‘A Gentle Plea for Chaos’

Bengal20clock20vine20021
When I moved my blog to this new location, I began to wonder if I wasn’t perhaps unconsciously looking for a fresh start. I think it’s too early to tell if that’s the case, but I do know that I’ve spent some time lately soul-searching about what blogging means to me.

In my early blogging days, I didn’t think much beyond writing on subjects of interest to me. Much of my attention was taken up with trying to make sense of Blogger templates and learning several new acronyms, like ‘html’.  Oh the struggle! Then I began reading other blogs, something I really hadn’t done before starting my own blog.

This new and fascinating world of blogging was a revelation to me. It seemed as if I was making new blog discoveries every day. My view of the world underwent a  subtle change as I found myself no longer thinking in terms of foreign countries, but rather in climatic and garden zones.  Even if I was unable to understand the language a blog was written in, I could always look at the photographs. They had a way of telling me the story. 

One of the most refreshing things about the blogs I read is that people were doing their own thing with their blogs. With the world of blogging being relatively new and uncharted, there is a sense of freedom in experimenting with it. Many of us seem to have started in much the same way, and as we have gained more experience with the technical side of blogging, have begun to try different things, like adding video or sound clips.  Most of us are not professional writers – we just have something to say about things that matter to us.

Some of us keep our blogs focussed on one subject area, like gardening, while others, like me, talk about a  range of subjects. No one has seemed to mind overly that my blog goes from discussing flowers to knitting and then saunters off to painting, dogs and fiddling.

It wasn’t until several months ago that I read an article stating that blogs should be kept to one subject area.  I began an email discussion with a blogging friend who encouraged me to keep on doing what I was doing, so long as I was happy. At that point, I decided that I would adopt the same philosophy with blogging as I did with other creative pursuits, namely that it was something I never wanted to feel obligated to do or, more importantly, to do in a certain way. If I feel as if I must be out gardening, fiddling or now blogging, I stop myself. These areas of life are too important for keeping my soul nourished. From experience, I know I begin to lose my interest if I feel something is becoming a chore or a duty. I know the importance for me too, of staying true to myself.

This isn’t always an easy or straightforward thing to do. Recently, I signed off a garden blog directory site because I found my view of the blogging world differed too much from that promoted on this site. While I may not have as many readers to my blog now, that’s fine. I wasn’t comfortable trying to fit into a competitive environment. It felt a bit too much like trying to conform in high school and I wasn’t about to continue doing something which wasn’t good for me. Since this experience, I’ve realised how I cherish the sense of community I experience in my blogging world, especially the gardening one. I’m now back to using my Google Reader to keep up with the blogs I love reading.

What’s important to me is knowing that  I’m doing what’s right for me. This is who I am. Having people read what I write is an added bonus – I love when people stop in and comment. I’ve made many good blogging  friends in this way.  I was drawn to their blogs, too, because I connect with them on various levels.

And what I truly love is the variety of blogs in existence. When other bloggers come along and suggest what it is that we ‘should’ be doing with our blogs, might I make ‘a gentle plea for chaos’, along the same lines as Mirabel Osler did in her book by this name?  Although Mirabel Osler was writing about gardening, I think the same can be applied to blogging.

I hope that our blogs grow along with us and that our individuality will continue to shine forth. As with everything else in life, people bring different life experiences and interests to blogging. It is this diversity that makes the blogging world such a dynamic and interesting one. No doubt there will continue to be ‘experts’ exhorting us or merely suggesting how we should be blogging.

I hope we all continue to d0 our own thing and keep blogging from becoming bogged down in rules.

100 thoughts on “‘A Gentle Plea for Chaos’

  1. Diane M. Schuller says:

    My dear Kate, bless you gal! What a beautiful, thoughtful, and truthful post. I’m with you 100% as you know since we have this same feeling about blogging. I’ve been meaning to come visit but this job takes so much of my time. I just knew when I finally made it here to your new home that I’d find the Kate I’ve grown to enjoy over the bloglines!
    Wish I had a glass of wine in hand as I say, “Here’s to a gentle plea for chaos”. I too love the non-competitive aspect of ‘just blogging’!
    Warmly,
    Diane

  2. Crafty Gardener says:

    Very interest read today Kate. I’ve often wondered about having separate blogs or the all in one blog. I have different ones but have questioned whether this is the right way to do it or not. I still haven’t decided. Two of my blogs are intertwined and they did start out all on the same blog. I just separated them for ease of finding things. I too have stepped back from the blog directory you mentioned. I didn’t remove myself from the list and still go to read etc. But I was reading negative comments about being at the top and realized I wasn’t in this for the competition but for enjoyment. I guess I just got carried away with the whole thing and it took me a bit longer to realize it. And really when it comes down to it, I’m the one that needs to be happy.

  3. Frances says:

    So thoughtfully written, Kate. You have expressed yourself succinctly. I love to write the blog, read the comments and read other’s posts. What I don’t love is worrying about being in the top ten of anything, or if others will like it. Writing everyday was great in the first couple of months, but then began to seem like a job, not like something one does for the fun of it. Twice a week, or more if there is something to say, is plenty. If readership drops, who cares? That’s the way it needs to be for me. Thanks for allowing that little bit of steam to release.
    Frances

  4. Kathy says:

    Most of the advice given about the “best” way to blog is directed at people who want to “succeed” at blogging, with success defined as making money or at least bringing in a lot of traffic. Those people believe blogging is the next hot thing and they are looking for a formula.
    For those of us defining success on our own terms, you’re right: there are no rules. I agree with you that that is one of the best things about blogging.

