"Happy Anniversary" to Me

By Sandra Sylvester | Sep 01, 2014
Photo by: Brenda Peabody The present head for "Beyond the Southend"

Knox County — “Happy Anniversary” to me. This month marks the fifth anniversary of this blog from the beginning of “On Being a Southender” in 2009 to today’s “Beyond the South End.”

Originally, the blog was intended as an advertising aid for the book I published that year, The South End. (Yes, the book did indeed come before the blog.) I believe that aim was realized in spades and more. From there, the blog has evolved into what it is today. Today I present the process that took me from “On Being a Southender” to “Beyond the South End.” Hopefully it will help new bloggers out there as they develop their own creations online.

You will not see the blogs from 2009 on the web site because the only place they existed that year was on the online site for “The Village Soup.” I assume they are to be found somewhere on that site’s own archives. When that enterprise folded, I developed my own blog space online. When “Village Soup” and the Courier publications were with us again, I re-presented my blog to “Village Soup” again but also kept my own blog space too.

The 2009 weekly major blogs can be found in their entirety on a CD which I published in that year. They may be purchased on the blog site. Look for the ad on the side. They are all “Southend” stories.

The most popular blogs from 2009 as presented on the CD are:

1.“May Baskets and the Cold War,” 2. “South End Success Stories,” in two parts; 2. “Early Memories of Mcloud Street,” 4. “Real Housewives of the South End,” 5. “The Way we Were,”6. “Eating my Way Home,” 7. “Part-time Friends and Neighborhood Visitors,” 8. “Burning Leaves,” 9. “Bridge Night,” 10. “School Days.

The three most popular blogs from 2010 to the present are: Maine Fall Foliage, 2253; The Real Plymouth Colony, 1383; and Gifts for Mom and Breakfast in Bed, 1357.

Today the blog is presented in some form on the “Village Soup” site along with the blog space and the Google feed. The weekly special blog appears on both sites. The “Village Soup” site may be edited because I cannot show any more than one picture and no videos which I can do on the blog site.

On the blog site I also offer many more articles and special presentations including monthly blogs from brother Ted Sylvester with his old “Fish and Chips” columns from the Bangor Daily News; a recipe of the month; Thomaston Library News; Sail, Power and Steam Museum news when there is any; and Sonny’s Sunshine Corner which relates events in my personal life at the time.

From “On Being a Southender” to “Beyond the Southend”

So how did I get from the first blog “On Being a Southender” to the blog as it is now, “Beyond the Southend?”

Because my book The South End was essentially a “Southend” story, I decided to target the South End, Rockland and Knox County audience. Therefore, I included subjects I thought would be of interest to mainly a local audience.

“On Being a Southender” therefore included things like library events for that month for all the libraries in the area; Maine recipes, which included more than one recipe; Benefits and Good Works; and UPDATE on blog doings.

I soon found that besides taking a lot of my blog writing time, some features were too unwieldy and time-consuming and they were all available in local newspapers anyway usually long before they appeared in my blog space.

I agreed from that time on to include any news an organization might like to email me so that I wouldn’t have to do all that research. That’s why you still see Thomaston Library News. Ann Harris sends me her news faithfully every week. For the same reason, I include the Sail, Power and Steam Museum doings as they send me emails about their upcoming events too.

Maine recipes soon petered out because I couldn’t always find them to begin with and they were time-consuming once again, especially the formatting. I decided to present only one recipe of the month and call it simply, “Recipe of the Month.”

Benefits and Good Works were also available locally.

UPDATE included what was up with the blog. This morphed into “Sonny’s Sunshine Corner” and now includes things happening in my personal life as well as any blog news I wish to inform my readers about.

I also had to exclude all the holiday events taking place in town as that was also time-consuming and unnecessary.

“Beyond the South End”

Why the name change?

As the years progressed I realized that there is just so much you can write about the South End. My own personal experiences had all been told for the most part. Therefore I decided to expand my horizons, so to speak, and include stories that often happen “Beyond the Southend.”

I will still focus on the South End when I can. But changing the name allowed me to express myself as far as my own opinions and observations go. I can also now include more historical and literary pieces which seem to be popular with my readers. I have even included some of my own fiction and poetry.

I have always welcomed one-time or longer “guest blogs.” In the past years the blog has posted blogs from my friends and classmates, Todd McIntosh and Jean Monroe; from Sister Sally with her own blog and in collaboration with me; and Austin Nagel who sent me very interesting information about Rockland’s sea captains.

A very popular guest blog which has appeared every month since early in 2011 is brother Ted’s Fish and Chips columns from his days as bureau chief in Rockland.

“Beyond The Southend” also reflects my expanded readership. While I still try to include my dear Maine friends in my blogs, I have found that my stories are now also appealing to a wider national and international audience.

When I write a story I’m trying to educate those people who may have never visited Maine or even know where it is. Every year I try to write a travel piece to introduce these people to the state and perhaps entice them to visit Maine.

I’m also cognizant of those Rockland and Knox County folks who have moved away and may not get the hometown paper any more or do not subscribe to “The Village Soup.” For that reason I include such things as the Lobster Festival Sea Goddess court for that year.

There are still plenty of stories appealing to the local community. I know because they will often email me or comment on a story I’ve written. The biggest compliment I could ever get is the one I got when I went home this summer and someone unexpectedly said, “I read your blog.”

(I would like to thank Jami Mays for developing my blog site including changing the head from one title to another.)

Keep reading, everyone, and thanks for listening for the past five years.


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