Blogging to adventure!
By BECKY MUSHKO
Suggestions for New Bloggers:
- Have several
possible titles in mind in case your first
choice is taken.
- Decide on your
theme/purpose before setting up a blog.
- Write your
blog entries in advance so you can copy and
- Decide on your
blog’s look. Blogger offers several templates.
- Keep your blog
simple; don’t add with music (unless you’re a
musician), special effects, or anything else
that detracts from your message.
Eponym: Basic package, which includes 10MB
of storage and 100MB per month of bandwidth, is
free, but upgrades start at $4.95 per month for
200 MB Disk Space and 1 GB Monthly Bandwidth.
Word Press: No tutorial. I don’t know much
about this one.
LiveJournal: Five account types: Free, Early
Adopter, Sponsored+, Paid, and Permanent. All
LiveJournal accounts can use LiveJournal core
features, such as posting entries and comments,
customizing journal appearance, and
participating in communities. For additional
features, you can purchase a Paid Account
(benefits) or upgrade to a Sponsored+ Account
I first heard about blogs a couple of years ago at the
Virginia Festival of the Book. Blogs --on-line journals,
diaries, open for the world to read -- were touted as a way
for writers to build a readership. Later, at various
writers’ conferences, I kept hearing, “Every writer ought to
have a blog.”
I already had a website, so I wasn’t sure I needed a blog.
Did I really want to tell strangers about my life, thoughts,
etc.? I decided to do a bit of research. I read some blogs
about writing and literature. Some were boring and
self-serving. Others were doggone interesting. Some were an
education in publishing.
Eventually, I started reading non-writer blogs--ones by
families who posted pictures of their kids’ activities,
angry young people who flung their angst into cyberspace,
folks telling their family histories so the stories won’t be
lost, folks with an agenda--you name it, somebody has
I discovered the
Project , in which bloggers can list their blogs by the
decade in which they were born. I read a few blogs from my
decade—the 1940s—and found them interesting and informative.
Then I looked at other decades. If 93-year-old
Donald Crowdis could blog, maybe I could too. If “Incendiary
Granny” could shoot “sparks straight from the hip for
better than eight decades,” maybe I also had some blogger
Ralph Leonard was still playing in his “Last
Quarter—Game of Life”, maybe I could play, too.
Leonard identifies his blog as “musings of an old goat,” and
then adds, “Reason tells me I am straining at the upper time
limits of this game we were thrust into so many years ago.
But I remain curious about all sorts of things. I find that
the physical discomfort of living is totally overcome by the
joys of living, learning, and loving. Every dawn gives
promise of a new adventure.”
Ready to blog
After a few months of blog reading, I was ready for a new
adventure: I wanted to blog.
I logged on to
of the free blog sites and reportedly one of the easiest
ones to use--and read the tutorial. Several times.
Posting a blog didn’t look terribly difficult. A few clicks
was all it took. I could even pre-write my posts in a
word-processing document and then copy and paste.
Since I write and live in the country, I chose “ruminations
on writing and rural living” for my blog’s theme. Everything
I blogged would be about those two subjects. Later I added
“and occasionally a border collie” to include the adventures
of my pup Maggie.
Because I write the humor column “Peevish Advice” for the
Smith Mountain Eagle and because I live (and write) in
Penhook, I called my blog “Peevish Pen.” Luckily no one else
was using that name, so my blog’s URL became
I studied the plethora of templates that Blogger offered.
Finally I picked “Scribe” because it looked writerish. Some
other templates were customizable, but I wanted a simple
blog with a design that looked business-like and organized.
I didn’t want visuals to overwhelm my words.
Because Blogger requires users to sign in every time they
post or edit, I picked a username and password that I could
easily remember--and then wrote it down so I wouldn’t
forget. While Blogger now comes in a Beta version with more
bells and whistles, the original version has everything --
and more -- than I need. I especially like three
Anonymity (or not): Blogger allows a user to remain
anonymous. At first I identified myself only by first name.
Then I decided if the object of my blog was to make me and
my books more visible, I should identify myself. Now my blog
header identifies me as Becky Mushko.
Reader Interaction: Users can choose unmoderated
comments, moderated comments, or no comments. At first I
chose no comments. Then I chose to moderate any comments
that someone leaves. Consequently, I get an email message
from Blogger whenever someone leaves a comment. Then I click
to approve its posting or disapprove. So far, I’ve approved
all the comments that individual posters left, but I’ve
refused a couple of blatantly commercial comments from
Ease of Use: The picture uploading instructions are
straightforward, and three size and placement options allow
all the flexibility I need for picture placement. Blogger
allows copying and pasting of text from a word processing
document, a feature that not all blogs offer. Blogger also
allows easy editing or deletion of posts.
Other area bloggers
Several of my writer friends also have blogs.
Marion Higgins, author of “When Men Move to the
Basement” and who lives on the Blackwater River, blogs about
“retirement, writing, puppies, and whatever else strikes my
Smith Mountain Lake resident
Jack Rupert, who for years has entertained members of
Lake Writers with his stories about being a kid in the
1930s, blogs his childhood memories. His kids and grandkids,
scattered all over the US, can share in his memories.
So can his friends. Huddleston resident
Sally Roseveare, author of “Secrets of Spawning Run,”
discovered a high school teacher still lived when she
blogged about finding his book.
Sometimes blogs lead to bigger and better things. The
October 2006 issue of Prime Living featured an article about
Fred First, whose “Fragments From Floyd” blog
became his book, “A Slow Road Home.”
While many blogs are public, some are private. Some have
more than one person who posts messages. Group blogs enable
family members to keep in touch or friends with a common
interest to share ideas.
Getting started as a blogger takes a couple of hours to get
the hang of what all the blogging features are, to become
comfortable with how things work, and to learn what icon
does what. But it isn’t really difficult. After a day or
two, you’ll be posting your entries in minutes.
Blogs aren’t just for writers; they’re for anyone who wants
to post a message to family, to friends, to the world.
Becky Mushko is writer-in-residence for Roanoke County
Comments or questions? E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.