I was so taken aback by winning that I did a complete Anna Paquin on the stage and lost all the poise I've worked so hard over the past two or three years to earn. In doing so, I rediscovered just how great it feels to be shit-scared by something (even if it's just the walk to the stage).
I was unprepared because I honestly thought either Ben Gracewood or Miraz Jordan, the other finalists in the category, would win. [My money was on Ben, because it astounds me he fits that site into his life alongside work and fatherhood, and the community he has built around it is startling.]
I was also unprepared for how I'd react to winning. It turns out that I still see this blog as a private (you know, for something that's on the internet) and somewhat amateur (in the old-fashioned sense) endeavour. The ONYAs are organised by the wonderful people behind Webstock, and supported by the same ardent community. I wasn't ready to have their attention focused on me. It was lovely, and readers who I would never have expected came out of the woodwork, but it was all most unsettling. (And - naturally - wonderful.)
I entered the ONYAs to give myself a kick in the butt about this blog. Best of 3 has been around for more than four years, and over that time I've learned a lot from writing it, derived opportunities from it, done some good things with it, and had some lovely and encouraging feedback.
Many of those things have dwindled over the past year. I was comparing notes with Robyn Gallagher (a fantastically talented writer, if you're not following her already). Both of us have noticed that comments have withered away lately, and we speculated about whether this was because people now click a Facebook like button or tweet out a link to show their reaction to something you've written. In general, blogging just feels a bit less rewarding than it used to.
The conversation came about at the Future of Blogging panel at yesterday's Wordpress Camp. I don't use Wordpress (obviously) but the organisers kindly let me drop in for this session, because I really wanted to hear what Julie Starr and Richard MacManus (along with facilitator Lance Wiggs and fellow panellists John Ford and ring-in David Farrar) had to say. In fact, I was so curious that even posted some question to the WordCamp site in advance of the event:
I am seriously concerned that people are going to stop blogging (and let's not even get into how worried I am about RSS). Not all blogs, of course; selfishly, I'm worried about the blogs I follow and get value from. When asked what the difference was between the way they blogged in 2009 and in 2010, almost all the panellists said they blogged less.
I have benefited hugely from the generosity of people like Derek Powazek, Seb Chan, Shelley Bernstein, Daniel Incandela, George Oates, Nina Simon, and Kathy Sierra - all people who have freely shared detailed and often entertaining accounts of what they do, how they do it, and what they think about it.
I have tried to follow in this tradition myself - more so, possibly, on my work blogs (first at the National Library and now at Boost New Media). I'm aware that I have blogged less here, and in less depth, since getting a regular spot on National Radio and since joining Goodreads. And at work I find it hard to squeeze blogging time in around client work. But the ONYA award, and the kindness of people when I won, has been exactly the kick in the ass I needed. From now on, I pledge to do better. Thank you all for being here.