Following some unrepeatable click-trail, I ended up at an article at http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/04/03/reaching-out/ called ‘Quick Tip: Five a Day,’ by michelle w. on April 3, 2013.
The advice given in the post was good: basically, grow your own blog traffic by commenting five times a day on the blogs of others. If you add something of value to the discussion/comments after someone’s blog post, people may click on your link to your own blog to see if you have anything else to say.
Before I started blogging, I read tons of blogs every day for a year. I noticed that there is a subtle dance going on at each blog: the interaction with the blogger, and the kind and content of comments leads to very different blog environments. But only now am I analyzing what I want for mine.
My driving force was – and is – selfish: I’m writing, I can’t publish (long story) for a while, and I need an outlet. Sort of like submitting opinion articles and stories to a magazine – but one that never rejects you.
The only drawback is that you put your soul on the line in your own words when you post.
I think it was Lawrence Block who said somewhere that writers are all naked under their raincoats, desperately trying to build up the courage to take the raincoat off.
I took the plunge – but find I’m suffering from blogger envy: the envious feeling not that someone else’s BLOG is better than yours (that’s writer’s envy, by the way), but that they have way more followers, Likers, and Commenters than you do.
It’s a Statistical Envy. It comes from the inevitable discovery of the stats (on the Dashboard page for the free WordPress blogs) that show how many people are visiting your blog (a nice little graph, and there are even more – Heavens! – statistics available on another page).
As everything (we humans are so predictable), it comes from hubris. And competitiveness. And one-upmanship. I’m not immune.
But then I asked myself what the heck I would do if I HAD a lot of commenters – and required myself to interact with them? I write from a tiny supply of energy that most days doesn’t even last out the morning – too much time spent writing non-novel stuff is a recipe, FOR ME, for not writing novel stuff. It’s as simple as that, for me.
Then I asked myself: what do I really want to do? Why do I HAVE a blog? How do I want to Win Friends and Influence People (Dale Carnegie)? And I answered myself: I want to eventually reach people who will read, enjoy, and think about a book I’m writing. I am making it as interesting and complete as I can after excessive reading my whole life (a prerequisite in my mind), and writing and studying writing since I pushed myself and took that first (and only) course on Writing the Mystery Novel at my local Community College.
I’m not writing a mystery (though I have several in my head, the first finished novel is a mystery, and my only published story is a mystery).
I’m writing the story of a woman who is a modern version of the Job of the Bible: she has lost almost everything she valued in life, but is determined to not let that take the rest of her life. And it is the story of a disabled woman who, without being magically ‘cured,’ still manages to make a difference, not just with her writing, but in the lives of people fate throws in her path. And it is also the story of a woman who learns that she is allowed to want, and to love. And be loved back.
I started the blog – and will continue it as I revise that story into something publishable – to give me the beginning of a way to find my tribe: the readers who will want to read this story, to whom the story may give hope and comfort.
I don’t want to necessarily have fame and fortune. What I’m looking for is the ability to tell someone like me (in some way) that life is not over because things go wrong for you, that it is worth still being determined and as focused as you can be, and that you, too, can aspire to whatever you want – as long as you can figure out how to pay the price.
So – to connect back to the idea of blog comments – I think what I’m aiming for here is similar to what Dave Hingsburger has on his blog ‘Rolling around in my head’ (http://davehingsburger.blogspot.ca/). He comes up – daily in his case (which I will probably not be able to emulate) – with posts that make people THINK. Occasionally he throws out a question that invites participation. His policy invites comments, but does NOT promise ‘feedback from Dave,’ or his participation in the discussion.
Many blogs do value discussion – I comment at several of them occasionally, because I enjoy both the posts and the other commenters.
But some blogs have lots and lots of comments, and I will never be able to emulate them: the energy must go to my primary task, writing Pride’s Children. So I have to stop ENVYING them, and continue down my soft quiet path. I will still hope people FIND me this way – but I will not, for now, go out of my way to ‘drive readers to your blog’ for the obvious reasons that I can’t handle it and it will divert me from my primary purpose.
If it means that Google and SEO’s don’t give me a lot of exposure, well, I’ll just have to see how it goes. There’s a niche there and I want it. I may not have figured out yet exactly how to reach the people I want to write for, but I know we’re out there.
I hope other people may come along for the ride. I hope that not everyone who ends up liking my writing is in the ‘target audience’ in the narrowest possible sense. I put myself on the line with every polished and sweated-for line and paragraph, scene and chapter – and I hope I will be judged as much for the quality of my writing as for my subject matters (which WILL change). I’ll figure it out as I go along – as I have been doing.
It requires moments like these to stop and evaluate both what I see and what I want for myself and this blog. It requires giving up blogger envy, watching stats, and writing for the SEO.
PLEASE leave YOUR comments anyway – I will read and treasure every one. But I may not write back.