The Inconstant Gardener

Removing another barrow-load of weasels from the garden....

Everybody’s blogging. There’s hardly any room left in the blogosphere. Whatever subject you can think of, someone’s already doing a blog on it. There’s probably a blog on that and how it affects several other subjects you’ve been considering too. You want to blog about Underwater strip mining? There’s probably one out there already.*

The point is, if you want to succeed with your blog, it’s not going to be as easy you thought. Everybody wants to start a blog, set down their words of wisdom and have crowds flock to them. Surely, just the right tags and my genius will be passed organically person to person around the entire international-world-wide-multiweb? Unfortunately, the true secret of blogging is that it’s just as much work as any other bloody thing you want to try.

Take the other day. Time, circumstance and exploding computers had reduced my regular blogging to once in a fortnight. Thus the stats for the day were at six. Only six visitors? The shame! Devoting an hour to reading my subscriptions (the blogs I follow, if you like) I commented (and commented relevantly – very important!) and followed the trail of other commentors. If they read the same blogs as me, they share some of the same tastes. I read THEIR blogs and commented there too.

Just an hour, and hardly an hour’s work…If I had tried to explain to someone else that reading and commenting was work, they’d have laughed in my face. But over the next few hours, as I checked (yes, I’m that obsessive) I saw my visitor stats rise. That solitary hour, engaging with other people, taking an interest in what they had to say, had brought more people back to read my words than all the tags I had posted previously. It WAS work, reading, writing, thinking, revising, trying desperately to spellcheck each comment even though you KNOW there’s going to be one error you only spot as you press “send”.

Blogging is like gardening, in that you have to put things in to get things out. Sometimes what you put in is the regular effort of composition, setting out the thoughts in your head on the computer screen in a way that will engage the interest of others. The rest of the time what you put in is your own interest. Find other blogs that touch you, and tell their authors so. You’ll be amazed how quickly a comment you leave can become a dialogue, then a conversation, and sometimes a friendship.

For more information on improving the greenness of your blogging fingers, take a look at Kristen Lamb’s blog. Read back through her previous posts, and be brave enough to comment. Then follow the trail through Kristen’s commenters. She attracts a good crowd, and there are many interesting blogs out there. But one word of warning : Set a timer, or you could lose yourself in the blogosphere all day….

Each week I blog and forget to mention that I’m actually a playwright. I write plays, pantomimes and sketches and they are published by Lazy Bee Scripts. I have also written a neat little book in PDF form about writing plays for Community Theatre and you can buy and download it here.

*Ok, there isn’t, I checked. But you get some really weird stuff if you type ‘Underwater strip mining blog” into Google. Some people have waaaay too much time on their hands.

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15 responses to “The Inconstant Gardener

  1. Interesting views Dim. Have you thought about writing a play about the dialogue, conversation and friendship, perhaps even called The Inconstant Gardener? Where does it go after the friendship bit? Relationship, marriage, children, lack of conversation, dialogue between lawyers, divorce? Perhaps there is a good gardening subplot, where they meet at a Garden Centre and end up making out in the Hydrangea Bush!! Hope you and Mrs Dim are all well!

    • Thanks Simon! Hadn’t considered this as a topic for drama, but it’s a good idea. I have to put it in the queue of other good ideas though. Mrs Dim still seems to think that things like ironing, washing and hoovering are more important than writing plays…Can you imagine?

  2. Sometimes it’s all about the company you keep. But that only goes so far, right? It’s about the conversation. Maybe it’s always about the conversation, and its relevance, with a soupçon of serendipity tossed into the mix.

    (Here from Ironic Mom.)

    Garden metaphor. Very nice.

    • Thanks, BigLittleWolf! (using people’s blogging ID’s makes life sound more like “Top Gun”, don’t you think?) Im getting a lot of kudos for a good metaphor, but this really only happened when I decided I couldn’t go with “Blogging a dead horse and getting Tweet F.A.”. The meeting people aspect of blogging was a big surprise – I thought it was just a tool to show the world how brilliant I am. Wrong again, Dim…..

