Blogging is a lot of work. Especially in the beginning, I find I am frequently tempted to give it up. The trouble is not the writing, though that’s challenging enough. At least with writing, the author knows the scope and nature of the task. I enjoy it. But post the message and it all gets suddenly mucked-up technical. It’s not fun anymore. Search engine technology dictates. Select a key phrase. Repeat it several times. Make sure it’s in the title, Make sure it’s in the first paragraph. Avoid passive voice. Avoid complicated sentence structure. Set up some out-links. You do want people to read your stuff, don’t you?
It doesn’t stop there. Compose a headline. Ooops. Too short to get noticed. Ooops, again. Too long. Writers tend to value their independence. They don’t like be dictated to. So if you find your hackles up a bit, try satisfying the search requirements in all the various other specified ways. Start with pictures. they need to be the correct size. Not inches, mind you, but pixels. And the specifications change depending on where you want the picture placed. Of course, learning how to reduce the number of pixels requires more software that must be learned. Notice that this is no longer a creative endeavor. This is engineering. Details. Buzz words. Memorization and note taking. Conforming to instructions. All the things that writers hate. All the reasons they prefer writing to just about any other pastime. You want to thrill of driving the car not repairing on the damn thing.
Becoming an engineer . . .
It’s an adventure, certainly. Software can do something that you didn’t ask it and refuse to do other things that you wish to the point of damn near sobbing that it would. And, of course, your work is being graded as you go along. A red bullet means, “Hey stupid, nobody’ll ever find this.” No point even in posting it. Accede to this tyranny and you start to look for a way to improve your standing. Maybe not a red bullet, but at least an amber one.
First step, compose a snippet. Sounds simple. Just write something snappy the sums up your article in twelve words or less to attract the attention of internet surfers. This is a writer’s challenge. Only a wimp would duck it. But try and find the damned thing after it is composed. It must be embedded in bowels of the blogging software somewhere like a rubric in an ancient tomb to be deciphered only by the enlightened. What the hell. Maybe it improved your grade. Moved you up to amber. Maybe not. At least you’re done with it. Time to move on.
Sharing spiritual space . . .
Next comes a “meta description.” Another challenge. Pull out the keyboard and attack. How this differs from a “snippet,” of course, is a question to ponder. If you find yourself considering the use of meta as a free-standing qualifier, which would make it an adjective (as if grammar has a place in any of this) don’t trouble yourself. It’s coinage, assumed to be self-explanatory. Write a paragraph the sums up the content of your piece. Be sure to include the key phrase. When you’re done, hit enter, and go look for it. You might find it; you might not. You can, if you wish, thrash around of the composition page trying to unlock the mystery as to its whereabouts, but –damn man.—this feels familiar. You’ve become an engineer again. Worse yet, perhaps a software analyst.
Remember when writing was rewarding. Sharing spiritual space with Emerson and Thoreau. Welcome to Nerdville. You’re learning a lot of shit that has only one application. I like a challenge, but I know my limits. I could never, even in my best athletic younger form, run 100 yards in less than 12 seconds. Nature didn’t give me the legs for it. Well, nature didn’t give me the necessary tolerance for minutiae to get instantaneously good at the technical demands of blogging. So I am posting this ridiculous piece acknowledging that my software package doesn’t think there’s a chance in hell anyone will read it. Stuff that. I’ll be pleased with myself for writing it and giving the rest of it a pass. I’ll pick it up a little at a time because I will inadvertently put together a combination of keystrokes now and then that will –Eureka –lead to a revelation. I may be able to repeat the keystrokes. I may not. But I will eventually get the software to work for me rather than the other way around, and about that time, an upgrade will come out rendering everything I have learned obsolete.