Ten Years of Blogging and the Struggle of Realness

WordPress sent me a notification recently, one I really hadn’t expected, but apparently I’ve owned this site for ten whole years!

That’s just crazy to think about.

Looking back over my first post, it took me a while to really get comfortable with what to even blog about. I was struggling to figure out how to open up, and it was difficult to even feel comfortable talking about who I was or where I was from. That kind of honesty online felt dangerous, even though now it’s an everyday thing.

When I was growing up, and the internet was the wild west it was really frightening to use your real name online. Everybody used aliases for fear of being the victim of identity theft, which wasn’t really understood at the time. You had emails for different usernames, you carefully managed what information you gave out because everything was public. Very few messageboards were behind passwords, so everything you said and did was public. Nobody knew how that would affect job prospects, or health insurance opportunities. Mental illnesses just weren’t talked about.

Then came Facebook, and you had to use your real name to get setup. You originally had to enter your real university email address to have an account. Suddenly there were potential ramifications of things you did online, or at least, you thought there were. Oh boy, things sure have changed ten years later!

I had to think of this site as a “professional online portfolio” which sounds kind of ridiculous these days, but that was the equivalent. Slowly my blog grew out of my writing experiences, my progress, my struggles, my highs and lows. Slowly I started to understand my online presence and how it reflected a unique part of me, similar to how my writing does. I grew more comfortable in my online skin, I grew more comfortable in what I could share.

Today it’s easily the hub of my author business and I work hard to keep it updated (*eyes that header image real hard haha*). It’s as natural a part of my work as my writing, as Facebook, as Instagram, and YouTube. It’s taken me a while to fully embrace it, both its more casual aspects (the blog itself), and its more professional pieces (media kits, book listings, social media links, etc). It’s had a lot of modifications in the past ten years, and several complete revamps. I feel like it’s going to get another one soon once I carve out some time.

Some of you all have been following my blog since I first published my sword and sorcery short story in Short-Story.Me! (which has also had a heck of a site update over the years!) and it has gone on to get–

*squints*

A whopping 58,500 views? Holy cow!

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’ve worked real hard to figure things out through this blog, and I appreciate you all for following me on my journey. Some of you have even been with me from the very start, and I can’t express how thankful I am for your support and motivation!

Here’s to ten more years of blogging, writing, learning, and figuring out this whole author thing.

Thanks for being here. ❤

Adorable Albino Alligators

It’s the last Friday of the month, which means I’m back again with another We Are The World Blogfest post! It’s weird cause some months I have a ton of options for posts, but other months I find it really hard to find positive news that I want to share. I don’t know why that is. Usually I bookmark stories I find throughout the month that I feel really speaks to me, but this month I had to hunt.

And now you get adorable albino alligators!

I really love participating in this every month, and I hope you’ll go over and check out this post on Facebook to read all the other positive entries that have been shared today!

In the Wild Florida Airboats and Gator Park, an albino gator named Snowflake laid around 19 eggs. Now normally alligator moms are just amazing mothers, being very protective of them and working hard to keep them safe. However because she’s blind due to her albinoism, they weren’t in a very safe location. So the group had to move the eggs to a safer place to increase their chances of survival.

This month the babies hatched, making this the first group of albino gators to be hatched in captivity in the world! I love stories where people take a hand in helping animals, and I especially love sharing awesome news about conservation groups.

The Wild Florida team is dedicated to protecting, conserving, and enhancing Florida’s diverse ecosystem to ensure that future generations can enjoy the wonders of wild, native Florida.

Posted on the Osceola News-Gazette on July 22, 2019, Author unknown
Aren’t they cute? Here is 25-year-old Snowflake and 14-year-old male Blizzard.
Photo/Wild Florida

Check out the full story!

Why I Blog

This post is supposed to be a talk about “who I am and why I’m here”, something that really makes more sense for an initial blog rather than one that’s been around a while. At the same time, I thought it couldn’t hurt to reflect. I did just do that a few days ago for 2015 after all.

When I first started this blog, I didn’t really have a plan in mind. I only knew that if I didn’t have a place to keep track of the stories that I wanted to publish, I was going to forget one. Wouldn’t that be embarrassing for a brand new author? I went back and looked over my first three blog posts, almost six years old now.

I had never worked on a blog before. The most I had previously was a professional school site that had links to my resume and whatnot. I was super excited that my first short story had been picked up (omg, someone wanted to pay for my writing?), but every time I opened a new blog post, my mind went blank on what to say. I’ve gotten (somewhat) better about it over the years, but it still doesn’t take much for my brain to close up. Stories I can come up with, but blog posts? That’s an entirely different beast.

So why do it? Why do I put these kinds of posts up in public? Well that’s a complex answer. It is, of course, a place to keep track of my stories, but I could have just as easily done that in a spreadsheet. I could have just made a static site like I had before. No, I think the reason I came to blogging and why I still blog is because I love seeing people’s reactions. It’s similar to the happy feeling you get when your tweet gets hearted on Twitter or a post gets liked on Facebook. I know it’s only temporary and it’s just a handful of bytes that don’t mean much in the bigger scheme, but it sure does make me feel good.

We authors are always scribbling our ideas, our dreams, and our nightmares down on paper. We work on them when others are enjoying their favorite television series or relaxing on a game. We work on them while putting aside time with friends and family. We work on them despite drama at work and stressful traffic and a pile of dishes in the sink. Then we slide our works out into the light of day, and most of the time we don’t hear anything back. It takes a lot of scribbling before we hear anything, which means that much of the motivation has to come from the inside. Through blogging and letting people know about the process, the research, the heartache, the excitement, the fulfillment, I want to share how these stories get made. I want to share what it’s like for me, and maybe hear about what reading them felt like for others. I want to be able to look back on the hike up this steep hill and see all the people who have been changed by mere words.

I know my blog is just a small little cranny in the corner of the interwebs, but I like to think I keep it pretty cozy here. I see the same folks visiting, liking my posts, and commenting, and it makes me feel like I’m not alone scribbling away in the dark. It makes me feel like I’m surrounded by friends and encouragement. Maybe that sounds simplistic and optimistic, but even though I write horror stories, I’m actually a pretty optimistic person. I want to share the stories in my head (because it can be pretty crowded in there).

That’s why I blog.

Leaving Your Safety Net

Found a very useful post by Kristen Lamb entitled: Go Hard or Go Home – Blogging & Branding. When I started this blog, I knew what I was going to do with it: make it my professional writing blog. And with that in mind I got a blog name that reflected that goal. I’ve spammed my name everywhere on this thing as you can see, and Kristen also recommends tagging all your WP, blog, whatever entries.

She goes into details on this in the article, but in short, you’re making it easier for folks to find your information. Someone talks about your story/book? They google it and voila, your name comes up. Tagged in your blog, hopefully in the *name* of your blog, etc. A simple solution, but very effective. Being in the website building business, it’s sad that I didn’t think of this on my own.

Sometimes its difficult mixing our everyday job with our writer lives. Its tempting to feel like this is a project all on its own, with rewards only you’ll be able to see. But once you start getting your name out there, allowing folks to find more of your stuff will increase that word-of-mouth phenomenon. And that, my friends, is every writers goal.

Creating a Professional Home

Having lost my school based website a while back due to my graduating, I finally decided to sit down and transfer my experiences into an online portfolio.  I’ve been meaning to do this for quite some time, but then while browsing around on WordPress I came across Nancy McKeand’s Professional Blog and decided it was a good idea.  I’m simply not organized enough to be able to keep up with everything on my own, I finally realized.  So here we go.