What Is Blogging Even For, Anyway?

What Is Blogging Even For, Anyway?

I’ve been finding myself in a weird space with regard to blogging recently. My posts have become more and more infrequent over time, and while part of that is that I’m easily distracted and frequently lose track of my ideas before I have a chance to put fingers to keys, it’s also because my relationship with social media has been undergoing a metamorphosis of sorts.

I live on the internet, to an extent that’s probably somewhat unhealthy. I’ve become uncomfortably aware that I’m rarely parted from my phone; despite headaches that get worse while looking at a screen, I don’t seem capable of going more than an hour or so without staring at one. It’s inevitable that I’d look online for social interaction, having moved home to an area where I have few friends, none of whom are particularly keen to talk about medieval literature for hours on end, but I still feel I need to start rationing the amount of time I spend online.

My internet activities have changed, though. I’ve found myself leaning strongly into the medievalist aspect of my identity. I didn’t talk a huge amount about that stuff in a recreational context while I was at uni — I guess because it seemed too much like work. Now that I’ve graduated, though, I don’t seem able to shut up about it.

Like, I have a YouTube series where I talk about medieval literature. Mostly, I do retellings of various stories, but recently I did a Q&A video based on questions people sent in via Tumblr and Discord, which was so fun I want to do it again in future.

I thought I’d left YouTube long behind me, if I’m honest with you — but now that I have something to talk about, I’m really enjoying making videos. I enjoy watching my own videos back, too. I think I might possible be quite good at this, now that I’ve found my niche, and I want to keep digging at it to see what this potential could turn into.

I also talk a lot about medieval lit on Tumblr, although this can backfire — turns out medievalists are not the only ones using the #tuatha de danann tag, nor even the main group, and it’s very easy to step on the toes of polytheists if you’re not careful about what you say. Oops. While I was at uni, I didn’t post a huge amount on my Tumblr, periodically popping in to share pictures of answer questions, but I’m substantially more active now.

Although many of my posts are brief jokes and bullet points, often with several replies to myself as I think of more things to add on, sometimes I find myself posting substantial text posts. And every time I do that, I find myself thinking, This is a blog post. I should just post this on my blog.

For a while, I thought it was because my Tumblr posts tended to be more spontaneous. Posts on this blog usually live in my head for a while before they ever go on the page, which means I’m less likely to change my mind two days later and post something else contradicting what I just said. But I think it’s also to do with how I’ve come to think of this blog.

Although my Tumblr is publicly linked to me and easy to find (it’s literally just called ‘Finn Longman’), it doesn’t feel Official in the way that this site does. This is my site. It has a .com domain name. It’s the first thing people find when they’re looking for me. To a stranger, it probably gives the impression that I roughly know what I’m talking about.

Sure, so those who’ve been reading for a while know that I’m a 23-year-old with a BA and a lot of opinions on medieval lit, but it would be easy to give a misleading impression. I’ve seen enough Wikipedia articles and poorly-sourced webpages that cite somebody’s random blog post from 2008 when discussing medieval lit, to feel like anything I say here has the potential to be taken as some Official, Academic Response, as long as it’s packaged professionally enough.

Tumblr isn’t like that. It’s social media, just like YouTube is: a place where it’s clear that what I’m saying is my opinion. Do people believe bloggers and YouTubers about stuff? Absolutely, but it’s harder to get away with citing a vlog made by a baby-faced nerd than a website that could belong to anyone for all you know, isn’t it?

It’s almost like I’m afraid to admit to my ideas. Like I don’t want anyone to take them seriously, so I only share them in places where that doesn’t feel like a danger.

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Also I can intersperse them with pictures like this one sent to me by my friend Menna, which accurately sums up my feelings towards Old Irish grammar. Just so that people have a periodic reminder not to take me seriously.

I think the issue is that this has stopped being something I think of as “just a blog”, and something that feels more like “my website”. The difference between the two is subtle, but it makes me afraid to put things out there that aren’t 100% polished and certain. Which means, inevitably, that all I end up posting are bits of news and soul-baring personal posts. Because hey, at least when it comes to the inside of my own head I know I’m the world expert.

It’s also probably because I haven’t ruled out the possibility of one day pursuing further study in the field of medieval Irish literature, and I’ve got some nebulous, half-formed fear for my academic reputation, so I put my opinions where they’re less likely to be found by a cursory Google search.

