The whole blogging thing started kind of randomly back in January 2010. It wasn’t a new year’s resolution. It was the means of maintaining a new year’s resolution, to write more. At the time I hadn’t a clue about what I wanted to write about, or whether or not I could expect anyone to read what I had written. In the beginning it was random and desperate.
It was random because as far as I can recall I had never met anyone who openly maintained an internet based account of anything. Blogs, as far as I knew, were written by nerdy know-it-alls about topics that few outside of that sphere of influence/interest gave two fiddlers’ for. Sure there were probably interesting music and movie related blogs but I definitely knew nothing about it. To be honest, back then I was kind of revolving around the opinion that news and all that was worthy of revelation revolved around the sacred confines of the Irish Times. I now cringe a little admitting this, but know that admitting one’s faults is the first step towards redemption.
The whole blog was desperate, too. When I started I was unemployed and looking for a job in Korea. I didn’t do much aside from waking up, drinking cups of tea, and surfing the internet. Finding something to talk about other than the crap weather and the taste of tea was going to be a struggle. I didn’t even have the sense to read a few blogs before I started off on my little misadventure. In the end I started off easily. I stole someone else’s work.
My first post went out on January 7, 2010. It was a poem by Charles Korn entitled ‘Contemporary Culture and the Letter K’. As I said, I thought it would be a good point to start everything. Don’t ask me why. Only six posts came out on the original blogspot blog. There was something I never liked about blogspot. Maybe it was the lack of stats, the very uninformative dashboard, and maybe more importantly the fact that I only ever got around twenty hits onto the site.
After talking with my friend Jim I got some details about his WordPress site and decided that I would try and reinvigorate the then dormant giant that is now If I Had A Minute To Spare. There were a few things which attracted me to the site at first such as the graphs to show how many hits you got, easier interface which also allowed hooking up with your social networking services, more widgets than a widget tree, funky templates, and less html and other unrecognisable languages that blogspot seemed to rely on.
So once on WordPress I transferred my blog posts across from blogspot and started writing. It’s fairly clear that something encouraged me to write more with the wordpress format. Maybe it was the addictive stats count to be checked five times a day (the excitement when I found out I had twenty hits in one day for the first time).
When I started out I was posting long pseudo academic essays and poems which I knew would probably never get more attention from me. Gradually I tried to ween away from posting poems on my blog – there are enough blogs out there posting regular streams of bad poetry without me adding to the mixture – and I’ve tried to make my pseudo academic essays a little less academic, a little less essay like, but still remaining well over a thousand words long each (for example, this gem is a nice and tidy 1,750 words strong).
In May of 2010 I wrote the first Letter from Korea. These letters, despite my attempts to add other regular features, have been the only constant features. Once a month I try to sit down and write a letter to Ireland explaining some aspect of my opinions of living in Korea. These have wavered off topic but at least they are there. Still, for all the searches which have reached this site I am pretty sure that I have never been found by someone typing ‘Letter from Korea’. Perhaps I should change the title.
There are a few milestones worth talking about here and as I read back over each post I can see the past year and a half unfolding. There is a post titled ‘400’ where I celebrated the fact that I had 400 visits to If I Had a Minute to Spare in the first two months or so. There are a few posts about the world cup when I sat up until all hours watching the matches – the joys of having a long summer holiday! There is the deleting my facebook account post, and the drop in hits on my blog immediately after I deleted it. At the time my blog posts were directly posted onto my facebook account and almost overnight the high-hit count completed vanished.
In terms of learning how to operate a blog, this was a blessing in disguise. I sat around writing and hoping that my hit count would rise with the important things I was writing about. But it never happened.
At one stage I discovered a form of a lifeline, The Korean Bloglist. I sat at the top of the list for some time until the owners updated the list and my location plummeted and interest in the wonders of my webpage disappeared from public view. Again my ego got washed up dry on some metaphorical rocks somewhere buried deep in the internet. But I woke up to the fact that there were a lot more bloggers out in Korea, bloggers who talked about all kinds of things. Lifers who went into intricate detail about particular experiences many of us would never come close to, and one-year wonders who marvelled at how different a place Korea is to any western country.
