The Judy Lee Dunn blog is almost five years old. I’ve evolved from a marketing focus to a social media slant and, finally, to my ultimate love and my life’s purpose, telling stories.
I cut my teeth on learning how to write a really good how-to post: 5 Ways to Do This, 8 Tricks for Doing That. It was all about being useful, about having the answers to problems readers were wondering about (or googling).
As my friend, the amazing editor and award-winning blogger Victoria Mixon says:
“I started posting numbered lists and wow. My stats doubled the first day. And they kept rising after that. Who would have guessed. People love lists.”
And it was true.
But the winds of blogging are changing.
I read a post this summer on Mitch Joel’s blog, Six Pixels of Separation. It really made me think and the entire post is well worth the read. He calls it “the end of easy” and says, in part:
It was bound to happen. We were heading for a place where ‘top ten’ and ‘how to’ types of blog posts may become redundant or rudimentary…to a place where those who were never going to stick it out with blogging for the long haul are busy on Twitter and Facebook, where they can share without the burden of having a passion for writing. So, in the end, maybe what’s new for blogging is a place where real bloggers step in and create a new type of copy for the world to consume.
Maybe it is where I am right now as a blogger, but his words made so much sense to me. He is giving bloggers the freedom to experiment, to try on different voices, and to see what their audience connects with.
I believe that bloggers with opinions and writers with stories to tell, will lead us to the next generation of blogging. Because, in the end, all we really have are stories: ours, our family’s, our friends.’
Stories are all around us. They tell us who we are. And they connect us with others through their universal truths.
Story as the connecting thread
So, can a blog based on opinion and personal stories leave readers feeling that they understand themselves a little better? To know they can make it through life in one piece? That bad things can happen and they can see a way out, because someone else made it through?
I think so.
As my friend Victoria says:
We want to read about someone whose life is weird and unexpected enough to be fascinating, while their reactions are ordinary enough to be poignantly familiar. Someone who screws up just like us, but handles it better than we do, who can fall over a footstool and land on their feet still walking, the eternal Dick Van Dyke.
I think that the next generation of blogging will move people past how do I solve this problem to what are the things in life that connect us: as writers, as reader, as bloggers.
What’s Cowboy Macaroni got to do with it?
Stories humanize us. For example, if I were writing about perseverance in the face of adversity, I might tell my Cowboy Macaroni story.
Because we’ve all (well, most of us) had hard times when we were starting out, whether as a business or in our personal life. I was a 20-something single parent. A newly minted teacher with a pittance of a salary. When I found out that my child qualified for free hot lunch, I was mortified. I knew as a teacher how she would be treated. In those days, the free lunchers were separated out and given a color coded “ticket.” Everyone knew who the poor kids were. In a fierce display of misplaced pride, I refused to complete the registration form.
In the last week before each monthly paycheck, I would scour the car floor and the back side of couch cushions for coins for gas and kitchen staples.
At the end of one particularly rough month, the well was bone dry. My daughter, six at the time, cheerfully asked, “What’s for dinner, Mom?” I panicked. A quick inventory showed a quart of milk, a half package of elbow macaroni, a bottle of ketchup and some chili powder.
I searched my brain for an answer. “Tonight we’re having… Cowboy Macaroni!” I said.
I boiled the macaroni, strained the water, added ketchup and chili powder and stirred until heated.
It became her favorite dinner.
She still looks back fondly on that experience. “Remember when you used to make me Cowboy Macaroni?” I couldn’t resist and one day I told her the whole story. She had no idea.
And what about divorcing witches?
I might also write about how a sense of humor will get you through just about anything life throws you. Like the time I showed up for my final divorce hearing in a witch’s costume. (See, you thought I had written a trick post title, didn’t you?)
My hearing was scheduled for the afternoon of October 31. Yes, Halloween. A parent of one of my first graders had kept me on the phone so late that I had no time to change from the classroom party. My lawyer had forewarned me that this judge puts up with no nonsense and would cancel the hearing if the clients or attorneys were late.
I made it with not a second to spare.I ran into the courtroom and sat down next to my attorney, amid shocked silence. The judge looked at me in consternation.
Not missing a beat, I said, “Your honor, I just want to say that I hope you don’t believe everything my husband has said about me.”
The courtroom erupted in laughter.
I’m quite sure he never forgot that case.
So, what about you?
Are you getting tired of numbered lists and how-to posts?
Do you think blogging is changing?
What do you think is in the future of blogging?