Blogging topics can turn too serious

where are we goingGOING DEEPER OR GOING HOME

Blogging is optional. No one pays you for posting on a blog like this one, you have promised no one anything you must deliver, and the posts usually reflect what’s going on in your chosen topics.

This has mostly been my writing blog and my CFS blog, and they go together because many of the things I do as a writer, except for the actual writing, are affected by CFS and low energy and brain fog.

When I say, not ‘the actual writing,’ it’s because that part is still as much a mystery as when I started. The preparation is tailored to me and my damaged brain – so I can operate on very small chunks of material at a time, and still end up with a coherent whole.

But the writing – the actual words that come out, sit on the ‘page,’ and are chosen to stay in the final product –  that is something that just comes when the prep is finished. This post is not about my fiction.

Blogging is different from writing fiction

Up until now, when I had something to say about the things I was learning as a writer or a person living with CFS, I would come up with an idea, sit and write about it for a while, clean it up a bit and add some headings, and voilà, blog post.

Like sitting down, and dumping my opinionated opinion on someone who happened to ask, “What do you think about…?” and then sat and recorded what I said. I often clarified my thinking about something – or organized a proper set of steps to do something (quite different usually from the chaotic way I figured it out) – as I wrote.

These were easy.

Images became de rigueur – so I added some

I’ve added a few photos I took and occasionally worked on. I used programs such as Quozio and Stencil which had free and easy ways to make a few easy quotes and images.

And I’ve created specific images with Pixelmator, as necessary, to illustrate how I do something.

Nothing fancy, but that has been uncomplicated.

Something’s changed, and I’m chewing on what that means

Most of this blogging occurred during the writing and launching of my first published novel, Pride’s Children: PURGATORY.

As a newbie, I first looked mostly online, and some in books, for instructions on how to do things involved in getting a book ‘up there’ on Amazon. If I didn’t find something that worked for me already described, I wrote it up.

Because I have a Mac, and don’t use Word any more for most of the writing, and am not learning Photoshop or GIMP, my solutions were often different – and I wrote about them.

There’s nothing unusual in that among bloggers.

How deep is too deep for a purveyor of fiction?

But now I have 30-40 blog posts that I’ve started – and nothing is coming out of my fingertips.

Thinking about it some gave me the insight that a good number of these abortive topics are ones where I’m getting in a lot deeper than I intended to get on a blog.

Opinions that I hold are coming out of the depths – and I am not naive: I know these are controversial, argumentative, and not bland.

I think that’s why I’m not finishing these posts and posting them. I keep thinking: if I say this, it’s out there forever. Potential readers can find it, and may not read me because of my opinions.

Other people are controversial, but I haven’t been, not out loud. Partly because it takes way too much energy to deal with the controversies in our modern world. If you’ve read my fiction, you’ve probably figured out that I hold opinions that are considered somewhat old-fashioned. But in fiction the ideas are expressed with some subtlety, through characters pro and con, not stated overtly.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do

I like blogging. I like the people who pop by and enter the conversation. I have a variety of new friends since I started commenting on the publishing blogs, and then blogging myself.

But I’m not sure if I’m ready for the consequences of the topics I keep coming up with since I have moved beyond the stage of getting a book actually finished and published.

It’s not that I don’t stand by those opinions. If I don’t feel like entering the fray, I could cut off comments, not approve commenters, or not engage – all valid blogging strategies.

It’s that I shy away from publicly stating that I hold any ONE position – which divides the world into us and them.

Going back to basics: why do I blog?

The original thought was the common one: blog, people will get to know you, and when you publish, there will be a group of people out there who already like your writing, and will try your books/stories.

It doesn’t work like that, at least not with this kind of blog.

That’s more like an Author page – or a Book page – where the main purpose is to let your fans know when the next book comes out because they want to know. Most of those readers are not going to engage with the author on other subjects. They like the book(s), not necessarily the writer and her opinions on writerly topics.

I visit regularly a number of writing blogs. I comment when it seems appropriate. But I don’t buy the books that come out of the same writers often – because they are not, and were never, my kind of book. I still have a lovely horror story I bought because I loved the cover – but I don’t and won’t read horror because I can’t get it out of my head.

Some writing topics are common to all stories; I read those posts. Some publishing or formatting or editing topics are common to all writers; I read those posts.

The future of my blogging is: I don’t know

The internet is forever. If I put posts out, they will be there, part of me, characterizing me, for anyone to read.

I may lose interest in staying relatively informational and bland after I finish my silly little set of Author Photo posts.

I am NOT going to post scenes of NETHERWORLD as I finish them. That I know for sure. I was a huge effort, it worked when I needed a little commitment to keep me going at a couple of tough spots – because I had promised, not because readers were clamoring.

I’m not going to publish much new fiction on my blog, except for adding a few Drabbles I’ve written for something else to the ‘short stories’ tab. I’ve learned that I don’t go to people’s blogs to read their fiction.

So the answer is that I have no idea how this is going to play out – and that’s why I haven’t been posting nearly as frequently. I think that happens to bloggers a lot – when I came to the blogs, Joe Konrath published rants almost every other day, and Hugh Howey’s posts were very different from what they’ve been lately. The only fixed lighthouse has been ThePassiveVoice, and even that has been changing subtly lately.

