Friday, October 26, 2007

Time for a Course Correction

I'm going back to the beginning, sort of. When I first started writing this blog it was with the purpose of improving my writing skills. I had no plan for what topics I might write about. Along the way I settled on photography and genealogy as frequent topics but I also continued to write about my writing (NaNoWriMo). I suppose it was inevitable that with time my primary topic would become genealogy. It is a primary passion of mine.

Then I got caught up in a numbers game. I started to care about increasing my readership and how many hits I got. I began reading the blogs about "how to write better blogs" and I took the information I learned to heart. I became convinced that as long as my blog was focused on one topic and I continued to write good content my readership would increase and I would drive more traffic to my blog. I also thought I would be taken more seriously in the online genealogy community if my blog wasn't "diluted" with other topics. So I did these things.

The thing is, the blogging wasn't so much fun anymore. Don't get me wrong, I truly enjoy writing about genealogy. But I enjoy writing about photography and creative writing too. And I miss that. Somewhere along the way I transitioned from writing a blog that I wanted to write to writing a blog the majority of my readers wanted to read (according to my statistics on which posts were most read). It began to feel like a job and wasn't so much fun anymore.

I started a second blog, Creative Genealogy. I enjoy being creative and I had this idea that having a second blog would satisfy my urge to write about things other than just genealogy. And it did for a while. Then I got caught up in yet another hobby, digital scrapbooking, and accepted an invitation to become a part of the creative team at Stone Accents Studio. It was an exciting time, and very creative. But I went too far and developed a repetitive stress injury in my arm. And that's when my house of cards came tumbling down.

I'd pushed beyond my limit. Web site design, blogging, and digital scrapbooking… Just too much time spent at the computer. It forced me to reevaluate my computer time. I learned how to use and appreciate voice recognition software, designing with a graphics tablet, and using my left hand on my mouse. But I'm still not as efficient as I used to be. Some things have to go.

I have resigned my position as a member of the creative team at Stone Accents Studio. I will continue to do digital scrapbooking here and there but not on a regular basis. I'm not sure if I will continue my Creative Genealogy blog or not. I'm still thinking on that.

Creative Gene will no longer be a focused topic blog. I am more than genealogy and I need to be writing about more than genealogy. I love my Polish heritage but I need to be writing about more than my Polish heritage. The kind of articles I like to write best are the ones like Genealogy and the Environment where I have to stretch a bit, challenge my thinking and writing abilities. And of course, the Carnival of Genealogy.

I've thought about Terry's H.O.G.S. moniker but even that feels limiting. I want to feel free to write about photography, sometimes in a technical way. I want to write about Alzheimer's disease, how it affected my life and what's being done in the field. I want to write about photographing Michigan, and Detroit, my hometown. I want to write reviews about books that have nothing to do with genealogy, history, or Poland. And I want to write hilarious stories about my dog and cat. I want the freedom to write about more than just genealogy. And the beauty of authoring a blog is, I can.

Having said all that, I'll still be writing more about genealogy than anything else. And I definitely won't forget my Polish heritage. But I will no longer feel the need to apologize for "going off topic" with a blog post. As far as I'm concerned, anything is a fair topic. So now Creative Gene will be about Genealogy And More! (I believe that would make me a G.A.M. blogger ;-)

I'm no longer reading the feeds of Pro-Blogger, Lorelle on Wordpress, or CopyBlogger. I'm picking up new feeds in new areas of interest in hopes that expanding my reading will make me a better writer. I'm looking for interesting blogs on writing, preferably fiction writing. If you can recommend any, please do. I will still be reading all of my favorite genealogy blogs too!

So it's a course correction I have in mind for the Creative Gene blog. I hope you will enjoy it.

I'm free!

19 comments:

  1. Jasia
    Good for you! Blogging, like
    genealogy, should be something
    fun to do. And by writing about
    your other interests,you'll be
    painting a self-portrait for your
    family and friends as well.

    I don't worry much about being
    serious all the time about genealogy. If I did,I would never mention flutaphones again in my blog.

    Write what you enjoy, enjoy
    what you write, and I'll keep reading.

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  2. Oh what a sweet thing to say. Thanks Bill!

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  3. BRAVO! Words spoken from the heart always resonate and ring true their tones! "Whatever" category or niche you invent for yourself, you'll do fine --- and your passion for the topic will come shining through. I look forward to reading Jasica. . . or looking at photos by Jasica. . . or hearing that Jasica has written the great American novel! Go for it!
    TERRY THORNTON

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  4. I look forward to more of your photography posts and hope you'll slip in a post about Stephanie Plum now and then too :) I still haven't read #13.

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  5. Popeye said "I am who I am - I'm Popeye the Sailor Man." Now you are declaring your independence in writing from the chains of genealogy blogging. Hooray.

