Wednesday, December 10, 2008

my holga lens life

On Monday, my friend, Michael Dickson, posted a comment contending that 1) my Mexico blog had lost its focus; 2) I should split my current blog into several topical blogs; and 3) he was beginning to doubt that I was actually moving to Mexico.

I have been giving his comment some serious thought. After all, I have always admired his writing, and he has provided me with some excellent advice in the past on everything from computers to cars.

If I were called to court to enter a plea, I would plead nolo contendere to the first two charges, and not guilty to the third.

Focus is always a difficult topic with blogs. We have discussed this topic several times amongst ourselves. The consensus was that we do not write for others (although almost all of us started writing for family and friends). We write to please ourselves. For me, it is simply a joy to sit and string thoughts together. The fact that other people read those thoughts is simply a bonus -- a nice one, I will admit.

I did not have any intention of writing a blog before I started corresponding with Andee Carlsson of
My Life in Chacala. I thoroughly enjoyed her style and sense of adventure. I told her of my plans to move to Mexico and of my scouting trip to La Manzanilla and Barra de Navidad.

On November 23, 2007, she broached the idea of a blog: "I would like to hear about your trip. Do you do a blog or a trip journal? I love reading about other people's journeys. I'm much too curious for my own good probably."

Up until then, I had not thought of putting together a blog. But I kept a journal of the trip and shared it with Andee. When I told her I was thinking about a blog, she responded:

Hi Steve. This is just a quick note. I loved reading your email. I liked
Patzcuaro and the surrounding small towns a lot. I´m glad you are checking them out. And Morelia is only an hour away. And it´s a sophisticated city. I have to go. Let me know when you have a blog going. I would love to see your photos.

The next day, I created this blog, and I have been posting ever since.

As you can see, I am not certain I ever really had a focus for the blog -- other than to talk about what I needed to do to get from where I am now to Mexico.

And, I think I know the issue. Michael is a very analytical, logical person. I suspect that his editing background makes it easy for him to index topics into categories. You would think my legal training would give me a similar talent. It hasn't.

I tend to see everything I do as more of a process. Filing for an FM3 is about moving to Mexico, obviously. But so is my ongoing relationship with my dog. If he is not still alive, he is not going to make the trip.

I suspect that I will retain this same undisciplined Fibber McGee's closet approach to life when I blog in Mexico. It really is a reflection of my mind.

And, Michael, yes, there really is a Mexico. I have scheduled my retirement appointment for the first week of January -- with a retirement date of 30 April. I have signed my first lease running from 1 May through 30 October. And, if I get my FM3, I may stay in the same place through mid-December.

I am coming whether Mexico is ready for me or not. And I intend to buy some jalapeño corn bread in the square from La Guapa Señora


1st Mate said...

Steve - I have a how-to-blog book that advises if you keep on-topic you'll get higher readership because you're easier to classify. That said, I enjoy your meanderings. But I'm sure your blog will take on a much more Mexican flavor after May 1. It's hard to consistently write about Mexico when you're not there.

Gary Denness said...

To be honest, I think Senor Dickson has a point. It could be handy to split your blog into two or more blogs. It depends on how much time and effort you have to devote to such a project. It has it's pros and cons. It could keep readers that would otherwise tire of recipes and delete you from their reading list! On the other hand, splitting the blog up could result in lost readers for some of your writing....

Ironically, the best example I could give would be Michael's collection of blogs. Personally I think he has too many blogs. For me, anyway. Not necessarily for him. He is the author and I assume he's writing serves a greater purpose than purely entertaining me! My initial impression upon seeing his list is one of perplexion. I'm sure I could get it if I took the time, but I'm lazy. I'm subscribed, I think, to his most regularly updated one. I will click on links in his posts that take me to his other blogs from time to time.

No easy answer. If you're happy doing what you're doing, keep doing it. Incidentally, you can now create a second blog and transfer posts from one blog to the other.

jennifer rose said...

Pay no heed to Sr. Dickson.

Until you’re getting paid to blog, you can blog about anything you damn well please.

The Guru of Tzurumutaro garners 18 comments, nearly half of which were his very own, to a post about his carwash, watch, and what he had for breakfast. You, too, diligently respond to visitors’ comments, carrying on a conversation with them. That makes a a blog not dissimilar to a listserve. That’s your privilege. (For more, you can use your Westlaw subscription to read whatever it was that I wrote about that topic about two years ago. I’m not going to look up the cite.)

