Now, I'm usually too cheap to go to a theater and see a new movie when it comes out. Wait a few months and it will be on cable, which I already pay plenty for every month. When Julie & Julia showed up on Encore last week, I was delighted to finally watch it. I knew it was about Julia Child, the cook, but never realized that the Julie person was a blogger! You've probably seen it already, but I rolled on the floor laughing at her meltdowns when trying to keep up with a project that was waaayyy too ambitious! How can anyone promise to prepare 536 French recipes in only 365 days, while working a fulltime job! When could she shop for all that? Yet, as Hollywood decrees, she completes the project, saves her marriage, and gets both book and movie contracts from it. Whew!
I couldn't go to sleep, thinking about blogging in general. Why do we do it? What do we get from it? Is it really all about me, me, me as Julie says? I tried to Google some estimate of the number of bloggers, but no one is brave enough to take a good guess apparently. One site says " the current estimates say there are about 400 million “active” English language blogs right now, but that number varies according to the source."
Some people write in a private journal every day as a matter of self discipline. They take their soul out and examine its fortes and foibles. Such bravery must make them stronger persons, or push them entirely over the edge! Bloggers take journaling to the next step and bare their souls to God, the Internet and everybody.
There's no predicting inspiration. I started blogging in June, 2006, as an outlet for my bird photos primarily. So I'm approaching my fifth anniversary as a blogging bird photographer. I looked at other birding/photography blogs, and all the blogs they link to, and the blogs listed on the Nature Blog Network. You are right. There was a real dry spell at work, and I needed something to do to look busy. But I thought I could do as well as they all do, for the most part. Yeah, I know HTML, having taught web design in a prior lifetime, and bought Photoshop Elements to fix my photos up when they weren't perfect to begin with.
But some bloggers aren't just birders, they are Writers and Artists and Poets and Humorists! (Notice the capital letters - this is a title, not just a talent.) Take a look at Julie Zickefoose, Kathie's Birds (fka Sycamore Canyon), and Nina at Nature Remains. I read them and shake my head in dismay for posting birding travelogs. The trick in blogging is to put something of yourself in what your write.
I am passionate about my photography, and take my camera wherever I go. Am I as obsessed as Julie? Of course not. Well, maybe I get a little compulsive on vacation. I take my laptop, and must, must, MUST download all the photos taken today, edit them, and throw about half away since they are completely out of focus. Then, when that's all done, why not go ahead and post them to the blog? One vacation, we didn't have an Internet connection in the room, so I did my photos, wrote the text, and schlepped down to the lobby, the only place I could find the world. So my husband would probably sympathize with Julie's husband on those days. We don't go anywhere in the evenings on vacation, not because we are too old to stay awake, but because I can't do anything else until the post-du-jour is completed, which may be midnight or so, depending on our success birding. All he asks is for a few minutes to check his email every day. He's a patient man.
So, how long will all this continue? Will there be an ultimate reward for perseverance? Julie got a book and movie as a result of her blog. I'm not that far yet, but 28 of my photos are published in a big coffee table book about Bernheim Forest. When Julia Child gets a copy of her cookbook at the end of the movie I could relate to her excitement. I felt the same way about our book, even though I had not put in several years of work to create it. When you get ready to retire, you make lists of all the great things you will do now that you don't have to go to work every day. One of mine included "write a book about the Falls of the Ohio, with photos." I looked at the software you can download, and admit that it's vanity press, but I still may give it a go. After all, you never know what's going to give you 15 minutes of fame!