By Vladimir Brezina and Johna Till Johnson
It’s hard to believe that a whole year has gone by since we published our first post on May 9, 2011.
We have to credit Tugster with the idea. He’d asked us for a guest post about a kayaker’s-eye view on maritime traffic and life on the water. We still haven’t written that one (one day soon, Will, we promise!).
But we pondered the idea… And meanwhile, Vlad kept taking photos, and Johna kept writing essays, until the idea of a blog was born.
Blogs are harder than they look, as anyone who writes on a regular basis knows well.
For us, the first challenge was the name: it had to be memorable (and available), have something to do with kayaking, but be extensible to broader topics. Wind Against Current turned out to meet all the requirements—but it took us quite a while to come up with.
Then there was the question of the “theme”—the look-and-feel of the blog. Johna’s solution? Find a blog she liked and copy the theme. Not so fast, said Vlad: An effective theme would need to handle photographs as well as text—and all the blogs Johna liked were text-heavy, with few tools for posting photos (go figure).
It took many days of testing and experimentation, mostly on Vlad’s part, before we selected our theme (“Coraline”—which actually turns out to be not all that good for posting photos…).
And then there was selecting the categories. And composing the basic content (“About” and “The authors” and all that jazz). And that was before we even got to the first real post!
One thing that wasn’t challenging, surprisingly, was the art of collaboration. It turns out that we’re very comfortable working together: Vlad is happy to hand over a selection of photographs and say, “please write something around this”. Or Johna will write a draft, and request illustrations.
Even when we’re co-writing (which you can tell from the joint byline), things usually work well. Fortunately, we share an obsession with syntactic and semantic detail (we’ll debate the proper use of a comma versus an m-dash, or the exact emotional tone of one word versus another). And we’re both comfortable with being edited (not all that common among writers, actually!).
That said, keeping up with the content is a daily challenge. We have more ideas than we have time, as you’d know if you could see our “drafts” folder. And one of us (guess which?) is a lot better at posting the regular content that keeps a blog lively and interesting.
But the biggest, and best, surprise of blogging turns out to be the wonderful, welcoming world of the blogosphere—both our fellow bloggers and those who simply comment.
Who knew there were so many talented, insightful, and fascinating people out there? Whether we’re writing about kayaking, photography, New York, or life in general… there’s someone who shares our passion and weighs in with comments—and in the process, often turns us on to a new, exciting blog that we can’t resist following.
At first, you start writing a blog because you can. Because you think you have something to share.. and you’re willing to try and demonstrate it.
But over time, you write a blog for the sheer joy of communicating with other people. One of the amazing things about the whole experience is realizing that people actually care about your posts—as much as you care about theirs. (We both spend more time than we care to admit staying current on our favorite blogs—because reading them is like opening up windows onto vistas we’d never seen before.)
Johna will never forget the friend who told her she was so absorbed in a post that she (the friend) missed her stop on the bus. And both of us are amazed at the real-life friendships that have sprung up when fellow bloggers have suggested getting together in person.