  5. jodi says:

    I’m a slowpoke this week, Kate, so let me start by saying congratulations on your move to Typepad and the cool, clean new look. I’m glad it’s working out to be easier for you, too. If my irritations with Blogger continue much longer, I may be joining you.
    As you know, I just spent three posts offering some suggestions in answer to some questions I’ve received in recent months, hopefully tips to help bloggers do whatever they do. I stressed that these are suggestions not ‘shoulds’, and that people ought be be blogging, reading others, and commenting for the joy of it. That seems to be the way people have received it, but now I read your post and wonder if someone thought they were rules. Being allergic to rules myself, I sure hope not, as chaos is my middle name! (raising a glass with you and Diane on that topic)
    And as much fun as I’ve had with Blotanical, I’m getting very uncomfortable with being the ‘most favourited’ blog–it’s been that way for a while and I would like to see someone else at the top, or better still maybe to make away with that ranking. I love supporting others and cheering others on, though, so what to do, what to do? I may remove myself from Blotanical and start again, without picking, because I do find it so easy to keep up with new posts from my regular reads, but then there are some posts that are just SO thoughtprovoking, or funny, or beautiful….what to do, what to do.?

  6. rosa alberta canada says:

    I started blogging at the beginning of the year, thinking I would blog only about gardening (my passion). The only other blog I had read regularly was Confessions of a pioneer woman. Once I began blogging I started reading other blogs and began to see that there seemed to be ‘rules’. It seemed if you were a garden bloggger people got upset if they found things unrelated to gardening.
    This made me feel like I was doing something wrong as I found myself blogging about whatever happened to be on my mind that day. I had also found creative blogs. Blogs from people who made things and made me want to make things. My world was expanding. But was it right to keep the name of my blog ‘Diary of a middle aged gardener’? I hope so, because that’s who I am. A middle aged gardener. It’s just not ALL that I am.
    Glad to know not everybody thinks we have to follow all those ‘rules’.

  7. Cicero says:

    I enjoyed hearing your feelings on blogging! I sure don’t like that competitive pressure … pressure to come up with something clever all of the time. Life can be mundane at times and what is wrong with our blogs reflecting that? I came into blogging quite innocently but have seen what you have brought up here … and too, refuse to be drawn into the keeping up with the Jones … in the blog world!

  8. laura says:

    how perfectly stated!! i love your blog and the variety of content and am glad you are going to keep doing what you love for yourself. i must admit that once people started leaving comments on my blog i did start to worry that if i didn’t post regularly people would stop reading, etc… but i have realized that the most important thing is that my blog is really for me and when other people get something positive out of it it is really satisfying and rewarding. hope you’re having fun with your new format. oh, i got a nice taste of your snowy weather while i was visiting family in chicago last weekend–luckily it was relatively warm. i am a wimp when it comes to cold weather!!!

  9. Curtis says:

    Kate I agree with you. I have also stepped away from the blog directory. I started blogging about my garden because I enjoyed it.
    The directory felt like a competition like you said.
    I enjoy reading about your garden, painting, knitting, your musical skills and Lyton as well.

  10. Amy says:

    I used to have another blog before the one I’m writing now. I ended up closing it (though I kept the posts, just changed it to a private blog) and stepping away entirely from blogging for a whole year. It was great – I never regretted doing that. The blog had become too all consuming and as my “readership” grew I found myself writing posts for them instead of for me.
    Then, I realised I really wanted a garden journal and the easiest way to do that was through blogging. so here I am once again. I’ve set up a few rules for myself this time around and remind myself that the blog is my journal *for me*. If other people find it interesting that’s great, and if not that’s fine too.
    I signed up this week for the blog directory you’re referring to, hoping to meet new people and learn a thing or two. I had *no idea* there was a competitive side at first and that was a surprise that has caused me a lot of anxiety to be honest. The good part is that I’ve met a ton of garden bloggers and learned an incredible amount of information. We’ll see how things go.

  11. Meems says:

    Kate: When I started my blog last year I had no idea there were other folks out there who would take the time to write about their gardening life. I’ve had to give myself a good talking to over the last months to remember there aren’t any rules to blogging. Blotanical has been fun to help find other blogs –I just use it as a resource center–I never have gotten into trying to get points so it works for me.
    I loved your blog before Blotanical and still love to stop by for your heartfelt posts. Thanks for expressing your soul today – it is very well spoken.
    Meems @Hoe&Shovel

  12. kerri says:

    You have a way with words Kate. Well done! 🙂
    You’ve begun a discussion that’s getting a big response, not surprisingly.
    My feelings are much the same as yours, and I hope something will eventually change to make the above mentioned site a better one.
    Meanwhile, enjoy blogging the way you want to blog! You’re absolutely right…that’s what we all should do.

  13. Annie in Austin says:

    Beautifully expressed, Kate – you came to blogging with a specific voice and you don’t want to stifle that individuality! Our blogs are sort of like our kitchen tables – we can sit around and talk but every space is different and each person serves his or her specialty, not filling an order.
    I read and commented on blogs for a couple of years before starting mine in June 2006, usually finding new blogs through the comments. I found you from one of your comments, Kate, and am so very glad you are here.
    I thought Stuart’s world map site was pretty cool, but with Bloglines already keeping track of hundreds of blogs on all sorts of subjects I saw no reason to use Blotanical as a port and I had no interest in getting points. After reading this post and comments I’m kind of glad I never got around to figuring it out.
    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  14. Gardenista says:

    Hello Kate,
    I’m glad to see that you’ve declared your intent to stick with your passion and not be influenced by the trends and pressures. I’m on blotanical, though I have no great aspiration of ever getting to the top of any list. I just consider gardening a source of pleasure and like sharing experiences, as if the other bloggers are virtual neighbours. Personally, I use Google reader to keep up with my favourite blogs, so that may be why I don’t accumulate any “points”!

