Tony was up to his usual morning routine: radio on 702 Sydney and MacBook Air on his lap as he sat on the couch, web browser open with multiple tabs showing his mailbox, calendar, RSS reader, Google Plus and Facebook – the usual list of suspects.
This morning he also had open a tab new to his routine, WordPress.com showing the blog reader, a feed of blogs on WordPress.com that he had started to follow.
I had started up a WordPress.com blog after giving up trying to keep my own blog free of spam comments and malware break ins. It had been an entire weekend’s work to extract all my posts from two other blogs and shift them to WordPress.com. I was happy with the shift, I’d found a theme I liked and even spent some time tweaking and customising it. I’d already had a couple of good comments on posts and a few other WordPress.com bloggers were following my blog.
A post on “Daily Post”, a blog written by staff at WordPress.com, caught his eye. Weekly Writing Challenge — Mind the Gap asked bloggers a question “Are animated GIFs the stuff of junior highschool hijinks or, are they the political cartoons of the new millenium?”.
Brain cells lit up, synapses connected and a few vague memories surfaced in Tony’s mind. He remembered seeing some animated GIFs which were high quality photographs with a small amount of subtle movement animated on top. New York Fashion Week also seemed to be associated with the memory.
Open up a new tab and start a Google search and there they were. A series of brilliant animated GIFs that could certainly be described as art and not “highschool hijinks”. Tony had his answer.
Tony hammered out a few quick thoughts and then started in on further research. A Google search for “art animated GIF” and “cinemagraphs” (the term coined by the two artists behind those first artistic GIFs) lead him on and a blog post started to fall into shape in his favourite text editor.
That’s simplifying the process a little there, mate. That research took an hour or two. To start, the field of animated GIFs is littered with a lot of those tacky GIFs we all know. Second, loading pages full of animated GIFs is slow, you can’t have more than one or two tabs loading at a time. Then it took me a hard slog through a lot of sites to find people discussing animated GIFs as art.
Then having finished a first draft Tony set it aside and continued his usual reading of RSS feeds and keeping an eye on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. An hour or two later he spent a little more time on research and a little more time giving the post a good, hard edit before posting it to his blog and adding a link to it in the comments of the Weekly Challenge post that inspired it. Here it is – Animated GIFs, junk or art?
He didn’t think much more of it but noticed that his blog got a pleasant hit from people following the link, not the best day it had ever had but close.
Last Saturday was the shocker. In his first attempt at a Weekly Challenge he’d been Freshly Pressed, chosen by the team at WordPress.com to be featured as one of the best blog posts of the day.
“Shocker” is putting it mildly. I’ve always enjoyed writing and known for a while that I write better than most, not the best writer in the world but above average. To get that confirmation was a great boost. I was stunned and happy.
Tony watched in almost giddy delight as the number of page views on his blog rose at a breathtaking rate, as the number of Likes increased and more and more people decided to follow his blog or left positive comments. This made the effort of writing and blogging worthwhile, it didn’t feel like shouting into an empty space, people were reading and enjoying his writing.
In the end over 700 people read that blog post. 65 people hit the like button and 25 visitors decided to follow my blog. Thank you to the editors at WordPress.com who Freshly Pressed my post and every single one of those 700 people. You made this writer very, very happy. This post was in response to another Weekly Writing Challenge, Shift Your Perspective.
I’ll keep on taking the challenge as often as I can, not because I expect lightning to strike twice but because I’ve enjoyed the challenges and I value anything that inspires my writing.