Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Blogging Circles

This morning I woke up at some ungodly hour to the sound of scampering in the corridors.  We have recently changed all the floors to wood – with the only carpet being on the stairs (the budget didn’t stretch to a new staircase) and although it has helped brilliantly with cat and dog hair maintenance, it is noisy.  So it wasn’t the scampering scuttling noises that bothered me so much, more why it was happening at 4.30 am?

Leaving G happily snoring in bed, I donned my dressing gown and headed downstairs.  The dog was sitting at the foot of the stairs looking sheepish (in a Collie type of way) and very much awake.  Top Cat was sitting in the doorway of the kitchen, and Lap Cat was busy trying to post a live squeaking mouse into one of G’s work shoes. (I don’t blame the mouse for squeaking – there’s no way I would go near one of G’s work shoes either).

I’ve had a lot of practice at this mousing thing.  And I’ve learned that if you can grab the mouse by the tail and hold it upside down, it goes into a state of semi paralysis, which gives you just enough time to unlock the back door and deposit it safely into a flower bed for more adventures.  This mouse was no different, and Lap Cat charged after me, bellowing in frustration as the dog ran into the garden barking joyously.  It was 4.35 am.  I was awake, the pets were awake, and meanwhile everyone else slumbered peacefully. 

So what did I do?  Well, I watched a documentary on the shootings in the high school in Columbine on Channel 5+1 – I had had no idea there was a Channel 5+1 – and then the channel closed for the morning.  I flicked idly through the stations, wondering if I had time to crack into my Breaking Bad dvds, but knowing that I would get too caught up in them and still be sitting there when Little Man’s bedhead eventually appeared for breakfast.

So I decided to read some blogs.  And then I decided to comment on the ones that got my attention.  Let me get this right out there – I blog because I like to write, I am essentially a story teller, and if there are readers out there that want to read my stuff, then I will carry on telling my stories.  I cut my teeth on a little fun blog An Irish Dog when we got a puppy (and it still gets views today even though I haven’t written a post for a year), and branched into PantoMum when Little Man auditioned for a pantomime. I’m not really interested in accolades, awards or millions of accolytes hanging on my every word.  I’ve nothing against that, and if it comes with the advanced ages of blogging, or if I and my audience don’t get bored, then bring it on.  But I’m not really actively courting it all.  Really.

There are a number of blogging collectives out there – my favourite at the moment happens to be BritMums.  It is a friendly group who encourage new bloggers to join in with their activities.  I’ve always hated Jolly Joining In things, but even I have been seduced from time to time by their ‘linkys’ and competitions. And if you follow the founders on Twitter, they follow you back.  I like that personal touch, it costs them nothing, but makes a newbie happy.  And of course you can see how the old hands blog.
A while ago I wrote a tongue in cheek post about the Ma-fia, you know, those groups of women that form inner circles with ‘a common purpose’ – it may be football mums, aerobic mums, school car park mums.  You get that in blogging too.  This inner circle have won countless awards, they work hard and play hard.  They live and breathe the world of blogging, and reap the rewards.  Other bloggers circle around them, occasionally allowed to play or join in.  Others like me just watch and learn.  

Most of the inner circle, when approached directly through comments or contact on social media, are lovely and supportive.  One such lady is Alice Elliott.  Known through her multi award winning blog as The Fairy Blogmother, she writes and delivers helpful hints on how to write and promote your blog.  She recently published a post telling us why interaction on blogs was essential and urged us all to leave comments on other blogs, and more importantly to respond to those on ours.
Over the past two weeks I have left a few selective comments on other blogs.  I think carefully about what I say, as not only do you expose your views to the author, but to the worldwide web.  And in most cases it takes a bit of effort to comment – you have to leave your name, your email address and prove you are not a robot (I’m not joking). And so most of my readers comment on social media (I have a closed Facebook group for my blog, and have recently become a Twitter user), or if they are friends they simply tell me what they think.  I was at a dinner party once, and a lady came up to me and said, ‘I read your blog last night’, ‘Oooh’, I said, ‘Which post?’  She went a bit red, ‘All of them’, she said. ‘And the dog blog – I’ve subscribed by email to them both.’ It took her three hours. That’s dedication for you.

But back to the comments.  Following Alice’s advice I commented on some of the established bloggers' posts and those of new bloggers, or indeed, any blogger that took my fancy.  Alice, you may be surprised to hear that 3 out of 4 of the old hands didn’t acknowledge or respond to my comments.  Not even a smiley face.  Nada.  They responded to the more established bloggers' comments. That’s the sisterhood for you.

And the newer bloggers responded with joy via social media, on the blogs, Google Plus (still don’t get that) and anywhere they could get hold of me.  It was good to talk. A big shout out to Becky Wilkinson, Donna Wishart, and muslimmummies to name a few.

Of course, I welcome any comments on my blog – whether they are scribbled below, on social media or via carrier pigeon.  I will respond as soon as I can – but I warn you that I am strictly a Blog and Go chick. I have a life.  And I will probably be asleep by midday. But I will get back to you.  I promise.