“I’d Rather Eat an Earthworm than Blog”

The other day I went to pick up my friend Betsy. She was finishing up a session with a photographer.
“This is my friend, Julia,” Betsy said, introducing me. “Watch out what you say to her or it might end up in a blog.”

This has become a standard joke between Betsy and me, ever since she appeared in one of my early blogs about handwritten notes.

Still, I winced a little. It was true. In fact, at a recent party for MEH (My Engineer Husband)’s birthday, four of the six attendees had been mentioned or made starring appearances in a blog. I don’t think I’m that different than many bloggers. In fact in Technorati’s State of the Blogosphere 2010, 66% of bloggers stated that conversations with friends influence what they write about.

The photographer looked up from the bag she was packing.

“Really? You blog?” She sounded interested, maybe even experienced. I thought I might have actually stumbled upon another blogger! (For the record, since I started blogging, I have not met another blogger—except online—which is pretty surprising since there are an estimated 200 million blogs, according to Technorati.)

“Yes. You blog too?”

“I’d rather eat earthworms than blog.” She said it with a very pleasant smile on her face, but I could tell she was dead serious.

I couldn’t help but laugh.

After I stopped laughing, of course I asked her if she would mind if I used THAT in a blog, and she more-than-quickly gave me full permission.

But the truth is, more than getting a funny line, it gave me pause to think. The more I become immersed in this cycle of blogging-tweeting-blog commenting-retweeting-answering comments-re-retweeting, the more I just assume that everyone is doing it. So I wondered, is that true? (Clearly my new friend, the photographer, would say no.)

Being the naturally curious person I am, I had to find out. The thing I was most interested in was how many blogging writers there are. Interestingly, it is not so easy to pin these numbers down. I searched for about an hour (about all the research time I was interested in investing in today’s blog), and the best I could do was the Technorati’s State of the Blogosphere 2010. Of 7,200 respondents to Technorati’s survey, 33% of bloggers said that at sometime they had worked as “a writer, reporter, producer, or on air personality in traditional media.”

And 26% of bloggers stated that they blog specifically to “get published or featured in traditional media.” I’m assuming that means that those 26% of bloggers are writers, like me. Let’s see…26% of 200 million bloggers, that’s 52 million.

Perhaps needless to say, after reading all these statistics and doing the calculations, I was no longer interested purely for interest’s sake or curiosity, but I was borderline horrified, even terrified. 52 million bloggers, blogging specifically to get published!

Now, I think I’d rather eat an earthworm.

Where do you get inspiration for the things you write about in your blog? From friends, sometimes, like I do? Have you ever had someone get mad at you about blogging about them (Technorati says 7% of relationships have suffered due to blogs but 33% have brought friends and family closer together.). Are you daunted by the number of writers who are blogging to get published?

Cheers,

Julia

p.s. Here’s the link to the full Technorati’s State of the Blogosphere 2010.

Comments

  1. Ado says:

    So glad I found you! I loved this post and after reading it have sent my kids out to collect earthworms for our dinner.

    We have the EH part of MEH in common!
    Glad to read you. (-:

  2. Good call on dinner — try them with garlic, you can pretend they’re escargot. So glad I found your blog too! Thanks for coming by and thanks for the comment!

  3. I get blogging inspiration from books, magazines, friends and family, eating out, and online cooking groups. I try to always keep my mind open to new ideas.

    Do you mean that writers want to get a book deal from their blogs, like Julie Powell of Julie and Julia? I’m not daunted by that, but then again getting my blog content published was never my goal. Blogging ensures that I practice writing a few times a week; it helps me stick to a schedule. I also thought having a food blog might help if I’m pitching food-related stories.

    No family member or friend has yelled at me yet. I hope it stays that way!

  4. Great post! I’m glad I’m not the only one who sees an opportunity to quote someone or otherwise feature them on my blog (I do that on the travel blog, not so much the writing blog). I laughed at the way you winced a little but were undaunted in your quest to get the quote.

