Reinventing the writer every day

Every day I reinvent myself. As a person, as a mother, as a writer.

It seems as if it were from scratch, that I have leaned nothing from the previous day, from the rest of my life.

This summer has been hard for our family in many ways, and with CFS the first place it hits me is in the ‘free’ time: the writing has been slow.

The pieces of daily reinvention come from many places, and some of those places are the words of other writers – and bloggers that I follow. It seems to me lately that source has slowed as well.

In others’ words:

Bob Mayer, tough guy, former soldier, writes about being kind because we don’t know what someone else is laboring under.

Patricia Wrede write about the kind of stress that cuts you off at the knees.

Maybe it’s the change in season, and the abrupt change in the way NJ FEELS, and the fact that, all of a sudden, it gets dark at 7 PM instead of 8PM – and I didn’t get out there to do a bit of SOMETHING outdoors.

Eric J. Baker writes on his blog  post entitled Self pity never fueled a single accomplishment that “With so many of you on summer hiatus, I’ve been forced to troll WordPress in search of blogs to read.”

And I realize that this fallow period, when it has been hard to keep myself supplied with intelligent posts to read, is an opportunity to look for things within me that might need writing about.

Why blog at all?

I’m so focused on finishing Pride’s Children, Book 1, that I have been eschewing the pleasure of just writing out a blog post and hearing myself think (navel-gazing in progress; you may leave if you like).

The point of putting something out in public is that it forces me to focus my thoughts, clean up my sentences, choose carefully among ideas, and think clearly. Okay, relatively clearly.

Otherwise, I can think vague thoughts, have them churn chaotically in the recesses of what serves me for a brain, and not even realize, for days on end, that I’m ‘lost in thought.’

Is blogging dying?

I don’t know if anyone else has noticed it, but Eric is right: the sheer quantity is way down.

Maybe some of the bloggers are quitting, if not just taking a break. Maybe a few will come back. We will get new ones.

When I mentioned to my youngest that few people seemed to leave comments, she said, “Mom, nobody comments on blogs.”

This is not true – the right posts still elicit many comments – but I have noticed a reluctance in myself to stop and say a word, and maybe that is me picking up the general malaise.

In this world of the wide nets, fashions come and go with terrifying regularity. If something isn’t popular, it disappears. If something is determined to be passé, there is a much smaller number of people doing/reading/writing it.

I’m probably nuts. Probably, most people are hard at work on the next book. Maybe people are just taking vacations (though we are at the END of September already), or having a hard time getting started up again.

I’m tentatively out of the summer doldrums

I think MY break is over.

I spent time this morning in a very odd way: finding the enthusiasm for revising the current scene (18.1, if anyone’s counting), and having it snap into focus when I discovered that what I had been missing was that it is a PIVOTAL scene, and, if I skipped it, or I don’t write it right, the whole chain of logic I’m so carefully constructing snaps right here.

I LIKE the pressure of that. When I’m finished with a scene, if I have that feeling, I feel as if I’ve avoided a catastrophe.

I do write for the edge, odd as that sounds in a mainstream love story. I think I’m back in the groove.

I have words to finish, Amazon et. al. to master, a new website to finish up, this one to rearrange and maintain so it’s easier to find things, and Pixelmator to wrestle into submission.

If the world would just kindly hold still for a couple of years, I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you.

Have you noticed a slowdown in blogging – or do you think I’m all wet?

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22 thoughts on “Reinventing the writer every day

  1. naleta

    Speaking as a very busy reader, I just wanted to tell J.M. Ney-Grimm that feed readers (I use Feedly) will let your readers know when you’ve posted something new. That way they don’t have to visit your site only to see the same old thing over and over and over, but when they see your site in their list, they can pop in and read what you have to say.

    😉

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    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      WordPress is supposed to be doing this for me: sending out an email to my followers every time I put out something new – which is why I send out an email announcing the Tuesday scene every week (my son told me to do that – Thanks, J!).

      I scan those emails in my inbox, and go happily read anything new on other people’s blogs.

      Naleta, are you NOT getting those automatic emails?

      Anyone? Here I am happily assuming everyone is being annoyed twice a week or so by my emails (when I get a scene and a new post out).

      ETA: Put Feedly on my list of things to check out. Thanks.

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  2. Widdershins

    I certainly slowed down writing blogs this summer, a conscious decision to take the summer off from most writerly things. Maybe the summer of 2014 (winter of, for Southern Hemisphere folk) was one of those seasons that demanded reevauation of all sorts of things. I guess Fall and Winter will tell.

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    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      Blogging is always a choice, and the return on it can be things you want (readers for your books), things you like (readers for your blog – and your opinions), or things you don’t care about too much. Nobody is paying most of us – so we get to please ourselves.

      Without ANY return, however, it is hard to do it.

