September 21, 2014 by Paula Reed Nancarrow
I am grateful for any and all attention this blog receives.
Even though on a very essential level I write for myself, for insight, and my blog is a vehicle for moving that process forward and facilitating my story work, I know I have more motivation to blog weekly because my post will get traffic and be read and commented on by others, particularly other writers I respect, colleagues who blog regularly.
After all, nobody wants to work in isolation. Well, almost nobody.
Blogging is a lot like performance storytelling. The audience is practically in the room with you. Sometimes it’s a tough house; sometimes the football game’s on the big screen over the bar and they’re distracted; sometimes what they have to say when you’re finished is not what you had hoped to hear. But when they are paying attention, when they get it, when something you write moves them or brings them to an insight of their own – that’s every bit as satisfying as a round of applause.
My first nomination for a blog award, the Liebster, was initially a thrill.
Nillu Nasser Stelter sent me an email in mid March of this year, asking me if I was willing to accept the nomination. The award involved answering a set of questions provided by the person who last received the award, and then nominating others who were to do the same thing.
Oh, I thought. Like a chain letter.
But I agreed – because I truly was honored, and I liked Nillu, and this is how I was told relationships – and traffic – were built.
For my Liebster post, I decided I would introduce the bloggers I knew through the #MondayBlogs #wwwblogs and #ArchiveDay hashtags on Twitter to the storytellers I knew who blogged, as they were not connected to this community.
It took me a month to get all my storytellers lined up, get their pictures and bios together, and finally respond to Nillu’s questions. Out of the five well-intentioned but very busy storytellers who agreed to answer my questions, I got one actual completed response. It was a great post, but not the series I had intended.
Still, I have no right to complain.
Next came the Writing Process Blog Hop.
This is not exactly an award, but it has a similar “tag, you’re it!” structure. The lovely Teagan Kearney sent me an email and asked me if I would agree to be included. I was to answer 4 questions: What are you working on? How is your work different from others? Why do you write what you write? and How does your writing process work? Then I was supposed to tag four more bloggers.
I told her I’d love to participate, but I had already been nominated for the Liebster award, so I wasn’t sure how soon I could get to it. There was no set time, she said; as soon as I managed would be fine. And she put me in her March post.
My Liebster post was published in April. I have yet to manage.
In June the equally lovely Lisa Reiter tagged me in a separate Writing Process Blog Hop. Lisa is working on a memoir about surviving stage IV cancer, and I have missed her posts over summer vacation, when she’s been quite rightly focusing on family. She too asked me beforehand if I’d be willing to participate. I said I was honored, but I had also been tagged in another Blog Hop – could they perhaps be combined? She didn’t see why not. So I agreed. Which is why I appear in her post.
You will not, however, find a Writing Process Blog Hop post anywhere on my site.
Once my Liebster post was done, I started looking for other writers who had not previously been tagged in a Writing Process Blog Hop.
This was surprisingly time consuming. In the meantime, I needed to stick to my own weekly blog schedule, hold down two part-time jobs that added up to one full time one, and find time to write and perform stories. I finally sent three emails out, got one “yes, after I get back from vacation” and never heard from the other two. Nor did I really have time to follow up on the one, or seek additional prospects.
Meanwhile I was nominated for the Versatile, One Lovely Blogger, and Very Inspirational awards.
Often this was announced in a Twitter post or in a comment on my blog. I turned down several; politely, I hope. A couple of times I’ve been too busy at work to respond right away, so I’ve thanked the person, starred the tweet to respond to later, then not gotten back to explain that I would be unable to participate. I had too many blogligations (a word I once thought I had coined, but is apparently in the Urban Dictionary dated 2008. I know this courtesy of Lisa.)
I first saw the “Award Free Blog” badge on Diane Mottl’s blog.
She explained her own struggle with awards, and linked to another author, J. W. Alden, who had created the badge. Though it’s here for illustration, I’m reluctant to actually use the badge on my own site. Being Freshly Pressed in April was an award of sorts, one that came with no blogligations, just a lot of traffic, comments, and new followers. It seems inconsistent for me to claim to be “award-free” and then pick and choose which awards I accept.
In many ways this post is a draft for an Awards Policy page, to go next to my page on Social Practice. If anyone has seen such a policy elsewhere (the two posts above excepted), I’d appreciate a link in the comments. And if you have any ideas about what should go into an awards policy, I’d like to hear that too.
The fact remains that each and every time I have been nominated for an award I’ve been honored and pleased.
And each nomination has given me a special awareness of and affection for the person (or in one case, persons) who nominated me. In many ways we dance together.
But I have to wonder whether blog awards that depend on tagging others are the best way to grow a community in the social media era.
I try to make the most of memes like #MondayBlogs and #wwwblogs and #ArchiveDay. In this way I am getting to know bloggers new to me, and participating in an online community in a way that can ebb and flow with my offline commitments.
That’s the best I can do right now. Is it enough? What do you think?