Monday Morning Fika with Bonnie Burns: The Woman with the Smarting Bottom

For its 300th post, today Governing Ana is proud to host Bonnie Burns of My Bottom Smarts for Monday Morning Fika*!  On select Mondays, we will sit down with an author or figure of the ttwd community to chat about topics such as books, love, electronic readers, and even biting!  Please welcome Bonnie, the woman who needs no introduction.

*”Fika” is a Swedish term for enjoying coffee, tea, and sweets over conversation with friends.  It is a sacred tradition in many families, friends, and even workplaces, and it offers a chance to chat informally on a number of topics.  While “Fika” may refer specifically to the coffee, in practice it refers to the moment of community.  In this hectic world, it is nice to take a moment to stop, pause, and savor time getting to know a little more about each other.

Please note that our next Fika will be THIS Saturday, October 27th due to next week’s Spank or Treat festivities. 

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Good morning, Bonnie!  Thank you so much for joining us for Fika today!  None of us would have the same blogging experience if it weren’t for all the work you do to build the ttwd community.

Thank you, Ana.  It’s a pleasure to be here.

As I said to you when I asked you to join us for Fika, I received my recent book contract because of connections through my blog that all, at some point, originated from connections through your blog.  It is amazing for me to remember that less than a year ago I wrote to you a tentative email asking if you thought I might be able to blog and if anyone would listen!  I will never forget how kind you were to me from the very beginning.

Congratulations!  As a writer myself, I recognize the significance of your achievement.  I am pleased to have played a role.

Was there anyone in your beginning blogging days who reached out to you?  Who was your first commenter?

The biggest challenge seven years ago was simply being found.  My first commenter was a fellow named Monty.  He found my sixth post and I don’t think he ever commented again.  My second comment arrived after my fourteenth post.  It really felt as though I was writing for no one.

Eventually, a couple of months in, some major spanking blogs linked MBS and I was on my way.  I remember watching less patient beginning bloggers give up because they never received any feedback.  This was unfortunate because some of them were interesting people with great content.  I vowed to do what I could to support fledgling blogs.

Are there any things that you miss about your early personal-blogging days?

Yes.  When blogging was new for us, my husband and I borrowed and tested clever ideas from other bloggers.  We had a lot of fun.

Do you remember any “golden age” of blogging, perhaps missing blogs that have since been abandoned?

While there are a number of disappeared bloggers and defunct blogs that I miss, I would argue that this is the golden age of spanko blogging.  Never before have there been so many blogs, so much diversity, and so many connections among the bloggers.

Have you heard of others receiving book contracts or other professional opportunities through their blogs?

As I recall, Fifty Shades began as a part of a fanfic web site.  I also know of writers who began by publishing stories on forums and story sites.  But as far as I know, no one else went straight from blog to book.  Much more often, it’s the other way around.  Established writers create blogs to promote their books.

Just how many blogs do you currently have on your blogroll?  About how many new blogs do you add per week (or day/month, whichever is easier) these days?  How has the pace of adding new blogs increased and decreased over the seven years you’ve been blogging?

At the time of this writing, there are 535 spanking-oriented blogs linked.  We add about ten in an average week and drop a similar number. The growth rate varies over time.  We see a lot of new blogs created during transitional times of the year, that is, season changes, winter holidays, and spring break.

I’ve heard your blog called “the mother of all ttwd blogs”.  Is that a title that you agree with?  When you first started blogging seven years ago, did you have any idea that you would become “the” spanking blog?  How do you think it happened?  Did you deliberately try to establish your large and faithful following, or was it a byproduct of other things?

I am grateful that readers and bloggers find MBS to be valuable.  An important role for any blog is to bring like-minded people together.  I’ve concentrated on building these connections.

I don’t feel as though MBS is “the” spanking blog.  There are several blogs that publish more content and/or attract more readers.  I don’t aspire to have the biggest blog, the most popular, or even the best.  However, I’ve sought to build a strong core readership.  Many of the features, such as the brunch, wouldn’t work without active reader participation.

Also, our spanko community consists of a number of more or less discrete sub-communities, plus a lot of people who regularly visit from neighboring communities.  It’s not realistic for one blog to serve the needs of such a diverse group.  What I can do is to help create links among people who might not otherwise meet.

You’ve said that you find blogs, especially new ones, partly because when you started out blogging you felt that no one was listening (correct me if I’m putting the wrong spin on this).  You’ve also dedicated your blog to be one of the most inclusive sites around.  You also recently discussed whether to open your criteria to other types of blogs.  How has this been working out for you?  Have you had any difficulties with this?

It’s been going quite well.  We recently added a couple of M/M blogs as well as some more foreign language blogs.  So far, the feedback has been all positive.

I think most of us bloggers and online community participants have had to deal with spam, nasty comments, petty drama, and so on.  On your blog, though (especially for the weekly brunches that I love), this is not the case.  Is it because you delete the nastiness?  Have you ever had to deal with flame wars, trolls, etc. on your blog?

I have been very fortunate in that a culture of civility developed around the brunches and that spread to MBS as a whole.  People complain about the CAPTCHA word verification, and I acknowledge that it’s annoying, but it does cut down on spam and trolling.

I would say I delete about one spam message per week.  The majority of these are caught by Blogger and readers don’t see them.  The nasty, trolling messages are much more rare and appear only a couple of times per year.  I delete them immediately without comment.  Deprived of an audience, trolls move on.  We get off-topic messages during brunch, but that’s a minor issue.  I don’t delete them, but they are not included in the summary.

As for flame wars, I don’t recall that being a problem.  It takes two to have a fight and we’ve not had two unreasonable people at the same time.

About how much time do you devote to your blogging and blog-finding each week?  Does it ever become overwhelming?  Do you see a time in the future when you might need to give it up, or are you hoping to continue to infinity and beyond?

The average is about twenty hours per week, though it fluctuates.  Yes, it does become overwhelming occasionally, but I now know how to escape from that trap.

There will have to be a day when I walk away from blogging.  It’s inevitable.  But it won’t be today or tomorrow.

You’ve mentioned that your daughter is very busy as a single mother and not too interested in your blogging.  Have you “come out” to any of your family and friends about your ttwd blogging?  If yes, have they been supportive?

Actually, not really.  Neither of us has many living relatives and they are spread out geographically.  Under those circumstances, it’s quite easy to remain in the closet.  As for our friends, we’ve learned over the years that it’s best to not share our secret too widely because one never knows how people will react.

For all of us who love your blog, how can we show our appreciation?  What about blogging and blog-readers makes you smile?

I guess I would suggest that like-minded friends get involved with our community – join the discussion, express a viewpoint, support new bloggers, start a blog, comment on blogs.

There are many answers to the second question.  I love it when people read my writing and tell me they enjoyed it.  I love finding new bloggers who are just starting out and don’t know anyone and maybe don’t even know that they aren’t alone in this interest.  I love when readers tell me that my blog gave them the courage to ask for what they’ve always wanted and are now living their dream.  I love knowing that I’ve introduced people who have become lifelong friends.  I love when a friend unleashes a brilliant post.

Blogging makes use of technology, but it’s really about people.  We humans are social creatures.  We live to build connections with each other.  The biggest change from times past is that those connections can now be global.  There may not be many spanking enthusiasts in your local village, but online, there are millions.  We are not alone, and we need never feel that way again.

Thank you again, Ana, for the opportunity to speak with your readers.  It’s been fun.

For more information about Bonnie, please visit My Bottom Smarts.  She hosts a brunch every Saturday in order to discuss a topic of interest to the ttwd community.  Check out one of her 535 linked blogs!  There is sure to be at least one that piques your interest.