So. Let's blog. We'll start with a generality. Funny thing about the internet: it fosters connections between people who might never have met otherwise, but it's no substitute for the in-person interactions these friends eventually crave. Now let's work in a personal anecdote: Last October, when Darwin and I were riding down to New Orleans with Betty Duffy to hang out at the Walker Percy Symposium with The Korrectiv gang, we had to ride on the spare all the way from Indy to Nashville because we couldn't get anyone out to the Duffy homestead to repair a flat tire (just inspected the day before!) at 5 am. In Nashville we spent a congenial hour with Jordana while Betty's car was attended to. Turns out nothing was actually wrong with the tire, but if it hadn't chosen to act up that morning, we would have missed connecting with an online friend.
Are you tired of the meta-blogging yet? I am, but the mechanics of writing a blog post are on my mind because I'm off this weekend to Peoria, famously middle-American territory, to attend the Behold Conference and to sit in on the Meet the Bloggers session on Friday night. "New Media" is a hot topic these days. Everyone, it seems, wants to write the next big blog, and I am here with my big bad seven years of blogging experience to share the secrets of blogging success (not mine, but someone's) with you.
Write well about interesting things. Often.
Meet the new media, same as the old media. No matter what pretty templates the aspirational blogger uses or how riddled a page is with bullet points, one will not attract or maintain faithful readership (large or small) without being able to meet these criteria. No amount of highlighting or money quotes in bold font will compensate for poor writing, or a dull topic, or for a posting schedule so sporadic that readers stop tracking after a while (though Google Reader may take care of that, but since I don't use Reader we'll call that point irrelevant to our discussion).
Now Behold is a Catholic women's conference, and my feelings on "lady conferences" have been eloquently summarized by Betty Duffy, but in this case it's Betty I'm going to see. She and Sarah Reinhard and I are carpooling out to Peoria, where the big draw is not the conference, though I'm sure it's very nice, but the chance to hang out once again with Jennifer Fulwiler and Hallie Lord. Those ladies have come a long way from when the three of us used to visit each other's living rooms in Texas and resolutely ignore the antic screams of our combined children: Hallie has just edited a book called Style, Sex, and Substance: 10 Catholic Women Consider the Things that Really Matter, and Jennifer and Betty are two of those ten women. And the reason I'm making the midwinter trek to Illinois is that people I know but don't get to see often (or people I'm meeting for the first time in person, such as Jamie who invited me to come in the first place) are taking the same journey. The internet giveth friendships and it sustains them long-distance, but nothing beats sneaking out of a talk so that Duffy can take a cigarette break while the girls pass the flask down the line and exchange erudite and profane banter.
That's my blogging cue to embed a YouTube video exemplifying erudite and profane banter:
This did not play in Peoria.
Here's my last blogging tip for the New Media crew: know when to stop writing. When you look at the clock and it's almost 1 am, that's a pretty good sign you ought to pack it in.
UPDATE: Registration for the Behold Conference has been extended to Friday morning, so it's not too late to sign up and attend.