Category Archives: Blogging About Blogging

You Have One Year…

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If you had one year to accomplish your goals, what would you do?

We recently moved to Missouri, and we are only here for about a year (long story).  The plan was that I’d get a part time job, something to help with car payments, or for extra spending money on the weekends.  As soon as the last box of odds and ends was unpacked, I started applying for jobs in the area.  I was feeling motivated and ready to be an employee. Days, then weeks went by with zero responses.  I’d applied for nearly a dozen jobs, and eventually heard back from two, letting me know that “we regret to inform you that at this time we do not have a position available“.  The only people interested in “hiring” me were the scam artists trolling SitterCity, which was incidentally my last resort for respectable work.  It didn’t take long to start feeling demoralized.

I expressed these frustrations to my husband.  It’s not as though I’m uneducated and inexperienced, I lamented.   I have the potential to be good at many different jobs, and doesn’t frickin’ life experience count as something?  I wondered if my husband expected me to “be successful” by earning of money.  Would he suspect that I was just sitting around the house drinking vodka, watching Netflix and writing (which I admittedly do quite religiously) and be disappointed in his unsuccessful wife who couldn’t even land a job as a cashier?

Everything happens for a reason. We are only here for one year.” my husband told me. “Time is already passing.  What do you want to do while we are here?  Decide what you want to do and then do it.  I will support your decision.”

I’d already considered what I really want to accomplish during the next year.  It didn’t really make sense to spend several months searching for a job, only to begin my exit strategy immediately after securing said job.  And, to be honest, I don’t feel as enthusiastic about working part time as I do about writing full time.  I have been looking for the opportunity to focus on my writing.  Funny how life works.  Here we are in a quiet neighborhood.  My kids go to school and give me a long day to write and think.  We have only about nine months left here, and none of my accomplishments have been work-related.  I am happy all the same.

What would you do if given a full year for anything you want?  If you had the time and resources to pursue any interest, goal, relationship, or challenge, would you do it, or would you squander the opportunity?  Take a moment and consider your options.  What about that new hobby you’ve been mulling over; or perhaps you want to revisit a skill from your younger days? Will you find a new friend to accompany you on adventures, or rekindle an old romance?  Will you make time for an exotic trip, or will you turn your home into a lush stay-cation spot?  What about learning a new language or picking up an ethnic cookbook?  Think of all the possibilities. The clock is ticking.

~G

 

P.S. Besides focusing on writing for the next year, I’ve decided to try to learn German and Italian using the free online program known as Duolingo.  This is either a great idea or completely insane (I will be updating you on it, down’t worry).

 

 

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My Apologies

So last night I wrote a post about my battle with migraines during the month of March.  I don’t know what is going on, but my photos are either MIA or they simply look terrible — and not just because they are dorky selfies and awkward candid photos of my dog!

I noticed that WordPress changed the image editing application in my Media Widget.  Well, change it back!  It is now completely user un-friendly and un-functional.  For example, instead of being able to manipulate photos the way I used to in the Advanced Settings while blogging, I now have these options:

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Thumbnail

Seriously? What is this size good for?

Medium

Medium

Not much better, but somewhat practical.

 

Full Size

Full Size

This is okay, but couldn’t there be something in between Medium and Full Size? I realize that we are Americans here, and we don’t really recognize the concept, but still…

Now this is based on the original size of your images, which you CAN manipulate in the Media Library, but you CANNOT once you are attempting to insert into the post.  So I will admit that WordPress is clear on how and when to properly edit photos.  My problem is that my image editor is at this time mostly non-functioning unless I am simply inserting already prepared, unaltered photos, such as the apple above, into a blog.  Not very user friendly!

 

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A Medium based off my original photo dimensions. Still a bit large, but it will work for now.

I liked the older version because I could determine how a photo would best fit into the post while writing — a better system for me.  It was even worse yesterday when I was trying to make my silly selfies fit, because there were two other sizes available: Small and Large.  All the sizes were so unreasonable yesterday, and judging by the slightly more realistic sizes offered today, I am guessing WordPress received a multitude of complaints from irate bloggers like myself.