Maybe the whole thing was fueled by the need to share, to pull more people into self-publishing by showing them how. I came to that party late.

My ‘how to’ posts fit in that category, even though I realized a while back that NOBODY writes the same way I do. They’re quaint when viewed through that lens. I have no followers for my methods, so I failed there. Even though I wasn’t trying to get ‘converts,’ I didn’t realize until I’d been out there a while how very different my methods are. I hope I have provided a few laughs and head-shaking moments for some entertainment value. SP is common now; we are taking down the barricades and coming down from the ramparts.

Bottom line?

Bear with me as I figure it out.

Tell me which posts you’ve liked and would read more of.

Tell me what you think you would do, if you were me.

Tell me you’ve been waiting to hear the controversial stuff. Or think there’s plenty of that out there already, and find my blandness soothing.

Because I haven’t the faintest idea how to break this streak of unfinished posts except by writing them, and it will be a lot of work, and I’m not sure anyone wants them.


What say you?

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28 thoughts on “Blogging topics can turn too serious

  1. J.M. Ney-Grimm

    I love reading your blog. I find your analysis of the various topics that catch your interest to be thought-provoking and engaging. I think that however you decide to go forward will be just fine. I know my own blog as evolved with the years. I used to worry that I might eventually run out of topics to blog about, and I suppose I might – but I don’t worry about it any more. I always seem to be discovering something new and fascinating that I want to share about. So far, I’ve avoided discussing politics and religion, mostly because I’m incredibly inept at political discussion and because religion feels like too private a thing to fling out on my blog. But that’s me. I think Widdershins’ suggestion to dip your toe in with a semi-controversial post is a good one. Although… only if that feels right to you. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      Glad you stopped by – we have the best discussions, don’t we?

      I’m too inflexible about religion and politics to get into discussions – you attract trolls, and aren’t going to change anyone’s mind – and the process is exhausting for someone like me.

      I’ll get to the more controversial posts when they happen – sometimes I’d like more blog visitors, other times I’m really grateful I don’t have them, because I like to interact with all of them!

      If there is energy, the posts happen. I’ve had a few long spells recently (summer?) where I realized I hadn’t posted anything in a couple of weeks, but I think that’s getting a bit easier now that NETHERWORLD is moving. PC is, after all, the A1 task on my list: when it isn’t going well, NOTHING is going well.

      My main aim in life is Pride’s Children – until Book 3 is finished – and that’s not going to change. The blog is and always has been secondary – and enjoyable.

      Your topics are unique – I always learn something. I have undertaken that degree of research in the topics that I needed, but they won’t make good posts (I’m not even an educated layman when I stop because the plot point is dealt with). You have made a real study of the antiquities you need – and I like reading them, full as they are of stuff I didn’t know.

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      1. J.M. Ney-Grimm

        We do have the best discussions! I love your insight and thoughtful perspective.

        My own blog – like yours – is secondary to my fiction writing. I enjoy my blog. I’m glad I have it. But, my stories come first.

        Thank you for your kind words regarding my blog topics. I found I had to understand my setting thoroughly in order to write scenes within it. I couldn’t just learn enough for a plot point and then stop. I sometimes wished I could. I remember being very frustrated about needing to understand all the details of the beacons used by the ancients at harbor entrances in order to write my one harbor scene in which said beacon appears in perhaps three sentences! I didn’t mind the learning – that was fun! – but I begrudged the time. 😀

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        1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

          I’m hoping some of your research points and posts have more use than just one story’s presence – but that may be enough to justify the research.

          You are an artist: you do what you think is necessary. If you decide you need less research, you will do less, or more focused research, but it would deprive you of some of the value you put in your own writing. Only you can tell if it gets excessive in the future, but with you working on your 20th story, that’s hard to believe.

          At some point every researcher stops; at least you don’t have exterior forces telling you you have to deliver by a deadline. The books have to satisfy the author. That’s the indie freedom. And that’s part of what the reader is buying: this artist decided when her own work was complete, hired whatever help she decided she needed, and is responsible for the whole.

          It’s heady – but ultimately, I think, the best path. Don’t stop.

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        2. J.M. Ney-Grimm

          I’m hoping some of your research points and posts have more use than just one story’s presence…

          I suspect they might. The research I did on the calendar used by the ancient Greeks – dividing the month in thirds rather than in quarters – was useful for WIP, which is set in the Bronze Age. Now it’s the Bronze Age of my North-lands, not of our Earth’s history, but it seemed plausible that my society might use a similar division of time.

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  2. Pearl Kirkby

    How in the world could I say which of your posts I’ve liked the best?!

    The thing is that, because you’ve been so open about your goals and how CFS has imposed limitations on your timetable, every single one of those posts have been interesting, relevant and inspirational, whether they have been posted back to back or once a week.

    As for me, I would follow you if you only posted once a year. Every post is important to those of us who do, regardless of the subject.

    God bless and just go your own pace. We’ll be here for you.

