The blogging platform Glipho recently interviewed me as part of their “Meet a Glipher” project. Therein, I discuss my secret blogger origin story, divulge embarrassing pictures of myself, and discuss advice about blogging and parenting.
I’m cross-posting the interview here for posterity, but you can also see the original post here.
#meetaglipher… Shane Halbach (@shanehalbach)
A hundred or more thanks to Shane Halbach for being our Meet a Glipher this week! Chances are you’ll probably know Shane for his sense of humour in his posts and which are often about his brilliant kids (or co-bloggers). He’s also recently sold a short story to a superhero anthology published by Crossed Genres, so congratulations to him!
1. Why did you start blogging? Why do you continue to do it?
Before “social network” was even a word, before Twitter and Facebook (before even MySpace for god’s sake), a good friend of mine kept trying to get me to join LiveJournal; not for the blogging really, but for the sense of community she found there. Despite constant nagging on her part, I never quite got around to making an account.
My friend later committed suicide.
The year after she died, I spent a lot of time thinking about her, and one day I went and opened a LiveJournal account in her honor. I didn’t really know what I was going to do with it, but having it made me feel closer to her. Once I started using it, I could very quickly see what she had been trying to tell me all that time. In my experience, bloggers are generally nice, encouraging people, and there really is a sense of community. It’s very interesting to me that, all of these years later, Glipho is building its own community of bloggers. So it’s really come full circle for me.
My blog has gone through three major periods. In the beginning, I mostly used it like a diary. I never expected anybody to read it. (Those embarrassing posts are all still there…*please please* don’t go back and read them!) Eventually, it just wasn’t really interesting enough for me to continue, and I gave up for about a year. When I started blogging again in August of 2005, I changed my focus. I started using it more as a place to keep interesting links I found on the Internet, and turned it more into something that was interesting to me and that I enjoyed, rather than something I felt like I had to do.
I’ve seen so many blogs come and go, and I think that the absolutely essential element for anybody who wants to sustain a blog is that you have to enjoy it. It doesn’t matter what you talk about, but it has to be you, and you have to enjoy it for its own sake. Otherwise it becomes work. If you’re doing it to “get readers” just quit now and save yourself the trouble.
The third iteration of my blog began in January of 2009, when I challenged myself to blog 7 days a week. I didn’t really have a plan or a goal of how far I’d take it, but I just thought it would be interesting. Though I eventually scaled it back to 5 days a week, I certainly never thought I’d still be keeping that schedule four years later.
This was a big difference though, because it really flipped a switch on blogging for me. The constant need to come up with content really kindled a spark in my creative side. I had never really used my “writer brain” for blogging, it had always been a separate thing. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to come up with so many posts without making them dull or uninteresting, but instead the opposite happened: I started looking at the world in a new light, and finding inspiration for posts everywhere. I always figured I would stop blogging when I stopped enjoying it, but I think I’m enjoying it now more than ever.
2. You blog a lot about your kids, Evie and Ollie, who are adorable, intelligent, and hilarious. Do they ever read your blog posts? Will they read them in future? And how will you feel if one day you are the topic of THEIR blogs?
They do not read my blog, but they are aware that it exists. Particularly when they make me laugh, they’ll say, “Put that in your e-blog!” or “Is that a quote daddy?” Since Quote Monday is essentially just me transcribing the things they say, I guess you could consider them my co-bloggers. There are currently 198 “From the Mouths of Babes” posts, and that’s not even counting the posts I wrote *about* them. I know a lot of bloggers who never published 198 posts.
The Internet is forever, so I know they will read the posts someday, and when they do, no jury on Earth will convict them when they kill me. Unfortunately for them, my entire life is basically online, and I don’t think there is anything they could write that would be more embarrassing than anything I’ve already put out there myself.
I would love for them to be bloggers though. I wish everybody blogged everything all the time. For some reason, people seem to not want to put their lives on display to be dissected by Internet trolls. Weird.
3. Have you had any particular experiences as a result of your blog?
My all-time personal favorite was when I wrote a blog post about a childhood hero, Commander Mark Kistler, and he actually stopped by and commented on the post. I still get warm and glowy when I think about it.
