Tag Archives: Blogging

Follow-Up: I Love Blogs That

I’m still digging through all the great recommendations in comments from my last post! It’s fun to see what you’re interested in, and how these blogs are quite like some of my favorites. After all, they

* tell stories
* tell about process, if the blog is about making
* use words thoughtfully
* inspire the reader
* show the writer cares about the reader.

Also, several of you commented about preferring blogs that don’t emphasize sales, and those that are (at least mostly!) grammatically correct. I AGREE with both of these points!! It is hard to read posts that haven’t been edited. And while I cheer for those who can make a living with their quilting and writing, their blog pages are often messy with advertising and affiliate links, or their posts are too centered on advertising and products.

I’m on the road AGAIN, so will leave it here for now. Thanks again for all the great ideas. Feel free to leave more, here or on the prior post.

I Love Blogs That

* tell stories
* tell about process, if the blog is about making
* use words thoughtfully
* inspire the reader
* show the writer cares about the reader.

These are blogs I follow, and this is the kind of blog I want to create.

I’ve been blogging at WordPress for more than four years. And I’ve enjoyed reading here for just as long. However, many of the bloggers I used to follow have dropped out of the process. They no longer write, or at least, not using the same url. I’d love to find a few more blogs, thoughtfully written, to follow.

Do you have favorite blogs to recommend? What do you look for in blogs you follow? They can be WordPress blogs or anyone’s!  They can be quilting blogs or any kind! Please tell us in comments. ALSO please stop back through, comment on other comments, add more as you think of them! Let’s have a conversation about great blogs we enjoy. I’ll look forward to your thoughts.

Things I’ve Learned From Blogging

This is my 400th post at Catbird Quilt Studio. It feels like this should be a profound moment in some way, but it’s not. In truth I don’t know how many blog posts I’ve written. A few of the posts here were re-blogs, though most were my original work. But I also contribute to the Our View From Iowa blog with Jim. We have 330 posts between us, some written by me and some by him and some by both of us. And before coming to WordPress, I contributed at a couple of other sites, totaling well north of 100 posts there. Let’s just guess there are something like 700 posts.

Rather than worrying about how many I’ve written, it might be better to consider what I’ve learned through the process. Below are some thoughts about writing and reading blogs (and posts elsewhere, such as Facebook,) and about relationships in our digital world.

ABOUT WRITING
Respect your readers. Assume they are intelligent and capable, and write to that level.

Offer something of value; make it worth the readers’ time. A story, a tutorial, helpful pointers on process, or just a great photo can make a reader glad they clicked in.

Edit. Edit for clarity, basic grammar, and spelling. Even with editing, mistakes happen. Fix them when you see them.

Don’t post when angry. Rants can be fun to write and read, but rants also can cause damage. Write when angry, perhaps, but re-read, edit, and post (or not) after you’ve calmed down.

Welcome comments and questions. Don’t just invite them, also respond to them. It’s a small way to acknowledge readers’ time and effort. I prefer to respond on the blog. I think it is more inclusive for all readers that way.

Give credit. Use links, credit photos, provide references and original sources. It’s not hard, and it’s the right thing to do.

ABOUT READING
Give the writer the benefit of the doubt. This includes both the person who originally posted as well as those who comment.

Disagree respectfully. Don’t call names, of the individual or whatever affiliation they seem to represent. If you’re disagreeing on a matter of fact, cite sources. If it is a matter of opinion, remember we’re all entitled to our own. Walking away often is a good strategy, regardless of the point of disagreement.

xkcd “Duty Calls”. http://xkcd.com/386/

Not everyone comes from your background. The online world includes all kinds, from all places. Maybe she calls it a “cushion” when really it is a “throw pillow.” Who cares?

Use your time wisely. Reading blogs is not an adequate substitute for real life. DO stuff, too. If you are a quilter, go quilt. If you have a spouse or other family or friends, talk to them. If you love to bake, bake something. Don’t just read baking blogs and imagine what great things you could make.

ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS IN OUR DIGITAL WORLD
Our online connections include blogging, Facebook and other social media sites, and basic email with people we’ve known for decades. I’ll preface this by saying I’ve had enormously rewarding personal experiences online, as well as deeply disappointing, even upsetting ones. Jim and I have even traveled halfway across the country to meet multiple people we’ve known online. Sometimes that has gone great (Hi Jim F! Hi Ben!) and other times less so.

A lot has been written about how difficult it is to convey meaning in words, without the larger context of intonation and facial expression. Some people always sound like jerks in writing. It can be hard to separate those who actually are jerks from those who are not. This is where it helps to know someone in a broader way.

Because we are working with limited information when dealing with people online, all of the above writing and reading pointers can help. Here are a couple more thoughts.

People disappear. Bloggers quit blogging, sisters slam doors, people you thought were dear friends walk away. After an attempt or two to communicate, let them go.

RPT is key. RPT stands for “Real People Time.” It’s the term Jim and I use for opportunities to socialize in person with others. While it’s tempting to hole up here by ourselves, we always feel better when we have a little RPT.

Blogging, in general, has been wonderful for me. I’ve made friends I would never have made without it. I’ve shared my quilting with thousands more than would have seen it otherwise. I’ve researched plants and animals and history. I’ve sharpened my technical writing skills with tutorials. This may be my 400th post or my 700th post, depending on how you count. The enrichment in my life has been infinite.