I guess it would be easier to blog if I talked about anything other than medieval lit, but the reason that’s become 90% of my internet identity is because I really don’t know what else I’d talk about. I don’t particularly like to discuss my political opinions (right now they are Make It Stop Before We All Die Please, a useful catch-all for all the madness of the world at the moment), and I don’t have much else going on in my life.

The one thing that makes me different from the majority of other 20-somethings on the internet is that I know a lot about medieval Irish stories, so if I’m not talking about that, what else have I got to contribute? I don’t watch much TV and rarely have enough opinions on pop culture these days to talk about that kind of thing. I guess I could talk more about Irish dance, but I’ve never been entirely convinced that anybody much cares about that, and how much is there to say, really?

There are books, of course, there are always books. I have a separate book blog, but I’ve been considering whether maybe it’s time to merge the two and just talk about books here — it’s not like I ever update that blog, so maybe it would be a way to keep both platforms active. That blog’s primarily been reviews until now, though; do I want to keep doing that, or just talk more generally about bookish topics? I don’t even knowwwwww.

I mean, I already talk about books every day on Instagram

So that’s where I’m at with blogging, and I’m not sure what path I should take. Is it about admitting I will never be a regular blogger and just using this as a website where I post occasional musings? Is it about learning to admit to my thoughts and theories and research? What about having the courage to be unapologetically political? I doubt the latter will ever happen in a form that’s suited to blogging…

And, truth be told, part of me suspects it’s not worth it, that blogging is a dying art and I’d be better off putting my energy into other forms of social media. So. Yeah.

I just… don’t know anymore. I’d be interested to know what you guys think — my handful of regular readers, and the irregulars who pop in now and again. I’d like to know why you’re still here, and what it is you look for in a blog — and, if you’ve an opinion on the matter, what you’d like to see from me in the future.

I’d also love to hear from other bloggers, especially those who are active on other social media platforms. How do you maintain a blog alongside everything else, without too much overlap of content — or do you just overlap with impunity? Has your blog content changed substantially since you started posting?

Let me know in the comments, because I could really use some other perspectives here.

14 thoughts on “What Is Blogging Even For, Anyway?

  1. I’ve been reading your blog posts for quite a while (3 years? 4 years?) and honestly, I don’t really mind what you talk about! whatever you write about – books, medieval studies, uni stuff, writing advice, personal things, etc. – ends up being interesting. so I’ll carry on reading whatever tbh, which isn’t very helpful sorry. my favourite posts of yours were probably about writing, though – advice in general or your own process or how your projects are getting on – and I feel maybe we haven’t heard that much about writing for a while? so I’d happily read more writing posts on here. but I’ll read anything you put up :)

    1. Yes, I was just thinking I hadn’t talked that much about writing in a while. I think I’ve become slightly more private about writing in some ways (mostly out of a reluctance to talk too much about projects in their early stages in case I want to take them further later), plus I’ve had considerably less direction in my writing life recently. I mean, I haven’t written any fiction yet this year, although I did a fair bit last year. But I will muse on that, and see if I have anything to say :)

      Thank you, by the way. It’s nice to know I’m interesting :)

  2. I started blogging because, when I decided to try authoring as a career rather than a hobby, every publicity guru on the internet seemed to be saying that, inter alia, all authors needed a blog; and the longer form, slower speed of blogging seemed more fitting to my personality than some of the other advice, so was a good place to start.

    Since then I’ve realised (and had confirmed by the experience of others) that—for meaningful values—no one goes to their search engine for new fiction to read—they all search on Amazon/Kobo/retailer-of-choice— so being visible on Google as a “dark fantasy author” isn’t that useful for anything other than feeling good when you search for yourself.

    However, I also realised two other things:

    (1) most other social media is ephemeral, in what is visible or in what remains accessible, so a blog is a useful place to have more consistent listing of books/appearances/&c. to point at and for people to come upon when they discover I am interesting than, for example, Twitter (where my mention of a new release is gone into the distant past faster than I can reload my page to see what it looks like).

    (2) I am greatly more comfortable (and my wife similarly) if I have an outlet for ideas, commentaries, and such that come to me during the day that isn’t diving toward the front door in full flow the moment she returns home.

