Wine Bloggers and Their Readers: The Connective Tissue
The 2009 North American Wine Bloggers Conference will be upon me and my blogging colleagues in couple days, a circumstance that has continued to inspire me to think about the wine blogging genre and my own interest in it. More specifically, I've been thinking about the impact that blogging has had on me personally.
Last night I sat with a magnificent friend in a restaurant in Napa. We shared a lovely meal, the two of us. My Sazerac, Manhattan, savory food and the company put me in a mood part melancholy, part elated. Perfect! But somewhere along the way exterior reality intruded. Past, present and future issues of mine and theirs were placed on the table alongside the cassoulet and crusty bread.
After coming home I had time to think about this intrusion while I sat in my office for a while. I began to think how absurd it is to expect any circumstance, personal or professional, to exist and settle in around me without influence from moments and experiences exterior to the current frame of mind. We are simply not emotional islands.
Not an astounding revelation this. But as I sat in my office contemplating this little nugget, thinking about the evening and also staring at this blog on my computer screen and thinking, for whatever reason, about the past five or so years of my blogging history and what it would take to keep it all going, I did have a little revelation that amounts to more than a nugget:
If bloggers, including wine bloggers, don't allow their personal and intimate reflections to make their way into their blogging, they will never last at this blogging business.
Here's why: While we wine bloggers are writing for an audience, it is an inescapable fact that we are writing and blogging just as much for ourselves; for our own peace of mind. We are not compensated, for the most part, for wine blogging. So it is not a profession or a means to a financial end. We are not forced to blog. So it is not an obligation that must be done. And, most importantly, when we do write on our blogs it is done in our own voice and representing us and no other organization.
All this adds up to one thing: The time we spend writing our wine blogs is in great part time spent inside OURSELVES and letting our SELVES be revealed to us and others, a process critical to the health of the self.
But here is the real and luxurious nugget packed inside this little revelation: If readers of your blog don't experience the same kind of intimate connection and exchange with themselves and with the blogger when they consume the words on the screen as the blogger experiences by virtue of writing the words… then the reader won't come back to your blog again.
For readers of blogs rather than writers, think about this: Are you really looking for cold, hard facts? Really? I don't think so. If this is what you really wanted from a wine blog and wine blogger you know you'd be better off spending time with a wine encyclopedia. I think readers are looking to be entertained, informed and…touched.
For Bloggers, rather than readers of blogs, think about this: Do you really blog for the sake of imparting the facts of the matter? If this is what you are shooting for, why publish them in public. I think you are looking to connect not just with wine lovers, but with like-minded people who might share or sympathize with your personal view of the world. You are writing in search of the sympathetic connection with another person.
And so as I think what it will take for me to continue to publish FERMENTATION for another five years or maybe another 20 years, I realize it can't be done unless I continue to use this blog not only as a forum for my views on things I think matter and entertain in the world of wine, but also as a venue for the exploration of my self, for revelation of my self and for imparting secrets about myself that have no business remaining fully secret. For this blog, or any wine blog, to be successful and enduring, it has to serve as a place where a writer and reader can cultivate connective tissues of the mind and self.
This means that just like last night when a little bit of culinary and personal bliss I was experiencing was interrupted by the reality of everyday affairs, this wine blog, and any good blog that properly serves its author and readers, will be interrupted regularly by everyday affairs of the heart and mind.