You mean, ‘How to read a blog’ don’t you?
No. It stands as titled: How to read a blogger.
A blogger of any real skill puts more into a blog than words. You may feel you feast simply on the words written, but there’s more to it than that. Understanding this maximizes your enjoyment, education, and connection with a blogger.
Speaking of the writing quality of the bloggers I follow, if you read one’s post or page uneducated (unenlightened) to its history, genesis, and intent, you will find benefit. Quality writing will do that. Your benefit, I daresay, will not be as great as it would if you knew something of the author. As much as one can know someone you have not met and likely will never meet.
I choose to follow blogs because
Coming across a new blog, I read one or two posts drawn to them exactly as everyone else, by title and accompanying graphics. Intrigued, I’ll look for an “about” or some such1 to give me a clue about who the author is, what we might have in common, or what wild differences there are between us.2
Why? Because ‘About’ will tell me what their life experiences are, perhaps a clue to understanding their style, where they are from, (with limited accuracy) how old they are, and occasionally significant, their gender and otherwise orientation.
“Oh,” you say, “I don’t need any of this to appreciate their writing.” Maybe not. My appreciation is enhanced knowing the difficulties they overcame to write what they did. An alternate gender point-of-view. A life tragedy overcome or currently being wrestled into submission. Shoe size. Pet peeves.
We all see humor differently. It takes a ton of reading to accurately pick-up on a blogger’s particular sense of humor. Clever bloggers, the good’ns, will change their approach from time to time, chapter to chapter. Slapstick, insinuation and innuendo, pun-ish-ness, satire, hyperbole, melancholy, and absurdity look a little different faced head-on. Music is universal. Humor is not.
A relative youth in college (or “university”) will throw life at me very much different from the way Grandpa looking back on seventy years will. A life-long steel-hanger’s perspective won’t be the same as that of a retired neurosurgeon’s. A gung-ho macho dewd will talk a shade different than a lady who finally got a crop full and is about setting the world straight. A farmer will use the same words a born-and-raised urbanite does with another flavor. Religion. Loves won and lost, afflictions conquered or resigned-to, and favorite color (colour) socks skew worldview.
Who they were and who they are
Kind of trading on “past experience,” it takes willingness to accept people with all their warts and pimples (we’re not all beautiful) to recognize the curmudgeon, the clown, the philosopher, the poet, the fatalist, the apologist, the idiot, and the genius standing (as it were) right next to us. Has nothing and everything to do with experience. If I know someone struggles to accept a behavior or circumstance then deliver a message not too salty for that experience, I recognize their efforts to be truthful. Or entertaining. And thought-provoking.
Do not make light of ethnicity or nationality. Unintentionally someone from the US(of)A will say (write) something someone from England or Spain does not understand. Someone from India or Italy may, but it’s not a safe bet. I don’t fully appreciate British humor, Indian philosophy, Irish tomfoolery, or an Italian’s calm stoicism. That’s culture, and I’m working on my shortcomings. If you know where a blogger calls home (and how long s/he has been there) you stand a better chance of interpreting them correctly.
(Don’t fault me for nationality stereotypes. Used here, they are for illustration.)
Axes they grind
Republicans and Democrats.3 Conservatives and Liberals. Right-Left-Central. Pro-Life. Gun Control. Hawks-Doves. Coke and Pepsi.4 Many bloggers keep the axes they are grinding hidden in their tool shed. What a surprise if ever they bring them out. Stance on any issue flavors written exercise. Truly talented bloggers work around, over, and through predispositions, prejudices, and preferences. Usually. There are times one must take a stand. There are times, agree or not, one must allow for that.
Bloggers come in odd assortments. Poets, some specializing, some effectively and creatively all over the poetic range. Essayists, short story mavens. Flash fictioners. Novelists – short and long-winded. Most have a favorite form and genre. Talented, one will slap you topside your head when you pick them up looking for example, for a limerick or Haiku to find they’ve gone full-blown prose on you. An op-edist may go melancholy. A satirist becomes serious. That humorist has written a horror piece.
And some are in it purely for commercial reasons. Here you can fault me. I accept those blogs but as a rule pay as much attention to them as radio adverts for stomach acid.
