Wednesday, May 20, 2009

An Extension of Self

Lately, I have been thinking about the theme and general direction of this blog, neither of which I am currently happy with.

As a few of my fellow bloggers have revamped their sites, the most successful being the unequivocal notion with his daily list of links that we are all now addicted to, I have taken note of what works and what simply doesn't. Community blogs or blogs with multiple authors work in some cases (43rd State Blues) and simply burn out in others (Red State Rebels, by no fault of the Blogmother). Things that I think absolutely work are the "Spud State Blog Rundown" posts at 43SB, the growing number of contributions from Sisyphus and nearly everything over at the MountainGoat Report. Certainly what works in the Idaho blogosphere isn't limited to these three stand-outs. There are new blogs (new to me at least) popping up all over the state that I'm catching on to and enjoying immensely (Nemesis Today, Byron Yankey's site and TUBOB). And of course, there are blogs that have been around for years that always offer unique perspectives (Idablue, TSSBP, etc.).

A community or multi-author blog isn't in the cards for The Political Game. The people I would entrust with writing here mostly have blogs of their own. Additionally, Blogger is not the best blogging platform for multi-author sites. I'm thinking back to the LaRocco campaign guest-blogging days and how accounts had to be set up for Congressman LaRocco and his staff. So, this leaves me with the question: What do I do with this blog from here on?

Part of the problem with thematic blogs, in this case a political blog, is that you're limited in your scope. This could have all been avoided had I named this blog something less restricting, but "The Political Game" pretty much announces to anyone entering that they should expect some political analysis. I've tried to broaden the themes here, capturing the analogy of political life and a chess match in the quote from John F. Kennedy that sits atop this blog, while introducing material on subjects other than politics (i.e. baseball, history, music, poetry & literature). There are a few elements that I'm fond of keeping (TGIF Tunes, Smorgasbord Saturday, This Day In History, and Quote of the Day) and then elements that have fizzled out or simply need to be abandoned (Zeb Bell coverage and cross-posting at ArmchairGM). I would like movie/book reviews to return and I would love from This Day In History to be a more common element. I would also like to post music videos, lyrics, baseball commentary and quotes without feeling like I'm cheating readers.

Of course, I will receive some comment from somewhere about this being my blog and my choice and I should write about whatever I so wish. However, that argument isn't necessarily the be-all-end-all. I can write about whatever I so wish, but that doesn't mean what I write about will be interesting to anyone else. My randomness is only quirky and entertaining to a point. A quote I pick out from something I've been reading, a music video of a song I've recently heard or a historical essay on an event that is significant from some particular day in history might be interesting to me, it might put somebody else to sleep! So, now what?

My hope is that what originally drew me to blogging, the intrigue and the need for an outlet for my curiosity, will return. I have held this hope for many months, continuing to write a few substantive pieces here and there to get by, though I haven't seen much of a change in my feelings about blogging. Perhaps I bogged myself down in the negativity of Zeb Bell for too long and lost touch with the parts of blogging that were always positive for me. Whatever the case may be, I hope that I can turn this train around and get it back on the tracks, writing more regularly about issues, people and events.

Just as I am not the student I used to be, I am no longer the writer I used to be. I find myself relying too heavily on the words of others to articulate the feelings I have about current events and life in general. I may have things to say, I am simply having a difficult time converting those things into words. Having spent far too much time observing on a daily basis the most reactionary among us, I lost something of myself. I react, but I do so quietly, often holding in my thoughts and reactions. There must be a happy medium somewhere, a place where I can write about whatever irritates, intrigues or interests me, without the intense reaction from those who may disagree with my words and the friction of what I want and what I have meeting head-to-head every time I post.

As nineteenth century writers may have pleaded, I beg your patience. As a twenty-first century amateur writer struggling to understand why we all have this need, almost naturally as an extension of ourselves, to write about every single thing we think, say, feel or do in so many technological formats (i.e. Twitter, Facebook, Blogger, mySpace, webcam, Skype, email, text message), please hold on while I try to define what this blog is to and for me and why at one point I felt I had to have this medium to breathe.


Anonymous said...

I struggle from time to time to determine my relevance, my need to spew personal shit versus my need to entertain (they don't always coincide, oddly enough).

I'm not big on baseball (but we're even because you're probably not big on football) but most of what you write continues to entertain me so I'll keep visiting as long as that happens.

And I think that I sometimes become voyeuristic in that it becomes interesting just to see what you're up to, even if I don't particularly share your current interests.