  15. Selma says:

    Bravo. My sentiments exactly. I started blogging about 8 months ago because I am a writer who has had some stuff published but just couldn’t get a break with my novel. A friend suggested blogging as a way to develop my style and voice and boy, was she right. I feel I have grown as a writer since starting the blog with the added bonus of meeting many like-minded, wonderful people along the way.
    Sometimes I feel the pressure to write things I know will get more traffic but I consciously stop myself because that isn’t really me. I will continue to write my silly little stories made-up of observations and anecdotes about life because they’re what I like to write and who I really am. I think that being yourself is very important in blogging and if you’re eclectic by nature, then so be it.
    I am not really a proper gardener (I dabble) and I read your blog because I love your descriptions of nature but also because I like and can relate to your outlook on life. You are a cool person. I’m glad to have found you!

  16. lettuce says:

    i definately agree with your gentle plea for chaos, Kate.
    Rules for blogging? tch, what are people like?!!!
    its the blogs which surprise me, which are unpredictable as well as familiar, which i love the most. And i’m glad to have met you.

  17. Karen says:

    Kate,
    Happy New (blog) home. I love what you have written here, and enjoy the fact that you write about what is going on for you – which includes gardening.
    A gentle Plea for Chos is one of my all time favorite books. It made me realize that I could have two wheelbarrows.
    Warm Regards
    Karen

  18. PG says:

    Well said – (you know my thoughts on this) – the internet and its tools are for all to use, more or less as they wish, without little self proclaimed experts trying to enforce rules and regs on everything. For every ‘rule’ there is another which proves the opposite…and as in real life, those who trust themselves, keep their own voice and go their own way, will still find their place.

  19. entangled says:

    Kate, I’m so glad you wrote this. I never did feel comfortable with the competitive aspects of blogging. I began blogging on a whim, at a time in my life that wasn’t particularly busy. I kept going through a very busy time because it kept me grounded in the things I love while I had to trudge through other tasks I didn’t enjoy.
    Julie Zickefoose wrote a similar post (and a followup) a few weeks ago that resonated with me as well. I don’t know if you’re allowing links in the comments, but the URL is
    http://www.juliezickefoose.com/blog/2008/02/baker-at-beech.html

  20. Dave says:

    Kate,
    Your thoughts make a lot of sense! I should probably step back a bit from the aforementioned website. People blog for all sorts of reasons and probably the most important one is for yourself and to share your experiences. While I’ve liked the site I find that lately I can get too concerned with the pick part of it. Time to get some common sense for myself. 😉 Good post!

  21. Maya says:

    Ah! Kate, that’s an inspiring post.I’m totally for “a gentle plea for chaos”. I too took to blogging so it would be my online diary including the spectacular as well as the mundane,just like my regular diary which has bits and pieces written in it and stuck in it. I think it has to be warm and individual and not just picture perfect.It has to be you otherwise anyone could maintain a blog for someone.So here’s to chaos! and the beauty that accompanies it.

  22. Shady Gardener says:

    Hi Kate,
    I’ve been feeling very similarly. I only began my blog late last Spring. I expanded my “version” of the school website I had for our classroom, for my enjoyment and for that of my family and friends. 🙂
    I was pleasantly surprised to find that there were other people “out there” sharing similar interests. I love gardening, and reading others’ posts about their areas, but I also love so many other things.
    I find I can very easily get caught up in sitting in front of the computer… and need to get away from time-to-time! To pursue life. And, now I’m going to play with my grandchildren and my daughter who are leaving in about an hour.

  23. pRiyA says:

    i feel like standing and applauding after reading what you have written about blogging.
    i agree whole heartedly with every single word.

  24. Cheryl says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more….I have to be true to myself as well. I am not competitive either, I love when people visit and leave a comment, but do not worry to much if they don’t. I have met some lovely people since starting my blog. I love the people of America and Canada, they are so open, and I like that. Sometimes us Brits hold back a bit too much. I am learning on that one. I shall always visit Kate because I adore your colours.

  25. wiseacre says:

    You can’t ask for more than doing what you love when you want. I don’t care if you wander off on another subject. I’ll still stop by anyway. Variety here is my reward. I may focus on gardens and plants but only because I’m pretty simple minded and I don’t expect anyone else to be.

  26. nikkipolani says:

    I applaud you, Kate, for taking this close look at blogging and removing yourself from a place that made blogging something of a competition. And I agree whole heartedly about bloggers doing whatever they want. The ones who are doing it for the advertising $ on their sites have a set purpose. It’s not mine. I’m just glad blogging is generally free for whoever wants to do it (that we’re not forced to be a billboard if we don’t want to). Happy weekend to you, my friend.

  27. kelly says:

    Kate, what a great thinky post. I’ve found in my years of blogging that it’s very easy to get caught up in the details and distractions of “doing it right” and that it sometimes takes so much work to get back to the whole point of it…which for me was/is writing, photography and community. And what an incredibly generous, thoughtful, intelligent, changing, growing, and beautiful community it can be…especially when we get out of our own way.
    yay blogging!

  28. Sandy says:

    Oh, my God, I thought I was the only one thinking this! None of us have one category lives, so why should our blogs be that way? I love to hear about your music and the dog, and all the crafty things you do.
    Your new address looks good on you. Everytime a new WordPress template comes out, I test drive it to see if it works for me. I am looking for one with a larger space for photos, since that is what I seem to do the most. For a while, I was thinking of doing a separate haiku blog, but decided not to.
    Thanks for saying in such a nice way, what I guess a lot of us have been thinking, Kate.

  29. Sarah Laurence says:

    An interesting point, Kate, and discussion that follows. The whole point of a blog is it personal. You define it. You publish it. It is yours. Pigeon-holes are for birds. Any creative person is a multitude. Narrow blogs are fine too, but that doesn’t mean that others can’t be broad – mine is too. Competitive blogging? That should be an oxymoron.

