Encomium to the Soap Star Bloggers

December 30, 2007

As the year winds its way to a close, I’ve decided to reflect back on my 2-month long participation in the world o’ blogging and what I’ve learned thus far. So: not resolutions, exactly; just a recap.  This will also likely be my final true post of the year (not counting the pre-dated, automated post that will appear tomorrow), since we are heading to my friend Gemini I’s cottage for New Year’s Eve and I have no idea what kind of Internet access (if any) they have there.

Like so many new bloggers, I’ve been chomped on by the blogging bug (try saying THAT quickly 5 times) and have been irrevocably drawn in to this quirky and captivating world.  The month of December, posting daily to Holidailies, has been a real kick and an incredible learning experience as well, though, as someone who’s kept a paper diary virtually since I could write, I found the quotidian rhythm of regular posting to be both comforting and familiar. I doubt I’ll continue to write here every day in January, but know I will still post regularly. 

I’ve definitely experienced a crash course in how the whole blogosphere operates, as well as the social conventions of the blogging community.  At first, compulsively checking one’s statistics can feel validating, as the numbers go up and there appear strange links or pingbacks to one’s posts.  I was initially thrilled to see those digits inch upward, only to discover upon checking the URLs that the phrases “chocolate tofu pudding” and “eating out of both sides of my mouth” were somehow both irresistible to porno sites (okay, if I stretch, I can understand the connection in the latter, but the former?? Vegan pudding orgies? what???). 

Similarly, like most new bloggers, I was thrilled to receive my first bona fide comments which initiated some terrific dialogues with other bloggers.  I loved discovering others with similar interests or senses of humor, and the many fabulous women I wish lived closer to where I am. (And there were the hard lessons about tacit rules and restrictions, too: early on, in my zeal to become “one” with the blogging world, I left a particularly effusive comment on the site of a blogger whose writing I  admired. I returned a few days later to find that my comment had been deleted!  The horror!  I skulked away feeling like a cyber stalker, and haven’t been back since.)

Finally, I’ve been spending far too many hours–first thing upon waking, last thing before sleep ( “Come to bed, already!”, my HH whines, as The Girls snore at my feet), and any spare minutes in between–reading other people’s blogs, relishing the writing, gawking at the photos, giggling at the turns of phrase, energized by the originality and creativity that’s out there, again and again.  You may not know what you’ll find when you embark on this journey, but once those doors swing open, boy, what a trip it is.

I’ve also discovered that, as in Hollywood, there exists a hierarchy among bloggers. 

Of course, we are all familiar with the A-List–the Brad and Angelinas–of the blogging world (I’m focused on the food writers, but this applies to all types, I’d say).  They are the  superstars whose blogs we read like clockwork and whom we can only gape at from afar.  With legions of fans who follow their blogs, these blogging glitterati attract hundreds, if not thousands, of hits a day. Their blogs all display professional-quality photos worthy of Martha Stewart Living, they regularly provide enough eloquent, evocative linguistic showpieces to stain anyone’s eyes green, they’ve probably secured a recent book deal (or just published a book), they very likely got married within the past twelve months, and they’re all friends with each other. I certainly don’t need to shine more spotlights in their direction, but let’s just say that with these folks, I could enjoy one fine cup of tea and gluten-free  zucchini bread (possibly fat free) on a Wednesday before being smitten with oranges in Paris where I might nosh on 101 Dalmatians 101 bottles of beer 101 blog entries–oh, I can’t remember, 101 something or others.  

And just like the A-list movie stars, these bloggers reside in a stratosphere so far above the rest of us that we can only admire them from a safe distance and stare, goggle-eyed, at their accomplishments, aspiring one day to maybe be just a teensy bit like them. 

And the rest of us?  Well, at first, I felt overwhelmed by the plethora of talent out there, and, as is my wont, my own comparative shortcomings.  But then it hit me: why not be a soap star of the blogging world?  In Hollywood, new actors will routinely opt for B-level (or C- or even D-level–viz, Kathy Griffin) jobs as a way to break into the business.  Landing a gig on a soap opera is often the starting point, not the goal, for actors, as it’s considered a concession, a lower-level job, but a steady one, and one that pays the bills. Yet why shouldn’t they aspire to be a soap star as a goal in itself? To me, that would represent a stellar achievement.

