Blog Comments — Why Do We Reply?

 

I haven’t replied to the comments on my last few posts. Egads! So I’m not allowed to post another one. I mean, it’s an unwritten rule, right? Wrong. It’s a written rule. You must reply. Also, there’s a written rule that says you don’t need to reply. There is disagreement in the blogosphere. And so it goes. I feel I’ve danced this dance before.

You simply must reply to comments on your blog because:

  1. It’s rude not to
  2. The whole point of a blog post is to generate conversation (i.e. comments) and you should keep that going
  3. If people take the time to comment, you should take the time to reply

These are all true. But so are these:

  1. Some people don’t care (or even notice) if you reply
  2. The whole point of a blog post is whatever the person who wrote it wants it to be – regardless of whether or not it generates conversation
  3. If people take the time to comment, it’s because they wanted to and you shouldn’t feel pressured to reply

I attempt to reply to every single comment on my blog. And not just a string of “thanks” but thought-out responses (with the occasional “thanks”). There are times, especially with my shorter posts or my flash fiction over at the Reef, it takes longer to reply than it takes me to write the piece. Also, as I’ve mentioned, I feel I can’t publish my next post until I’ve responded to each comment.

In this way, blog comments stress me out. But I love them. I love my readers and appreciate their comments. So much. I also love the conversation that can emerge from a simple Thought Bubble. I try to reply to all of them and 90% of the time, I do. Because. Love.

But sometimes it takes me a little while or I miss one. And I need to be okay with that. I suppose I’m writing this in part because I hope you’ll be okay with that. (And to ask you to continue commenting because, if you don’t, I will cry.)

When I publish a post, some readers return to “like” my reply. (“Hey! Saw that you wrote back. Cool.”) Others reply to my reply. (“I like what you said and have something to add.”) Others comment and move on their merry way, never returning to said post. (“I didn’t notice you replied.” Or “I’m up to my earlobes in work and writing and reading blogs and composing my own replies to comments and I don’t have time to come back.”)

It’s all good.

When I read another blogger’s post, some reply to my comment within minutes. Some reply days or weeks later. Some never do.

I’m not offended if they don’t reply or if it takes weeks. I’m not annoyed if they do reply and I’m alerted via email 30 seconds later. It’s. All. Good. See? Things are good. This is serious stuff, this blogging business. But, really, in the grand scheme of your local ice cream parlor, it’s just plain vanilla. Not a chocolate sundae with whipped cream, colored sprinkles, and hot fudge with a cherry on top, you know?

If you miss a post or two or a comment or two, forgive yourself. Your readers will. Hell, if they don’t, you don’t need them.

Anyway, I forgive you. So, there’s that. *hands you a cookie*

 

Sarah B Leave a Reply (2)

 

What say you, gentle readers? Do you reply to every comment? Do you just click “like”? Do you ignore and publish your next post?

 

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Hotel California

 

“Social media is like the Hotel California. You can log out anytime you like, but you can never leave…”

Beaton wrote this and I commented something like, “Haha! That’s hilarious!” ThoughtBubble

But, see, it’s not. I mean, it is Hotel California but it’s not really funny. If you follow.

We log out but it’s on the brain. There’s an almost imperceptible tug. (Although, for some people, it’s more like being a roped cattle.)

I have to get some shout-outs ready for (fill-in-the-blank) hashtag day.

I need to acknowledge those mentions or RT something of theirs.

I never tweeted my blog post from this week.

I’ve got to catch up on reading blogs and tweeting them.

I love this book—I wonder if the author’s on Twitter.

Ooh! Some new Harry Potter covers! I have to tweet about that!

Most of us on social media have thought one of these things at some point. Or, if not, you’ll leave a comment here saying, “Pfft! That doesn’t happen to me!” (I’d appreciate a little “how I do it” in there, if you wouldn’t mind.)

My pull from social media is fairly mild. But it’s there and I worry about that. I don’t want to get caught (any more than I already am) in the tangled web of Twitter.

 

Hotel California has been accused of being about a lot of different topics. That’s the beauty of this song—it’s about what it’s about but it can be applied to many situations where someone is stuck by his or her own device.

We are all just prisoners here, of our own device.”

Can you log out any time you like? Can you really leave?

 

Sarah B Hotel California

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.

 

Letting Go of Social Media

 

Let go of social media?! Yes, I know. We can’t do that. We’re not allowed. As writers, we must be on all the social sites to build our platform and brand ourselves and whatnot. But I’m letting go. Does that mean I’ll have less success? Maybe. Maybe not. Probably. I’ll miss out on opportunities if nothing else.

I read this post by Lisa Reiter and it resonated with me. She talks about being busy and organizing her writing. Pfft. Who needs that? With two young kids, a husband, a house, a job, appointments, meetings, blah, blah, blah, I have all the time in the world to sit down (uninterrupted) and write.

As the saying goes, “If you do one thing, it’ll be your best. If you do two things, they’ll each have a bit of your intent to do your best but they won’t be your best. If you do ten things, they’ll suck.” Okay, that’s not at all how the saying goes and I’m not sure there’s a saying even remotely like that but you get my point. Hopefully.

If I do those ten things with a bag full of the fifty things I’m not doing sitting on top of my head, the ten things are going to really suck and I’ll wind up hurting my neck. Something’s got to give. And, if I look back and realize I haven’t sent anything in yet for my column this month or worked on my book or submitted anything to…anywhere, then social media has to go.

