Saturday, April 7, 2012

Comma Cafe Spring 2012 Update and Blog Redesign

“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.”-- Anais Nin

Happy New Year and Happy Spring! The Comma Cafe has been under some heavy construction since New Years; get out your yellow hard hat and watch out for the hot coffee and falling biscotti! Duck your head--here comes a girder and a ton of blueberry muffins!

This blog has been in existence since 2007 and it seems to have nine lives, as there have been quite a few times I’ve thought about tearing it down (and then the space could be taken over by a shopping mall or big box store!) But The Comma Cafe is something like your small town indie coffee shop, a place for artists, entrepreneurs and writers to exchange ideas and encourage each other to write, create and dream. (The above photo is of my local indie coffee shop once called The Muddy Cup and now The Parlor Cafe).

Why would I want to take down The Comma Cafe? First of all, last year’s decline in residual earnings that I attribute to the Google search engine algorithm changes caused me to really step back and evaluate my place as a content writer for web sites. It was such a game changer for writers that I wondered if this blog that focused so heavily on online writing still had any relevance. I was so distracted that I didn’t write any blog posts for about a year as I rolled with the punches, plotting my next writing moves.

On top of all that, I felt disenchanted with many of the sites I write for, as some made sweeping changes in order to deal with this brave new online writing world.

Finally, I feared that The Comma Cafe was hopelessly outmoded. If you remember the old “look and feel” of this blog, it had one of the older classic Blogger templates (I believe it was called the “Lighthouse” theme!) It was a very pretty theme, but as I looked around at new blogs being created in 2011, it suddenly felt hopelessly old fashioned. I felt like the girl driving around in an Edsel while everyone else is flying by in a hot sports car...

Yeah, all the cool kids are blogging at Wordpress and Tumblr.

So with a dated template and lots of older posts that didn’t really reflect my new mindset of hurtling toward new technology and rethinking my writing goals, I was determined to (probably) delete this old Comma Cafe.

Only one thing was stopping me: I had mentioned this website in the author information page of my self-published memoir that went to print September 2011. It clearly mentioned for more info, visit the author’s blog at this address.

I didn’t want to change the book already in print to add a completely new blog, so I thought about deleting all my old posts here and starting over with a shiny new Blogger template. That was the plan.

Then something interesting happened! I realized that Blogger has created these new tools to help users update their blogs. I was able to browse through all of the many and varied templates and backgrounds to create a coffee and writing theme that seems very appropriate for The Comma Cafe. I was also thrilled to be able to create separate pages at the top of the blog, where you can find out more “About Me,” and my new “Soul Tripper Book” and read up on this blog’s “Disclosure Policy.”

But what to do about a lot of the older posts that might feel irrelevant or dated as I go in new writing directions? I wasn’t sure if I should clutter up the blog by keeping them, if they’d have any value to new visitors. I spent a few days in March, reading through all my older posts.

I ended up leaving all my older blog posts intact, except for updating the links to my older Associated Content articles so readers can find their new home on the site called Yahoo Voices. (Yahoo acquired Associated Content, changed the name of the site to Yahoo Contributor Network and changed all the original links to AC articles, moving them over to the Yahoo platform).

I expected to feel the urge to hit the delete button, but I didn’t really. I think it’s because looking back on my old posts and early experiences breaking into writing, it was like the Anais Nin quote mentioned above. It put me in touch with why I write: to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.

Reading my old posts, I could relive my writing journey, the triumphs of getting my first few articles published, my frustrations at finding a suitable day job that would support me while I pursued my writing goals, the roads I’ve taken as an online writer and lessons learned along the way.

One thing that stood out for me, reading my old posts, was my passion to keep writing, to never give up on my creative dreams. I think that’s the one thing Comma Cafe can offer: encouragement to keep on the path of the writing life and hold the dream of being a writer and creative person.

When I started writing in the fall of 2006, I was at the start of a new decade in my life. I’m now about half way through that decade, and I realized that in that time, I have published hundreds of articles, completed two one woman shows, one of them I self-published as a memoir, and I’m thinking about finally finishing a stage play I’ve been dreaming about and working on for about ten years. I feel that I’m also a lot closer to being able to self produce and stage my own solo shows and play.

All that growth happened in this decade I’ve been a writer. Through writing, I’ve become my own person, more fully me, not playing a role others wanted for me, but just simply being my most authentic Self.

I also realized I’ve become a creative entity, not just an interpretive one. When I was younger, I had nothing original to say, about me, so I was content to just pick up scripts and interpret the words of other writers.

Now that I’m older, something’s broke free, and opened up in me, and I reveal my Self in my writing; especially in my memoir writing, one woman shows, stage play and personal essays, I seem to have a lot to share and say and I’m not afraid to express that openly in my work, which feels great.

In the coming months, I plan to blog more and share my new goals for my writing. I’ve been coming in early and staying up late at The Comma Cafe, lovingly thinking about the finer details, paint brush in hand, redesigning the place, thinking up new color schemes and new items for the menu. I hope you’ll enjoy all the new changes here. (And if you get a chance, visit my new blog for Soul Tripper at:

Wherever you are in your creative journey, I hope I can inspire you to keep writing and wishing you the best of luck in realizing your creative dreams!