What Makes a Blog ‘Real’?

Lately I’ve been having a bit of a crisis of confidence about my blog. Although to be fair I’m actually having a bit of a crisis of confidence about me, so as I’m feeling ‘not good enough’ and my blog is my online creative space, a virtual extension of me, then I suppose it stands to reason I’d question its authenticity too.

I worry that my blog has no real purpose. I’m neither a proper writer nor a photographer promoting my product; this isn’t a mummy blog or a foodie blog or a political blog. I’m just an ordinary menopausal middle-aged woman who dabbles in poetry now and again and posts a few fair-to-middling pictures when the muse strikes.

I neither share my blog across any other social media platforms nor have any affiliated links with anyone or anything, so one sense my blog is just as insular and introverted as I am. But in another sense I don’t like the growing feeling of unease that maybe me having my own blog is somehow slightly pretentious, a bit of a self-aggrandised vanity project and nothing more.

Does anyone else ever have doubts like this, or am I just plain weird? All advice and words of wisdom from all you ‘real’ bloggers out there will be all too gratefully received… 🙂

 

 

 

 

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Admit

So I attended the 2017 Bloggers Bash here in London earlier today, but I must admit to taking only one photograph while I was there, with my phone, and that was a badly-exposed image of the huge window of the hotel meeting room – epic fail on my part, especially with a blog based as much on photography as writing!

Anyway, I had a really great time today (even if my camera didn’t), and if anyone out there is wondering what the Bash is actually like and is maybe thinking about attending next year, please do seriously consider it as everyone is so friendly and welcoming, even for socially inept introverts like me – first and foremost it really is a fun event.

I caught up with some of the wonderful bloggers I met last year, and also met some new friends along the way. The best thing is when you start chatting with someone you’ve never met before and suddenly realising you already know them from their blog, and they’re exactly the same in real life as they are in their posts!

Overall the Bash is the perfect mix of semi-formal structure and informal mingling – neither a full free-for-all nor a fixed lecture-style format. There was an interesting presentation on monetising your blog (and the importance of using multiple social media platforms) and another on making the most of Pinterest in order to drive traffic to your blog, as well as an open panel discussion with various blog-related questions taken from the floor.

The ongoing presentation of the Annual Bloggers Bash Awards (the ABBAs) was also interspersed intermittently across the day, with lots of extended breaks in between for coffee and chatting – and also for each of us being collared individually by the lovely Hugh to say ‘hello’ on video. (Resulting film clips to follow in due course, no doubt!)

Hats off once again to the most excellent Blogger’s Bash committee for working so hard for the third year in a row to organise such an amazing event, their commitment deserves so much more than a mere ‘thank you’, but it’s the best I can do – big hugs all round guys, sending lots of blog love your way and I hope to see you all again next year… 🙂

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Admit

 

Bloggers Bash Tomorrow!

I’m going to be attending the Bloggers Bash here in London tomorrow, and as ever I’m feeling slightly nervous – I’m not the world’s most natural socialiser and I do tend to struggle a bit in groups, but I did enjoy myself last year so hopfully this year will be no different.

I’ve got my golden (well, purple) ticket, I’ve got a reasonable idea of how to find the venue (thanks to Geoff’s directions), and I think I know what I’m going to wear (but knowing me I’ll change my mind in the morning and will turn up in something completely different) so I’m all set!

Looking forward not only to catching up with Sacha, Hugh, Ali and Geoff and all the lovely bloggers I met last year, but also meeting everyone else who will be attending this year too. Expecting lots of hugs (just like you promised, Hugh) and I’m perfectly happy giving lots of hugs in return to anyone who wants one.

Safe travels to everyone coming from afar, take care and see you all tomorrow!  🙂

Daily Prompt: Notorious

I am notoriously bad at attending social events. I don’t ever mean to be so flaky about it all,  but although my intentions are generally honourable when I initially say to people ‘Yeah, sure, I’ll come if I can make it…’ I frequently find myself finding a last-minute excuse that allows me to back out of whatever it is I’ve agreed to, and I just don”t go.

The thing is I truly want to feel OK about large gatherings, whether formal or informal. So I keep agreeing to attend in the hope that this time it will all be fine. I tell myself that it’ll be OK so the thought of looking lost and lonely and stupid standing in the corner all on my own won’t freak me out too much. But usually I freak out anyway and avoid the risk.

Yet here I am for the second year in a row planning to attend the Annual Blogger’s Bash to be held in London next month – and I’ve even bought my ticket, so I’ve committed myself to putting my money where my mouth is. I stressed and fretted so much before going to last year’s bash, but in spite of my reservations once I got there it was absolutely fine, everyone was really friendly. I met so many lovely people, and this year I hope to meet many more.

One of the things I found most heartening was that everyone in person was just like they were on their blog – in one sense we were complete strangers, but in another we knew each other quite well. So blogging for me has become so much more than just an online space to explore my creativity – it has turned out to be not only about being an individual blogger but also about belonging to a wider blogging community, which is an amazing gift.

So hopefully I’ll be seeing some of you at the bash next month – you’ll easily recognise me, I’ll be the one standing alone in the corner freaking out, slightly flushed with nervous red blotches, waiting for the floor to open up and swallow me whole… 🙂

Daily Prompt: Notorious   

A-Z Challenge: Just One More Thing

So that’s another April Blogging from A-Z Challenge successfully completed – woo-hoo! In spite of having quite a lot going on in real life at the moment I nevertheless thoroughly enjoyed the daily posting part, but oh how I missed the one-stop-shop linky list page this year.