 

This does NOT solve my problem!  I need to manipulate my photos while writing, so all I can do at this time is apologize for how terrible my last post looks.  I may take it down and attempt to repair it because at least two photos are already “gone” due to errors caused by the image editor.  Sorry folks, but I hold my posts to a high standard (at least when it comes to appearance) and if my posts look shitty, it isn’t for lack of my effort.

Please visit again soon; hopefully my technical hiccups will have been cured!  Thanks,

— G

P.S.  On my food blog I discovered that (depending on the original size of my photos) I may have the Large option available in my image editor.  Then again, I may only have the choice between Thumbnail and Full Size, again depending on the original size.  Obviously this feature will now require intensive amounts of time in order to produce images that are satisfactory for blog posts.

 

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Lately, Hating Everything I Write

I don’t know if this is a rite of passage for new bloggers or a normal phase that any writer may encounter at any stage in life, but lately I feel so “…MEH…” about what I write.  And it isn’t that I have writer’s block.  If anything, I am overflowing with words. I can sit down and type 1,000 words as easily as any other task. Will the words make sense or be pleasant to read?  That is another question. What seems to be my problem lately is that I HATE what I’m writing. I hate my new posts even after I am satisfied enough to publish them. I hate my old drafts, and they keep building up in my WordPress Dashboard. I probably have two dozen drafts that will never be published because when I read through them, I think they are terrible.  Does anyone else have this problem?

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It wasn’t like this when I started blogging.  I dove in with ample enthusiasm and absolutely no idea what I was doing.  I was so excited that, pardon the expression, I didn’t see the forest for the trees.  I just knew that I was such an awesome writer full of awesome ideas! That is probably the best way to jump into blogging, without really knowing how complicated the process can become.  Flash forward several months and the pain is acute.  I am aware of my shortcomings as a writer and my assorted faults as a person.  This phase of frustration seems to correspond with the growing pains of striving to become a better writer, but also with the heightened stress of putting out  fires set by some invisible arson.  Sometimes when I sit down to read through my drafts my mind wanders to the more important issues at hand, and when I come back to the text I think “Ugh, booooor-ring!”

Going through this painful and rather embarrassing process has taught me valuable lessons about my writing and myself.  For instance, I have yet to find my voice.  When reading the work of fellow bloggers, I tend to nitpick myself, forgetting I am still very new to writing, not as developed as my peers.  I become quite self conscious when reading some awe inspiring post by a veteran blogger, knowing I could NEVER write that well no matter how much work I put into my comparatively pathetic attempts.  It isn’t that I feel jealous of the arguably more talented writers, (because without them how would we set the standard?) but for me, the double edged sword of reading their writing is the inevitable feeling of both admiration and terror.  I want to write as well as them, but my subconscious starts nay-saying and discouraging me, the nasty little bitch.

So what does one do when finding oneself in such a situation? Well, I don’t know what most other writers do, but I developed a plan do deal with my crazy neurotic self.  And, in case anyone wants to market this as a self help scheme, I have put it all in list form!  You’re welcome!

  1. Ask the Tough Questions.  First I pursued the source of my dislike for my own writing.  Did I really hate everything I wrote, or was there something else going on?  I discovered A LOT of bottled up stress from external factors, some of which I could not control, and that was negatively affecting my writing.  It was also decimating my energy, not just for writing, but for other enjoyable projects.  In short, I was getting depressed and needed to confront my feelings in order to move on.
  2. Confront the Problem(s).  Next I approached my “hated” drafts.  Were they really that bad?  Okay, some were.  But instead of scrapping them all, I kept them for future use.  Maybe a snippet from one, a paragraph from another, and so on, could be useful…Most were not terrible, it was just my perception at the time.  This same approach could be used for putting all other problems (not just ill-fated blog drafts) into perspective.
  3. Take an Honest Look at Yourself.  I then looked at my relationship with fellow bloggers.  How did I see myself compared to them?  I have always struggled at putting myself on equal footing with peers.  This goes back to childhood, when I was teased for being shy, ugly, too quiet, too poor, and friendless (which made it difficult to actually make friends).  So I gave myself a pep talk.  Where had all bloggers started out? The same place as me.  So there is no reason to be ashamed of my work, and while I certainly have room to grow, there is no reason to feel inferior.
  4. Ask One Last Hard Question.  Last of all, I asked myself, “Do I still want to do this?”  Over the last couple of weeks I had become so distracted by all the fires I was putting out, I lost interest in doing many things, one of which was writing.  That was part of my response to a high level of stress.  When you are under so much stress, you might feel compelled to let go of anything that seems like an obligation.  But blogging isn’t really an obligation for me, or at least it shouldn’t be.  I started doing this to express myself freely, bypassing annoying obstacles along the way.  Why give up now, when I am still barely getting my feet wet?  There is still so much to experience!