  30. Pam/Digging says:

    Kate, I respect your decision to remove yourself from Blotanical,and it sounds like it struck a chord with your commentors too. But I wonder why you felt you had to take your blog off the site. Why not just leave it there so that people can find you easily, but not visit the site yourself or play the points game or check your rankings, etc.?
    I rarely make picks anymore (who has the time?), and I do all my blog reading through feeds, not Blotanical. But Blotanical is still a great resource for finding blogs by location (and in general), and so many people do read from it that I’m glad to be listed there.
    Anyway, I’m not trying to tell you what to do, just wondering. I’ll definitely keep reading your blog no matter what because I find your posts interesting and your voice engaging.
    By the way, your new blog design is clean, easy to read, and very nice!

  31. Linda O'Neill says:

    Great post, Kate…and I agree with you. There is so much of us that goes into what we do…that it would be too hard to just focus on one thing. Variety makes us interesting and more creative I think.
    Kissies to Lytton!

  32. Marie says:

    Great post.
    I think that the person that owns the blog must decide what he/she will write about. Variety makes it more interesting I think. It’s like someone should tell me what to write in my diary. My blog is about my life!
    Have a nice weekend 🙂

  33. Brenda Kula says:

    Well, I guess we have much the same philosophy. I don’t like competing, and I don’t like points, and I don’t like the chaos of trying to figure out things from that perspective. I wasn’t “in the know” when I started writing this comment, then scrolled up to make sure I had figured it out. I don’t know what made me so uncomfortable about this particular site. It’s a very informative site. It was just confusing to me. I write about whatever I write about. I just happen to garden much of the time and I love to take photos. But people are not one-dimensional; and shouldn’t be pigeon-holed. Let’s be true to ourselves and just write what we want to. I wasn’t reading you for awhile, to be truthful, due to this confusion. I keep everyone bookmarked on my favorites list and that’s where I click on them. That’s what I’m comfortable with. Sorry it took me so long to get back. Love your new look.
    Brenda

  34. Aiyana says:

    Your new format is very nice, and I’m so glad you wrote this post. Although I’ve kept my blog almost completely focused on documenting the plants in my garden, I sometimes wonder what I’m going to do when I am through my plant list. My blog had a dual purpose–it was my garden journal, but I also wanted it to be a source for those looking for info on desert plants, cacti and succulents. When I was taking my Desert Landscaping classes and Master Gardener course, we had to research various desert plants, and there was a dearth of info on the internet, so I wanted to provide a service to others who were searching for info. Since I never could find good photos, I also saw it as an opportunity to provide nice photos so folks could see the various plant chacteristics. Most of my traffic comes from just that–those doing Google searches for a specific plant. That is the only reason I have Google ads–so people can find the plant info through a Google search. I keep the ad section as small as possible–not interested in earning pennies! What I didn’t anticipate were the regular vistors who left comments, and those who visited because I had visited their blogs and left comments. I’ve met many wonderful bloggers and found so many neat blogs this way. It has added a whole new dimension to my original intent. I’ll soon be going through the contemplation stage that you’ve gone through concerning the direction of my blog. You’ve provided a map for me, and the comments here have also helped.
    Congratulations on your new direction!
    Aiyana

  35. Silvia / Salix says:

    What I love about blogging is the individuality of each person. A blog is sort of a creative outlet for many, and to be creative, there should be no rules. Chaos is wonderful, as nature is chaotic, and aren’t we all part of nature?

  36. VP says:

    Hi Kate – it must be an introspective time of the year or perhaps everyone is having a bit of a spring clean whilst thinking about their blogs.
    Firstly great post. As you know I’m a bit of a bucket bag with mine because I’m interested in loads of things. But that’s OK because I’m writing a blog that I want to read foremost and if others respond to it then that’s even better. I just have a need to write at the moment – if I don’t get them onto my blog, then they’re still getting written in my head anyway. At some point that may lessen or even stop, but that’ll be OK too. I suspect the growing season’s going to alter my sense of priorities immensely 🙂
    The Pick debate in Blotanical continues and I’m as guilty as anyone in getting sucked into the race. I think there’s a tension between writing a personal dairy, but then getting it heard by others. However, it’s been mainly acting as a giant Google Reader for me, without the faff of putting another 100+ blogs into GR itself. If that facility goes, then I’ll be quitting too and I’ll guess I’ll be slower at finding great blogs such as yours in the future.
    I owe you an email after your last newsy one, so expect 1 soon, I haven’t forgotten!
    Hugs

  37. Dirty Knees says:

    Kate,
    This is such a great post. And, yes, I do agree with you that you should continue to blog just as you always have, mixing in ALL your interests as you see fit.
    I DO have two blogs though, one for my garden (because I see it as my garden journal) and one for wildflowers and such. Sometimes I wonder why I did that!
    So far it hasn’t been a hassle for me to keep both going, but I don’t post every day…especially this time of year in Ontario. 😉 Also, I’m not trying to grow a huge readership. What I want is a few sincere friends around the world that want to talk about the same things I enjoy.
    Thanks for bringing up this topic. I salute you!

  38. m says:

    Dear Kate,
    Oh, I’m late getting here. See? That’s another thing we should not worry about…
    I enjoyed this post and you wrote it beautifully, from your heart. We all know you have many interests and no one should tell us to stick with one subject! How boring is THAT? Please don’t change a thing
    You know I’ve struggled with my own thoughts since joining the Nature Blog Network. I don’t belong there – I’m not all about birds and I’ve been tempted to take myself off the site. I was happier with blogging before I joined.
    I hope you read Julie Z’s post “Baker at the Beech”. We share the same sentiments on hit counters and rankings.
    Your new look is WONDERFUL! Keep on posting about what you love, Kate. It’s what keeps me coming back.
    Mary

  39. Carol in Mass. says:

    Here, here Kate!! I agree. I have too been encoruged to keep my “art” in one blog and my “gardening” in another… as if those 2 things are in any way separate for me!? And..my travels, family, and other activities also have a way of finding their way into Terra Nova Design as well. If the purists want to keep up 10 blogs and compartmentalize their blog-life, so be it. I like the variety personally!
    Carol
    Terra Nova Design

  40. Rowan says:

    I had no idea that there were rules about how one should blog! I think that one of the great things about blogs is the variety and individuality – having everyone conforming to a set formula would be a bad thing I think. Hope I haven’t got hold of the wrong end of the stick here! I’ve had Mirabelle Osler’s book ever since it was published, it’s a lovely book to read.

