Tuesday, June 13, 2017

On Blogging for a Decade: Three Bloggers Share Their Journeys

This month I'm celebrating 10 years of blogging. Before I share the story of my own journey I thought it would fun to highlight some other classic film bloggers who've been blogging for close or more than a decade. A big thank you to Jessica, Laura and Terry for participating.

Jessica at Robert Osborne's Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

Jessica P.

How long have you been blogging?
I started in April 2009, so nearly 10 years! Fun fact: My blog was originally named Living on Velvet, but another film blogger at the time had the same name so I changed it.

Why did you start a blog?
In journalism school, my professor Larry Timbs, PhD., kept urging us in our news and featuring writing classes to start a blog. He said no newspaper would hire us if we didn't have a blog. (I'm not sure that's true now, but blogs and citizen journalism were on the rise then).

On top of that: I felt like I needed a place to voice my classic film love and share classic film information with my friends. I didn’t have that previously. Friends thought my interest was interesting or cute, but I couldn’t carry on a conversation about it. This was pre-film Twitter and I felt pretty alone in my film love and thought, "Maybe if people knew more about classic films, they would be interested." After I started writing, I began meeting others who loved films —something new to me! I don’t know if I shared any new information to film fans or converted anyone into a pre-1968 film lover, but I stopped feeling so alone in my love.

How do you approach creating content for your blog?
Other than the weekly Musical Monday features, I don’t often write standalone film reviews. I figure everyone knows what “Random Harvest” is and has their own ideas about it, so they don’t need my lengthy plot rehash and gushing thoughts.

I try to pick out unique trivia tidbits that I would like to know more about and hope others do too! For example, why did Mae West start making pop records? What did Madeleine Carroll do for the war effort? Bruce Bennett was an Olympic medalist? Sometimes I can find a great deal of information and other times there isn’t, but I hope that I’m introducing someone to new information, since I learned a lot in the process.

How has blogging changed your life?
I didn’t think any other young people liked classic films as much as I did until I started blogging. Blogging allowed me to connect with others, discuss my classic love with others who understand and learn new facts about classic movies. It also allowed me neat opportunities, like interviewing actors James Best and Dolores Hart.


Terry C.

How long have you been blogging?
I have been blogging for 13 years now. My blog just turned 13 last week, on June 4. I think June must be a very good month to start a blog!

Why did you start a blog?
I've always enjoyed writing. In fact, I decided I wanted to be a writer when I was only in junior high school. As an adult I had articles published in various small press publications. Back in 2004 I had a girlfriend who had a blog and it looked like it could be a good outlet for my writing. I then started my blog to write about what interests me, which was primarily pop culture and nostalgia.

How do you approach creating content for your blog?

I really don't have a single approach to creating content for my blog. In most cases I think of an idea for a post and then I will research the subject. Sometimes that is as simple as re-watching a movie or an old TV show episode. Other times it might mean searching through books and old newspaper and magazine articles. I have had posts that, when the research is factored in, have taken literally days to complete. A lot of times there will be an important anniversary (the birth of an classic actor or the release of a classic movie) and I'll want to write about it. Sadly, I also write a lot of tributes upon the occasions of the deaths of actors, directors, and music artists I admire. I like covering their careers in depth, so they also involve a lot of research. Other posts, such as opinion pieces, simply come about because I simply want to speak my mind about something. This seems to usually be the case when I write about social media. It seems as if social media sites are always making changes I don't like!

How has blogging changed my your life?

I think blogging has enriched my life immeasurably. It has given me the opportunity to write about what I love, which is something I might not have had the chance to do otherwise, at least not to the extent that the blog has allowed me. Blogging would even lead to the publication of my book Television: Rare & Well Done, which is comprised mostly of material from my blog. Most importantly, I have made a lot of dear friends through blogging. I haven't met any of them in person, but I would have to say I feel closer to them than many people I have met in person. Honestly, there is nothing I regret about having taken up blogging, except perhaps the title of my blog. If I had it to do all over again, I would have chosen a more fitting title than A Shroud of Thoughts!


Laura and I at the TCM Classic Film Festival

Laura G.

How long have you been blogging?
I'll celebrate my 12th anniversary as a blogger in July 2017!