After my self-therapy session, I feel better.  I don’t look better, but that might require more sleep and a trip to the chiropractor.  I can honestly say, though, that now I really LOVE this post. I love it more than when I started writing it.  I am really happy that I wrote about writing, or more to the point, about fighting through the obstacles that can prevent us from writing.  And I hope that all you writers out there are loving what you write.  That is what it’s all about.

— G

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Oh, Pioneer! A Blog By Any Other Name…

English: Groucho Marx & anonymous blogging

Of course there is an explanation…(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As you might imagine, there is an interesting story behind my choice of blog name.  After all, it’s not as though I go by Blogging Pioneer because I have pioneered blogging.   When blogging became a thing, I was just a kid, learning to type on ancient typewriters.  Remember typewriters?  Occasionally playing the game Oregon Trail (remember the Oregon Trail?) on gigantic awkward looking Apple desktop computers was a hard-won privilege for those of us with enough fortitude to survive the death march of keyboarding exercises.  Remember the horrible typing lessons?  …. asa, fcf,  jyj, l;l, shoot me please…. So I haven’t pioneered anything in the blogging world, but before we discuss my credentials as a potential pioneer, let’s first delve into how I ended up with the name.

I originally had a great name picked out, and I was so excited to claim it that I overlooked the possibility it might not be available.  In hindsight, the name didn’t really suit the tone of my blog, but I really wanted it at the time, like that pair of hot pants that you know are wrong but you just don’t care.  I am not going to tell you the name because you might laugh.  Or you might stop reading my posts because you think that ‘blogging pioneer’ is so lame in contrast to the name I didn’t get (in which case you are lame).  Anyway, I went to the Go Daddy site and entered my name choice into the little box (whatever that is called) but was informed that the name was available only if I paid $750 to the current owner.  That is not a typo.  $750.00.  For a NAME.  Hmmm.  I had my heart set on that name, but being a thrifty pragmatist, I also had a back up list of eight other names, just in case this happened.

Every damn backup name I submitted was either not available at all, or available to purchase for several hundred dollars!  Even my own first name!  What unscrupulous bastard had purchased “Georgeann” for use as a domain name?  I decided my name was too weird anyway; most days I can’t even spell it right so why impose such high standards on anyone else?  I was about to give up when I suddenly thought “I could try ‘blogging pioneer’!  It fits with my South Dakota theme and my willingness to jump into life and try new adventures…  Surprisingly, this name was available, free, and not the dumbest one I had contrived.

It took me a few days to feel entirely comfortable with ‘bloggingpioneer’.  I wanted to live up to the name but wasn’t sure it would convey a general sense of who I am.  Then I realized that the only way to show my readers ME was through my writing.  Just starting a blog is an activity in pioneering forward in life.  It takes courage to self publish without really knowing what will happen as a consequence.  Like many Americans, I come from a long history of pioneers.  My grandfather told elaborate stories about his Scottish and Danish ancestors sailing to America and traveling west to settle in South Dakota, where they shaped farms and lives from the vast flowing plains.  I like to think I have their spirit, even if my activity isn’t as courageous as sailing across the world and taming the Great Plains.  Even a blog project can be daunting for someone as meek as myself!