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  3. ericjbaker

    Thank you for mentioning me. I’ve notivced a lot of blogs I used to read have faded away, but I’m not sure if that is because people don’t blog anymore or if because blog lifespans are limited and I need to go out and hunt down some new ones. There are always new social media distractions out there for people as well, and humans tend to gravitate toward things that are new and trendy.

    I will continue to blog as a way to connect with people. My blog is read by teenagers and octogenarians and all ages between, and I enjoy the opportunity to interact with such a diverse audience.

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    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      You have a nice blog – I’ve enjoyed reading the old posts, too. And a nice bunch of recurring commenters with good stuff to say.

      The thing I like to do occasionally is to look at the WordPress stats page that has a little map showing where your viewers and commenters come from (I forget exactly which), and seeing that, hey, today someone in Singapore or Hungary stopped by.

      WordPress gives me a bit of information about each – often an email address. I have saved every one. I plan to send a SINGLE email to these when I’m ready, asking if they would like to stay on my email list. I also have a file I call ‘reader love’ where I copy the especially nice comments, so I can read them when I get a bit discouraged at slow progress.

      I’m glad I started blogging – it took me to a new commitment level for writing and self-publishing. I can’t promise anything except that, since these last few weeks when I didn’t post much beyond a few words in the weekly email about the latest scene being posted I noticed I missed blogging, that for the present I will keep it up – and for the foreseeable future. It’s all any of us can do.

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      1. ericjbaker

        As a writer, I’ve found blogging very supportive and encouraging. Writing on my own and dealing with the rejection that we all deal with made me wonder what I was doing wrong and if I was deluding myself into thinking I knew how to write. After I got into blogging and met so many talented writers who have similar experiences to mine, I got a much more realistic sense of how tough it is to get noticed. That sounds like it should have been discouraging, but it was strangely validating. Like, if I fail it’s not because I’m no good, it’s because there are a million other good people writing too.

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        1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

          Thanks, Eric. Looking forward to doing just that. We do – have to stick together. I love what Kris Rusch calls the abundance model: there’s enough for everyone, and more readers means everyone gets readers, and backlog remains available – in case a reader likes a particular writer and wants more. And at a decent price for the reader.

          Crossing fingers very hard.

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        2. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

          As long as we keep pursuing that vaunted quality writing – there is a lot of dreck out there, and some of it is indie.

          I wouldn’t dream to judge – but there are a few objective hurdles that writers can aim to clear; the rest is artistry – and that’s where taste comes in. The present system seems to work better than the old one because the writer doesn’t have to match narrow gates all the way through to the reader. How many times has an agent, carefully researched, either ignored or rejected things he or she said she wanted? And writers were stuck with that verdict?

          I don’t care what gets bought by readers – as long as it is what they want, selected out of an abundance of options for them as readers. If I don’t hit a vein, it’s my bad – and I’ll figure out how to deal with it – not an agent or editor presuming to judge for the readers. There’s not much learning available in the old system – agents and publishers were very stingy on advice (okay, they were overwhelmed, but politeness seems to have gotten lost in the process), so writers were often in the dark – and subject to the taste of a person who ‘took them on’ when they HAD an agent. TPV has plenty of stories, as do many other blogs.

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  4. J.M. Ney-Grimm

    My own relationship to blogs and blogging is shifting. I can feel it, although I’m not sure I can articulate it.

    I used to be greedy to read the blogs of others and hopeful to discover new ones. Now…I feel like I want to rebalance and shift some of my attention and energy away from the online world.

    The result?

    I’ve stopped reading one blog altogether. It used to be one I visited regularly, but I’ve reassessed and decided that I’ve learned very little from it and nothing from it lately. Plus it seems overly commercial. I feel as though the blogmaster hosts other pros merely to strengthen his ties with others in the industry to such an extent that he allows people whose advice is harmful to appear on his platform. I’ve always felt uncomfortable about it. So, no more attention from me.

    Other blogs that still interest me I visit less frequently. Comment less frequently.

    My own blog…I don’t know. I’m beginning to think I love the idea of blogging more than I love the reality of the experience. I’ve observed that when I write a really substantive and interesting post – say, the origins of canning (not what you think) – it takes enough time and energy that I don’t write any of my WIP that day. I don’t like that trade-off.

    I get a lot of traffic from people seeking information on fruit tree guilds, lacto-fermented corn, tagline fonts, cover design. I see a few visitors who enjoy my narrative non-fiction posts, my memoirs. One person enjoys the flash fiction. For the first time I’ve been seeing clicks on the links to my books on Amazon. Not many. There used to be none. For the last 4 months, there’ve been perhaps 10 per month. One clearly resulted in a purchase of the book. The others, I don’t know.

