Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Blog is Dead. Long Live the Blog !

Hello, my friends.  I know it has been ages since I posted last.  Christmas came and went.  Then New Year's, and then even Valentine's Day, and still no posts from me.  It's not because I wasn't thinking of you, for I was doing just that--often and much--and I wanted to be here, but I was whelmed by life.  I appreciated the notes and emails and comments checking in on me.  I was fine, and am fine, now.  In fact, it's lovely to be here, typing away, thinking of you.

And I have some news.  After four years here on Blogger, The Magpie's Fancy will soon be moving house.  I will let you know when and will share the new address here.  I'm developing the new site now, which will serve as my online professional and creative hub, and will be a place for readers to visit for inspiration in writing and photography, as well as the daily celebrations and challenges of living a creative life.  I have met so many kindred spirits through The Magpie's Fancy, and I hope we can continue to inspire each other as I move to the new site.  I'm planning to have it up and running by March, and I will keep you posted, I promise.

I've read several articles recently about the state of blogging.  There are those who say it is dead--or at least dying--but I disagree.  I do think that, like everything else in the online world, blogging is changing quickly, and the most committed bloggers are adapting right along with these changes.  Various social media play a major role in the brave new world of blogging, especially Pinterest.  As a daily pinner myself, I can say that Pinterest is a faster way to reach out and grab inspiration and ideas from the Interwebs, and its image-rich, tile format makes it an incredibly fun tool, but it lacks the depth and richness of blogging or even of Instagram and Twitter.  When I pin a gorgeous garden picture to my "Gardening Fancies" board, I am pinning it for myself.  It's nice when others see it and pin it, too, but I don't really care one way or the other.  Can I promote my own work on Pinterest?  Yes, I can, and I occasionally do, but I also often see my own work pinned without any attribution and with a link back to some random person's Tumblr page.  I kind of loathe Tumblr.  There, I said it.  People complain about Pinterest's lack of attributions, but if it weren't for platforms like Tumblr, where people can reblog with a click, acting as though curating a bunch of images is the same as blogging original content, then we wouldn't have nearly as many problems with Pinterest.  I don't pin things on Pinterest to impress others.  I pin them because they inspire me, and I want to remember them . . . and to be able to find the original source at a later date.  In fact, in my case "social media" is a misnomer when it comes to Pinterest.  While I do truly like seeing what my friends and family pin, for me, pinning is simply a continuation of a practice I've had since I was a kid.  I have always torn pages from magazines and hung them on my walls or filed them in a drawer in my filing cabinet.  It brings me great joy, and I often pin between appointments or while I'm eating my oatmeal in the morning.  I can never get enough ideas about books or design or gardens or chocolatey sea salt concoctions!

So, I don't whinge about the demise of blogging.  I don't think it's dead at all.  I think that savvy bloggers are figuring out ways to expand their view of what a blog can do as a promotional tool, a resource, a professional outlet, or a place to share daily thoughts.  People need to have original content to pin on their pin boards.  We can't all pin this set of images (or others like it--you know the ones that you see recirculating on Pinterest every few weeks)

over and over again, forever and ever and into infinity.  By the way, this wonderfully shabby chic cottage was originally featured in The New York Times.  It's a Catskills hunting cottage turned into a Rachell Ashwell-esque fantasy by Sandra Foster.  I've seen it pinned a thousand times, usually without attribution.  

Beyond the original content issue, though, lies what is the heart of the matter for me: community.  I have made warm, deep, and lasting friendships through blogging that I wouldn't trade for the world.  Some of those friends are no longer blogging, or are blogging more sporadically as other forms of social media--yes, I'm referring to you, Instagram--take up more of their time, or as their lives get more hectic.  As so many of you know, blogging well can take enormous amounts of time and energy.  One has to wear several hats, and for those of us who chose not to rent advertising space on our blogs, its financial rewards can be limited, non-existent, or indirect, as a way to promote our own work.  For me, the greatest reward of blogging is the friends I've made.  Second to that is the chance blogging has given me to develop my skills further.  I have been a writer nearly all my life, but I came to photography much later, through blogging, and I am so grateful to have discovered this passion.

I would love to hear your thoughts on blogging and social media, in general, if you care to share them.  There are days when I find all of it overwhelming.  On those days, I take a very long hike (or, right now, snowshoe) with my camera--no iPhone, no distractions.  Unplugging is essential to my creative process.  Maybe these last two blog-free months have been just a prolonged break from overstimulation.  The one thing I'm realizing as I scroll through Pinterest each morning, and as I develop the new website, is that there are loads of incredibly talented and creative people in the world.  On those overwhelming days it can feel like an artsy, hipster, moss-covered, lace-doily-ed, glitter-coated, pomegranate-glazed, hand-calligraphed, dumpster-salvaged, and ironically-mustachioed avalanche of beauty and wisdom that I just want to try to outrun as it thunders down the mountain towards me.  Other times--most times, really--I want to jump right in the middle of the beautiful mess and see where it takes me.