  41. earthwoman says:

    A great post and some really interesting follow up comments.
    I opted to split my individual topic blogs up, in part from perceived pressure from my readership, who I felt just wouldn’t appreciate the sudden preponderance of flower related posts. I think thats a shame now, these “chaotic blogs” make for far more complete reads and leaves the owner feeling more freed up and creative, I think.

  42. our friend Ben says:

    Mercy, Kate! I’m not sure I’d have even had the guts to start “Poor Richard’s Almanac” if I’d read your post and all the comments on it first. Not only do I write about whatever strikes me, I write as three different Ben Franklin characters, and I don’t have so much as one photo (much less an ad, God forbid) on my blog! Mercifully, people have borne with me as opposed to yelling at me for being so eccentric. I have to say, I hate reading that you and others are leaving Blotanical, since it’s such a great way to find wonderful posts and blogs. I’d feel a lot happier if you all still posted there and simply ignored the competitive aspect. After reading all this, I feel that, as a new blogger, I’m losing the opportunity to discover a whole world of great writing and great ideas because you all are leaving before I have a chance to know you! Sob.

  43. bill says:

    I haven’t ever stuck with gardening as my sole subject in my own blog so I shouldn’t advise other people to do so. Nevertheless I do think it’s true that the more you stick with one subject the more likely you are to build a loyal readership.
    But then you seem to already have a lot of readers anyway, so I say do what you want to do. Who cares which blog has the most readers anyway? That has never been my criteria for reading a blog.

  44. Diane Schuller says:

    Kate, I’m compelled to add another brief post here. It is so heartwarming to see such a great and expansive response to this from all your readers, as I had thought they might. I jumped off that Blotanical bandwagon very early on but it’s great to see others have now come to the same conclusion as we have. There is no room for competition in blogging. Thank you for your excellent post and for expressing yourself so very well. Happy — truly happy — blogging to you!
    Warmly and non-competitively,
    Diane

  45. naturegirl says:

    Dearest Kate:
    When I began blogging 2 yrs. ago I really did NOT know what I was in for. I have found so many wonderful blogs and met so many wonderful people worldwide all with doing my “own thing” with what I post. It must be a place of respite for
    ((ME first)) and when folks come by and comment or I can put a smile onthier face…well that’s bonus!
    You said it with these words”of staying true to myself” the most important when blogging…we set up our own rules because as you said IT MUST BE ENJOYABLE FOR US FIRST!!
    I love the fresh new look of your blog but most important I love getting to know YOU by your postings.
    Stay true to yourself..I think this applies to many areas of our lives. Love your blog..happy gardening..I’ll begin showing my garden in May as I am here in Arizona for yet another month!
    sunkissed & loving it aNNa xo

  46. Diana Kirby says:

    Amen. I, too was a writer first, then a gardener, and now a blogger. I do it for my own personal pleasure, and part of that pleasure is reading other blogs and sharing in this community. I am a techno novice and stuggle with Blotanical all the time, but I just skip it if it’s too complicated. I want my blogging experience to be simple and beautiful and rewarding. Good for you for following your heart. Never give in.

  47. layanee says:

    Kate, What, no list for you? I hadn’t noticed! A list may bring me to a blog but the personal stories of gardening, the garden and the ‘voice’ of the writer keep me coming back. I share in your enthusiasm for that unique ‘voice’.

  48. willow says:

    Kate, I too have a similar philosophy about blogging. I do it to amuse and entertain myself and others, keep in touch with new and old friends. And I too love the new community of friends whose interests are like mine.
    Viva le blogging!

  49. Debi says:

    Throw away the rule book and stay on course, Kate. Writing about just one thing would be like painting with one color, or singing with one note, or photographing the same flower. Variety is the spice of life, so bring it on. We’re with you. Debi @ GHT

  50. Ookami Snow says:

    I came to the same conclusion that you did about the topics of my own blog, I just do what I want to do, and if I don’t feel like posting I don’t. I think that is the only reason I am still posting on my blog today.

  51. Nancy Bond says:

    Hi Kate — I echo the sentiments of yourself and most others. I think people should blog about what’s important to them, what they’re passionate about, no matter what that is. AS for “the above-mentioned site” — has anyone ever suggested that the Pick/Point system just be done away with? I don’t see why it has to be a competition in any way — why can’t it just be a meeting place of like minded people. It’s such an incredible treasure trove of information and inspiration to me, I’d hate to see people leave who have so much to offer. ::shrug:: I lately have been reading from the bottom numbers up and have found some very inspiring blogs. I like your new format, by the way! 🙂

  52. gail says:

    Kate,
    Thank you, thank you, thank you (anything you say three times is true) for this heartfelt post; as a new blogger I have been feeling over whelmed with the task of learning to blog and still have time for the rest of my life! I must be honest, as you have been: doing it right had begun to get in the way of my enjoying blogging and marveling that someone actually made a comment. The belief that I can have a community of other gardeners, painters, photographers, writers, cat lovers, mom, dads is what propelled me to blogging.
    Warmest wishes for a long spring,
    Gail

  53. Weeping Sore says:

    I like your new home and love your new attitude. Blogging, like life in general, has its good and bad characteristics. Keep growing!