One time I wrote a post and skillfully tied together two unrelated items (a quiz about which horrible disease you are and frozen pickle juice popsicles) with the title, “Do Pickle Pops give you Rickets?” Shortly thereafter, I received a couple of comments from the company who made the pickle pops. I just imagine the marketing guy sitting down at his computer in the morning thinking, “Ah, look! Bloggers are starting to talk about our product! We’re really going somewhere now!” and then just doing a spit-take with his coffee all over his monitor when he sees that title.
They were good sports about it though. I changed the post title even though they didn’t ask me to, and they sent me a bunch of free pickle pops. I do feel obligated to say there are no studies linking pickle pops to rickets. Unfortunately, my own study concluded that pickle pops do, in fact, taste like frozen pickle juice.
4. How involved are you with the online community? Have you attended any blogger meetups?
I have so many friends who I only know virtually, but I guess that’s not that unusual anymore. I’ve never attended any blogger meetups, but I have met people in real life who read my blog. It’s a little awkward and unbalancing when they know so much about me and I don’t know anything about them. Plus, when I try to launch into all my funniest stories they go, “Uh, yeah, I already read that on your blog.”
5. What blog(s) do you love to read? Any favourite Gliphers?
My favorite blog is John Scalzi’s Whatever. His is the blog my blog aspires to be. As far as Gliphers, I sort of pick and choose at the buffet of my feed. But some of my favorites are Frank Granati, Lindsay Parnell, Rachel Monte, and A Few Fine Things. I think they would all be surprised to know this.
6. Do you have any “core principles” you try to abide by as a parent?
I think the main thing we try to impart is to live simply. It’s so hard to do in this day and age; it really requires an effort. I’m doing everything I can to set my kids back 100 years. Have fewer, better quality things. Understand where your food comes from and what’s in it. Enjoy the outdoors. Read a book. Downsize your house. Forget about gadgets and cell phones and computers.
What’s that? Why does daddy work as a computer programmer? Do as I say, not as I do, children.
7. What are the three main pieces of advice you’d give your kids about functioning as adults, once they’re a bit further along the grown-up end of the spectrum?
Hey, this sounds like a good future blog post!
Don’t spend more than you have. I don’t care what everybody else is doing. Most people are idiots.
Your life is not your job. It’s wonderful to enjoy your job, but if you don’t (or even if you do), you need to have other things you enjoy. If you can work less, do it. Compiling more money is not more important than the things you love. Don’t miss out on your kids when they’re little.
You are what you eat. Don’t be “high fructose corn syrup” or “pink sludge from McDonalds”. And please, please don’t be some chemical I can’t pronounce. If you must be, at least shorten it to something hip and cute, like “Hydroxy”.
8. What made you decide to start writing on Glipho and how is it working out so far?
Someone in my online writer’s group said he had invites to a new blogging platform. I thought, “Hey, I like blogging!” As simple as that.
At first I wasn’t sure if I would use it regularly or not, but I kept telling myself, “Well, just a little longer…” However, there are two factors strongly in Glipho’s favor that keep me on: 1) I feel like I am reaching a totally new audience with Glipho (hello UK!) who would not have found me otherwise, and 2) because of the community, even though I get less traffic on a Gliph than on the same post at shanehalbach.com, I am more likely to get a comment in Glipho. I can tell you, nothing puts a smile on a bloggers face faster than a comment on a post!
9. Any particular goals, blogging or otherwise, for 2013?
I think the plans for world domination don’t kick in until 2015, so 2013 is pretty open.
As far as blogging and writing go, I would probably continue on as I have been. I’ve sold some of my short fiction recently, so that continues to be a goal of mine. Making money on writing is like a soap bubble dream; it seems too crazy to actually exist, and I’m afraid if I touch it or think about it too much, it will pop.
Also, I am learning how to play the accordion! If I can continue improving at my current rate then I can…well then I would be able to…you know how beloved accordion players are, so I guess the rest goes without saying.
Follow Shane here and on Twitter.