A 40 year-old unsolved murder mystery. Strange cryptic codes in a bible. Sweden, sandwiches, and many, many cigarettes. The badass-est female protagonist since . . . forever. And an author who has, posthumously, caused quite a ruckus in the book world and in the minds of conspiracy theorists everywhere.
Yes, I’m talking about The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. If you haven’t heard of it, the rest of us are inviting you to come out from under your rock. Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest) is topping bestseller lists as we speak and the theatrical release of Dragon Tattoo hits the U.S. next week.
I had the good fortune of screening an advanced copy and, of course, my mind went blog, blog, blog. Because that’s what blog obsessed people like us do. So here are the blogging lessons I learned from this tattooed ‘girl’ . . .
Gasoline feeds a fire, but first there has to be a spark
At one point in the movie, a man lies under a car. Having just flown off the side of the road, both he and the car are demolished, gasoline is spilling out everywhere . . . and he waits, watching, trapped. Finally there’s a spark . . . and then fire, total combustion.
So often we have all of the ingredients, right? The design is just right, the writing is perfection, the research says that there’s a need for the content . . . but then, nothing.
No traffic, no comments, no buzz. No combustion. What’s missing?
There has to be a spark.
Maybe it comes in the form of a new partnership, a referral, or an outside event (like a shortage of light bulbs) that makes your product (candles) suddenly burst into high demand.
Maybe you have a life-changing event that triggers your passion. Maybe you read a book that causes something to click in your brain or your heart.
And then, there’s no stopping the heat.
Nothing more, nothing less
Lisbeth Salander, the girl with the dragon tattoo, is a woman of few words, but they’re always the right ones. She communicates through her gestures, carefully chosen words and even her silences. To some people around her, this is maddening. But others totally get it and they pay incredibly close attention to her. They listen closely . . . and they also watch.
As a blogger, what you don’t say can be as important as what you do say.
Do you find the positive in challenging situations, gleaning lessons and inspiring others? Or do you bitch and moan, spreading negativity?
Do you stick to your topic? Or is your blog scattered, full of everything under the sun?
Do you promote everything that could be remotely related to your blog? Or do you bow out of a big launch that, for one reason or another, isn’t quite right for your readers?
What is the significance of what you leave on the blogging room floor?
In the movie, as Blomkvist and Salander try to solve the mystery, they are aided again and again by the record-keeping of other characters, the police, the newspapers, and themselves.
It’s the last, ‘themselves,’ that holds the lesson.
Working to uncover this decades-old secret, the investigators look for the needle in the proverbial haystack. With so much unknown, their path to discovery lies in documenting every thought they have, literally pinning them to the wall for examination — and never, ever brushing aside even one moment of insight or possibility.
Ideas for blog content, joint venture partnerships, promotions, ebooks — and even tweets and Facebook updates — often shoot through our brains at a fast and furious pace.
Blogging fodder is everywhere. It’s in the conversation you have with the souvlaki guy outside your building every day at lunch, it’s in the color of the car that just drove by, it’s in the ad that you saw for hairplugs.
If you don’t grab these ideas as they fly by, they will keep flying. Trust me.
Write it all down. Nail it to the wall. Even the thoughts that seem impossible, unreachable, or just plain ridiculous.
The clue to your own success will lie in your own observations and insights. Don’t lose them.
It’s hard to be brilliant all by yourself
The story’s protagonists bounce their ideas off one another — and often hear brilliance in their partner’s ramblings.
Blogging is about community. Who can you bounce ideas off? Who might hear your mumblings and, in turn, grab you by the shoulders and tell you that you’re actually onto something? Who can you help by being a sounding board?
You might have someone’s missing piece in your back pocket.
Like a tattoo, things are permanent on the internet
Lisbeth has many tattoos, including a dragon covering her entire back. Getting ink like that is a serious commitment. Yes, you can have laser surgery to get a tattoo removed, but from what I can tell, it never completely disappears. A scar is left behind. And I’m told the process is neither pleasant nor easy.
If we really want to get deep here, we can go so far as to say that your memory of the tattoo can never be removed.
Blogging is also a commitment. We commit our time, we commit our creativity, we commit our resources. And every time we hit ‘publish’ we commit to our ideas.
The internet is a pretty permanent place and it’s hard to ‘take it back’ once the words are out there. Yes, you can go to the trouble of having something uncached — but again, it isn’t pleasant or easy. People will remember your post, they may have even printed your words on paper. We’re time-stamped and cached, linked to and quoted, and even scraped.
Be as sure as you can be each and every time you share.
Don’t underestimate anyone
Played perfectly by Noomi Rapace, Lisbeth is mysterious, tattooed, and pierced. She’s also tiny, often mistaken for a skinny, 14 year-old boy and underestimated because of her small size.
But she’s able to fight off grown men — both physically and mentally — time and again. I believe the appropriate term here would be scrappy ass-kicker. And it works to her advantage. She has surprise on her side and she’s impressive, even to those who don’t particularly like her.
With a blogosphere more crowded than a Twilight premier (and some days with just as much screaming), it’s a phenomenal idea to stand out.
It’s the old case of man bites dog. What can you do, how can you say it, where can you share it so that it lands like a snowman in a cranberry bog? (That is: with a splash, much coolness, and bright by contrast.)
Lisbeth is also the underdog. To be honest, she’s the runt.
But a few people look beyond that (or don’t even see it at all) and take a chance on her. It helps her, of course, but it also helps them. They don’t see her size, her income, her appearance, her odd personality, her history. They see her skill, her brilliance, her dedication, her inherent goodness.
How many Top 10, 25, 50, 100 lists have you seen that tout the best bloggers, the best writers, the twitterati?
Sadly, many people get caught up in these lists and think that these people are the only ones to do business with or read, because they look good on paper. But we all start somewhere.
Chris Brogan just wrote that it took him 8 years to get 100 subscribers on his blog — and look at him now.
As bloggers we can only help each other and the quality of the blogosphere by discovering new talent, sharing what we know and giving people a chance.
No matter how small and skinny . . . no matter how many tattoos.