  3. You’re absolutely right. But don’t let it go to your head!

  4. Yep, getting you on this post Dim; well, especially about the whole “gardening” bit and getting what you give bit in a big HUGE way. The more *I* approach people and get out of my own way, putting myself “out there”, the more I actually get back. Talking to some amazing folks recently after my efforts results in a ton of feedback to keep things moving.

    Also hear you on the whole fear of too many blogs out there for one more thing too…wonder how many will be interested in a blog about school gardens, being a mom and oh, yeah, being out of work to boot. Plus the overall formatting of mine is giving me a real headache…must remember to take my own advice and get the hell out of my own way!

    • I think the first step is forgetting about who might be interested, and write what you want to write. Mrs Dim is having a ball, writing her blog for her own satisfaction, and quite a few people are enjoying it along with her. I enjoyed writing about my regular random stuff waaay more than I enjoy writing about serious grown up writery business, but this is supposed to be part of my author platform and I should pretend to be a grown up. Don’t blow my cover, will you?

  5. I sincerely hope my blogging attempts are better than my gardening ones. Directions read: Place the bulb pointed side up. Well, I ask you, if the bulb looks like a big ol’ wrinkly prune, what side IS the pointed side?! I had 2 flowers come up. Grrrrrr. I’m still deciding whether or not to give it another go in the yard this year.

    As for blogging, you’re spot on. Especially about the time. It’s easy to get lost in the blogosphere. Setting a timer is a good idea, I may actually get more done on my WIP that way. But I love hearing from all my new friends in this blog world. I find myself repeating things like ‘My friend in Canada…’ ‘My friends who’s a playwright…’ lol. Can you tell I like meeting new people?! Anyway, wonderful post, Damian!

    • Jess, you should talk to Barb (above) about the real gardeny stuff. I have no clue. I’m a “slash and burn” gardener, happy to tame the wilderness, but lost when it comes to making it look pretty or grow better. However, I can say that you tend your blog garden very well. You certainly have plenty of hardy perennials in there, which will come round again and again and everyone will enjoy them. hey! More Metaphor! What a writer!

    • We’re similar in terms of gardening. My dad calls me an effective plant killer.

  6. Your are right! Blogging is hard, and I definitely don’t have the hang of it yet. And there are so many blogs out there! You just have to blog the best that you can. Great post!

    • Too true, Melissa, too true. Blog the best you can and enjoy it, I say. Worry about your stats only if you’re trying to sell something. If that’s the case, and you’re looking to build a readership, then do check out Kristen Lamb’s blog and maybe take one of her courses (actually cheaper than I expected and totally worth it!). Her techniques are good, if a little time-heavy, and they work.
      Keep blogging! Don’t give it up!

  7. Damian, what a great metaphor. I’d never thought of blogging as a garden. That thought leads me to thinking of bloggers as little bees going from plant to plant and pollinating them. In our efforts we grow an audience for someone else and ourselves.
    I like the idea of a timer, too. I’ve got one on my computer I’m going to use. Thanks!

  8. Totally digging the gardening metaphor, including the idea that sometimes your efforts bear fruit … and others, just dead spots.

    I often click on commenters’ links, and then their commenters’ links, creating trail after trail that often results in a few minutes (or hour. or day!) of great reading. Then sometimes, I wonder how the hell I got to where I am, and why exactly am I reading a post about how modern diesel engines are inferior to their contemporaries?

    My problem is keeping track of where I’ve been — and remembering to subscribe (to comments or to the blog) once I’ve found something I like. Then I try recreating the path, which wastes time, which is time I should be writing…

    In other words, I don’t exactly think I’ve exactly achieved green thumb status yet. But I’m trying!

  9. So, now that blog is a garden, let’s think of additional metaphors. Watering would be the daily posts and talking with other people would be the fertilizer? 😉

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