I participate in several on line discussion groups, which can at times suck time like a black hole and spew distraction like a geyser. And I confess that often, depending on the topic and the poster, I edit the incoming with a heavy finger on the delete key. But at other times I am engrossed in the topics that are offered up for discussion, following threads that sometimes unravel for weeks.
The Oddfellows discussion group recently touched on the role of blogs and websites for emerging authors (i.e. newbies like me). The discussion was particularly revealing regarding the role of, and the successful use of blogs. It’s worth noting success was defined in great part by frequency and consistency of blog posting (that tells you something about my success quotient).
If you’re here, then you know I have a blog on my website, neither of which get near the attention from me that they deserve. I created my website about writing with the intent of making it a repository of the important insights I gained along the way in my writer’s journey– both as a convenient reminder to myself, and to share with others. I also have attempted to gather links and such for convenient access to me and anyone else who might care to use them. I also use it to track my accomplishments and to brag and announce recent sales and other success brownie points.
And then there is the blog.
I am woefully inadequate about writing blog entries (pretty obvious, huh?). I mostly use the old “time” excuse for the sparse entries. But there is a more honest reason, one that is hard for me to admit.
Even though I have had an extensive technical and policy writing career during my years as a practicing scientist, I still have sparse fiction credentials. So, I feel “shy” about pontificating on a subject for which I feel I have competence, but for which I have little “authority.”
I especially feel that way because I know how I react when I read high profile bloviation by anyone else with a similar wannabe profile. Sooo, I try to limit my blog entries to ones relevant to my personal journey... and then, when I do post, I can’t help wondering whether anyone really cares about such things (have you left a message on the guest log lately, or commented on one of my blog posts?...see what I mean? Of course that then contributes further to my reticence to make frequent posts.
And then there’s life outside the art...job, family, pets, fence posts and pickup trucks needing fixing, doctors and surgeries and journeys to Machu Picchu... I hide that all under the old time excuse, but they are really choices that come about from priorities, which for me are constantly shifting and which need almost hourly herding. For me, priorities are like those slinky cats that meet you at the door of a new friend (every day is a new door to life), and you know what they say about herding cats.
E-mail discussion lists for new writers are wonderful because to a greater or lesser degree we are kind of all in the same boat. That means there is a comfort factor in such forums that removes some of the pain associated with exposing one’s inner thoughts– a comfort level that is not there when posting to a (ta da... trumpets and drums) website and blog.
Yet, I also feel that this is one of those psychological hurdles that we all as writers (regardless of our state of development) need to get over. There is a quote I picked up in some class a million years ago in college (I can’t remember the source or exact wording) that goes something like “It is the duty of an artist to never avert one’s eyes.” I see my failures to blog, and to some extent my failures to write at my best level, as largely coming from the difficulty of overcoming that tendency to “avert my eyes.” The eyes, for a writer, being metaphorically the perceptions of the world that we need to put into words... that expression of our perception being our product, or our gift to the world, that springs from our talent.
So, on some nights... I do almost all my serious fiction writing at night...when I feel particularly courageous... I write the really good stuff that emerges in my better stories, and I dare to write blog entries. And as time allows (the old time excuse again) I keep adding a brick or two here and there that is slowly rising up as the edifice of my humble little website. I know this is not what I should do to be a big time writer. I should be a lot more aggressively self-promotional. But at least I do this much, and this much is more than I used to do, and I have slowly become more consistent and keep upping my writing pace– a writing pace that is more related to my fiction output than my webbing and blogging output. And if it has to be one way or the other, I’m glad it is that way. If there is someone out there who sits panting with expectation for my next blog post (gads I wish there was) I apologize for disappointing you on that score.
It’s hard to keep one’s eyes... and heart, and psyche, and typing fingers... on target. Shame and guilt (about non-performance) helps. But I get more energy boosts from my fellow emerging writers, who share their thoughts and emotions in our electronic discussion groups than from almost any other source other than the exhilaration of a sale.
So, thanks bunches to the Oddfellows, and Young Gunns, and OWNers, and to all my other writing buddies that correspond off list. Writing is a lonely pursuit that requires both commitment and persistence, but also strong immunity to rejection.
And dats da blog for today.