“Charlie Moores joins birdingblogs.com – that’s right, the incredibly brilliant Charlie Moores is to join our humble ranks.”
Wow, what a warm and fluffy welcome to Birdingblogs.com from Dale “Deadpan” Forbes, a good friend but not one I usually associate with such displays of hyperbole! ‘Incredibly brilliant’? I wish, and as for ‘humble ranks’ – I’m the one who is humbled to have been invited to join such a vibrant group, and genuinely so. Especially since (how can I put this?) my record as a ‘group blogger’ has not been wildly successful of late.
Which brings me to the nub of this first post. Given what happened over at 10,000 Birds (my recent departure is the elephant in the room, I guess, so I may as well be honest and acknowledge it) why would I – just a few weeks later – be jumping back into the sometimes choppy waters sailed by a collective of bloggers most of whom I have never met?
Well, it all comes down to what I want to get out of joining Birdingblogs.com – and it’s not actually what you might think…
Let me explain what I mean by that. First though I need to frame what follows by saying that the truth is that I was eased out of 10,000 Birds before I was ready to leave. Yes, there had been far too many petty backroom squabbles but I was very proud of what we’d achieved and really enjoyed working with Corey Finger (one of the nicest guys I know, we used to chat on Gmail most days and I really miss that). There was though still plenty to do before hanging up my blogging boots. The addition of Beat Writers to the roster of writers on the blog was a good idea but was something I thought could have been set up differently: however there’s no doubt at all that – like here at Birdingblogs.com – some genuinely wonderful blogging talent was persuaded to sign over their writing. Given encouragement and time to gel who knew where such a group might take a blog?
Assuming of course that the group had a common vision. The reasons that bloggers were committing to 10,000 Birds were many and varied but, frankly, visitor numbers were the bait that was waved. In bird blog terms 10,000 Birds is a big beast. Writers knew that they would at the very least stand a chance of being read by a visitor who might just go on to read their personal blog, buy their product, or watch/listen to their programmes. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that: in effect both sides enter a deal of sorts, they know (or should know) what they’re getting into, and everyone should benefit.
But is group blogging really just about numbers and ‘benefits’? Of course not. And despite how cynical that last paragraph might read, I don’t really believe that people join a blog because they think it might be a business opportunity (and if they do, I think they’re over-estimating the influence of even the biggest bird blogs). I think – and this is the point I want to make – that most people join a blog because they are excited by the ethics behind it, because they like or admire the people who write for it, want to work with those writers, and would like to feel that they’re contributing something unique to the group’s success. And it’s because of all the above – plus of course because I was thrilled to be asked – that I’ve decided to plant my size Elevens firmly back in that choppy water I alluded to earlier.
Besides which (and to stretch the boating analogy to breaking-point) how choppy could it be when there’s a crew like this one already onboard (really, that’s the last nautical reference, I promise)? Dale’s here, Tom McKinney (bubbling with a Milliganesque lunacy that he can barely contain), Kenn Kaufmann (whom I’ve never met but have a feeling I will like enormously when I do), Rebecca Nason (a fantastic photographer and one of the UK’s leading female birders), Rich Hoyer, Dawn Fine, Martin Garner etc etc. And that’s not to mention Gunnar, the irrepressible and supportive ‘leader of the gang’, who said something very wise to me once about bird blogs (he won’t remember as it came via Dale at last year’s British BirdFair, but it was a very thoughtful comment on blogging).
Who wouldn’t want to join, learn from, and grow with a group like this? (And how wonderful it would be if my additional presence here might one day be the spur to someone else wanting to jump aboard.)
And don’t anyone take this the wrong way (because it’s not in any way meant to be an insult or a less than subtle dig) but I have to admit, too, that I actually like the fact that Birdingblogs.com is not currently the big dog on the block in terms of visitor numbers. I think it’s really exciting to be here while the blog is still young, still developing. When I was talking with Dale and Tom about joining up they were both really fired up about the growth that had been achieved so far and the direction the visitor numbers were heading. Real enthusiasm is infectious and it seems to me that the writers who contribute to this blog are doing so not because of what they can get out of it in the short-term, but because of what they feel they can put into it as it grows. There’s nurturing going on here, and that seems to me to be a rather lovely thing to be a part of.
So writing for Birdingblogs.com feels like setting out on an adventure shared with a group of very talented individuals, and importantly, for me specifically, there’s more the feel of making an investment here than of simply hopping aboard an express train with no particular interest in the destination as long as it’s still going forward. It might even be fun (yes that one WAS a less than subtle dig, and one aimed squarely at the more fretful side of my character and my tendency at the moment to miss ‘FUN’ even when it slaps me hard around the face and tells me to pay attention because this is FUN)! As of this very moment a whole range of possibilities exist, both for me and for this blog and whilst right now I have to be honest and say that I’m still a little wary of putting too much energy into a project I know relatively little about (and even less about how my participation will be welcomed once this goes live) I’m hopeful that it’ll be the start of some interesting collaborations and – who knows – friendships that I might have otherwise missed out on…
…I’m suddenly aware that I’ve written close to a thousand words without mentioning a single bird, and that perhaps no-one but me is interested in why I’m writing here and no longer writing somewhere else. If that’s the case I can only apologise, and assure all readers and fellow bloggers that this ‘open letter’ to my new colleagues is a one-off. To be honest, life is pretty unsettled at the moment and it can be hard to get back on your feet when things don’t work out as expected, and Dale’s enthusiastic welcome was actually really important to me (as was his massive vote of confidence in me during the trip to Extramedura last month) and I wanted to acknowledge it as best as I could. It won’t happen again, and from next week on I’ll be talking about birds, posing what I hope are some very interesting questions about conservation, drawing on the interviews I’ll have been doing on Talking Naturally, and (I suspect) drawing flak and support in equal measure. Back to doing what I do best then. *wink*
In the meantime, group hug everyone?