There are others who view a blog more as publishing tool and less as an interactive vehicle. Comments are welcomed, because they’re a form of stroking and stoking the blogger’s ego. But I’m not going to engage in conversation with those who comment. Not going to do it. Against my values. (I also have taken to answering only e-mail which makes me money or needs to be answered.)

Go ahead and write about whatever pleases you.

On the other hand, I tend to agree with Michael Dickson. Most of the time.

And one more thing, it really irritates me when you use your blog to ask questions. I don’t like that. Please refrain from doing so. Oh, it is your blog, isn’t it?

Steve Cotton said...

These comments are one reason I really appreciate blogs. The comments are civil, witty, and helpful.

Bliss -- I agree that keeping to a specific topic leads to a better blog. And I think it is going to happen naturally. I am getting close enough to the move date that I will most likely go back where I started and make certain everything is moving along fine. Putting in my retirement papers next month will be a major turning point.

Gary -- At the moment, I doubt I would have enough time to keep up more than one blog. I am struggling now just to read all of the helpful blogs each day, and then write my own post. (I swear blog writing is addictive.) When I get situated down south, I hope I will be able to better sort topics as a number of bloggers have. For instance, I doubt everybody will be enthralled with my archaeological ventures.

Jennifer -- If I don't ask questions in my blog, what should I ask? Oops! I forgot, you won't answer. Thanks for the comment. I will continue posting what I find interesting, but I suspect it will now be a bit more focused.

jennifer rose said...

There is only one question which needs to be asked, and its answers are your solution. What do you intend to accomplish by blogging?

Calypso said...

You have really opened a can of worms!

All Blogs are not created equal. Recently I was asked to write a mission statement for my Blog. I had to think…do we need a mission? In the truest sense of the word a Blog is a journal or diary; at least that was how they started out. Now they cover all the bases of journalism I think.

I have but one Blog – it is a bit of a disservice to readers in the sense that it is rather a catch-all from my think pot. There is a search function on my Blog. It has been running for nearly four years and is quite large and ungainly. I am also the master slave for a Forum where even it often gets of subject or diverted from the intended theme of living in Mexico.

What responsibility do you (we Bloggers) have with regard to issues one and two? Readership is optional. Studying the process and altering ones entries to facilitate readers is an interesting proposition, the validity of which is I suppose is dependent on the outcome and the goals (mission statement?).

We (as in your and I) have mentioned that we often are quite entertained by our writing; that in itself has great value I think. Many of us have written about the cathartic nature of the process and resultant verbiage. Apparently this has even raised a question to how one responds to comments; even suggesting Senior Dickson was responsible for half of the comments in one lengthy set of comments. I see no problem with that – if each comment had a corresponding reply the math would dictate that result – so what? Are we not ‘entitled’ to engage our responders?

I for one like the diversity of flavors of Blogs. I have come to expect certain character from the several I read regularly – just as each author has his own slant on the process.

As to point number three – I am not sure I would argue Michaels assessment. But, then even documenting one’s vacillation has value. Moving from one’s homeland and starting an adventure such as moving to Mexico even part time is no small process. I can certainly attest to having known a number of people who didn’t follow through for any number of reasons – I suggest that can be good reading and has its place in the mix – at least for my tastes.

I vote for keep on keeping on and not to worry about the process too much – Michael seems to like to ride you a bit – a little fun that ;-) In the mean time the devil is in the details – give ‘em to us!

Islagringo said...

Nonsense, all of it nonsense. When people complained about crap on television, the answer was simple. Change the channel or turn it off. Same with a blog. For those who don't like "off focus" posts, think you ask too many questions or think that a blog should have a higher moral purpose than just to entertain, go somewhere else. Simple.

Ms Rose, I found parts of your comments so incredible rude I could not believe they were coming from you. Not going to comment on comments because it is against your values?? What kind of values do you have that allow you to be so rude as to not acknowledge people's interest of your blog with a simple thank you? Comments must stroke and stoke you in some way or you wouldn't even bother reading them. And look. You even came back to see if Mr Cotton responded to your comment and commented again! I smell a bit of a hypocrite.

Anonymous said...

Please don't change a thing. I love your blog it's the first one read most mornings. I'm also planning to retire in Mexico, love to cook or read recipes mostly, just lost my dog after 15 years and have many lawyers and judges in the family. I don't want to read just about Mexico (although that's what first attracted me to your blog) I want to read about you.

Theresa in Mèrida said...