It’s definitely not a complaint, because I do appreciate it must have been a huge challenge in itself to keep updated throughout the month – but it was certainly sorely missed, by me at least… Still, roll on next year… Hmmm… I wonder what theme I’ll choose next time? 🙂

Daily Prompt: Zero, Zip, Zilch…

I realise I tend to be quite erratic with my blog posting. It’s not intentionally irregular, it’s more that I just never know in advance when I’m going to feel like sharing stuff, or not.

Some days I’ve got a lot to say, with untold images and words falling over themselves clamouring for attention – use me, use me, they all cry at once – look, I fit this prompt perfectly!  And yet on other days I have zero, zip, zilch. No matter how delicious the prompt, I remain untempted, untouched by inspiration, silenced either by introspection or apathy.

However, I have to say how I am on my blog is pretty much how I am in real life, either a feast or a famine of emotional outpourings of one form or another. I appreciate that my lack of consistency and need for spontaneity leading to somewhat irregular posting may create problems for anyone following me, but I guess what I’m finally learning to say in life is that this is me, this is who I am, take me or leave me, but I’m no longer going to go through life apologising just for being me…  🙂

Daily prompt: Zip

A-Z Challenge: Day 20 Update

I don’t know if it’s just because I’m so personally preoccupied with so much other real-life stuff this time around (like being in the process of trying to sell our London flat so we can move back to Scotland), or because I genuinely miss the convenience of the common-ground Linky List for all cross-platform participants, but sadly I’m seriously struggling to maintain the same enthusiasm as with my previous two A-Z Challenges to check out a reasonable sample of everyone else’s A-Z posts each day.

I do appreciate that it must have been one hell of a lot of work for the team to keep the list updated constantly, and this year there is a specific WordPress page to link each individual letter’s post to (thank you, that really helps a lot), but even so it just doesn’t feel the same, somehow? I really miss being able to scan through the one-stop-shop-style list for fun blog names or specific topics that catch my eye; no comprehensive list makes it all so much harder for me to keep up, so many apologies to all for my distinct lack of engagement with other participants this year, it’s not been intentional.

But nevertheless I’m still enjoying the challenge of keeping up with my own daily posting, however minimal my commentary may be on each Leytonstone photograph I’ve shared so far. With six more days (and letters!) to go, I’ve found getting through the entire alphabet featuring only local subjects photographed no more than five or ten minutes walk from home actually has been a lot of fun. Especially as, if all goes to plan, this will be my last London-based A-Z…

So, with three weeks down and one to go, one way or another I have to say my April 2017 Blogging from A-Z Challenge is one I’m not likely to forget in a hurry!  🙂

Daily Prompt: Timely

I always try wherever possible to respond to blog prompts in a timely manner, but often  the prompt has already been replaced by its successor before I’ve even a chance to think of an appropriate post, whether created in images or words or a combination of both.

Sometimes the prompt simply doesn’t inspire me at all, sometimes it touches a raw nerve and triggers something far too deep or distressing to go into at that time, or sometimes I simply find myself overtaken by events in real life and just run out of time.

Whatever the reason, I try to remind myself that it’s only a prompt, and it’s my blog space either to post on or not as I choose… I suppose at heart I’m still geared towards being a people-pleaser, doing whatever is expected of me, and old habits die hard… 🙂

Daily Prompt: Timely

 

 

2017 Blogging from A-Z Challenge

I’m a bit of a tail-end Charlie in getting my act together with the Blogging from A-Z Challenge this year. To be honest I wasn’t sure I’d even participate this time round, because we have a lot going on at the moment in the real world. But the closer it gets to April 1st, the more I feel the familiar pull to at least try to join in with something rather than nothing. I mean, I’m already facing a lot of challenges in life at the moment, so surely one more can’t hurt…

So – in for a penny, in for a pound! This year I’ve decided to keep it super-simple, and stick close to home with a straightforward agenda. I tend to post lots of local London images anyway, so my aim is to post at least one new (as in taken recently, and not posted before) photograph each day, taking us on a whistle-stop A-Z tour of Local Leytonstone Life; simple snapshot images of ordinary everyday things around me that capture my attention, yet don’t take me out of my daily routine too much… 🙂

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Short

I decided yesterday that, as I’m coming up to my first anniversary on Image & Word (on 1st April – woo-hoo!), I’d maybe look for a different theme that may help express the remit of my blog a little better. Something that helps highlight my photography and poetry and random rants and ramblings, something bright and clear to look at and easy to navigate… should be easy enough to find, right? Wrong!

Being a cheapskate means I need to find a free theme to choose, which inevitably reduces my options, but I suppose that’s fair enough – after all beggars can’t be choosers. So I tried on pretty much every free theme available, to the extent that I spent pretty much the whole evening in the WordPress dashboard dressing room, exploring available colour schemes and layouts and fonts – and yet here I am today, wearing exactly the same blog theme I was wearing before… sigh!

With some, I liked the layout but couldn’t live with the colour schemes. With others, the colours and fonts were perfect, but something niggly about the layout or navigation bothered me. Somehow everything I tried fell short of what I already have – so here I am, wondering if I should perhaps just try out a new theme every day or so for the next while, to see if any of the ‘falling short of perfect’ themes might actually start to grow on me in the meantime?

So I’m telling myself ‘Go on, push the boat out, live a little – be brave, bite the bullet and try something new’ because I worry about becoming too set in my ways, too fixed in my viewpoint as I get older – and changing my blog theme, whether temporarily or permanantly, is hardly going to change the world, is it? And if I really don’t like the look and feel of anything else however many others I try out for size, I suppose after a while I can always change it back again… 🙂

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Short