    I suppose you could say I’m faltering in my blog writing. Reluctant to give it up. Wondering if my assessment that the return on my time isn’t worth it, but not sure. Wondering if there will be a deleterious effect, if I do stop or, at least, slow my blogging. Noticing that Lindsay Buroker doesn’t hold herself to a weekly schedule. Sometimes she’ll have something new each week. Other times 3 weeks will go by with nothing new. Noticing that many of the people with more experience than me say that their blogs do not attract readers for their fiction. I’m mulling it all over. 🙂

    I do wonder how other writers are thinking about the issue and deciding about the issue. Were it definitive that blogging is appropriate for a season, not a lifetime, would it sway me to stop? I don’t know. Were it definitive that blogging in no way attracts readers for my fiction, would I stop? Still not sure. I have loved building my blog. I’m not sure where my next step is.

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    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      I’m sure it comes down to several things. Do you LIKE blogging? I could see, if there were a small number of people who liked the way I write (super controlled), that there might be a point in reworking some of my posts into a book on my writing methods. Until I’ve published enough books, though, it is unlikely many of those potential or actual writers would find me, and I don’t think the average writer would benefit at all, and so the book on writing process, if it sold, would probably garner a lot of negative reviews after a lot of work on my part. So that book remains in the back of my mind for a long time, potentially forever.

      But every one of those posts has been hugely helpful for me, as a learning writer, as I clarified taking what’s in my head in a vague and formless cloud of mush, into a piece of instructional material I can use myself: writing clarifies my thinking. This is a common feeling for writers: I don’t know what I think, until I write it out.

      Occasionally, I get someone who seems to think I’m the cat’s pajamas, and runs off to try some of these thing – and I haven’t heard back from a single one of them (about 20 so far), so am batting 000.

      If I didn’t write these things out as a blog post, I probably wouldn’t write them at all, and we’d still be in the mushy cloud. [shrugs]

      I think once you’re published, that a website with new material updated occasionally, aimed at readers rather than other writers, will be where most authors end up – that’s where the money is. More people will benefit from that – there are a LOT of readers in the world.

      So maybe, for some of us, blogging is a necessary step. It has helped me connect a bit to other writers, learn a lot, try some things, and provided an outlet for a solitary hermit writer type – all good things. It has also taken up time. Commenting on blogs gets me some visitors – I need to meld those into potential readers – of my blog and my fiction. The list is long of things I want to do/could do. Time is short.

      I marvel at the blogs with thousands of followers – but I couldn’t write them, and mostly skim the few I follow regularly any more. In the beginning I read them religiously, but now, as you noted, I’ve gotten the basics down, and don’t find that much new stuff.

      So I’m where you are, only much further back. Ask me in five years!

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    2. juliabarrett

      J.M. you’ve nailed the issues. I’m downsizing my online presence. Need to focus on writing. I got a tremendous amount of writing done before I felt an increased online presence was a necessity for an author. Now I think it’s less of a necessity.
      Thanks for posting this, Alicia. I doubt it’s the doldrums. I think the blogging world is changing. And to be honest that’s okay.

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      1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

        It is possible to run out of material you want to get off your chest – or to discover you really like being out there, and chatting with lots of different people. Many writers are introverts like us – and while it does put people at a bit of a remove, it costs us energy to do the blogging at all. I guess you just keep reevaluating, and do what seems to work for you.

        Good thing there is no big publisher pushing me to do anything – I’d crumple like a tin can stepped on by an elephant, and not be good for anything.

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        1. J.M. Ney-Grimm

          Julia and Alicia,

          Thank you both for sharing your views on blogging. Really does help me to clarify my own thoughts when I share them and then listen to what intelligent and insightful people like you are thinking about the issue.

          And…drum roll…I’ve just had an epiphany!

          I like blogging. Sometimes I even love blogging. But I infinitely prefer doing it on my own time. The once a week on a certain day has never felt good. Listening to the common blogging wisdom, I’d understood that a successful blog must have regular new posts. So I adopted that model. Now I’m questioning it…for myself.

          Yes, if I wanted a super successful blog with regular visitors and commenters, perhaps that model would be necessary. But my primary goal is to connect with my audience for my fiction. Blogging, while I do enjoy it, is more a fun hobby than anything else. And I suspect that my landing page (featuring a different title each month) plus my static book pages do far more for my fiction audience than my blog does.

          I may have regular readers of my blog, but not necessarily. Certainly there is no current evidence of that. And I have only erratic commenters. In which case…I won’t be disappointing anybody if I blog more erratically. And I’ll certainly be pleasing myself better. I get to keep blogging, which I do enjoy, but I won’t have to do it every week.

          And, honestly, the traffic that comes looking for my posts on fruit tree guilds, lacto-fermented corn, beet kvass, cover design, cover copy, etc. will keep flowing in whether I post regularly or not. Those posts are there and draw visitors regardless.

          I can have my cake and eat it too!

          Thank you for helping me to realize this. 😀

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        2. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

          EXACTLY: please yourself. I read all your blog posts – would read more if there were more – but I think the blogging is the hobby part of self-publishing, and I’m glad I’m not planning for a traditional contract, and a publisher which pushes me to have an ‘online presence.’ I wouldn’t be able to keep that up, and it certainly would not be fun.

          I’m sure it will work out for you – and you already know blogging, so win/win.

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