MM NEEDS YOU!

English: Uncle Sam recruiting poster.

HAVE YOU VOTED? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s time for a brazen, unabashed plea for help. Yup, I know, I need help.

Today is the last day for voting on the Expats Blog writing contest. Thank you, thank you, thank you to those of you who have already taken the time to read and comment on my entry. I will love you all for ever and ever.

Anyone who missed my previous pleas for help: I will, of course, also love you for ever and ever. But you can still put a vote in by clicking on this link before 21h GMT tonight, and I’ll share my Smarties with you too.

http://www.expatsblog.com/contests/832/ten-beret-good-things-to-know-about-france-and-french

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Ten Beret Good Things to Know About France and the French.

This is the title of my entry in the writing contest run by Expats Blog, which has just gone on-line and closes at 21h GMT on 20th December. To get your dose of MM fun today, please click on the link below.

Ten Beret Good Things to Know About France and the French.

Although I don’t generally run after trophies, I must admit that if my little blog was awarded a gold, silver or bronze award, I’d be a very chuffed cookie. So if what you read there floats your boat, I would be eternally grateful (and tell you lots of stories, and share my sweets and playmos with you at bloggers’ playtime for ever and ever, amen) if you could leave a comment in the little box below the article – success is directly dependent upon the number and quality of comments for each entry. There’s an email verification on comments, so if you comment don’t forget to confirm that it’s really you who wrote.

Still wondering how important it is for MM that you take part? It’s this important.

Should we let sleeping blogs lie?

I don't have any photos of a sleeping blog, so here is my sleeping dog - Smelly Dog.

I don’t have any photos of a sleeping blog, so here is my sleeping dog – Smelly Dog.

Every so often, I drop by to see you. I’m concerned, but you don’t know. You are comatose, frozen in time. Your stats line bleeps in surprise at my occasional visit, yet no beautiful nurses run in with Dr Carter to wipe your brow and call your family. Nobody does that for a blog. You are a sleeping blog, hanging in the void – waiting to discover if you will be reanimated, remain in creational hibernation, or disappear with a simple, decisive click of a mouse.

As time ticks by, I think back to when I first discovered you. You were one of the first blogs I followed – your positivity made me want to get up, get down, get out, get going and otherwise groove, James Brown style, as I read the latest batch of posts over my morning coffee. You were among the first real people (as opposed to robots) to send shivers of pride down my newbie blogger’s spine when you not only “liked”, but commented on my efforts.

Then suddenly, your posts ceased. I still pop by from time to time, and sigh as your post from six months ago fills the screen, the comments politely paired up below with their replies, like happy couples waiting for a table for two at the diner. I feel like a drug addict, staring through the chemist’s window at his fix of happiness on the shelf.

Never underestimate the effect a good blog post can have on the start of MM's day. You count.

Never underestimate the effect your blog post can have on the start of MM’s day.

I often hope that something wonderful happened to you. Maybe you had another baby, won the pools, inherited a Swiss chocolate factory or got swept off your feet by the working mother’s answer to George Clooney (with or without the coffee machine). Or has something awful happened? Maybe you got the dreaded blogger’s block. It was impossible to conceive that blogging could have fallen out of favour – if I love blogging so much, then surely other bloggers do too… or maybe they don’t. Maybe your life has evolved and changed, and your need for blogging has passed.

My finger has hovered over the mouse so many times – should I write a new comment, and see what happens? Would a quiet nudge in your cyber-spatial ribs revive you?

Thus the question reared its ugly head: should we let sleeping blogs lie?

Hands up if you have ever clicked on that email contact form to check if a fellow blogger is ok… I plead guilty. I nudged a favourite blogger in the past when he uncharacteristically stopped writing. I admit that I was concerned – was he ok? On the other hand… was it really any of my business? Why was I concerned about a person I had never met before? It could be perceived as rude – after all, who was I to get pushy? But could I do without my fix? No. I was uncomfortable to realise that my reasons were also selfish: I missed his posts and the interaction on his blog.

