Storytellers

Storytellers1

You guys. I’m just going to go ahead and apologize ahead of time because I’m going to be using phrases like, “I remember when,” and “Back in the old days,” and I’m very aware of how tedious and eye-rolly that can be. BUT.

Back in the old days (See? I wasn’t kidding.) when I first started online journaling in the late 90s, it was a brand new world where I could share a story on my computer with my family who lived miles and miles away. I’d post pictures and write what was essentially a monthly update about the kids and it was fun and it meant something personal.

And then in 2002 when Joe moved me to WordPress, my mind was blown with how easy it was to add posts and update more often and easily put in images and add headers and and and…

But it was the day he introduced me to Dooce.com and said, “Look. Here’s someone else writing about their life and sharing it with the others,” that I realized there was the possibility of a real community out there in the innernets.

Soon after that I started my sidebar blogroll and kept people listed there that I felt a connection to and I started my interview series to highlight interesting writers and photographers and “internet people.”

We had a smaller group then. It was 2004 by that time and more and more people were beginning to write their stories but it still felt like we could keep track of each other. It still felt small even as it was growing. I kept seeking out new bloggers so other people could find them and I loved it! And then at some point the world of blogging wasn’t about storytelling anymore. It was all about “Brands” and “Cultivating an Audience” and sidebar ads, which I tried out in various forms myself and have nothing against in the abstract.

But things changed over the next few years, didn’t they? We started having fewer and fewer storytellers and leaving comments on blogs became a way for people to make money. Traffic was king and everyone was being judged on their numbers. We could look up each others stats and decide if that person was worth knowing on or offline at a conference. If they were worth our time. If what they were saying mattered because other people said it mattered. Oh, popularity. Just like High School.

That was when I didn’t want to do interviews anymore and I shut my series with bloggers down. It wasn’t fun to get emails from people saying they should be interviewed by me because “they were getting 10,000 uniques a month and wasn’t that enough? Why wouldn’t I interview them? What was wrong with them?”

I stuck to Google Reader. I went in and read the websites I loved every single day and left comments when it struck me to do so based on their stories and not on their brands. I still felt a part of a community of friends.

When Google Reader went away, I really felt like I was being abandoned. (I’m still kinda upset about it.) The other options of feed readers were all lacking (for my needs) so I just dropped out. And I’ve missed out and I’ve missed you!

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I miss the real stories. They are still out there. I see some of my old friends are still blogging and talking like real humans without all the freshly pressed look of a fine magazine going on. Not that I’m dissing fine magazines. I like them. But I’m much less likely to leave a comment on a post that isn’t a personal story. That’s where the heart is.

I recently noticed that Angela has an old-fashioned sidebar blogroll (You don’t mind if I call it old-fashioned, do you Angela? Not you, it!) and it got me thinking. I should stop complaining about missing Google Reader and woe-is-me-ing and do something about it.

So here it is, finally, the request I have for you. If you know of a writer/blogger who is telling personal stories and not “crafting their brand for an audience,” would you let me know? I’d like to add them to my Storytellers page. I’d like to read them and connect with them. I’d like to cultivate a community again. I’ve missed it. I’ve missed you! I know there have to be thousands out there that I’ve missed out on while my head’s been in the sand.

Personal story telling and this community is what’s helped me through some really tough times. Really feeling other people’s stories is what it’s all about for me. Help me find you.

27 Responses

  1. I like the approach of paying homage to the storytellers. It’s much more positive than my constant lamenting about how blogging has changed and I can’t relate to it anymore. I really miss the writing, connection, and authenticity I had found in the “early days.” As I recall, 2001 was a really good year for the stories.

    Here is a storyteller I like a lot: http://extraordinary-ordinary.net/

    XO-
    Deb

  2. I moved to Bloglovin’ when Reader went away. It’s…fine but I don’t (blog)love it. Recently Neil Kramer hosted a discussion on Facebook and the (very slim I think) possibility of Reader coming back was mentioned. Suddenly the whole conversation turned to that! I miss it, too, so much.

  3. I’m here. Telling my story about kids, homeschooling, bipolar, faith. I have done a total of 2 brand type posts in my 4 years of blogging. And they were in the last month. I am never going to be big, but I’m sure hoping to help women live and mother with a mental illness and try to keep my faith at the same time.

  4. Charity – That is awesome! I don’t mind sponsored posts when they’re done right, which for me means they include a real, actual, personal story to go with it that doesn’t feel manufactured. I know what it’s like to try and make money on my blog and I begrudge no one that opportunity.

