Monday, January 12, 2015

Want to join the club? No dues and no meetings

So what brings you here to this blog site? Is this a first-time visit, or do you belong to the club? I’m referring, of course, to the members of the blogging and blog-reading fraternity. (Or is it a sorority?) I’m not sure what our members are called. Are they bloggers, blog junkies, or blog groupies? Whatever name we carry, it feels like we have stumbled onto a most engrossing, stimulating, and sometimes addictive diversion---a perfect retirement pastime. If blogs are not already a part of your routine perhaps you ought to consider them. In those moments when your present world is not big enough to suit you, latching onto a blog or two is a fun and painless way to expand your horizons. 
If you think that might work for you let’s begin with the obvious---a working definition. Blog (noun) - a website on which an individual or group of users regularly record opinions, information, etc on a particular topic or range of topics.
Of course, however it happened, you have managed to find this blog. and I thank you for that. But did you know that there is a blog, or blogs, for just about everything under the sun? The bloggers you choose to follow may be seasoned experts or overeager novices. But no matter what the subject there is someone out there offering their opinions and information about it, hoping to create a dialog. Take any interest, hobby, habit, or obsession imaginable and you can be sure that any decent search engine can locate one or more blogs that deal with it.
It is an internet-enabled pastime of course---a bit like visiting with your neighbor over the back fence. Except in this case your “neighbor,” the one who wants to talk with you about your favorite subject, may live on the other side of the world. Chances are he or she will bring unique insights and ideas to the conversation---something new for you to consider or explore. Best of all, you get to choose when to visit, whom you will visit with, and when to add your own input to the dialogue.
Perhaps you’re a “show me” sort of person. You know, someone who says “I’ll believe it when I see it.” If so, the test is oh-so-simple. No special computer skill is required. Just go to any search engine---enter a topic in the search line, then add the word “blog.” It’s hard to imagine a legitimate subject that won’t produce multiple responses. Simply review the results of your search, choose a site that appeals to you, call it up and read. If you decide to join the online conversation you will be coached through that process.
At once you will find that you have stumbled onto a new kind of community, a virtual village of folks who are excited by what excites you. For me that process began when I logged on to an inconspicuous website called Hitch Itch, where I was introduced to the world of full-time RVing, something that interests me a great deal. (Sadly my wife does not subscribe to the romance of making our home in a tin house on wheels.) She prefers her own fan collecting and genealogy blogs.
Anyway, there on Hitch Itch dozens of folks post their blogs---proclaiming the virtues of living full time in an RV, sharing their travel experiences, and staying in touch with each other. Though I’m usually a silent observer, I occasionally add my input to some ongoing dialogue. On an irregular basis I follow the travels and trials of folks I’ve never met, and probably never will. 
We have become new-age Pen Pals. (Remember those?) In the same way this blog allows, those Pen Pals have invited the rest of us to join them on their own unique journey---while we learn who they are and what keeps them going. It has the feel of an old-fashioned party line, an intimate conversation posted for all the world to read
As for myself, I have several reasons to be blogging. This October Years space is clearly labeled “a writer’s blog.” I use the format to explore, explain, and (gasp) promote my books. Hopefully that is enough to keep people returning to these pages. Personally, I enjoy resurrecting some story I wrote years before to ask myself why I used this or that device to make a point or advance a storyline---while gauging how well it worked. I’m always working on a new story, looking for ways to make them better. Writing a blog helps me do that. If, at the same time, I can nudge a blog reader towards reading one of my stories I’m okay with that.
Finally, whatever your reason for being here at this moment I hope you’ll return often, perhaps "follow" it, and tell your friends about it. As always, I’ll keep asking for your comments, though in truth few of you have taken me up on that. In the meantime, I hope you’ll check out other blog topics that interest you. There is a whole world waiting out there, tens of thousands of conversations going on at this very minute. Chances are there is one or more that you’d enjoy being part of. You have the computer and internet connection. (That’s how you’re reading this.) Why not visit Blogsville to expand your horizons?

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