My grandmother is a major inspiration.  Full of the pioneer spirit, a retired school teacher and farm wife, she wrote a column in the local newspaper.  She set up her writing office in a cool, shady spare room with a desk, typewriter, stacks of paper, and lots of little boxes of fun things like paper clips, extra pencils, and stamps from all over the world.  Grandma wrote old-timey gossipy articles, something like: “Mr. and Mrs. Hosenscheisser celebrated their 35th anniversary last weekend at the Lutheran Church on 5th Street.  Ham salad sandwiches and lime Jell-O were served with chocolate cake and terrible tasting coffee.”  She also wrote recipes for church cookbooks, composed long story-filled letters, and assembled colorful scrapbooks for her grandchildren.

With a gift for conversation, a love of details, and a strong desire to write, she would have been a wonderful blogger.  I have no doubt that she passed along her sense of urgency  for preserving family history and telling stories.  For me, being a pioneer, especially through this blog, is about revisiting my roots and reinventing myself by examining where I’ve come from and looking ahead to where I’m going.  I no longer have any doubt that I chose the perfect name.

— G

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Irons In The Fire

January was a busy month.  I have several irons in the fire and never seem to stay still long enough to gather dust.  Besides adding two new job titles — paraprofessional and literacy tutor — to my responsibilities at the school, I’ve been busy with projects at home.  Watermarking my digital photos as an attempt to protect them has become one priority.  I don’t know that my photos are actually worth stealing, but they are mine, I put work into them, they are special to me.  Anyone thinking of snagging them consider this: they are kinda shitty compared to professional photographs.  Bitch please, I’m an amateur photographer.  If you’re going to commit intellectual property theft, you are on the wrong site.

My beautiful picture

I did a round of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writer’s Month).  The first time I encountered this on WordPress I thought another blogger was writing about Japanese anime characters so I disregarded.  In late December I received an e-mail from a blog I subscribe to, challenging me to participate in NaNoWriMo for January and write 500 words every day.  There were no strings attached except that participants make a valiant effort to write.  My progress was nothing to brag about, but I did make an effort.  Part of my problem was that I ended up ill for ten days, and during this time I didn’t have the energy to approach my computer, let alone type 500 words a day.  I managed to put extra effort into what I did type, and January writing projects were quite enjoyable.  So, I am happy to report that while I didn’t write a novel (and don’t intend to at this point) I have developed the habit of wanting to type about 500 words each day.  That is a good habit to develop!

I began a new project and a bit of a crash course.  I have had this fantastic book, Will Write for Food, by Dianne Jacob, for two years now, and just cracked the cover this month.  I am nearly halfway through and am learning invaluable information about…drum roll please…food writing!  Before I even considered starting a blog, my husband was encouraging me to write a cookbook featuring old family recipes and “secret” ingredients.  Unsure how prepared I was for such an endeavor, I ordered Jacob’s guide and it sat in a corner for two years.  Now that I (finally) opened it I can say that Will Write for Food is THE quintessential resource for food writers.  I am gaining nothing by making positive statements about this book, I just really think it is wonderfully comprehensive!

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After I finish reading the book, work on the suggested exercises and research areas of interest, I will (hopefully) be a more experienced writer.  In the meantime I am launching an ambitious little blog called Okra Blossom, focused on anything food related.  I took a nap a few days ago, and when I woke up I HAD to start another blog immediately, and I HAD to call it Okra Blossom, because that is my favorite flower.  As impulsive as I can be, this is not without some deep and careful (apparently subconscious) thought (while I was napping?) but I am enthusiastic about the positive repercussions of having a semi-professional food blog.  I will still have my any topic/any time eclectic chaos occurring at Blogging Pioneer.  But Okra Blossom will be more laser focused and (again hopefully) will help me develop a specific skill set as a writer.  If you are interested in reading my food writing, come visit me soon at:

http://okrablossom.com/

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A Newbie Blogger’s Best of 2013

My G-Raffe profile pic from the infamous Facebook giraffe riddle.