  5. i still tell stories, though i haven’t “told one” in a long while when i look at my blog, but i think you will also love http://writingtosurvive.com/ and also http://angelasimione.blogspot.com/ (Blackland) and i think you’ll love the brutal honesty of this one, and this particular post, http://poemsandnovels.blogspot.com/2014/05/healing-from-depression.html … your post made me realize, as well, how much i appreciate the stories. my blogroll/reading roll is long, and i’ve been reading a lot lately (a year since my last post) but also not “commenting” which is an important part of the community. i’ve been tip-toeing in and out of my favorite blogs thinking as i leave, “oh, that helps,” “oh, my gosh, that really, really resonates with me” but then i’ve never said a word, including on your blog which i read REGULARLY! 🙂

  6. Anne – I think that is such an important point. We used to comment on each others posts and it was a little jolt of support! Just a little hello! I’m going to try and do that more often so people know I’m out here, listening, reading. I’m out of the habit but I know this is something I can remember how to do…like riding a bike. : )

    Thanks for all the suggestions! xo

  7. I use Digg Reader to follow blogs now, and it’s brilliant. It just does one thing well, and that’s tell me when the blogs I read have new content.

    I can’t wait to see your list.

  8. Leah, I can relate to this a lot. My blog began when my husband was deployed and the kids and I moved to our now town. The house was not MY house, even though the realtor said it was. MY house was in the town I don’t like but lived with my husband in. We painted and worked so hard to have a homey house. There was one blogger called Blogstaker who kind of was the center of so many of us bloggers. We met through this interesting blog. Many are my fb friends now, but we know each others kids, saw them grow up, hopes and dreams dashed or expounded. We cheered each other on. We kept going. I miss the blogging days. When my son was deployed, I went private. Then fb took over. But I have started again. A completely different name. And I am in a new phase of life now. And we live in OUR house now. Same one, only full. I had no idea google reader left.

  9. I didn’t even know Google Reader meant as much to me as it did until it was gone and I was left with…options. I like to think that I’m still a storyteller. I’m still a true reader to those writers who I followed that may have begun to monetize more. I don’t mind. I’m still into the writer. I admit, though, to having stopped reading as much since Reader went away. I’ve tried Bloglovin but it’s just not…eh. I am an old fuddy duddy and didn’t even know it. I am glad to have found you, though, so that’s a plus. And I so want to be embarrassed by saying “I’m” still telling stories, you know, touting myself, but, well, I’m not.

  10. Tulsi – things keep changing! It’s so much different now, isn’t it? Everything seems to have moved to Facebook, instagram and Twitter…

  11. Arnebya – Tout yourself! : ) Well done. I don’t begrudge anyone who does sponsored posts or has ads on their site. I just want real, human stories with narrative in there as well. I didn’t realize how little I was reading blog and commenting when I did until just recently. It snuck up on me!

  12. Jen! Nice to see you again. You’re a good example of someone I lost track off after Google Reader went away. So glad you popped over. (I’m going to go check out your blog and see if I can add you to this list. It still exists I hope?) Thanks for the suggestions! I’ll check them out. <3

  13. You can call it/me anything you want, my friend. I always love your ideas, and I’m very much looking forward to perusing the Storytellers page!

  14. Long time lurker, considering that I think storytelling is vital enough to come out of a lurker closet to say hi and tell you I tell stories.

    My mother is a professor of Public Health that researches story telling, she would say it is vital. I just emailed her the link to this post, I think she might find it very interesting.

    I tell stories at my space, and a few other places… some of which I have so I can experiment with different styles and subjects in a more controlled an anonymous way… because it can be raw.

  15. Losing Google Reader made it VERY hard to keep up with my favorite bloggers, I agree. I have changed my blog much in 10 years, well, aesthetically, but it’s still just me talking about the mundane. We stopped trying to have more kids, so I don’t write about my fertility struggles anymore, but it’s still me sitting down most days writing about SOMETHING. It’s still cathartic to catalog my life in some way, I don’t know if I’m telling stories or not, as much as just documenting the failures and successes of my life. But I never did the whole ads or branding thing b/c I was terrified it would stifle the urge to write!!! Not sure if that’s naive or not…but it’s probably what has still kept me on the same daily blogging path for 10+ years 🙂

  16. @Zoot – Really the Storytellers page is just a glorified blogroll, but I’m loving it. I will probably always miss Google Reader, though. I find writing cathartic, too. I’m so glad you are still telling your story. <3

  17. Leah, I was wondering if you made books out of your blog. I have several books that I made from mine. Pictures. Better than a journal. I made a separate blog for my son’s Mission and there is a book for that. That is one of the reason’s I made my new, non private blog.

  18. I am a storyteller on my blog, sometimes more than others, but it’s always there. I agree that it feels like that is happening less and less, or maybe it’s just that I am not looking for it like I used to. I still have a blogroll on my sidebar, because I like to keep it old school, but I rarely click through it like I did back in the day before google reader… I think I will start again!

    PS. my blog is http://biogirlblog.com if you would like to add it to your list 🙂

  19. Hey Sarah! Nice to meet you. I’ll get your blog up there very soon. : ) Thanks for letting me know you are out there telling your stories. xo

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