Steve, part of me regrets splitting out the cooking blog from my regular blog, because now I seldom blog about cooking. But my blog is about what I am doing so naturally cooking fits in, but maybe sometime down the road I will begin to blog about food again.
I admire the fact that you find something to blog about almost daily, and right now I view your blog as being in the getting to know you stage. Later it may be more focused, or it may stay a scatter gun, it all depends upon whether it's important to you to gather more readers.
I am always amazed that I have 2000 readers a month, but I know that there are many blogs who have ten times that many readers. Do I do things to attract new readers? I don't think that I consciously do that.
I enjoy your blog, I read it almost every day. Something must be right!

Anonymous said...

I love the blog just the way it is. I am a huge Mexico lover, owning a vacation/rental property in Isla Mujeres, but also love reading about everyday life with Mr Jiggs, retirement issues, etc.

If you are blogging for yourself and/or family, then just keep doing it as you please.

Much like Wayne/Isla Gringo - sometimes it's about Isla, sometimes it's about NOB - you just never know!

Paul said...

Steve, excellent post. I always appreciate the careful and considered approach you give to whatever it is you have chosen to write about. Whenever I buy a newspaper, it is not necessary that I enjoy every article in it. I skim and skip. And I would guess I would skim and skip even a newspaper edited by Michael...(although I do pretty much read everything he blogs about).

Your blog is entitled Same Life--New Location. To me, that means you can write about anything you want. It's your life. I like knowing about the homeless you reach out to in a park and I will be anxious to see how that aspect of you expresses itself when you relocate to Mexico. It will be the same life finding new ways to express itself.

My favorite bloggers are those I feel a friendship with, a friendship that is permitted because they have shared so openly about all parts of their life, not just those related to a theme. Both you and Michael do this very well and I look forward daily to sharing in your life through reading your posts.

I blog because it is fun. It keeps me alert every day for new topics and creative ways of handling them. You are quite adept at this which encourages me in turn to try new ways and new thoughts.

Good luck with your January retirement discussions and your move thereafter. It is difficult to write about a place when you are not there. (I've been trying to do that for the past several months also.)

Happy Holidays to you, my friend.

GlorV1 said...

Blogging I think is for people who don't have nothing better to do.....Oh, I guess that means me too. :) Just teasing Steve. I blog because I like to read what I write and I'm not ashamed to say that getting comments makes it more enjoyable. That's pretty much it.

Anonymous said...

Pls continue "as is". Sharing thoughts and info with readers is, I think, the basis for blogs...If I want specifics, I'll go to the library.
Best Regards,

Glenn said...

Live for the moment. A little meandering here and there makes life interesting. You have less than five months until you're in Mexico!

Unknown said...

Leave the blog as it is! A second blog is just torturous work. I vote with the majority. It's a good blog. I believe it will evolve into more about Mexico when you live there. Felix Navidad, my friend.

Steve Cotton said...

Thank you all for the comments.

Anonymous said...

I can see Sr. Dickson's point. The thought had crossed my own mind (points #1 and #2). But as one of the commenters above notes, it's probably hard to maintain a Mexico blog for long without spending a lot of time there. This is something that has occupied my own thoughts as I consider writing my own Mexico blog. Someday.

Still, I enjoy your blog quite a bit.

Fond regards,

Kim G
Boston, MA

Steve Cotton said...

Kim -- As always, Michael has a point. My obvious dilemma is that I want to keep writing, but not about the few steps I have left to move south. Until I do, this will be eclectic central. Of course, that will be true after I move, as well. It is just the way I write.

Anonymous said...

Keep doing what you are doing. I agree with what Wayne said “For those who don't like "off focus" posts, think you ask too many questions or think that a blog should have a higher moral purpose than just to entertain, go somewhere else. Simple"
I read a lot of blogs and some of my favorite bloggers occasionally write posts that I skip because the topic does not interest me. I exercise my right to read or not read posts just like everyone else can.
I do look forward to your blog taking on a more Mexican focus once you get to your new home. You are just a few years ahead of what I plan on doing when I retire. I am sure I will learn a lot from your experiences once you get to Mexico.

Steve Cotton said...

Jackie -- And the day that will put me to the test is coming soon.

Hollito said...

Steve, most is already said, so I keep it short:
Go on with your blog the way you did and do, and do not pay attention to the BS others are telling you.
All this "you blog *must* have an intention and *must* focus on something" blabla is not even worth thinking about it.
The people who write this about your blog should better mind their own business...

Steve Cotton said...

Hollito -- You are correct that blogging is a personal responsibility. And my blog will continue to be y blog. But I am always interested in hearing advice on how it can be improved. Good to hear from you again. Welcome back.