True, fans adore the Brad and Angelinas, both because of their unsurpassed beauty and their well-honed talent.  The same goes for those A-list bloggers. 

But it’s the soap stars who act “in the trenches,” so to speak, the ones we can actually relate to as real human beings, because we recognize so much of ourselves in what they project. Like the worker bees, they are the ones who actually show up every day, deliver their lines on a regular basis, and all without the attendant fanfare that naturally trails the big names. 

Without benefit of lengthy rehearsal time, without the bevy of makeup people or assistants or handlers, these soap opera actors are often given only a single take in which to get it right, whether or not they’ve had time to polish their delivery; one camera shot–no multiple angles with best lighting, no retouching or editing, no fourteen hours of prep to film only one scene–and they do so good-naturedly, day in and day out. Five days a week.  Fifty two weeks a year (okay, well, I think they get Christmas off).

It’s these soap stars I love the most.  Awestruck fans may worship George Clooney and Nicole Kidman on the screen, but it’s the soap actors who draw enormous crowds–in person–to shopping malls in all kinds of weather, who elicit feelings of protectiveness and empathy, who feel like kin because they’ve been coming in to our homes every day for the past 35 years, and we’ve been following their storylines religiously. 

And are the soap stars any less talented than the Julia Robertses of the world? (Well, okay, bad choice, of course they’re more talented than Julia Roberts; who isn’t?).  No, the soap actors are every bit as talented, as creative, as worthy, as those others; it’s just that they might not have the same resources (agents, studio funding, exposure, etc.) backing them.  And just so you know, many actors who began as soap stars did later scale that top tier and eventually garner the same fame and adulation as other A-listers: Michelle Pfeiffer, Anne Heche, Morgan Freeman, Julianne Moore, Meg Ryan, Laurence Fishburn, Ryan Phillipe, Robin Wright-Penn (love her!), and even The Venerable Mr. Pitt himself–among many, many others–all got their start in soaps.

So, as 2007 prepares to bid us adieu and we look toward the new year, I will, of course, continue to read those blogs at the apex of their genre because they are beautiful, they provide an example of what can be achieved, and it’s a joy being exposed to masterfully crafted prose and aesthetically perfect pictures. But I will equally eagerly pursue all the other blogs I’ve come to love even if they haven’t been awarded those same kudos just yet, because of their own unique talents, their heart and their wit and their personality–plus some mighty cool photos to boot.

This New Year’s Eve, I think we should all raise a glass to the bloggers out there who diligently slog away at it every day, and continue to do so, even without the public recognition or accolades. They write to express their creativity, their quirky humor, or simply because they love doing it; because they have something of import to say, because blogging fulfills a deep and irrepressible need to share parts of their inner selves, or because of all the myriad other reasons why people choose to create something and release it to the intangible masses of readers and widgets and RSS feeds and screen shots and tags and comments and online events and amazing, anonymous, uniquely expressive bloggers who take the time to share in this strange and most magical of habits. 

Have a great 2008, everyone.  It’s been wonderful getting to know you all, and I can’t wait to see what next year brings!

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12 Responses to “Encomium to the Soap Star Bloggers”

  1. Megan Says:

    Delurking to say that I love your blog, A-list or not.

  2. Ricki Says:

    Megan,
    I am so glad you decided to delurk and post a comment! Reading comments is one of the high points of blogging for me (and when they’re CANADIAN comments–well, there’s just nothing to compare to that!!). Thanks so much for reading and for writing.

    Hope you have a wonderful New Year!

  3. sam Says:

    What a beautiful post. It’s funny, because I don’t see myself as A list. I don’t *feel*that way inside. Inside I think I might feel just about the same way you do. have a great 2008!

  4. Ricki Says:

    Sam,
    Thanks so much for your gracious message. (Another reason you’re definitely on the A List. And a real class act.) Happy New Year!