As you follow a blog, you inevitably become involved. You follow a life story, and strangely enough, a bond is created between people who don’t know each other from Adam. Two bloggers who chat regularly in the blogosphere wouldn’t necessarily even recognise each other if they sat side by side on the bus, yet they may bring a necessary smile to each other’s faces on a regular basis. The anonymity of sharing and discussing through the written word means that we are sometimes more prone to revealing our fears and feelings to our readers than we do to those who are close to us in our everyday lives. Welcome to the paradoxical blogging dimension, where people are both friends and complete strangers at the same time.

The Fox Tames The Little Prince

The Fox Tames The Little Prince (Photo credit: Pictoscribe)

This made me realise that blogging involves a risk – one described so well by Antoine de St Exupéry’s “The Little Prince,” when the fox tells the prince:

“To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world….” 

Without being as melodramatic as the fox, who has never blogged and never will do, it’s true that building a relationship with someone, even when you have never met them in person, makes them part of your world. And however small that part may be, you notice when it disappears. Whether it’s a regular reader who suddenly goes off your blog’s radar, or a blogger who stops writing, something goes missing. Or maybe it’s just me? In that case, some of you are probably thinking it’s time to back off from MM’s blog incase she starts getting too demanding. But I don’t think I’m the only person who believes in the fabulous human dynamics of blogging.

So here I sit at the head of your blog bedside in the home for sleeping blogs, hoping that you will come out of your cyber-coma. I miss you. If you’ve stopped blogging for ever, thank you for sharing part of life’s journey with me. But if your stats monitor suddenly bursts into activity, Carter, the nurses and I will all be waiting for you.

An Open Letter to my Phantom Follower.

The phantom follower.

The phantom follower.

Dear phantom follower,

WordPress recently sent me a mail informing me that you have subscribed to my blog – once again. Although I am flattered by your repeated attentions, I am also somewhat flummoxed. I have lost count of the number of times you have signed up over the last few months. I am at a loss to understand why you feel the need to subscribe on such a regular basis; most people subscribe just the once, not once a week.

I am aware that changes of heart can happen; after all, everyone has probably made the decision to unsubscribe from a blog at some point in their blogging experience. That’s life, after all – a blog that initially has the literary attraction of double chocolate cake can lose its appeal and transform into the reader’s equivalent of rice pudding if the reader and/or the writer’s personal interests evolve in different directions, leading to an inevitable rupture as the two bloggers’ paths each go their separate ways.

Such is life. However, changing your mind then changing it back every other week is a surefire sign that you either have no clear idea what you’re after, or you’re a trouble-maker (bloggers call them “trolls”). I did wonder if you get an inexplicable thrill out of hitting that follow/unfollow button – some kind of very sad attempt to control people’s feelings at the press of a button. Surely not. Maybe you have problems with your eyesight and are confusing it with the “Like” button, but it would be very pretentious of me to suggest that. Oops, too late.

You piqued my interest enough to google you, for the same reason that I google numbers that appear too frequently on my mobile phone. You don’t appear to be a blogger. Herr Google informs me, however, that you have a personal diet plan. This put a new slant on the mystery – maybe your hunger pangs wake you at night, and you subscribe to the same blogs again and again in a desperate attempt to counteract your craving for calories. If this is the case, may I suggest that you open the fridge and succumb to the temptation of a large, creamy yoghurt instead? Alternatively, you could busy yourself with some scrapbooking – apparently it is one of your interests. How do I know? Herr Google relates that you have followed and unfollowed a scrapbooking blog until the blogger was so ired that she posted about you in a name and shame campaign. I won’t be naming you, nor shaming you. The first in case you are looking for free publicity (goodness know why) and the second because error is human and you may just have very bad keyboard skills.