Too, there are DIY-ish specialists. Coobook artisans. Dog and kitty cat advisors. Travelogue writers. Yup, I follow them. It is, however the “creative” bloggers I refer to here.
Understanding a blogger’s “normal” or preferred style and form you cannot help but be amazed at their versatility. After admiring that versatility, you are impressed reading what they’ve got for you knowing more what they mean literally, through double entendre, and perhaps seeing a known philosophy twist meaning one-hundred eighty from what others see.
There is more, of course…
Ethnicity. Religion. Politics. Ford/Chevy preference. Cat or dog person? But, I’m scaring a lot of readers. Some are genuinely lexiphobic.
Blogging’s flip side
Following a blogger, invest yourself in their work. You will benefit. On the unlikely chance a blogger does not respond, you learn something of yourself, putting your thoughts into words anyway. Comment. Ask questions. Because no puddle can be splashed-through without a bit of damp on trouser cuffs, most bloggers (that I follow anyway) will delight in comment gave-take. Why? Because it’s personal. As much as it can be personal half a world away. Or several galaxies away, in some cases. The blog author knows this and learns from every5 exchange. What you have to say (consider this: more what you don’t say, but what you think) will be assimilated into the blogger’s mindset, understanding, and world view.
Most beneficial to you, if something pleases or entertains you, your listening blogger is encouraged to deliver some kind of encore.
Yup. Hear ya. There are one or two bloggers out there who write solely for their own needs. That, I admit, I do not entirely understand but cannot deny it legitimacy. And there are those of this ilk that warrant watching. All the more important you know who they are and what they are all about.
Far and away bloggers are extroverts or extroverted introverts, safe in the distance a blog puts between them and an audience. Still, they “listen.” It’s unavoidable. They may (unlikely) ignore you, but they will listen.
For the larger part of the blogging community, lacking readers (commenting or not) and not receiving some feedback, good or bad6, a blogger might just as well pack it in, go home, and learn to crochet. Suspect there’s a blog they can follow for that.
Curtain, Act I
I’d love to set this aside, develop it more carefully and methodically, and make it a reference. This has been pretty-much a poke it out as it bubbles-up affair. There isn’t time. So here it is. Maybe we’ll revisit the subject in the future.
In the way of a PSA, personal events have strong potential to keep me away from the keyboard for several days, soon. Not to worry, close blog friends. A bit of family tragedy. The Boss and I are well though we must tend affairs. Absent from the keyboard, one or two of you may miss my inane posts. I most certainly will miss yours.7 Catching-up is not the way to go, it always leaves me feeling I’ve missed something, but I’ll be forced into doing just that.
After tomorrow, I’ll catch you on the re-run.
1 Imagine my disappointment when an author has no “About.” There are legitimate reasons they might not. Respect that. Revel in the mystery.
2 Eyes and mind wide open, I’ve learned much from bloggers with views different from mine and even those whose genres or writing styles are ones I might not think I could appreciate.
3 I’m not going to attempt Tory, Whig, or Labour equivalence. I have enough difficulty with Democrats and Republicans, Liberals and Conservatives. Vegetarian, Vegan and Carnivore. Most of the time, I don’t give a rip, you know?
4 Or RC Cola, or Dr. Pepper or Nehi. Irn Bru or Fanta. San Pellegrino or Crodina. Bundaberg or Saxby. Cut me some slack.
5 I was sorely tempted to qualify this. I’ll let it go that “me too” comments are watery things at best lacking ongoing dialogues between commentators. Suffice it to suggest, insubstantial or nonexistent investment gets in return exactly what you would expect – little or nothing.
6 If you’ve a comment less than complimentary, best you keep it to yourself, couch it in the politest terms, or do what I call, “approaching the bench” – sending the author a personal note through the contact page. If you love green but the blog author who wrinkled your tissue loves red, you are not going to proselytize them with a public comment. They are committed to their cause or they wouldn’t blog it. If a blogger is open-minded and your argument eloquent, you may make progress. Realize however, “conversions” of this sort can work either way.
7 My blogs are inane. Yours are brilliant, insightful, thought-provoking, humorous, romantic, educational, sentimental, and inspiring. Not necessarily all at the same time. I’m watching to see you receive your Hugos, Hobbos, Nobels, Pulitzers…