Riding Bitch

The daily musings of a writer.


On My First Year of Blogging

A year ago I literally knew nothing about blogging. I had never used WordPress before. I didn’t read blogs. I didn’t know how to build or tag a post. The idea of reaching hundreds or thousands of readers felt completely impossible. I felt like one snowflake floating down to join  millions of others. How would anyone notice me? How would I find other like-minded folks? Did I have the courage to write about my life, worries, hopes, dreams and fears? Did I have anything substantial to offer? I always thought one had to be an expert at something to blog. The only thing I felt knowledgeable about was grief. I was an expert at sobbing. Would that attract readers?

Of course, I knew other things, a little about filmmaking, a little about writing, a little less about motorcycles, even less about raising a puppy. As a result, the blog has morphed into a hodge-podge of personal reflections, memories, advice and whatever expertise I can beg, borrow or steal. You might not know what to expect from one post to the next, but hopefully that’s part of the fun.

Little by little, I have learned (and continue to learn) how to blog. I learned to stop worrying if I would be Freshly Pressed (or Freshly Pressed again) and stop hitting the Stats button every five minutes after publishing. I learned to let go of fear and just let my soul speak. I learned that blogging is more about relationships than anything else.

One of my very first blogger friends was Paula B of The Temenos Journal. She had recently lost her beloved Tim and started her blog a week after I did. Separated by thousands of miles (she lives in Canada, I in Los Angeles), we would cry and laugh at each other’s posts, and encourage each other to keep going and not give up on life. 

I met Darcy Thiel at Help For Healing who was nearing completion on her heartfelt memoir Bitter and Sweet: A Family’s Journey With Cancer when she proposed doing a few joint interviews about grief. I met DS over at Diary of a Sad Widow, who was chronicling her first year of grief in beautiful, touching, witty posts (Freshly Pressed twice). Now that she’s in Year 2, she has changed her blog’s name to “And Now For Something Completely Different.” I can’t wait to see how she and her blog evolve.

Other blogger friends this first year: Ann at RamblinAnn, who blogs about everything and nothing, all things that happen in life; LB at Life On The Bike And Other Fab Things, a fellow rider and fabulous photographer; Pete at BeetleyPete, who blogs on the musings of a Londoner now living in Norfolk; Jack Joseph’s Mom at Jack Joseph’s Mom, an anonymous blogger who chronicles her grief after miscarriage; Patti Hall at 1WritePlace, another fellow memoirist who writes about grief and life; Kimberly at Words4JP, who writes at least one poem per day; Dara at The Clear Out, whose goal is decluttering, clarifying and connecting one post at a time.

No list of blogging friends would be complete without Caitlin Kelly (also Canadian) of Broadside, to whom I was introduced online by PaulaB. Caitlin is a writer, journalist, author and teacher. She’s also the only blogger I’ve met in person (at a fabulous 7-hour brunch in New York City) so far. Among her many professional accolades, Caitlin has been Freshly Pressed six times (!) and just started a series of webinars on writing, blogging and the business of freelancing. I’m planning on taking at least one of them. If you’re interested in checking them out, go here.

But these are only a few of the friends I’ve made this year. Riding Bitch now has over 1,000 followers and 11,000 views. To the bloggers with tens of thousands of followers/views, this might seem like chicken feed, but to me it is hugely rewarding. If building a blogging community is like building a pyramid, then this year represented the foundation. We’re all helping each other build little pyramids across the blogosphere.

Blogging has been therapeutic, enlightening, entertaining and encouraging. It has helped me find and strengthen my voice as a writer. It has opened my eyes to different stories, experiences and views from all around the world. It has led to friendships which will hopefully last a lifetime.

Thank you for reading and participating. May this second year bring new opportunities and friendships, while solidifying and deepening those that already exist. I look forward to continuing to share the journey with you.

– Niva (and Ruby)

birthday hike with Ruby


Building a Pyramid (minus Pharaoh)

First of all, thank you to the people who started following the blog yesterday. Your turkeys are in the mail. As a follow up, I thought I would share a thought about blogging today. I had a moment of hesitation before publishing yesterday’s post. It was a discomfort with basically admitting that I want people to read the blog. Not that a Follower necessarily equals a Reader. As a matter of fact, if I had to choose, I’d rather you read than follow. But you get my point.

Clearly, I overcame my hesitation. And this is why.

The reason we blog is to reach people. Yes, it’s also about expressing ourselves but if we didn’t want to reach people, we would be expressing ourselves in a more private setting, not on the World Wide Web. In my opinion, the blogger who writes “I don’t care if anyone reads my blog” is either lying to him/herself or lying to you. Of course, they care. We all care. To what extent and for what reason, however, differs from blogger to blogger.

A lot of blogs are about giving advice. Some are literary, like a journal, newspaper, or book. Some are commercial, trying to sell a product, promote a business or person. People blog about art, photography, writing, yoga, religion, philosophy, politics, sex, travel, cooking, cartoons, you name it.

Then there are those more intimate blogs where people vent their feelings. I do believe some of these folks don’t care if they have 10 or 10,000 followers. Actually, they would probably be freaked out by 10,000. They’re blogging simply to release deep emotions which they can’t share with friends and family. They might not seek out followers but they probably hope to reach someone, if only to feel like they are not alone.

This blog is a bit of a hybrid. I am a widow who vents, shares and expresses herself quite honestly and intimately here. I find this cathartic and hugely rewarding. I am also a filmmaker and a writer, which means I inherently want to reach people with my art.

Put another way, I like to think of my blog as a very personal pyramid. I’m not sure exactly how big I want this pyramid to be, but I do know I’d like people to be able to see it. Not necessarily from space, but not just if you’re standing in my one-bedroom apartment either. I’m not building if for Pharaoh, but for myself. And I’m not building it alone either. You’re helping me build it. You’re the foundation, really. For if each post is like a brick, then each view, like, follow or comment is like a bit of mortar.

And while it’s true I want people to read the blog, I also don’t advertise it (other than on WordPress). I don’t twitter my posts or post them on Facebook. I’ve only told a few people I know about it. With some, I’ve only said “I have a blog” but haven’t told them the name. It’s more than shyness, I feel it would be inappropriate to solicit my friends and colleagues to read the blog.

Sometimes (like yesterday) I might yell out to the blogosphere, “Hey, I’m building a pyramid over here!” But for the most part, I’m content to simply work on it quietly and build it slowly, like my ancestors did, one brick at a time.