Oh sure, Blogs (Weblogs) are everywhere these days, millions of them scurrying around like roaches in an abandoned house, populating themselves exponentially, preparing to take over the world. If you don’t have a Blog, especially in our world of writing, you might as well hang a No Trespassing sign on your door.
Since I was nearing authorship of my first novel, and since so many writers had their own Blog, I decided I would too. It was so easy. The intros on the websites and blog pages said so. “Anyone can start a blog in 5 minutes.”… “Build a great-looking, fully-functional website in 48 hours.”… “The only limit is your imagination.”
The only limit for me, I discovered, was my tolerance for emotional pain and how much liquor I kept at the ready.
I figured, since I was fairly literate in word processing, spreadsheets, email, the Internet, and other programs and tools indigenous to the computer world, the learning curve on how to build a Blog would be short. I envisioned the concept of drag-and-drop. It turned out to be drink-and-curse.
I did have at my disposal a son-in-law who is a webmaster, but instead of just plopping it on the web in a couple of hours, he gave me an instructional weekend and then told me to play around with it. So I dug in and spent the better part of a week learning now to build my Blog and maneuver behind the scenes on what is known as a Dashboard. I was my own Blogmaster.
First I had to select a Theme. There’re thousands of ‘em, luring you in with colorful images and theme options, none of which I had any idea what they meant. That done, I had to wrap my head around the differences between Pages and Categories, and how to make Posts appear in each. Then came the Widgets, followed by the Media Library, and the Links, and the Menus. The bourbon flowed, the late night sessions got longer. I doubled up on my prescription of Xanax. Satan smiled knowingly.
Finally as I found some minor satisfaction with my end product, I encountered the coups de grace (definition: a death blow, especially one delivered mercifully to end suffering). The Plug-Ins. Hundreds of them too, some of which worked. Simply deciphering how to access them was a journey: search…download…locate…upload…install…test…move…drink more bourbon.
I finally succeeded in building a Blog. Whether or not it is an effective one I won’t know for awhile. I’m not selling anything yet, at least not until my first novel is done. I don’t offer professional instruction, insightful information or pearls of wisdom. But it’s done, even though it will evolve.
I did re-learn a valuable lesson, one we all have heard many times. The countless things that take us away from the craft of writing, which is the common denominator that brings most of here in the first place, is a dangerous diversion. The week I spent learning how to build a blog could have been spent knocking out the final chapters of my Novel.
Unfortunately these days, writing is not just about writing. We’re forced to spend more time marketing and networking than most us prefer…and specifically, tackling the not-so-pleasant beast of social media, which turns out to be one of the largest time-sinks known to man. It’s been said that success is 3% talent, and 97% staying off the Internet. We’re all going to have to find that balance between what we choose to do ourselves that is not writing and what we decide to outsource to professionals, for a fee of course. When you find an answer, let me know. Until then, I’m going to go write something.