE: Because of the Theme Thursday thing, I decided to leave this post up for a whole week, but that leaves me a bit behind on posting the rest of my Blogiversary themed posts.  I will probably be posting a LOT over the upcoming weekend!

  1. It’s SO true! I have found some AMAZING people online (yourself included) to share this strange journey called life with. Some of them have become close friends now, and as weird as it may seem, it’s absolutely wonderful. I started my blog as a place to rant and make people laugh because I had nothing else to do when I got laid off last August. Now I have some amazing “stalkers” and am insanely grateful for every last one of them. I’ve found love, understanding, advice, and laughter like I never knew was possible from people that I’ve never even met.

    *I was also going to suggest that since this is next week’s #TT, you could enter this one. I’m sure Jenn won’t mind. She’s pretty damn awesome like that, and also one of the people I was just blabbing about.

    • Jenn is simply badass. She really is. She is a great example of a blogger who welcomes you in and makes this community so amazing. There are a number of people I’ve met like her. I really don’t want to start naming them, though, for fear I’d forget someone.

      The coolest thing about online communities, though, is right there in your choice of verb in your comment. You FIND people. It’s nothing like real life, where you are lumped together with people based on geographic / age / gender / socioeconomic happenstance. You FIND people who you like, and whom you have common ground with. For example, one of my closest friends in all the world is someone from Sweden that I met online. There is NO WAY we would have known each other, if not for the internet. After all, it’s not like I was headed to Sweden any time soon, and even if she came to America, why on earth would she come to the Arizona desert?! Yet, because of the internet, we have become close friends. It really is an amazing thing.

      • I look forward to the community aspect. I look forward to when I actually know what I’m doing. This has been like being beamed down to another planet by Scotty. also, I haven’t slept much for a few weeks. I love the humanity I’m seeing here. 🙂
        p.s. – can I use a smiley emoticon? I don’t see those much, but I like the clarity of them. is it considered sad/weird?

        • Emoticons are accepted and encouraged. Just like everything else in the blogging world, pretty much everything goes. Everything, that is, except being closed-off or disrespectful to other bloggers. You’d be surprised how fast a community can become a mob when provoked.


  2. I used to look at my stats obsessively, but all I learned was that bugger all people are reading blogs on Friday and Saturday nights. Which, in hindsight, should have been pretty freaking obvious.

    • It just occurred to me that you posted this on a Friday night in Australia, didn’t you. Haha. I love it!

  3. This is the most beautiful post, and I love the story that you related to it. It’s true- I have met so many amazing, truly amazing, people online that I would never ever have crossed paths with in real life. And my life would be lesser for it, because they enrich my life in ways I never expected or knew was possible. Thank you for sharing this.

    • It is a great community, and the people we connect with are so supportive and amazing. Thank you for finding me!

  4. The World of Blog is a warm and fascinating place filled with wonderful folks that I thoroughly enjoy stalking. Opening up to people has never been one of my strong suits, though I sort of wish it was because one, I’d have more wonderful internet friends and people to connect with, and two, I would feel less like a creeper outside their window.
    Working on it though.

    • You’re more open than you realize. Beneath your veneer of humor is the honesty that your readers can see. Also, how do you like the new plantings in my yard? I think it should offer you a better view without that scrubby looking tree in front of the picture window, but you let me know if there’s anything else I can do to support your stalking habit!

  5. flyingplatypi permalink

    Awww. That’s quite a realization for a 10 year old.

    When I first started making blog friends, I could t believe how much people cared. Hell, someone even sent me a bday card!! I think the blogging community is just wonderful.



    • Haha! I considered sending you one of those GIGANTIC Reese’s they had this past Christmas, but wasn’t exactly sure how that would have been received considering your conflicted emotions each year as the eggs hit store shelves.

      • flyingplatypi permalink

        I would have loved it until I was half way thru… Then I’d vomit everywhere. Conflicting emotions indeed.

        • flyingplatypi permalink

          P.S. I totally betrothed you an award on my blog :0)

  6. I love you! You are one of my first good samaritans.

    Now. about the green machine accident. I had a similar accident as a young person only I was driving a 3-wheeler. As in…the motorized kind and flying at about 45 mph when I flipped it and landed upside down, under it, in a water-filled ditch. Yah. That’s who you’re dealing with here.

    And holy crap! I cannot believe you are younger than I am.

    Finally, yes. I learned just how much this community means to me in the past year. But the numbers still bug me. ❤

    • Haha… I learned my lesson on the giant trike kind of three-wheeler. I would only ride quads offroad after that incident. I’m pretty capable of learning.

      Also, I think we’re pretty much the same age. I was born in 1974, but in October so in the summer of ’85 I was still 10 years old.

  7. wtf? Your blog ate my comment. I’ll be back.

    • It totally DID eat your comment! I had a long serious talk with my blog about not doing that. It claimed you were a spammer. I said you weren’t. We went back and forth for a bit but I finally won the argument. My blog is sorry it doubted you and promised to be better in the future.

  8. How dare you link up a week-old post?? Just kittens. I would totally pull a green machine off of you. Also, I’m glad you linked up this week, because apparently in my switch from Google Reader to Feedly, my subscription to you got eaten.

  9. I was JUST telling my husband how awesome people were so awesome. And I was talking about bloggers. And I really said ” I love awesome people. They are so awesome.” I’m sorry I don’t have another adjective but I guess I’m too cheap to buy another one. You’ll have that. So glad I got to share this Theme Thursday with you! You made me laugh, cry, and smile, all at once. It had to be you. Certainly wasnt the hormones or anything like that ;o)

    • Haha! I was just reading your blog and was DYING to post a comment there, but everything I wanted to say had less to do with your current post and more to do with the fact that you’re from Charlotte. SO I didn’t post my thoughts there. I will, however, post them here. Because, my blog, my rules.

      1) I grew up in Charlotte and went to Charlotte Country Day and UNCC.
      2) My daughter’s name is Charlotte Carolina.
      3) I’m a total couponer… so I’m right there with ya
      4) I just did the whole two fingers pointed at my eyes, to your eyes, back to my eyes, back to your eyes (via your avatar) when I said “right there with ya.”

  10. And this is why you need to be in the facebook group I run. Lucy’s there. It won’t be so bad!!! And we need more guys!

    • I am always down for these groups. Wait. Wow, that sounded WAY dirtier than it should have.

      What I meant to say was I love blogging groups. But, be aware, I don’t facebook much…

  11. Boom.

    I was so scared when I went from a “humor blog” to being honest and real. And goddamn if I didn’t get more followers for being a whiny bitch about my divorce and the other break up.

    • True. Your real life problems were gritty and real. It definitely endeared you to your fans.

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  1. Blogging Lessons: Lesson 2 | CrakGenius

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