  54. Kim says:

    Kate, congratulations on the new blog–it’s a great look.
    Your gentle plea for chaos translates well to the garden, too. I love reading about what others are doing in their gardens, and why… but I am pretty much done with the “expert” posts on what to plant where, with what else, and why. Give me a little chaos all around, I guess. 🙂
    And like Annie, I’m kind of glad that I never figured out the whole Blotanical thing from a “competition” standpoint. But I do like to click around and see where everyone else is from, and use it as a directory.

  55. Oldroses says:

    Ah, a kindred spirit! I see that we enjoy the same book and the same philosophy on blogging. Don’t ever let anyone try to dictate what you can and cannot write on your blog. It’s yours and you determine the content. I’m sorry to hear that Blotanical is so very competitive. The garden blogging world needs a site like Blotanical but without the popularity contests. My blog is listed there, but I have never joined in the frenzy.

  56. Kathy says:

    One thing that surprises me is people saying they used Blotanical to find new blogs. Before Blotanical many people visited Garden Voices http://voices.gardenweb.com/ and it is still there, displaying garden blogs from all over without asking anyone to vote on anything. It even has archives by category. No one is going to lose any friends by not being on Blotanical. Put their blog feed in your feed reader and correspond via comments and email.

  57. Angelina says:

    I haven’t visited for a while but love this post. I prefer it when blogs meander through topics at the author’s whim. There is usually a coherence to it through the writer’s personality. I have struggled with this one myself. I take writing very seriously but do I follow the rules or cut my own path? My own path has fewer people on it, but more people I actually enjoy so I keep sticking with it. I’m glad you’re doing the same!!

  58. kris says:

    Kate – this was a great post. I agree with everything you wrote. I think of blogging like running into a friend. I want to hear what they’ve been up to – sometimes it is just gardening – other times it’s their kids, their decorating, their cooking, their LIFE. I feel honored that my friends – in real life and in Blogland – are willing to share with me. And that they’re interested in what I’m doing also. The one thing I don’t want from my friends is a rule book for what I can or can’t write. And I don’t appreciate being lectured to very much either. We all have unique ways of doing things – thank goodness! – and we all seem to get along a lot better when we celebrate those differences than when we try to impose one way of doing something on others. Thank you for a very thoughtful and well-written post.
    For the record, I love seeing your knitting and painting, hearing about Benoit and Lytton, and all of the other interests you have. It’s what makes you who you are – and I’m very happy to have you as a friend.

  59. green thumb says:

    Thanks for this wonderfully thoughtful post Kate; you have made many people – including me – feel lighter and more comfortable with blogging.
    I agree with you totally and love this virtual family which the blogging world has provided us.

  60. green thumb says:

    Dear Kate, there is a slight mistake in my link on your blog which I found while trying to return to my blog thru your blog. For your convenience my URL is-http://indigarden.blogspot.com/
    Hi Green Thumb, I’ll fix it right away!

  61. joey says:

    I so hear your voice in this post, Kate. I post to feed my soul and not for popularity. My blog began as a feed for my book, ‘Diary of a Ho-Hum Housewife’ and the recipes and photos, part of my life and ‘hers’. I continue to stay ‘true to my myself’. You are a wise gal after my own heart 😉

  62. Judith says:

    Good morning Kate and thank you for winding through the labyrinth to visit me in my new blog home, and I have great pleasure meandering through to find you in your new home.
    I wholeheartedly agree with you about needing to step back in the things we enjoy to just enjoy them and not to let them become a chore we have to do. I struggle constantly with pressure on me to “do” things, because I’m just one of those sort of people. But I’m trying not to.
    I also wholeheartedly agree that there is no need for the competition in blog writing -the great pleasure of blogging is to reach out to other people and to share in our common humanity.
    Thanks for your brilliant post-food for thought as I work today.

  63. claire says:

    marvellous!! all for chaos!!
    there seems to be a running theme through the comment of how people are gardeners, but thats not all we are. personally its difficult to meet like minded people and the blog world has opened up the fact that there are lots of folks out here, maybe not close by but the internet does not count miles.

  64. Jean Ann says:

    Dear Kate,
    I appreciate your honesty and thoughtfullness on this subject. I wonder if there might be room for all bloggers, including the ones that like blotanical in this vision? There is value in networking to build readership…I use the site for that purpose and am not particularly interested in my “score”.

  65. Joy says:

    Hello Kate
    What a wonderful heart felt comment on blogging .. my suspicions are confirmed. I’m sorry you aren’t on that site any more, but I’m glad you are happier and that I can come by and read how you are doing.
    I still write and post pictures of what I like .. the points thing .. well .. I can honestly say it doesn’t matter to me any more. I have some great blogs and people to be in contact with and that is what I enjoy about it all.
    This looks wonderful .. I have thought of switching to another format .. just a little skittish ? yet .. plus .. Spring has dipped its toe here and I am raring to GARDEN ! LOL
    Take care Kate
    Thanks for staying true to yourself .. it some how brightens my view.
    Joy : )

  66. Paula Hewitt says:

    Great post – My blog is moving from craft to craft/gardening. It is easy to start writing for the readers not writing about what interests you. few people have only one interest..I like my readers to know that while Im not stitching Im out getting my hands dirty! You’ve inspired me to continue down this path.

  67. guzzisue says:

    good job nobody told me that blogs should be about just one subject, the greatest part of my life is spent playing with textiles and motorbikes. One without the other simply wouldn’t be me. if my readers don’t like bikes they can skip to the next part, the same with any bikers that read it.

  68. bindi says:

    Hi Kate, I was slightly alarmed in the first couple of paragraphs of this post (worried that you had decided to conform to another’s idea of what a blog is). As I read on I signed with relief. There is no one who knows how things should be for everyone else. The very fact a person expouses ideas of conformity indicates to me that they are missing a certain knoweldge about life and how to live a good life. I applaud and agree with your plea for chaos. There is no way this little black duck will be adhering to a blogging template! (And I’m happy that the Kate I’ve come to know and love is staying corageous and true to herself too).