Thank you for reading this post. If you stop by regularly, please know I appreciate it. 

Post #300!

I just realized that my previous post was #299 here at Catbird Quilt Studio!

Stats
My first post was on 7/21/2013.
From that day to today, there are 677 days.
That means I’ve posted here roughly every 2.25 days.
My posts have had more than 76,600 views, or an average of about 255 views each.
By far the most viewed post is Economy Block ANY Size! (With Cheat Sheet), with more than 7,300 views.
The second most viewed is Medallion Sew-Along #1 — Getting Started, with more than 2,400 views.
My least viewed post is Making Progress, with a whole 9 views. Yep, that is NINE. Come on, show it a little love!
My first photo of a quilt finished after this blog opened was of the quilt in my banner above.

My Medallion Quilt. Finished August 2013. Photo by Jim Ruebush.

My most recent photo of a finished quilt is Marquetry.

adjusted

Marquetry. 87″ square. Finished May 2015. Photo by Jim Ruebush.

A Request
I’ve really enjoyed the past 22 months and 299 posts. One of the best parts of blogging is interacting with you. To help me celebrate, please leave a comment. (If you prefer, you may email me at catbirdquilts at gmail dot com.) Tell me something about how you found this blog, or why you read, or whether you’ve been inspired to make a medallion quilt because of reading here… In addition, if you like what you see, consider passing the word on to other quilters you know. Share on Facebook; tell your friends. I also teach classes and do guild presentations; check with your program committee if you’d like me to visit your guild.

And THANK YOU. Thank you for reading, for commenting, for becoming my blog friends over time. Thank you.

Off Kilter?

Have you ever noticed that the word “kilter” is only seen with “off” or “out of”? “Off kilter” means “unbalanced,” But “kilter” used by itself doesn’t mean “balanced.” In fact it’s never used by itself.

I’ve been a little off kilter lately. Or at least, my time is balanced differently. Early in April I spent a lot of time preparing for a presentation. Both the prep and presenting were rewarding. Since then I’ve been absorbed in prepping for a medallion class I’m teaching at a local quilt shop. As you may have noticed, blogging hasn’t been a big priority.

Short-term priorities aren’t always the same as long-term priorities. Working on deadline does have a tendency to concentrate the mind!

Longer term, my blogs, and more generally my writing are big priorities. Words are important, and I think a lot about how to use them to connect and to teach, and simply to express myself, even if no one is listening.

Priorities… some are clear to me and some less clear. I’ve pondered them over the last few months, trying to make helpful decisions for today and the future. Two items that keep rising to the top of my list are balance and power.

Priorities, balance, power… Get the first one right and the others will follow, yes?

Priorities need to be identified to know direction, to keep from flailing around while grasping for something better. Know what you consider to be “better,” and then work toward that. As I taught my financial management students, you have to know the question, identify the client’s needs and goals, in order to solve their problems. This holds true whether solving the problem of investing for retirement, or solving a relationship issue, or just calculating the length of a border strip.

For me balance has to do with how I spend my time, energy, and money, as well as my emotions. If I plunge into a large project at the expense of other parts of my life, it might create imbalances that would trouble me. I need time for quilting and writing and teaching and hiking and family and friends and healthy eating and activity, not necessarily in that order! I need to balance the emotionally satisfying parts of my life with those that are less so. Basic maintenance is required, even when it doesn’t stir my soul.

And power – I don’t need power over anyone but myself. Working independently suits me well. Likewise, I don’t want others to have power over me. I don’t want to be subject to the whims of others, any more than need be. Recognizing my own (existing) power and where I cede it to others is part of my concern.

I gain power when I’m successful in my efforts, and I am the one who gets to define “success.” Recently I finished a quilt that was intended to be a wall-hanging. The wool batting I used left it thick, bunchy, spongy. It isn’t a wall-hanging, and I am sorely disappointed in that. However, it’s a heckuva lap quilt, a beautiful design, and a worthy experiment. I found power in the attempt.

I lose power when I let others control my actions or emotions. I lose power when I let others get away with disrespectful behavior. Anyone who thinks they can push me around without me pushing back doesn’t know me very well. Anyone who repeatedly disrespects me should expect that I will tell them – as respectfully as I can – what their words or actions mean to me. Being “correct” in what they say is not enough. How the message is conveyed and how it may be received is important. Saying hurtful things and then blaming me is not acceptable.

More than a month ago someone stopped talking to me. I don’t really know why. I’ve made overtures to her, unreturned. One thing I know is that you can’t make people care about you. They either will or won’t. It’s like being “friends” in Facebook. If one person “unfriends” another, they are not friends anymore. There isn’t any unilateral friendship. It has to go both ways. I won’t chase anyone down. I’ve made that mistake before – and I will not cede that power again. Their decisions are their own. Her decisions are her own. I sincerely hope she feels peaceful about the whole thing. Yet the whole episode leaves me a little unsettled, off kilter.

So I am working hard on identifying my priorities. Actually there is a pretty good list above: quilting and writing and teaching and hiking and family and friends and healthy eating and activity, not necessarily in that order! But those are broad terms. Developing clear descriptions of those items is needed in order to implement my goals. And finding the right balance and owning my power are essential to making this list work.

Bear with me while I reconnect with you here on the blog. Over the last month, my writing has been sporadic at best. But I have a number of things planned. And yes, those plans support my goals, my priorities, for the future.

I’m feeling more kilter all the time.