The life cycle of the common blog is a strange thing. You would think, given that every blog springs forth whole from the forehead of its creator, that they would all be individual and unique and snowflake-like. Not even remotely. What you have to keep in mind is that, while people are indeed often unique and individual and snowflake-like, they are also even more often utterly predictable.
In the course of my research1 for this post, I discovered that there are three types of blog. They are, in no particular order; the Bubble, the Blue Moon, and the Butterfly2. They all begin in the same way and for the same reason. Generally speaking, a new blog is born because the would-be blogger has something to say. Maybe they have a newly formed opinion about something, or recently had an unusual experience that they want to tell the world about, or an awesome new recipe they tried. At first they find they have lots of things to say, and boy do they say them. The first few weeks of a new blog's life are full of frenetic activity as post after post is published.
The problem is, most of us don't have unusual experiences very often (that's why they're unusual) and opinions (as they say) are like assholes; everybody's got one, and most of them aren't very interesting. What this means is that, sooner or later (usually sooner) the new blogger runs out of things to say. This is where a new blog splits off to become one of the three types.
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If the blog is of the Bubble variety, by far the most common, it pops and disappears never to be seen again. Having run out of things to say, the blogger loses interest and stops posting. In the fullness of time they may even forget that they ever had a blog at all. Sad.
If it is one of the less common Blue Moon variety, it doesn't disappear entirely, but rather becomes reclusive. The blogger still posts when the mood strikes, randomly and infrequently, and we only hear from these blogs once in a, you’ve guessed it, blue moon.
The third type of blog, the Butterfly, is possibly the least common of all. These blogs occur when, rather than ignoring or neglecting his blog, the blogger recognizes the problems inherent in every new blog and takes steps to save its life. Wrapping their stunted, ugly creation in strands of shimmering gossamer they breathe new life into it through a radical approach known as "planning". What emerges from the cocoon is, hopefully, something far more interesting and beautiful than what went in.
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My blog, this blog, was never going to be a Bubble - I'm too stubborn for that - but it very nearly became a Blue Moon. I'm happy to report, though, that steps have been taken. Whether what emerges from the cocoon in this case is sustainable and beautiful, or a misborn monstrosity, only time will tell. I'm excited to find out.
The steps I have taken so far to save my blog consist primarily of talking to myself. I asked myself two questions: what do I want to get out of a blog, and what do I have to offer those misguided souls who choose to read it? Put another way, why should I write, and what should I write about?
The answer to the first question was fairly straightforward - I mostly just want to reinforce writing as a daily habit (the unbreakable, unshakeable kind). I quit smoking last year after 25 years of nasty, so I know firsthand the power and inertia a good solid habit holds. As a secondary goal, I'd like to improve the quality of (as Chuck Wendig would say) "my wordsmithy". Improving my penmonkey-ship (thanks again, Chuck), though, is more of a side-effect for me. The main goal is to write more.
The answer to the second question was slightly less straightforward, but not overly difficult to figure out. I looked at the blogs I read and realized that there are two main reasons I read a blog; because the author shares one of my interests, or because the author possesses knowledge or skills I want to acquire. The question of what to write, therefore, boils down to what do I like, and what do I know?
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And so we arrive at this. Starting next week I will be writing on a specific topic for most days of the week. My non-alliterative titles are:
l Food Monday
l Music Tuesday
l Technology Wednesday
l Stuff I Watch (on TV) Thursday
l Writing Friday
l So You're Moving To China Sunday, and
l Open Letter of the Month
Mondays will be about food, obviously. Generally I will share a recipe, as often as possible with a video to show how to make it. I'm a long time foodie, as well as being fairly competent in the kitchen. Also, I have lived in China for the past 8 years, so I've been forced to start making from scratch many of the things I would normally have bought pre-made back in Canada.
Tuesdays I will write music reviews. I'm a classically trained percussionist, and have played drums (jazz, blues, rock and heavy metal) for most of my life. I'm also an experienced singer and a not-so-experienced guitar player.
Wednesdays and Fridays will have some connection with tech and writing respectively. Both topics belong more on the interest side of things than the knowledge side, I'm afraid. I've wanted to make my living as a writer for as long as I can remember, and I took my first computer apart more than 20 years ago, so hopefully I’ll be able to muster up some insights into both of these topics..
We don't watch much TV in our household; living in China doesn't afford many opportunities for quality programming. Using undisclosed methods, however, I am able to get my hands on select shows of interest. I will use Thursdays post to talk about whatever it is we're watching these days (at the moment, season 2 of "The Voice", mostly).
Sunday will be my way of writing about life in China. I want to write about living in China, but it’s been done so many times by so many other Westerners in China that I came up with a conceit to make it more interesting (for me, not necessarily for you). I will write about living in China as if I were giving advice to an imaginary person who is planning on moving here. Woohoo, let the good times roll!
I'm also planning to do an "Open Letter of the Month". My goal is to take various "-isms" and "-ists" and put them under the microscope. This will allow me to exercise my essay writing and rhetorical skills, and will give me a soap-box from which to pour forth my opinions. I'm a very opinionated person and if I don't let them out from time to time my head explodes.
So there you have it, a new era for the Lived-in Life. To the 7 of you who already read my blog, I hope you enjoy what I have in store. And to anyone who tags along in the future, I hope you find something here of value.
1. No research was actually performed
2. Pure coincidence that they all start with 'B'