I wisened up more. At the time I had been writing intermittently for the Korean free magazine scene, and I suppose I still do, and I came across the same names repeatedly appearing in their pages. There were some people here who knew a thing or two about the Korean blogosphere and they appeared to be doing a similar thing to me, although with a bit more success.
Now granted, writing in the free-magazine scene here in Korea has its limits. There’s only so much you can write about and the magazines generally don’t approach rampant criticism of Korea and its isms too openly. This kind of sunshine press attitude is a little off-putting as it’s difficult to come up with new things to write about with such a happy face all the time. I tried to put a particular approach on an article for one magazine but got rejected due to the fact that it was not funny. But in my opinion it was hilarious. What are you going to do? Maybe I’ll run it here some time.
Slowly but surely I believe this blog has been approaching some degree of fame. Recently it has definitely seen renewed vigour and there are reasons for this.
For starters I know that the more you post the more regular you get viewers. This is just one of those things that happen and I don’t know why it is. I think maybe it has something to do with your details clogging up more and more of the internet so that when some types in something generic into a search engine then your website pops up, especially if you continue to write about the same things over and over again. In my case, I still vary but I do keep coming back to the things that surround me everyday – Korea being the most dominant subject.
I wouldn’t label myself as a Korean blogger, or one who blogs about Korea. I think, or like to think, that because I am in Korea I write about it a lot. I think that if I were elsewhere I would blog about that. If someone were to ask me about whether or not they should read my blog if they were to get an idea about life in Korea I would definitely say no. I rarely write about my own experiences, but more about my own opinions on living here in Korea after more than five years. I think that there are much more appropriate people to approach if you wanted to learn about living, working, loving, or partying etc. in Korea. I don’t actively go out of my way to trump any aspect of any part of my life. I don’t think it would be fair to do that as I don’t really think my life is particularly spectacular. That being said I don’t go out of my way to praise or criticise any aspect of Korean, Koreans, or foreigners/expats/immigrants.
But the hit count increases bit by bit (although at time of going to, eh, press I have had only four hits all day…mesmeric, I know). A few things have helped to add to this. I signed up to twitter recently and while I don’t think I get to many direct hits from this service, for what reason I don’t know, I’ve been wrapped deeper into the Korean blogosphere. I’ve been made aware of instances that have rattled the cages of some bloggers and I have gladly jumped on the bandwagon. The increase in activity, while not always positive has been appreciated.
I do enjoy offering my own view on things as I know that underneath my shiny exterior beats the opinion of many who agree with me. The silent majority if you will. Of course just because everyone thinks it doesn’t mean that it’s acceptable. I hope that while making an enemy or two, a friend will feel comfort that someone like me will take the blame for everyone else’s drunk empty shouts in the middle of the night. I hope that this is the case.
These pages haven’t become so valuable that they could be sold they are worth my time. I know somewhere someone is reading them. I hope that somewhere someone who reads these will be moved by my wordiness. I am moved when I realise that more people than myself have looked at these pages on a daily basis. I hope that I can continue to entertain, and in some cases explain, what the fuck is going on in this place, wherever it is I may be.
If you really want to be entertained, why not read some of my most popular posts, ever!
- Valentine’s Day in Korea: A Day for the Ladies they Say…
- Under Close Examination
- 12 Rules for Expat Life in Korea Contd.
- The People –v- The Black Guy on the Bus
- Korea – A Country that Loves a Good Day!
- You Know You’ve Been Teaching English Too Long in Korea When
- And a special mention to Eclecticisia
If you’re interested in finding some suitable blogs about Korea I suggest that you visit www.nanoomi.com, www.koreabridge.net/blogs, or www.thethreewisemonkeys.com (not really a blog, more an online magazine but very far removed from the sunshine press mentioned above)
Also, allow me to give special mention to these blogs, please take a moment to visit them:
…there are probably a few more I could recommend but I visit these more than any other. They all have some kind of list of links which is more extensive than mine so take a minute to enjoy the hard work they put into actually creating a sense of experience within their pages J
(sound as a pound that you found on the ground)