Okay, I’m not getting rid of social media entirely, I’m just attempting to stuff it into a box and shove it in the corner. Social media is a rope. (I’m going somewhere with this. I swear.) Instead of throwing the rope to the ground and leaving it unattended or allowing it to lasso me, I have to take control of it. “Letting go” of this rope means untangling myself from it so it doesn’t choke the life out of me but making sure it doesn’t get soaked and moldy in the rain. Hence, the box in the corner.

 

social media rope

The Rope of Social Media (A.K.A. A ball of string I found around the house)

The rope of social media shouldn’t be a noose, it should be a lifeline.

A connection to my audience, potential editors, agents, and other writers.

Lisa says in her post that she has set aside a day (one day!) a week that she calls her “Blog Admin Day”. In the post, she uses words like “addictive” and “compelled”. I feel like that sometimes.

Technically, she’s talking about blogging but I’m applying it to all social media. I don’t know if I can set aside one day to write my blog, read other blogs, comment, read litmags, research submission guidelines, catch up on my Twitter account… Seems a tall order. But I’ll try. Because I need the rest of the week to do that thing I love to do with words like putting them together and making cool sentences (and fragments). I need time to write. Also, I’m on call 24 hrs. a day as a mom so there’s that.

I’m going to attempt to organize my own Social Media Admin Day. Let’s be honest: Days. I think I need two. For now.

Interesting. I wrote this post almost exactly a year ago. This crisis isn’t new. Maybe it resonates with me because I’m going through it (again). Maybe more people are dealing with this. Maybe it’s the time of year. I don’t know. But I do know that many fellow bloggers, writer friends, and tweeps are deleting their accounts, taking breaks, or wondering out loud where they’re headed.

Two days for social media/blogging time didn’t work for me. And I have nothing inspirational to say. Just… You’re not alone.

How do you manage your social media? Do you read/comment on blogs? Do you have time to read anything else (poetry, short stories, books)? Do you have time to write (something other than your blog)?

 

Envy and Honesty

 

Envy is never pretty. Not really all that helpful, either. (Except if it motivates you to go to the gym or something.) But I digress. I’ve been envious lately. Of the “good” writers, the funny tweeps, the people who have it all together. Because their blog and social media shows this, it must be true.

Then I received a DM.

An online friend was struggling.

I got an email. Then another. And another. They were all struggling. And I had no idea. I wrote back, sending supportive words and virtual hugs. But I felt helpless.

I also felt guilty. Here’s why.

Two of the people who contacted me were, less than a week before that, on my list. (My completely, utterly unfair list.) It was a long list, I must admit, because I am not doing well. I’m overwhelmed. I can’t keep up. And more is headed my way every day.

Although I should know better, I envied these people who had it all together. Who were juggling families, jobs, friends, writing, blogging, social media… Life. They were managing life. Without breaking a virtual sweat.

Ah. But there it is, right? Virtual. It’s difficult enough to recognize in real life people who are struggling. When you can hide behind a screen and type when you feel chipper or comment when you’re capable, no one can tell that you’re struggling.

Imagine my shock when one of these emails expressed a good-natured jab about how well I was doing because I was seemingly all around the blogosphere. Here I was drowning and someone thought I was winning the swim meet. Everyone is dealing with something—they may be fine, they may not be.

I know this. People post when they’re feeling okay. I should never have assumed. Needless to say, and yet I will, I should never have been envious of their ability to handle the world in the first place, virtual or not.

 

Sarah B rainy day - sig

 

Because September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day, I thought it fitting to share this today. I’m checking my envy at the door. Giving what I can, when I can. Being there.

And asking “How are you?”

 

First Lines: Epilogue

 

While cracking the covers of well-loved, read-only-once, and couldn’t-stand-this books for my First Lines series, I wondered…

How does this work? First lines, I mean. First paragraphs, sentences, pages. What are authors thinking?

I’ve got to kill it with this opening or else…

Or is it a little less sinister? Like, I want to hook the reader but, really, I’ve got a whole novel to show off my mad skills—the first page doesn’t have to be memorable, only the story does.

Or maybe simply: I suppose the beginning should be good but, eh, I like ‘She ate a piece of bread.’ and I’m keeping it.

The words that introduce you to a new character or bring you into a new world…how important are they?

Some books are so well-known that it doesn’t matter as much because, when you pick up Lord of the Rings, you know it’s going to be a fantasy. When you grab Hunger Games, you know it’s Dystopian. But authors generally don’t know their book will be famous when they write it. Well, excluding Stephen King.

Who? Exactly.

So, back to non-rock-star-authors. What are they feeling as they sit down to type that very first line? As a YA author, for instance, do they feel the need to bring readers into their world right away? Let them know the story won’t be taking place at South Mundane High School on Main Street?

Maybe it’s not the age group as much as the genre: dystopian, science fiction, fantasy… Or perhaps it’s not the age group or genre but the person writing the book. Rules, tips, and advice aside, writing is an individual sport.

Whatever the process, however the pages come about, I’m glad they do. Because I love reading them. How would I cope in a world without books? I don’t even want to think about it. It’s creepy. And wrong. Like a world without cheese.

So, while I’m obsessed with passionate about first lines, and while I collect them and read them over and over and write them down (or highlight them in e-books), I’ve read stunning first lines and hated the book. Also, I continue reading even if the first lines don’t knock it out of the park. After all, one of my favorite books of all time begins, “Once there were four children whose names were Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy.”

 

First Lines CoN Epilogue

 

First Lines: Children’s Books

First Lines: Middle Grade

First Lines: Young Adult

First Lines: SABGUS (Socially Acceptable Books for Grown-Ups)

First Lines: Picture Books