    Yes, I’m intimidated by the number of writers blogging. (No one had even heard of blogs or Twitter back when my book came out in 2000 and I went online with it.) But then again, I’m daunted by walking in the library and bookstore and seeing the thousands and millions of titles. Makes me feel like a speck in the writing universe.

    The statistics are staggering. However, I do still know writers who don’t do the online platform thing at all. They don’t have a website, or a blog, or a Twitter account. They mostly all do Facebook—but purely for pleasure, not to “get published or featured in traditional media.”

    About the photographer saying she’d rather eat earthworms than blog: I was curious about her reason. A friend of mine was the same—“I hate that whole blogging thing!”—but it turned out to be because she didn’t understand (and had no purpose for) blogging at the time. But now she has her own blog and is doing it exactly as you describe: blogging-tweeting-blog commenting-retweeting-answering comments-re-retweeting. So perhaps never say never is the moral of the story.

    ~ Milli

    P.S. Last year I did the unthinkable and asked for a refund on a book because it came with some baggage I didn’t sign up for (it was non-fiction). The indie publisher actually called to ask the reason for my refund request. I had explained in the letter, but went over it with her again. I said that when I visited the author’s blog he was touting something that was not foreshadowed in the material that convinced me to purchase the book, and which gave his method a creepy tinge. She said, “Oh, I hate blogs!” Granted, she was cranky to be forced to give a refund on her author, but I was amazed to hear a *publisher* say that. I wondered about her reasons for hating blogs, but she hung up before I could ask. o_0

  5. Leah says:

    Personally I’d rather blog than eat earthworms. But I get it. I’ve thought about this too. And among all my friends here in San Diego, I only know two other bloggers. I’m sure there are more. But most of my blogging buddies (like you) are people I’ve only gotten to know through blogging. Of course, I would love to get “discovered”through my blog. But that’s not why I do it and not why I write either. Having this awesome community and doing what I love — that’s what drives me.

  6. Jen, Thanks for the comment, and you made a really good point about why you blog–to keep you writing. That is also one of my primary goals, so I suppose that’s something I left out in this piece! But I do have to admit that “building a platform” was part of the reason I started to blog. The other stuff, like meeting really nice writers like you–who knew!

    Milli, I think the photographer is coming from the POV that she doesn’t like writing, but knows blogging is a necessity. It’s a conundrum for her. (I guess it is for me too in a lot of ways, since I’m running out of time to do everything I need to get done!). And I agree, it is daunting to feel like a speck in the writing universe, in general! Hence, the earthworms I’m eating for dinner! :)

    Leah, I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again that the very best part of blogging has been meeting wonderful writers like you! And I feel fortunate to feel like I’m becoming friends with such great people as you and Jen and Milli! Thanks for the comment! (p.s. And I hope it goes without saying that I was joking that I’d rather eat earthworms than blog!)

  7. Hi Julia! I guess the fact that we are writers automatically makes us more likely to blog! I’d rather work on my novels…that being said blogging has definitely forced me to work on my short form. I often sit down and think, Ugh, what today?

    Once it’s done, however, my entries usually give me some kind of warm fuzzy. I mix it up, writing about my kids, my writing, women’s issues, fairy tales and history, marriage, books…so I’m probably NOT doing what one should do to attract a specific audience. Oh, well. Not all those who wander the blogosphere are lost.

  8. Ado says:

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  9. Hi Julia,

    right now my kids are pretty much the only ones I quote on my blog, but they have gotten used to it, being sermon illustrations all of their lives :-).

    I have noticed that there appears to be a fair number of people that use social media strictly to promote their new project, or maybe it just seems to be so, I dunno. I’m glad that I’m not one of them, even though I told both my son and daughter that they need to do that (how hypocritical of me! :-) ). While I do have a book coming out hopefully before I die, I love writing, so the blog is fun. I do think, however, that when I start getting close to publishing, I’ll be plugging it with all the force I have. Oh well…

    I’ve never tried earthworms, and can’t imagine them being appealing even with hot sauce and spices, but to each his own, right? i’ll stick to blogging…

  10. Stephanie, I agree, blogging is great because it gets me to work on shorter pieces and write a variety of styles. It sounds like you write an interesting mix in your blog, and I will definitely check it out! Thanks for visiting my blog!