  69. Pam says:

    Wow – 76 comments. This has definitely struck a chord with folks – I had read your previous post but came back for this one after I saw it mentioned over at Annie’s (The Transplantable Rose).
    It was a bit of a relief to hear what you wrote (although you didn’t state it directly) about Blotanical. I found the whole points and ‘fav’ thing really odd – and I never had a profile but was getting these emails to go thank the person…and I don’t get nearly the traffic that you do. It was odd – I didn’t really participate but even I felt pressure, and god – I have enough as it is. So good for you.
    Things that bring you joy in your life should do just that – they shouldn’t turn into obligations (we have enough of those already in your our lives). Good for you. And as for writing about different subjects, geez, I’m all over the place. But this isn’t my job, it doesn’t have to be perfect, it has nothing to do with perfection or someone else’s rules. Just enjoy it I think – this was a really nice post, and I’m glad that I came back to read it.

  70. Yolanda Elizabet says:

    I was waiting for you to do a post on this subject as we discussed it in private before and noticed that we both felt very much the same about many aspects of blogging and the blogging world.
    Excellent post Kate. It’s posts like this one that make me realise my limitations as a non-native English speaker. I could not have said it better, literally!
    Let’s hear it for chaos! 🙂

  71. Louise says:

    I completely agree with everything you say. My interest in blogging started with a garden theme. With the onset of winter, and the garden not being so busy, I started a blog with a home theme. Then I went on a trip of a lifetime and started a holiday journal! Blogging can be quite addictive, but I think it is an ideal way of improving your PC, writing and photography skills, of sharing your passions with others, for recording memories and for making friendships, the latter to me is very important. I for one want to continue with my blog and to continue to enjoy others. x

  72. bs says:

    81 comments here, and you say you’re lacking readers! i love this beautiful new layout. i’m always a cheerful endorser of new beginnings and you’ve put this so beautifully. these are exactly my feelings; i love the hugeness of the internet and i want it to stay deliriously disorganized. keep on smudgin!

  73. Judy says:

    I know what you mean. I too worried when my blog jumped around to different areas in my life, but then I realized my blog is me and all my interests are part of me, they are not separate nor do I only have one interest.
    Go with what makes you happy.

  74. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Oh Kate, I am so glad I read this. Since you moved to Typepad my reader didn’t pickup the transfer. I am not very computer literate so I didn’t catch it either.
    Anyway. I am so glad to read that you don’t like to compete for readers either. I just don’t want to go looking for sites just to get feedback. It just takes the fun out of blogging.
    I am glad you are sticking to your style of blogging. I so enjoy it.
    I hope your area is thawing out now. Take care. Lisa at Greenbow

  75. Bejeweled says:

    Oh this is just a wonderful post! Kudos on addressing this topic and for your candid thoughts on it. And I find your summary on what you chose to do and why just wonderful! This blogger wholehearted agrees with you!

  76. Robin says:

    I’ve had similar thoughts too about the individualism in blogging. There is room for all kinds of blogs and writing styles. I love to see a person’s individuality and personality show in their blogging. I’m so glad they’re not all alike, that would be so boring.
    I personally have enjoyed Blotanical and have found many great blogs through it. I’ve enjoyed the interaction with others and it has preoccupied me through the long winter. I was sad when you left and I hope others won’t follow suite. It is a great resource and allows for as much or as little interaction as an individual wants. There’s room for all kinds of participants.
    I love your new look, and I love your individuality and wonderful heartfelt writing. I’m very, very glad you wrote this.

  77. Kathryn/plantwhateverbringsyoujoy.com says:

    Hi, Kate, I would agree with Robin, and Pam at Digging. I have found it is possible to participate at Blotanical at any level one wishes. If one wants to strive to find readers, one can. The structures are there. If one wants to lurk, one can. (I never thought of you as a lurker, however!) I personally have never received any emails from Stuart indicating there is a Right Way or a Wrong Way to participate in Blotanical. I feel there’s as much choice and freedom within that structure as there is in general in blogging. I wonder where that voice came from that you heard? I *do* think Blotanical is a place where old unresolved issues about “competing” can get TRIGGERED, thus a good place to reprogram, or bring a new awareness.
    My background is primarily in the publishing world, having been a book publicist for almost three decades. So I bring authors into the world, reaching a greater number of people. I notice you are inviting us to read your stories.
    Call me naive, but I think bloggers want to be read. I know I do.
    I take my posts very seriously, applying professional standards to each post. I only post once a week and I put anywhere from three to eight hours into a post–maybe more. I write from my heart, but I write FOR my readers. They are always in front of me when I’m writing. If I were writing “just for myself” I’d just open a journal. 🙂 I call writing a Sacred Privilege. My intention is clear–to create a small oasis of positivity, of awareness, of heart, of spirit, to make a humble difference. Would I like to have this effect on more people? Yes. Is it from my ego? No. It’s service.
    It’s called Being Used.
    When you combine service with your passion–then you get success, I do believe. Being in the Top Ten at Blotanical means one thing and one thing only–people are visiting. Nothing more. Nothing less. I find the appropriate response is gratitude.
    May the beauty that you love be the thing that you do. I’m sure
    I’m misquoting Rumi…
    Blessings on your path. Love the new look. Very crisp. Very peaceful.
    Kathryn

  78. Greeny says:

    Yay for any changes you feel are necessary for you, Kate! I haven’t been around to visit lately but I love the new blog.
    You seem a sweet, gentle soul who takes what she finds and delights in it.
    I lift my cup (of java) to you!

