I blog therefore…

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(HOST) Like a growing number of Vermonters, commentator Caleb Daniloff has launched a blog. But what started as a curious pastime is now verging dangerously close on an obsession.

(DANILOFF) One of the first things I do when I get up these days is check the stats on my blog. See who might have stopped by while I was sleeping. I live for blog traffic. And better yet, comments. But last night it was only automated web crawlers, no human beings. My heart sank. And again I wonder why I keep at this. Put up posts it seems like hardly anyone reads.

My wife complains that I spend so much time in front of the computer she can only identify me by my profile. Garbage is piling up, the counter’s a mess and laundry’s overflowing the basket. She now leaves comments on my blog reminding me to pick up dinner or grab kibble for the dogs. But I’m caught in a loop — gotta keep putting up fresh content, if I want people to come back. Post or perish.

I don’t break news on my blog or rant about work or politics. I just write about random everyday scenes. My daily commute, the dirt road I like to run, my lunchtime haunts. The challenge is making my posts interesting to more than just my mother.

My blog doesn’t see tons of action. I ve picked up a few regulars since I launched this past spring cyber souls who go by names like Captain Tuttle, alias802 and Torch-and-Shovel. If anything, I post for the three of them. I get anonymous comments from time to time, so far always civil. And some days, it actually feels like the bubbling up of some sort of community.

Starting a blog was simple and took just minutes. There’s plenty of free software on the web. It was almost too easy not to do, even though I’m now but a tiny voice in an endless vacuum. But I can publish what I want, when I want, from wherever I want — my thoughts accessible to anyone in the world. I can instantly interact with readers. And there’s nothing that writers love more than feedback.

When someone links to one of my posts or deems my blog worthy enough to put on their blogroll, I experience blogger’s high. My heart leaps at an unexpected visit from Afghanistan or the US Senate or CBS —– or when visits grow from seconds into minutes, and upon occasion into that golden, hour-plus realm. That’s why you keep at it. You see your reach slowly extending, your little tribe on the move, fueled almost entirely by word-of-mouth fumes.

So the pressure to post grows all the time. I try to get something new up two or three times a week. But blogger’s block can be a problem and I’ve had to devise back-up strategies like five-sentence book reviews or reader challenges like: connect these two images I saw.

On top of all this, I try to skip around the Vermont blogosphere. Places like 802Online, Candleblog, Vermont Daily Briefing. There’s usually a good conversation taking place somewhere — about farming or music or city politics. It’s fun to eavesdrop or throw in your own two cents. But be warned: you may find yourself wandering the blogosphere for hours and even emerging with your own blog. Posting and linking, linking and posting, until you finally realize that sound you hear is not late-night truck traffic outside your window but the whining of your sad and hungry dogs, still waiting for their dinner.

Caleb Daniloff is a copywriter, book reviewer and freelance journalist. For more on Caleb’s blog go to VPR.net.

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