    Ado, haha, that sounds a lot like my parents… (great, that’s where I got the line, I just realized, yikes!). But I’m with you, worms ARE more like spaghetti than escargot. Thanks for the return trip!

    Hi Kenneth, Thanks for dropping by and for the comment! I started blogging as a way to social network/platform build but also to have my writing out there and read. The greatest thing that has happened is connecting with other writers I never would’ve met otherwise! Nice to meet you! p.s. yeah, I’m sticking with plain hot sauce and spices, hold the worms, too!

  11. Oh-so interesting, Julia. I know two other people “in real life” who blog. What you said about being in the cycle of blogging, tweeting, commenting, retweeting totally hit home with me. It is easy to feel like this is how everyone spends their time since it TAKES so much time. I think most other people are watching TV. 😉 At least that’s what I tell myself so I don’t feel like I’m addicted to the computer screen even though I probably am.

  12. catherine says:

    Fun blog Julia!

    I get my inspirations for my blog from my creative outlets like cooking, photography and other creative projects, from good books, from ideas sparked by other people’s blogs. I thought about friend’s sometimes, but I was afraid they might be peeking. he he

    I’m not daunted by the number of writers blogging to get published because I’m not in a position to get published. I guess it has become like the lottery – so many people. But people are always winning the lottery, so somebody must be getting published!! :) wink wink

    The best part about blogging for me is the friends I am making! I only got into this recently after years of distrust and not having a reason to. (I could be the one Milli was talking about – ha ha) But I’m glad I do it now. And it only builds momentum as you go. Fun stuff…

    Cheers! catherine

  13. Nina, Thank goodness I gave up TV so I have time for this NEW addiction, I mean passion (although I have not yet entered the Twitter Trance :) I have to say that the best part is the incredible community of writers (even if the numbers are staggering). It’s great to have a way to connect with such a wonderful, talented bunch! And, I think my summer resolution will be to find one other blogging writer in Maine….(then I can blog about that!).

    Catherine, So glad you enjoyed the blog! It was fun to write, too. I’m with you, the friends I’m making is the best part. It’s so great to have a way to find people like you that I never would have known otherwise! It took me a couple of years to jump in as well, so I know exactly what you mean. p.s. I’m still hoping I’ll win the lottery, too! Thanks so much for the visit!

  14. You’re right–I can’t think of anyone I know IRL (aside from someone in my writer’s group) who blogs! I guess we can get absorbed into our “bubble” of blogs and Twitter without realizing it. I met some new people this weekend and was surprised to find they weren’t on Twitter. A few of my cousins are on Twitter, and so is my husband, but none of them use it as often as I do. I’m a strange Tweeter/blogger amongt friends!

  15. Natalia, That’s a great way to put it our “bubble”! I know the feeling of meeting someone new and being surprised they aren’t on Twitter–then they look at me like: “hmmm, what’s up with this Twitter thing?” So thank goodness for all of you in the bubble with me, who can relate to what I’m talking about! Thanks for the visit and the comment!

  16. I think if most writers were honest, they’d admit that they started blogging to build platform, but discovered so much more from it. For me, not only does it give me writing practice, but it also provides inspiration (and lots of fodder for scenes in my novels)… The figures you list really ARE daunting…

    And the only bloggers I know (in person) are other writers. Period.

  17. Melissa, I think you’re right about motivation for beginning (it was mine), but now it really is secondary–getting me writing daily and connections with writers like you–is certainly what keeps me going. That and the fact that I can now blog, make a lasagna and do laundry, all in one day!! So proud of me! Nonetheless, my goal is to meet another real live writer blogger (who I didn’t meet on Twitter) before the summer is over! Thanks for the visit!