Why did you start a blog?
I've always loved to write and as my children were growing older and I had more free time, blogging appealed to me as a creative outlet. I learned about blogging via political bloggers and initially my blogging topics were both more random (hence the title "Miscellaneous Musings") and current events based, but within the first three years or so I realized that I wanted to mainly focus on the topics which make me happiest, classic films and my overlapping interest in all things Disney.

How do you approach creating content for your blog?
Quite a bit of the content for my blog is driven by the calendar, whether it’s previewing the upcoming month on Turner Classic Movies, covering a film festival, celebrating an actor’s birthday, or sharing classic film photos with a holiday theme. Another significant percentage of my blog content consists of film reviews, whether it’s DVD or Blu-ray screeners or titles from my personal collection. And trips to Disneyland often result in my sharing a few photos!

I love finding new content to read at my favorite blogs, which helps inspire me to update my own blog regularly. I enjoy creating what I hope is a lively and informative blog, and I thus try to blog most days of the week, though sometimes it’s not possible due to a heavy workload. Conversely, being self-employed sometimes enables me to blog during work breaks! This is particularly helpful for posts which aren’t planned in advance; for instance, as classic film writers it’s a sad reality that we must regularly write obituaries. I’ll also sometimes be inspired to blog by something I see on Twitter, such as a mention of an actor’s birthday.

Generally speaking the only time I take notes in preparation for blogging is during introductions at film festivals, when I see so many films I’m likely to forget key points. Most of the time, though, I like to be “in the moment” and don’t use a notebook, but instead try to blog as soon as possible after seeing a film or attending an event. I find blogging is a great way to help reflect on and “process” films I’ve just watched or to remember an event. Often my blogging is done in the late evening; initially this was because it was a quiet time when I had children at home, but now that my children are older, it remains a good time due to my work schedule, plus it’s often when I’ve just finished watching a movie!

Although I don’t take notes during movies, I’m fairly methodical and organized, which helps me do as much blogging as I do. Reminders for things such as end-of-the-month TCM posts or birthday tributes are calendared in advance. I try to fill in links for my annual "Year in Review" post as the year unfolds, and as soon as I know a DVD screener is on the way to my mailbox, I’ll go ahead and set up the draft post with what I call the “boilerplate” – the cover picture, a link to the DVD company, and basic info on things like the director and running time. This helps me keep track of what’s coming up and plan my viewing and blogging schedule. When it gets really busy, such as during the spring film festival season here in Southern California, I also post a list of blogging ideas on the wall next to my computer and check off reviews and other posts as I complete them. I also keep a list of long-term ideas for future posts; I have many more ideas than I have time to write!

This may sound like a lot of work to some, but I truly enjoy it, and since it’s supposed to be fun, if I’m overwhelmed by demands on my time I may set aside something for a period of time in order to fit other things in. For instance, one of my favorite things to do as a blogger is my weekly “Around the Blogosphere” link roundups, sharing interesting news I’ve come across along with links to writing by my fellow classic film bloggers. During this year’s spring film season, when I attended four festivals in a ten-week period, something had to give, so I haven’t done one of those posts in the last three months. I’ll get back to it soon!

How has blogging changed your life?
 The most important way blogging has changed my life is the many wonderful friendships I've made -- with you being a very special friend, one of the first classic film bloggers I got to know! Some have become "in person" friendships, with the chance to spend time together at movie screenings, film festivals, and local events. I also have wonderful far-flung friends I correspond with, from as far away as Israel and the UK. So many people are supportive and have done many kindnesses for me over the years, for which I'm very grateful. I like to think of my blog as a friendly gathering place for people from varied walks of life who share similar interests.

Blogging has also led to amazing experiences I never could have anticipated when I began, whether it was interviewing a favorite actress, Coleen Gray; being invited by the family of another favorite actress, Loretta Young, to attend and write about her centennial celebration; touring the home of Joel McCrea and Frances Dee with their grandson; and the opportunity to cover a number of film festivals as a member of the media. And that's just the tip of the proverbial iceberg! It makes me very happy when readers let me know they enjoy my blog and that I’ve helped them find “good things” to enjoy -- but I'm really so fortunate in what blogging and my readers have meant in my own life.

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