Tuesday, 3 January 2012

To be or not to be...

I've been thinking a lot about my perfume blog lately and wondering what makes a good blog. I started blogging in March 2010. Like many, I was possibly quite idealistic when I started. A year and nine months later, having blogged extensively and also read many other perfume blogs extensively, I have come to realise that while a lot of people can be dismissive about blogging, it  very often is quite a challenge to keep it up.

I love writing about perfume, but to be honest, there are days (or weeks sometimes) where I run out of ideas, thoughts and inspiration. When I started blogging, I researched what I was going to write about, kept a diary of perfume ideas, reviews and thoughts, and went over posts a number of times before publishing them. Perhaps a lot of you still do, but these days I find my blog posts tend to be quite instinctive and reactive in a way - an idea pops into my head and boom, I get it down in a post and fire away. I don't know if I should be revealing this. After all, for all I know each of you spends hours fine-tuning your ideas and articles. 

Having read a lot of perfume blogs, I think that bloggers tend to generally fall into one of two types. You get the blogger who researches a lot and spends time composing a post and then you get the blogger who shoots from the hip. I think these days I tend to fall into the latter. Actually, I am typing this post exactly like that. I haven't thought about this at all but am simply making this up as I go along. Brilliant eh? Hmm.

So, what is the point of this post then? Actually, what I am trying to do, in a roundabout sort of way, is justify my existence as a blogger. After twenty months of blogging, I realise that I am not a naturally gifted writer. I don't have a background in publishing, magazines, or even freelance writing. I've also realised that I have no credentials to write about perfume. I think in fairness I do know a fair bit about perfume, and I am definitely a perfume lover, but I do not have any qualifications - I'm not a chemist, I have no background in fashion.

I've also looked very generally at the responses I get to my posts. I realised quite early on that my technical posts, for want of a better term, very seldom garner any attention. No one out there really cares whether I think a perfume smells woody and evokes the atmosphere of driving along a coastal road at sunset. To put it in perspective, I get more comments for a picture of my cat. So much for a perfume blog then!

I can understand the response. Let's think of my own attitude to blogs. I have to be honest and state that I love reading articles and posts about technical aspects of perfume. For example I like to know the history of musk in perfumery, what all the synthetic musks are, which perfumes are good examples of musk and so forth. I love to read a series of posts that cover a perfume family for example. Great examples of these sorts of bloggers include Perfume Shrine and Perfume Smellin' Things. I also like the everyday, matter-of-fact sort of blogs that keep me up to date with latest releases. Now Smell This was one of, if not the first blog I ever read and I still read it daily. It is a perfect example of this sort of blog. While I am interested in the history of perfume, I have to admit to being a little bored by too much of that sort of thing, but  I will dip my toe into that sort of proverbial water. Then, I love the bread-and-butter blogs, those that feel like coming home after a tough day out. I'm not going to mention names, but read my blog list and the vast majority of those bloggers are precisely like this, and I would in fairness include myself in that category.

I think what I'm really trying to get at in this post is that a blog should reflect the character of its creator or creators. I think that's the most important thing. And to stay true to that character. I'm not saying that a blog can't adapt or develop, nor that its creator can't experiment and develop too, but ultimately, the blog should be the genuine reflection of its creator's spirit, whatever that spirit might be.

In some ways, I feel that I occasionally blog just to keep in touch and not fall by the wayside, and if I am being honest, not all my posts are inspired. But they do reflect where I am in my life and mostly what I am. This year, I am feeling both excited and also cautious about the future. In real life, my world faces an uncertain future. Without being too melodramatic, Britain and Europe, and many parts of the world, are in the throes of an economic crisis unheard of certainly in our lifetime. I just hope it all works out.

On a personal front, I want my perfume blog this year to truly reflect who I am. I can't guarantee it will work out that way, but I will do my darn best to try deliver that. I have a few ideas to write about this year. I'm not saying that they are original ideas, or even that they are that interesting, necessarily, but they will represent me, and whether that is simply mundane or not, will be left to fate.

I invite you to continue to join me, if you will. I like company, and have come to the conclusion that it is the quality rather than quantity that matters. Sometimes I might post every day; otherwise it could be once a week. I don't know, it depends. 

So, here's to 2012, and I look forward to continuing on my perfume journey and look forward to being a passenger on yours too, if you will have me.


  1. Michael, I enjoyed the honesty of this post and the thing that keeps me coming back to your blog is not perfume, but you as a person. I love hearing about your family, your work and your life in general. Perhaps it's the therapist in me, but in the end, people are more interesting than anything else.

    So make this blog whatever is most satisfying to you. I'll look forward to following.

  2. Michael, you voiced so many things that go through my head as well. :)
    I'm glad to hear you have ideas for this year (I wish I had some too) but basically staying true to yourself in writing is what will ensure the future of your blog.
    Looking forward to what you have in store for us this year!:)

  3. Josephine, that's very kind of you to say so. Good to have you back and hope to see more of you in 2012!

  4. Ines, I do have some ideas, but it remains to see how good they really are! I look forward to corresponding with you this year.

  5. Before Octavian (I do not need to clarify who I'm talking about, do I?) closed comments on his blog, I remember he used to complain about the lack of dialog on the proper level in response to his posts. I thought his posts were interesting. I read them regularly but almost never commented - just because there wasn't much to say other than "Thank you" and it didn't feel like he needed my "thank you". But once he closed even that possibility of a dialog I stopped reading his blog. It didn't happen in one day, it wasn't a decision on my part - it just happen. I'm not interested much in either history or a scientific aspect of perfumery and as soon as a personal component (or at least an illusion of it) disappeared there was no more reasons for me to read that blog.

    What I'm trying to say is: personally, I do not care much about what aspect of our hobby in common people, whose blogs I read, write - I will read them as long as I like people who write them. And yes, probably I would care more about your your family (your daughters are beautiful), your cat (she's great) or your trips than about some perfume that I've either tried already and have my own opinion or will try eventually and make up my own opinion. Not unless it moved you greatly, shattered your world or sent you on a month-long quest.

    I think I've mentioned it before but I'll say it again: I read all the posts on those blogs that I chose to read. Sometimes I get to them several days later but I always do - even if I do not comment.

  6. Undina, thanks for your insight and comments. I do read Octavian's blog and while I had never noticed the lack of commentary facility, I hadn't even tried to comment because I am not even close to his league and could not think of anything I could add to that sort of discourse!

    Part of me is sort of interested in the science behind perfume, but to be honest I could see myself more likely to dabble with essential oils, mixing them blindly and probably coming up with a total disaster of a result!

  7. Michael I have been following and reading you from the beginning (I think!) and love your blog and what you write about in any way shape or form. I'll continue following and reading. I like you as a person and like to read what you're up to in all aspects of life!



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