    So, I blog because having my own editable piece of the internet to direct people toward from social media is a cheaper—if slightly less flexible or robust—alternative to running a full website, and because I have views that I want to share.

    As I’ve progressed as an author-publisher, my blog has changed somewhat: I no longer post so much about writing techniques because I’m trying to attract readers rather than writers; but mostly it’s the same mix of whimsy, politics, and oddity that form me in real life.

    Having accepted social media’s transitory nature, I’ve used that as the divider: things I have a brief thought about or am enjoying at a particular moment go to social media; things that I have longer thoughts about or I enjoy on a deeper and longer-lasting level tend to go on my blog.

    1. Yeah, that sounds a lot like how I’ve interacted with the internet over the past few years. I think the difficulty has been finding things I have longer thoughts about or enjoy on a deeper level that I’m actually ready to talk about, as well as the increasing realisation that sometimes a tweet would do and I don’t actually need a thousand words to discuss something in…

      That social media is ephemeral is certainly true, and yet Timehop is still able to dredge up my banal tweets from 2010 and dump them in front of me every day (which I think has made me more aware that I should post less and make sure what I’m saying is actually interesting!)…

    1. (yikes sent too soon) you write. It’s been cool to watch your interests shift over time. Given my love of going to ceildhs (and determination to make it to a session sometime!) I really appreciate all the Irish dance and music stuff. I’m not so into the medivalism, but it’s cool that you have niche communities elsewhere for that. Like you, I have a book blog and a ~musings and reflections~ on life blog. I run these with my sister but we’re both pretty frantic with uni/other commitments and blogging tends to come fairly low down on the priorities list. And the blogging community has shifted so much…or maybe I’m worse at finding the blogs and other people who click with me. I like knowing that I have that space to explore things though. And honestly because I don’t have much audience engagement, it is good to feel like I can write without fear of judgement or the feeling of hat something is official and will be attached to me forever, which accompanies my published journalism work. It’s such a nuanced issue and clearly different for everyone: how is what matters to you important to other people? Should it be? What is worth your time?

      1. The blogging world has certainly changed a lot from when I started. I used to have entire conversation threads going in the comments of my posts, but that’s changed for sure… then again, I used to be active within specific teen writer communities and we did blog chains and stuff, which is obviously no longer the case. But I also know I don’t really read other people’s blogs so much either — I’m subscribed to quite a few, but they just build up in my email inbox (I currently have… a couple of hundred emails in there, 95% of which are blog subs) without me reading them because I never get around to it. So I feel like I *could* build more of a community but it’s not gonna happen unless *I* change.

  3. I’ve read your blog for several years, which is a lot greater longevity than many other blogs I follow. I usually unsubscribe after a few months. I don’t know what it is that made me keep reading yours, so I can’t give any really helpful feedback. At this point, I would probably read anything you wrote, just because I “know you” and how your life has gone over time, and so I feel the connection that I would to a friend’s blog. But I also watch youtube a lot so if you just started sharing on youtube it wouldn’t cause me any grief to watch there. I feel like the blog has more of a focus on your life and goals, and I don’t think you share that on youtube, though. That’s the only thing I would miss.

    1. Thank you! That’s a lovely thing to hear. It’s true I’ve drifted away from talking about my life on YouTube, mostly because it seemed a long-winded way of doing it when it works just as well in blog form. If I weren’t blogging, it would feel less redundant, so it’s all about how I balance those things.

      (Sorry, I only just saw this comment; I haven’t been on my computer at all the last few days.)

  4. Hey, I don’t really comment because I am lazy and lack energy but I pop into your blog every few weeks (usually when I’m procrastinating assignments) and read all the stuff you’ve posted during that time. I enjoy your updates about life, whether it is Irish dance, uni, job, gender, or querying focused. I guess I just really enjoy your writing style. I’m not sure why. I used to read a lot of blogs but that has kind of stopped except for yours. Your content never seems to stop being interesting. It’s a talent.

    All I can say in way of advice would be – if you do enjoy popping in every once in a while to write musings and updates on your life, I will be there to read it. Don’t feel bad about irregular posting and being a “bad” blogger.

  5. I don’t know that I have anything constructive to say that hasn’t already been said, but please do blog about Irish dance if you feel the urge, I’d be really interested to see that.

What do you think? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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