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Nake-id in Blogland

Petrovski Leslie
By Leslie Petrovski

The first blog I ever saw was a knitting blog. I had been on Internet walkabout, wasting time searching for yarn and knitwear designs, when I stumbled on this thing. It wasn’t exactly a web site. And it wasn’t a chat room. It was like this digital dumping ground for some chick’s knitting.

Why would anyone care about her knitting? Why would she think anyone cared about her knitting?

Clearly this was modern solipsism at its worst.

Then I went back to her site. And back again. She sure did knit a lot. She also had great ideas for mixing yarns and showed great color sense. Soon I was visiting every day, checking her links, wondering about her life. Was she married? Did she have kids? I started haunting other knitting blogs, too, interested as much in the voices of these women as their knits. By the time Vogue Knitting published a story I wrote about knitting blogs, I had to have one.

When I started blogging on March 11, 2003, my brother remarked, “How very 2002 of you.”

My first posts were stupid. I wondered online why I couldn’t find a grey-haired avatar with an estrogen patch, wrote dreadful analyses of the Kerry-Bush campaign and posted pictures of my knitting and cats. (Come to think of it, that’s what I do now.)

For six and a half years, I’ve photographed yarn, logged recipes, described sunsets and traded quips. I’ve recommended books and restaurants (Billy Boy BBQ in Shawnee, Okla. put it on your life list), linked to Twitter, friended folks, shared heartbreaks and read about others. It’s a bit like having an annoying cat, which demands constant feeding and is forever yacking up hairballs.

When other writers ask about blogging, what they typically want is assurance that they can “monetize” their efforts or leverage their blogs for marketing purposes. This can happen. You could be lifted out of obscurity like Julie Powell and set down all-of-a-piece on the red carpet, dazed and wondering where to get a good pedicure. Or you could lard your blog with Google Ads, hoping to strike it rich $.000001 at a time.

The trend for writers—and indeed everyone looking to put their stamp on the digital world—is to build personal brand. You’ll see writers who are using their blogs as audience-development platforms, sites designed to keep readers engaged and interested between books. The mouth-watering photography and clever ideas (such as kohlrabi greens pesto for grilled pizza) in Jeff Hertzberg’s and Zoë François’ blog, “Artisan Bread in Five,” connect customers to their franchise (Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day) and prime them for the next release, Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day. Their “tweets” add to the conversation—and build brand.

Some people like Jeff and Zoë are good, disciplined bloggers and don’t veer off-topic. Others take the opposite tack and strip their personal lives bare, detailing drinks and dates consumed in literary Technicolor. Others rise because of their humor and deft writing. One knitting blogger, the Yarn Harlot, has become a best-selling humorist on the strength of her witty musings about the knitting life. Really.
Me? Six-and-a-half years and still slogging away in the provinces. Of course I dream about Nake-id Knits, the movie. But posts about recalcitrant heirloom tomatoes and the pressures of setting in a sleeve don’t make compelling cinema.

The blog compels me, though. Some weeks it’s the only creative work I do. Working at home, it provides a link to a community of other knitters and writers. It gives me ideas for stories—and sweaters. It affords me a place to gas on about sustainable energy, organic yarn and green tomatoes. I can fail here and succeed (and I can search it when I can’t remember the name of the last book I read.) Some days I sit down and am fallow. Other days feel rich and yeasty. It’s a great container for the intellectual dust motes that float by. It frames a good day.

To blog or not to blog? If you have a book contract or very specific goals (say you want to establish yourself as the world’s expert on chutney or sumo wrestling), it might behoove you to visit WordPressBlogger or Typepad and blog up.

Or if you simply want to practice your craft, stay nimble or wait for Mr. DeMille to shoot your close-up, a blog is as good a place as any to do those things.

Leslie Petrovski is a former CAL president and writes the blog, Nake-id Knits.


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