What is the latest craze? Blogging! Everyone who is anyone is leaping onto the bandwagon with enthusiasm to promote themselves, their business or just to get something off their chest. Easier to set up than a complete web site, “blog” is short for “weblog”. But what is that? Well: it all depends on the author. It may be a cathartic stream of consciousness, a passionate rant, a cry for help or attention or just a clever bit of social networking. It did not take advertisers long to spot a market opening in the “blogosphere”, so some people blogging today are being paid by their sponsors. This in turn skews the things that writers blog about. I have been following the blog of a young mother who recently wrote about her health scare. Her readers hung onto every word as she detailed the anxiety as she waited for the medical test results – the implication being that it might be cancer. But this blogger is known to me and I strongly suspected that she was exaggerating to attract her audience and satisfy her promoters. I sincerely hope so!
How did I get started? With blogging, I mean. Well: for years I have scribbled thoughts down in notebooks – sometimes even committing my thoughts to paper and sending letters to friends. However it took me a long time to catch up with the online world. First there was the question of “how”. The there was the question of “what”.
In the late nineties I was visiting my Dad and accompanied him one day to a class he was taking in HTML. I remember puzzling over FTP and how others could view a photo that was on MY computer. At the time Dad used something called CompuServe and I realise now that he must have been an early blogger – writing on bulletin boards. Every morning before the sun rose I would awaken to the sound of Dad’s slippers shlap-shlapping as he made his way from my parents’ bedroom to the computer room. Then there would be that familiar sound as the computer dialled to go online . . . “bleep. bleep, bleep, bleepity – bleep”. Of course, the computer room had originally been the guest room/ mum’s sewing room but as Dad acquired more hardware the sewing machine was relegated to their bedroom and I was allocated the sofa. When Dad died in 2000 I suddenly had the “what”. I would write about him. The “how” was an HTML editor called “AOL Press” and it took me fortnight to set up a four page website as a tribute.
Then followed several years of inactivity while I mulled over the idea of having my own proper website. But what to put on it? Recipes? No – too many out there already. My family? No – they might resent the invasion of privacy. My photos? – No – there were better ways of photo sharing.
And anyway, what would I call my site? I knew only that I did not want to use my surname. One day, as my friend surveyed my marathon craft effort – a crochet coral reef that took six months – she suggested ‘coraljane” I sat on the domain name for a couple of years while I continued to think about it. Then inspiration finally struck: I would write a daily travel blog as I journeyed by train across the USA from west to east.
Have you ever tried to keep a travel diary of any kind? Seriously? Writing is time- consuming and the most I have ever done is to scribble a few words in a notebook. And that is what happened. I zealously dragged my iPad with me, but never took it out of my back-pack. I was too busy surveying the stunning scenery and chatting to fellow travellers. It was not until I returned home that I tentatively tried again with a few posts. Then I went to an Essex Winning Women meeting and heard Sarah Arrow talk. Yes! A 30-day blogging challenge. With Kevin Arrow’s help tidying up my website I started . . .
Today is Day 31 but I still have to do Day 22 “The Linky Party” which I plan to do on Monday.