Now, let me just start by saying that this post is in no way a complaint. It’s just a ponderous discussion; a thought-provoking piece (supposedly) about why I do what I do. But I want you to know, all of you – writers and non-writers alike – that when you write a blog, you make a choice. And it’s a choice you can’t really unmake. Especially when you write the kind of blogs I do. Well, unless you stop blogging entirely. Anyway, as I’ve said before (many-many-many-many times), I began writing a blog because I’d written a book. And that’s what I’d read you were supposed to do. It’s a way of promoting yourself. It’s a way of giving your author-self a bit of a ‘personality’. It’s a way of showcasing your writings skills (or lack of) and giving people an idea if your books are something they would consider reading (or would rather die first). But of course, who can sustain a personal blog like that? Very few. My books are my books. Read them or don’t read them. They will always be there (unless Amazon kick me off), but this blog simply cannot be about that.
So, after a short while in the blogging game – I had to evolve. My blog just became a big ol’ random thing filled with my thoughts and philosophies; anecdotes and life-events I found amusing or worth discussion. If there is a niche that sums up the cascade of nonsense that I decide to put online, then put me in that box. That’s my niche. But overall, my blog has become a manifestation of me – the very best of me, and the very worst. Because that’s the only thing I know enough about to write about – on a weekly basis (ahem, y’know, more or less).
So, what I want to discuss today is this (and if you’re a blogger, I hope you will identify), when you write a personal blog, you have pretty much given away a facet of yourself. You have signed away the rights to that facet – it no longer belongs to you. Your life is an open book. YOU have made it an open book. That was the choice you made when you set up your blog account and wrote the things you wrote.
If you’re an author (non-autobiographical), you may identify with this too, but to a slightly lesser degree. The stuff you have put down on paper is a story; this story may be very revealing about your personal character, but it may not be. You can hide behind your stories. The narrative you’ve penned isn’t your life as such; there will very probably be flashes of your life captured in the pages, but a fair proportion was a life you invented. But blogging is more invasive than that. And I don’t think I realised this until I became a blogger.
This can be seen in a couple of ways. People that know you in a personal or work capacity, well, they suddenly know you an awful lot better. Without a doubt, there is stuff I will write in a blog that I wouldn’t say out loud to friends, family, and colleagues. I couldn’t. I don’t have the verbal vocabulary or capacity – only a written one (I fink). And when you meet those friends and family and colleagues, and you’re aware they read your blog, you realise that something infinitesimal – yet tangible – in your relationship is different. You have voiced your inner – previously unheard – voice. And you can’t take it back. It’s a voice that we all have, but most people don’t ever allow it to see the light of day. Which is sensible.
Secondly, people who don’t really know you and have never physically met you (‘internet people’ who choose to read your blog), suddenly know you terribly well. Or at least, they know that fairly damn sizeable facet which you have chosen to give away. If you enjoy a life of anonymity, then blogging isn’t for you, because you lose that pretty quickly. And that’s fine, I signed up for that. I thoroughly enjoy the communication with strangers from all over the world (some of whom I truly believe have become friends). I love it when people can relate to something that you felt sure nobody else was thinking or worrying about. Ninety-nine percent of this interaction is positive and fun. What I’m not so crazy about is the slightly suspect ‘one percent’ of attention (trust me, I say this without conceit, it’s just an unfortunate fact). And if you’re a female writer, you’ll probably relate to this – maybe male writers will too. I’m an author/blogger. This isn’t a dating site – I don’t remember signing up for ‘Tinder’. But sometimes, when you give too much of yourself away, you run that risk. And not everybody out there is interested in you merely for your words.
Blogging is a tiny bit like being famous (I would imagine…probably), but being a complete nobody at the exact same time. And there is certainly no big house and fancy car that come attached to it. You gave away that secret part of you for free. Mind you, I still come across the odd person who has known me personally for years, yet has no idea that I write. At all. Which leads me to believe I must be the worst person in the world at self-promotion *sigh*.
But it’s all good. And let me reiterate, this post isn’t a complaint. There is a pay off, but it’s not a monetary one. Like a blogger friend of mine, Mike Senczyszak, wrote about recently, when you write a book or a blog, you have left a part of yourself behind for future generations. When you die, you cannot be entirely forgotten, because you made a mark. Let’s face it, it may be a pretty bloody small one, I haven’t got that big an audience. I won’t be on the local west country news or anything – unless I die in a particularly silly way. Nevertheless, it’s a mark. I think, deep down, no matter how shy and retiring we are, we all want to leave some kind of footprint. Being a recluse is fine and all, I’d be a pretty damn good one, but we’d all like our voice to be heard. Trust me, I have every intention of sticking around until I’m eighty to make your lives as miserable as humanly possible, but if I must go now (or before my three score years and ten), then I’ve done what I set out to do. You heard my voice. You may not have liked the sound of my voice – the whiny, bleety, whingey, irritating voice that it was, but you read this blog, so you must have heard it.