  79. Deborah says:

    What a fortunate find this post is for me this morning. I’ve just been agonizing over some of these questions, staying awake over them in fact. My issues aren’t about whether or not to be competitive—I think I’ve done enough of that in my life and don’t want to drag that sort of perspective into my blogging. My questions are more about how to stay true to myself—exuberant and wide-ranging, despite what feels like an urge from some of my readers (esp. on my book blog) to focus in. I don’t mean that they are critical or knowingly putting any pressure on me. But when I visit their sites (which I do love), they seem more clearly focused than mine…and it gives me pause. Perhaps just a newcomers’ jitters. I have three blogs: garden, food, books–all of which link to one another fairly regularly. It works for me…for now. I guess I just need to go forward with more confidence and let my own heart direct me. Anyway, thanks for this invaluable post. And I too want to commend you on your beautiful site.

  80. Andrea's Garden says:

    Hi Kate, your blog is just fine and represents you. I keep coming just for that reason – that you allow us to take part in your life – gardening, painting, your child, YOU … well, you know what I mean. Take care Andrea

  81. Clare says:

    Bravo, bravo and amen!! Awesome post, Kate and I totally agree with you about doing what makes us happy and feeds our soul. I believe our blogs are meant to be fluid and grow along with us, reflecting our always-changing feelings and interests and ideas. And you’re right about the sense of community that is special and so meaningful. I am so happy I met you through blogging! Big hugs!
    🙂

  82. Geraldine says:

    Very well put Kate. If blogging gets to be just a chore, what’s the point? And if competition creeps in, that to me is definitely losing the point of what blogging can and should be. I have been so blessed to meet some amazing people in the 2 years I have been blogging, it’s been a very rewarding experience. Here’s to keeping it that way and to the kindred spirits who understand. G

  83. Phillip says:

    Great post. I’ve had the same dilemma. At times I’ve posted about movies or tv shows that I’m watched but I noticed that when I did that, no one commented, which I guess was a sign that no one was interested. I don’t seeing various topics on an individual’s blog, it just tells me more about them.

  84. Phillip says:

    Great post. I’ve had the same dilemma. At times I’ve posted about movies or tv shows that I’m watching but I noticed that when I did that, no one commented, which I guess was a sign that no one was interested. I don’t seeing various topics on an individual’s blog, it just tells me more about them.

  85. Rosemarie says:

    I’ll be the 95th comment!
    I’m glad you wrote about this because I felt too at times that blogging can be about a competition. My garden blog, which is 1-subject- gets more traffic because it’s more focused. But my general blog (where I write about everything else) just gets looked at by my family and friends because no one else cares.
    In the beginning I was worried because everyone wants a lot of traffic, but now I feel more liberated because I can just write what I want and not worried about offending readers 😉
    But always be true to yourself!

  86. laura says:

    I’m late to comment on this, but when I started blogging less than a year ago, people assumed because of the title that it was a food blog and jumped and stomped when it was clear it wasn’t. I felt a little pressure, but had to push it aside. My blog is about anything I feel like writing about on a given day and I know I’d have more readers if I had a theme or style, but that isn’t me. A close friend of mine summed it up and made me feel better when she said that the good news is that people show up to read my blog because they want to know what I have to say…whether it’s about marshmallows, Cuban music or my garden. I’ll never appeal to everyone, so why try? I am glad to read that you refuse to get caught up in the numbers and competition…it makes an enjoyable thing feel difficult.

  87. Jen says:

    Kate,
    I just happened to stumble upon your blog through Twitter (I love the network just for this reason), and reading this post bolsters my own aspirations for starting a blog of my own. I’ve wanted to begin a blog for some time, but I’ve always had a conflict of writing about what suits me and what others would want to read. I’m in the stages of starting a gardening blog for geeks with how to’s, as I’ve noticed a lot of the tech population like to at least dabble with some sort of plant, from Chia pet to Orchids. The thing is, I know deep down, other content is going flow in such as eco and green news, and occasionally home life and my dear greyhounds and the adoption work that I do. How the heck does that have to do with geek gardening? I suppose, I’ll give it a whirl, focus on my main content, and sprinkle in my other thoughts as they become relevant. I just don’t have enough time in the day, nor do I want to sit in front of my computer for the length it would take to individually blog all of my interests trying to get to #1. I do have gardening to do after all. Thanks for the inspiration. Look for The Greenleythumb once I’m up and running. I still have a lot to learn about the social aspects of blogging. Being a geek and gardener myself, I really had no idea there were so many blogs on gardening, or even this Blotanical thing you guys are talking about. Live and learn. Much like gardening, I think it will be fun to nurture my blog.
    Thanks!
    Jen Greenley

  88. Kylee says:

    THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, for writing this post, Kate. I’m with you. Gardening is not all we are. While it’s my greatest passion, it’s not all of me and my blog will attest to that. You’ve said it all very well here.
    *hugs*

  89. susan harris says:

    Wow! Your post and the comments are fascinating reading and I agree with almost every word.
    Sometimes when I stray off-topic a commenter will chastise me and I think to myself “You prig!!” (I prefer gardenblogs that stray regularly myself, like Ellis Hollow and others.)
    I’ve also been chastising for “language” – about which I’m pretty darned restrained but have been known to use the abbreviation WTF. But hey, I gotta be me and readers who don’t like it can just click away.
    Congrats on speaking out.

  90. Laura says:

    Wow,
    I don’t know you but linked to your blog from another gardener’s blog. I agree SO MUCH with what you wrote.
    I also blog about anything and everything although my primary hobby is gardening. I read other Austin, Texas gardening blogs constantly and sometimes feel sad. My blog will never be listed with the others, although I do have one, and I’ll never get to know these gardener’s personally.
    Why? Because although I do blog about gardening, I also blog about a huge variety of other topics…the IRS (my audit), being a nonconformist by nature, the death of my husband, my work, and so forth.
    It’s lonely blogging for myself–and that is what I do. I feel compelled to write and would like to share, but with certain blogging rules to contend with, it’s too much trouble and I also know I’d get bored if forced to only blog about gardening.
    Like the gardener and her blog, my garden is also non-conforming. Laura a.k.a. “The Little Red Hen”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s