For a misanthrope such as I, this is the best kind of interaction with's almost sterile and I don't have to shave my legs...

Good luck to you in your self-search, and thanks for the shout-out!


Chris said...

I'm sure you'll figure it out. One thing is for sure, when it comes to well thought out and voiced opinions you are one of the best in the state, no doubt about that.

And your knowledge of Idaho political history rivals even the most crusty of those among us.

I'd just keep up what you've been doing, you've always been a must-read for me.

And speaking of changes, big changes are coming to, I'm hoping I'll have it ready by Monday, that's what I'm shooting for anyway.

Tara A. Rowe said...

Darlene, I spit Diet Coke all over the computer screen with your comment. Thanks for the laugh!

I'm not sure what I say matters all that much, but if it is mildly entertaining for at least one person, that'll do. It is also a great way for me to stay connected with the people in my life who I don't talk to as often as I should--they read the blog and have a pretty good idea of what is going on with me.

Chris, I look forward to the changes on your site. It just keeps getting better and better. Good work!

Anonymous said...

Ach, that's what they all say, I make people spit up involuntarily...sigh...


Well, I like reading the both of you and I'm happy to give you props.


Bubblehead said...

Whatever you decide to do, just keep writing; a lot of us really like seeing what you have to say. Interestingly, I've probably cut my posting volume in half in the last year or so, but my traffic is higher than ever.

Sisyphus said...

Oh ain't you sweet. With the advent of summer I see people's interest waning significantly both in writing and reading. So I ain't gonna get too worked up over instituting changes anytime soon. On second thought this might be the best time. Chris seemed to work up a plan and had some trial and error issues but the result was great. Take your time on changes and take some personal perspective time. By that I mean get away from it for a while. The truth is out there.

I see your strengths in providing context through thoughtful writing. I don't see this blog going the way of UNo which evolved by going to Chris' strengths and passions and you should do the same. Plus he's more tech savvy than you and me. Many are impressed with your knowledge of baseball and literature. I of course love your political analysis and I'd be keen on seeing you flesh out the players more with some historical context ala Stapilus. You are the youngest of us and therefore the hope of the future by remembering the past.

And yes don't let that soul sucking leach in Murtaugh drain your vital bodily fluids. That is a trial of endurance, one that you will win, simply because the hate he holds in his heart will age him and eventually eat away at all he holds dear.

I look forward to your metamorphosis.

Tara A. Rowe said...

Bubblehead, I've been meaning to ask about your health--I hope all is well and you're feeling better.

Sisyphus, I mean what I say...we all appreciate your writing however sporadic. Your comments to, though not even remotely sporadic! ;)

Byron said...

Tara, I enjoy reading your blog. I agree with many,the quality of your writing great. Your reasoned posts are often thought provoking for me. I'm new to blogging and I have had to learn from many especially Chris and people like you. A few of my work peers and my age peers are reluctant readers of blogs, but they never comment.They are missing out. I hope to get better at blogging because the dialog and perspectives contained in blogs like yours,Chris's and many others represent a forum that is greatly needed to shape public policy.( I love your selections of prose and poetry!) Byron

Julie Fanselow said...

Tara, I am late to this post, sent here by a link posted by Michael Strickland at the IDP's Facebook site, oddly enough ... or perhaps not.

Blogging is definitely evolving. At this point, Facebook has become the center of the online universe. For bloggers, it has become a place to cross-post and drive more traffic, as well as an online space where some longtime bloggers choose to reinvent themselves before a very, very large audience. I have found several friends' and acquaintances' blogs I never knew existed via their cross-posts at Facebook.

So my first point is that while i know you've never been keen on Facebook, I'd encourage you to rethink that since it can help drive new readers your way. Yes, facebook can be a horrible time suck, but only if you let it be. (My personal limit is 5 minutes per hour on weekdays. I'll occasionally treat myself to some more time on weekends, but only if I don't have something else to do.)

Second, I appreciate how - in this post - you have offered a survey of the current state of the Idaho progressive blogosphere. It's definitely been exciting for this proto-blogger to see new blogs like Byron's and Darlene's emerge, and to see "old" favorites like yours, Unequivocal, 43SB, IdaBlue and Mountain Goat remain so relevant.

Whatever you decide to do with TPG, yours will remain one of the strongest solo voices in the Idaho blogosphere. So I do hope you will continue to offer your perspective and insights, even if under another guise or on another platform.