  5. Johanna Says:

    I agree with this hierarchy stuff – it is a bit of a shock because blogging seems so democratic – but I think it is nice to look in the showhouses of the rich and famous but even nicer to sit down and share a meal with friends – that is the difference for me between the stars and the ordinary folk like me!

  6. imagineannie Says:

    Ricki, I am proud to be a soap star, although, if the fates aligned, I would not really hate it if I was discovered on As the World Turns, cast in “Spaceballs” and became Meg Ryan. I’d even marry Dennis Quaid, although that might complicate things with my existing husband. No plastic surgery, though. Thanks for a great post and a great blog!!

  7. Ricki Says:

    Johanna,
    I like the term “showhouses”–yes, it’s like going to the art gallerly, or something! But “ordinary”? No way. And how I’d love to sit down and share a meal with you (can I please come to your neck of the planet to do it?!).

    Annie,
    I think we should start a Soap Pride Parade during Sweeps Weeks. (Oh, and thank goodness you eschewed the plastic surgery, or I wouldn’t have been able to visit your blog anymore!). As for me, just an appearance on ATWT would be enough to satisfy me for life (well, maybe we could get Dennis Quaid to guest star as well, or something).

  8. Johanna Says:

    Of course I’d love to share a meal with you – but I wanted to come over to your side of the world and play in the snow with you and the girls afterwards!!!

  9. Ricki Says:

    Johanna,

    The Girls would love to meet (and play with) you, snow or not. Okay, we can start here, then go back there to the gorgeous sun and heat (though I can’t say I’m too fond of spiders–when I arranged a teaching exchange to Australia several years back, that funnel web was almost a deal breaker! Sadly, the Aussie couple cancelled, so I’m still dreaming of living there one day.)

  10. Tea Says:

    Ha! This is so funny that you nearly made me spit out that cup o’ tea I was drinking. Fantastic post!

    When I started blogging I looked up with awe to those who had started before me and seemed oh-so-accomplished and connected. I was just trying to find my way (though enjoying every bit of the process). Then I discovered the best thing about food bloggers is that they tend to be friendly folks. Though I felt intimidated, I was welcomed and many of these people are now friends of mine (it probably helped that the food blogger world was a bit smaller back then). It was all about sitting down at a table together (there’s no secret handshake–I assure you–though perhaps I am only B-list and haven’t become privy to such knowledge!)

    In the end, I think we’re all just trying to share our passion and enjoyment of food and community. Perhaps it begins to feel like Hollywood–or high school (gag)–but it was never meant that way. I’ll agree with Sam and say that I feel very ordinary; I imagine that we all do.

    The blog world is an interesting place, especially as it grows and changes. I love watching new blogs taking off and gaining in popularity (though it I think it’s a requirement that you have the word “kitchen” in your title–Steamy, Smitten, etc). I love hearing all the different voices and experiences. I love seeing new bloggers fall in love with the practice and the connections it leads to. And I love watching skills sharpen as the regular writing and photography pays off.

    (If you ever want a blogging ego boost–or just a good laugh–go back and read the early posts of some of these food bloggers. With the exception of David Lebovitz, who leapt from the womb articulate and funny, and Deb of Smitten Kitchen, who was blogging for ages before she got started on food, most everyone else started out pretty dorky; I have photos in my archives that are so awful they would give a Martha Stewart Living art director nightmares for a week!)

    Thanks for the laugh–and the dose of perspective. I can’t wait to see where YOU might end up in a few years of blogging:-)

  11. Ricki Says:

    Tea,

    Thanks so much for taking the time to read and post a comment! You’ve summed up so much of what I’m experiencing as I continue to blog (loving it all, finding others out there and reading their blogs, etc.). It’s nice to know that you all began much the same way. And I’m certainly looking forward to the rest of the journey.

  12. michelle Says:

    somehow, i only just found you via the well fed awards. as someone who’s just finished up her first year in food blogging soaps, i’m loving this post. and can’t wait ’til i move up the soap rank, maybe from “passions” to “general hospital.”

    i remember the first time someone added me to their blogroll. it was “everybody loves sandwiches” and i was giddy as a schoolgirl.

    and let us not forget that george clooney started in soaps, too (right?)


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