My G-Raffe profile pic from the infamous Facebook giraffe riddle.

I decided this morning that I had better get my Best of 2013 published before much more of 2014 slips away.  I also have had blogger’s block thanks to copious amounts of cold medicine and a horrible attitude (sorry immediate family for anything mean that I did to you over the weekend), but my notes for this post are pretty well rounded so I can probably type on autopilot…It just took a really long time to figure out how to spell ‘pilot’.  Hmmm…this head cold is worse than I originally suspected.  Regrouping…

As I have only been blogging for about three months, I still don’t know much (of anything) but I am trying to catch up with the learning curve as quickly as possible.  What I have learned by reading the works of veteran bloggers is that I am one tiny goldfish in an immense ocean of talent, and I am deeply humbled.  After reading a few Best of 2013 posts from highly creative and accomplished bloggers, my meager victories  seem like the stunted and hesitant steps of a toddler.  These bloggers have been researching, photographing, writing, and editing until their eyes nearly pop out for years; what have I done?  But my husband has a saying: “You’re steering a boat, not a race car!”  My boat has just left the dock and is still getting pointed in the right direction, so I have to take things slow and remember to celebrate the small victories.  They keep me going for now.

This is my Newbie’s Best of 2013:

7.  Just starting a blog!  I want to send out thanks to my sister and husband for encouraging me to start writing my stories.  If not for their support, I may not have even bothered trying in the first place.

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6. Reuniting with people on Facebook.  An important part of succeeding as a blogger is networking, so I had an ulterior motive when I joined Facebook.  I needed a steady population of readers to circulate my blog around, and this social network seemed like a perfect place to start.  But finding old friends and sharing special moments and funny conversations has become the primary benefit.  It is not nearly as important that my friends like or even read my blog, but I do appreciate the support of those who have been visiting me at WordPress!  Their encouraging comments have inspired me to continue writing and thinking about new topics.  Thank you, friends!

5.  2,000 views by Christmas!  When my blog reached 1,000 views by Thanksgiving, I set a goal to reach 2,000 views by Christmas.  For veteran bloggers, this number probably doesn’t seem like a big deal, but for me it was a goal to work toward through diligent writing and consistent enthusiasm.  The credit really goes to my readers for visiting my blog, and I was thrilled to reach the goal just before Christmas.  Who knows, maybe we will reach 5,000 views by Easter!

4. Viewers logging on from over 30 different countries.  It has been fascinating to see that people from all over the world have been reading my blog!  In 2013, viewers from over 30 different countries read my posts.  The funniest/weirdest search term leading to my blog in 2013 was “cooked camel”, allowing a viewer in Kuwait to find my satirical post about cooking a camel for Thanksgiving.

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A card I bought in Kuwait, with the recipe for stuffed camel inside. Yum!

https://bloggingpioneer.com/2013/11/07/how-to-stuff-a-camel/

3. My most liked post, about Ross the Dog opening his Christmas present.  I tried to write a few posts with a serious tone, and I worked very diligently on them, but they were not nearly as popular as ‘Christmas for Ross the Dog’, a fluff piece about my dog, who can unwrap presents without any help.  It was easily my most well received post to date.  Go figure.

"Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy!!!"

“Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy!!!”

https://bloggingpioneer.com/2013/12/27/christmas-for-ross-the-dog/

2. Building rapport with other bloggers and learning from them.  I cannot stress this enough to other newbie bloggers: veteran bloggers are role models that can teach us how to be professional, ethical, and eloquent.  I have learned so much and made friends with a handful of amazing writers who I can look up to as mentors in the blogging world.  I want to express gratitude to those who have been friendly, professional, and fun to correspond with over the last few months.  Thanks veteran bloggers!

1.  Most popular picture of me in 2013.  Does it need explaining?

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Having a moment with my sister’s best hen at the Missouri homestead.

Thanks to all my readers for making my blogging debut a very satisfying experience.  I look forward to writing more stories for your enjoyment!  Have a blessed 2014!

— G

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