Tuesday, December 8, 2009

on my blogging experiences

As some of you may know, this blog was created for a blogging class.  Last night was our final class on that subject matter, and our instructor officially released us from the "obligation" of blogging for a grade.  Something that, at the start of the class, I thought I would eagerly look forward to.

I had not really wanted to get involved with blogging when I first started.  I had a blog in high school on MySpace, but subsequently got into trouble for offending some classmates by complaining about them online.  Their names were not mentioned, but they figured out who I was talking about rather quickly.  I had to send out a public apology to those offended and ended my blogging in embarrassment.  With the discovery of Facebook I deleted my MySpace account altogether, hoping to forget the stain the entire incident left on my public writing image.  I thought blogging was stupid, a forum for stupid girls like me to display their emotions in a most inappropriate way.  To me, blogging was good for absolutely nothing.  Sure, I had heard that some blogs were political in nature, others were about specific topics like being a mother and gardening and whatnot.  But I thought, without having actually looked at any of these subject blogs, that these were just whiny little soapboxes.

Joel, our instructor for their blogging class, was quick to alter this negative view of blogging.  He made us read kottke.org (a great collection of links to art and videos and interesting contraptions or articles) and Andrew Sullivan's The Daily Dish (an excellent political blog that is updated at least 40 times a day.)  Both were informative and, while the latter was recognizably a soapbox, it was a soapbox in which the opposition got nearly as much attention, even if they were just everyday readers of the blog.  Joel also encouraged us to create our own blogs based on one specific subject matter, rather than make a personal blog, on a topic which we could write about at least three times a week.

I agonized over the subject.  What on earth could I possibly write about?  "Music" was too general.  Even specific genres such as "Celtic Rock" and "industrial" seemed way too broad for a "specialized" blog.  What about Bushy Run Battlefield, the museum where I interned for two summers?  They certainly needed a soapbox while the PA state legislature was trying to shut them down.  But that seemed too specific- the state budget had not even been passed at that point, and everything was hanging in limbo.  Nothing was really going on at Bushy Run, at least not three times a week, that I could write about.

I did know that I loved the Victorian Era, and I knew of many aspects of that time period (1837-1901) in modern life.  So why not combine my love of history, specifically this time period, with something the average reader is more likely to get- modern, everyday life?  I settled on the topic moments before I presented it to Joel: a neo-Victorian blog.  He looked at me if I was insane, but I somehow managed to come up with a justification for such a blog in about 30 seconds.  He bought it, and I was left wondering what the hell I had gotten myself into.  I knew I'd talk about corsets, the Lady of Shalott, and Lolita fashion, but that was about all I had in mind.  I had the nagging feeling I'd hate this blog.

The first two weeks were tough.  I was trying to be funny and interesting without being personable or revealing anything about myself.  Each blog post was a chore.  I relished being allowed to miss a blog post in order to write about my G20 experience here in Pittsburgh on Joel's class blog.  I struggled to find topics to write about, trying to space out the two ideas I had not used yet.

And then I realized that The Wild Wild West, a steampunk film starring Will Smith, had an obviously Victorian influence, so I watched the music video for that film and wrote about it.  I wrote about how much I hated this campy film and made fun of the music video.  I mocked the film without worrying what the other readers felt about it.  And you know what?  It was such a release-- it felt good to be so personable and yet knowledgeable about my opinion and why I was sharing it: for the purposes of documenting neo-Victorianism in modern culture to my readers, the good, the bad, and the ghastly.  I could write candidly without hurting anyone's feelings on someone else's work.  Writing a blog could be personal and informative at the same time without being an online diary, as my MySpace blog had been.

The blogging really took off after that.  Within one week I found myself eagerly looking forward to writing updates, with friends and family suggesting topics for me to cover and my own research revealing the wealth of material out there on the web.  Within two weeks I had spoken to Andrew Sullivan face-to-face, and he talked me into updating my blog every single day.  Encouraged by his words, I spent the next seven weeks trying it.  Nearly two months later, I am far from exhausting the information out there on neo-Victorian culture, steampunk, Lolita and the like.  The new Sherlock Holmes film will come out in a few weeks, and I haven't even begun to talk about the world's most renowned detective's influence on modern culture.  Dracula and vampires, the modern form of which is actually a Victorian creation, have not received any attention by me as of yet.  And, of course, Emilie Autumn's book The Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls will need to be read and reviewed when it comes out next week.

There is just too much left undone with this blog to end it anytime soon.

So I will continue to update as regularly as possible- as least 2-3 times a week- while I look for a job and try to enter the real world, that dark and scary place ready to swallow up all recent college graduates like me in its jaws of instability and terror.  Within the next week and a half my updates will lessen due to finals, but after that I will continue to provide all the information I can to satisfy your need for a quick Victorian internet fix.

Thank you, readers and commentors, for giving me ideas and just being terrific with your feedback.


  1. Just so you know, I totally read your blog every day. You have the most interesting commentary on the most awesome sobject--so, thanks! I'm glad you decided to pick up blogging again.