I’m sure you don’t want to drag this kind of bad reputation around. Please feel free to read my post “The serial liker” to get a better idea of my attitude to blogging etiquette. Although technically speaking you are a serial subscriber, you’ll get the general gist. And without wanting to be rude, when you’ve finished reading, please make up your mind and stop sitting on the fence. You are free to sign up and read……. or to have a chocolate biscuit or two in front of the telly instead. I promise I won’t tell Herr Google.

Thank you.

Bloggingly yours,

MM.

Written in response to “The Daily Post”, 13th August: “The Art of the Open Letter”.

The serial liker.

At my tender beginnings in WordPress, I saw heaps of Gravatars piling up at the bottom of posts, and humbly wondered whether one day I would be gifted enough to have so many people  reading my blog. Eight months later, I am reassured to see the same Gravatars popping up regularly, proof that someone comes back because they enjoy reading my blog. So I’d like to thank the handful of people who read my blog. Also, my heartfelt thanks to the bloggers I follow, whose posts brighten my day.

Why the sudden profusion of thanks, you wonder?

Simple. It’ll probably make worldly-wise bloggers smile, but I have suddenly realised how gullible I had been in believing that everyone has actually read the article they claim to like. I thought everyone did it, and still hope that it is the case for the majority of bloggers.

You see, less than thirty seconds after publishing a post one morning, I was astonished to see an email from WordPress pop up in my mailbox : “So-and-so thinks your post is pretty awesome….” My jaw dropped open, and I quickly opened my blog and found the post, concerned that half of it had got lost in cyber space during the upload. It hadn’t. So how on earth had my mystery visitor read through it so quickly? Was he or she the Flash Gordon of the reading world, motoring their way at speed through the entire contents of the blogosphere before breakfast?

Curious, I returned to the WordPress category in question. There was my article, and my visitor’s Gravatar. I  scrolled through the other posts: in the space of minutes, my famished “reader” had devoured not only my several hundred words of personalised drivel, but also the articles published on the three following blogs. So in conclusion, my reader was not only skimming’s answer to Usain Bolt, but also magnanimously appreciated everyone’s style, managing to read and like all four articles in less time than it takes my cat to rip a bin bag open. Or maybe not. What if……

Yes, indeed. The serial liker had struck again, prowling on WordPress with his trigger-happy approach to the “like” button. Chasing through a category, he blindly clicks on “like” for every post he sees, marking his territory like a dog lifting a leg against fire hydrants in the desperate hope that the scent will lead back to his blog.

That was a little coarse, I know, but please bear with me. I may be a little naïve, but I think it’s a little risky claiming that you “like” a post without actually reading it first. There are several reasons for this, but here are a few:

  • If you don’t read through to the end, you will never see that when you to the end get and discover that there no interest or English understandable in the text is really, you may just look like a serious not very blogger, which new readers lead to your blog will not.
  • You could put your enthusiastic paw print on an article which quickly diverts from an innocuous title into opinions that you would never, ever want to be associated with simply because you haven’t read through to the end. It’s a bit like signing a blank cheque, with your reputation at stake.
  • Last but not least, you could simply peeve another blogger because you have used their blog as a springboard for your own, but left tangible proof that you didn’t  actually read anything. However, I can’t help wondering whether these visitors imagine that all the “likes” on their pages are 100% genuine….

I have decided to start using the widget that informs readers about the blogs I follow. Check them out, I recommend them because I have read them. More importantly, I really do follow them. They are all different and all bring me something new. I look forward to reading them every day.

When I click that I like a post, it means that I have read it, and liked it. Every. Single. Word.

If you have read through to the end of this post, thank you.  Just out of curiosity, I’d like to ask you for a little connivance:

Please leave me a comment at the end, even if it’s just a quick “hello” or a smiley, without clicking on “like”. Just to see who actually read this…. through to the end. I will be proud to visit your blog, I’ll read through to the end of the post, and if I hit that “like” button, you can be sure I meant it.  Promise.