    Go for it. We'll still read your stuff and enjoy it and probably admire it. Don't ever apologize again for being off topic - heck, I never thought about apologizing for writing about fires and grandchildren and stuff - it's me. Take it or leave it...

    The problem with "driving visits to your blog" is that there are a limited number of genealogy folks who read our blogs - even those of us in that 100-400 visit group. There are more visits to the big 5 genea-bloggers who primarily go for news and "how-to" content - the professionals like Eastman, Meitzler, Myrtle, Kimberly and Juliana. Only by really pushing visits on message boards, mailing lists, magazines, direct emails, etc. will we get the visit count up. It will take time. I thought that my two talks about genea-blogging to societies would drive some regular visits, but not that I can tell!

    Now I want to know who this Jasica person is that Terry referred to - is this another nom-de-plume for the mysterious Jasia? I know now how to pronounce Jasia, how would you pronounce Jasica?

    Actually, my hope is for more photos of Jasia, not Polish festivals and old houses and trees turning color. Heck, we don't have any trees left in San Diego.

    Hugs -- Randy

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  6. Jasia, At least when I am wrong, I am consistently wrong. Sorry about the fumbled-fingered typing of your name. And, yes, how would one pronounce Jasica? Thanks Randy for calling attention to Jasia's new handle. LOL!
    TERRY

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  7. Hi, Jasia

    You are correct. It should be fun!

    I will always read whatever you write, and look forward to challenging topics.

    Schelly

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  8. Jasia, here are two fiction blogs that I read, Eavesdrop Writer, who now offers an "Eavesdrop Endings Meme," where readers write the end to her post, and Very Short Novels, a complete novel in 299 words, no more, no less.

    Kudos to you for choosing to do what you love!

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  9. There's nothing wrong with a blog that combines all your interests. If I want to post on a non-genealogy topic, I do so. Even though my blog name identifies me as a family historian, I don't know a single family historian out there who doesn't have very eclectic interests. We all have our own interests and passions. We need to be free to express those. Sometimes my blog tends to be more of those other interests than genealogy. It's because I work all day and don't have time to do research every evening. Sometimes I come home, and I'm just too tired. I think we'll all continue to read your blog. I have blogs on a variety of subjects in my blog feeds. I just have more genealogy and history ones. I enjoy the others too.

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  10. It's about time. I've missed the "rest" of you.

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  11. Recommendations:

    Ficlets blog. (The website is for "round-robin fiction" where anyone can build upon a short story submitted by someone else. The blog is written by author, John Scalzi, and is mostly on writing.)

    Here is a list of blogs by various authors, and another list of SF/Fantasy author blogs. Not all focus on writing, but most authors have the urge to write about writing at some point.

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  12. You go girl! Follow your heart!
    As my mother used to say to me:

    Just be yourself and others will see you and love you just the way I do.

    Cheers!

    Thomas MacEntee

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  13. I can't say it any better than what's been said. We'll continue to enjoy and appreciate what you share!

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  14. I'm overwhelmed by all the support expressed here. You guys are the best! Thank you so much for taking the time to share your comments and your encouragement. You've touched my heart.

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  15. Jasia,

    The wonderful thing about being human, is that we can change our minds... I enjoy what you write, no matter the topic..

    Janice

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  16. Go for it, Jasia. The tagline on my blog says something like "tales of researching my ancestors and my adventures along the way."

    I think all those adventures, whatever their focus, make us who we are and, for the most part, make us happy. For someone someday, our blogs with info beyond genealogy will be fodder for some of our descendants--they will want to know what our interests were and how we gave voice to those interests.

    So don't be bound--writing brings about change, nearly always. No need to apologize. I read "Dogs Steal Yarn" at http://dogsstealyarn.com/ where Cari talks some about knitting and motherhood, but also about her writing process. You might like it.

    Enjoy!

    Tex

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  17. Thanks for your kind words Janice and Tex. I really appreciate it.

    Tex, thanks for the suggestion. I'll check it out :-)

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  18. I found your blog when I stumbled across a Carnival of Genealogy post. I stayed because your writing appealed to me. Not just the genealogical, but all the topics. You make things come alive. I look forward to more of your photography. As a desert dweller, it was nice to be reminded of what a midwestern fall looks like. You've got me hooked!

    I must also admit that I'm secretly glad you can't "do it all". I sometimes feel inadequate when I can't do as much research/travel/cooking/parenting as I want. I would see all your posts, and the digital scrap-booking and the being on the Board and wonder where you found all the time. Why couldn't I accomplish as much? I can go back to not feeling quite so inadequate!

    Keep up the wonderful blogging. I look forward to the new topics!

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  19. Such nice things to say, Chris! Thank you so much for sharing your comment with me. You made my day :-)

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