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    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      Hey, thanks Pearl! I needed that today (got nothing done that was of any size).

      I’m going to organize the posts better as soon as I can – just putting them out there doesn’t give you easy access to some of the ones that really should be in a set. It’s on the (very long) list.

      Nice you could drop by – I love your comments.

      PS Book 2 is moving well. All the delays have resulted in so much good stuff coming up from the subconscious; maybe that’s on purpose.

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        1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

          I’m sorry – that’s a pet peeve: ‘Everything happens for a reason’ is simply not true.

          It falls apart quite easily with a few words. Auschwitz. The death of children. The pain some cancer patients die in.

          I believe in God, and that God is with me always. I don’t understand the problem of evil any better than whoever wrote about humans leaving the Garden of Eden, and the serpent (metaphorically, of course – serpents are no more evil than baby goats).

          Silver linings, yes. ‘Reason,’ no. I couldn’t believe in a God who causes death and destruction. There is no rhyme and no reason for a building collapse in Bangladesh, except, sometimes, human greed. And no reason for the Earth to hiccup and kill thousands of people with a tsunami.

          If I get there, I’ll ask Him about as much of the bad stuff as I can comprehend. And I pray. But I don’t look at tragedies and try to find their good ‘reason.’

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Pearl Kirkby

          My biggest pet peeve is the fact that sometimes I say what’s on my lips without checking with my brain first. 😕

          You are right, of course, and I do apologize for such careless generalization. My meaning was that sometimes, when we are distracted from our original plans, the alternatives can yield a wonderful, if inexpected, result…and it was here that my yapper got away from my grey matter.

          Finding ‘silver linings’ is all that has kept me from giving up in the face of those inexplicable traumas and senseless evils that have cropped up in life. I don’t believe God causes these things, but I do wish I could comprehend why He allows so much to continue.

          At any rate, I again apologize for my poor choice of words and misfiring synapses😔

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        3. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

          No apology needed. You expressed your own point of view – with which I happen to disagree – quite civilly. If we can’t do that, what’s the point of comments?

          I agree that alternatives can be better than the original plan (have to leave room for Divine Providence). I’m not sure how I feel about my life – and its hard work destroyed by various things, including illness. Ask me when it’s over. I wish I knew why He allows things, too. You’d think there would be a line somewhere: Thus far and no more. Humans can be exceedingly horrible to each other.

          But silver linings, though nice (I’ve learned a lot about myself – and I don’t think I could have written Pride’s Children before), don’t compensate for what I live with. I hope your life is easier – I wish that for most people.

          I would not CHOOSE this. On the other hand, is Pride’s Children worth one old lady? History will tell. Mine but to write on.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. marianallen

    You do what works best for YOU. I’m tremendously glad you comment on blogs, or I wouldn’t have connected with you. I’m tremendously glad you posted some of your fiction, or I wouldn’t have bought Pride’s Children: PURGATORY. I bought it because I adored the fiction you’ve posted. So it worked for me!

    I love controversial blog posts — particularly if I agree with them, not so much if I don’t. heh

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  4. Widdershins

    We evolve, as writers, as bloggers, and if our writing doesn’t reflect that, then we’re cheating ourselves.

    Start with a ‘semi-controversial’ post and see what happens.

    I don’t think your posts are bland … however ‘bland’ never changed the world, or stood out from the crowd, or sold a gazilion books. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      But, but, but – I’m such a nice person!

      Or rather, I’ve been pretending to be.

      I’ll probably do just that: go for it (not politics – don’t worry), and see what the reaction is.

      Fear of what might happen has always been my biggest problem. I should remember that. The fears have all proved manageable so far when dragged out into the light of day.

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        1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

          Bettering yourself – and observing respect for others – is part of the package I take on willingly from being Christian – I take my responsibilities seriously.

          But it’s been a struggle since day one (I’m not good at obedience, after having been TOO good for my parents). Oh, well.

          I will keep pretending – maybe I’ll actually BE by the end of my earthly life. If not, I’m sure I’ll have to ‘keep working on it.’

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Catana

    I tend to start blog posts that never get finished, but I look at them mostly as a way of making sure I don’t lose an idea that may be worth pursuing. If some of them aren’t, that’s okay.

    I’m just about to hit six years of posting to Maverick Writer, so I can’t consider it a phase. I’ve stuck more or less to my original intent–sharing what I learn about writing and self-publishing. But like anything that goes on for so long, you either wind up repeating yourself, or you let it evolve.

    I actually love to write controversial opinions, but unless they’re logically related to writing and publishing, they don’t belong on that blog. And I don’t write that kind of thing often enough to justify setting up another blog. Just too much to keep up. If you want to shift the focus of a blog, it’s best done gradually. For me, that has meant introducing new kinds of topics every now and then, so readers don’t expect the same old thing all the time. That transition has been unconscious, now that I think about it, more a function of being bored with the same old same old, myself, than a deliberate plan.

    A fair number of bloggers that I read do this. I skip what doesn’t interest me, so I assume that my readers will do the same.

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      It’s fear of change, plus fear of losing the current readers, plus a whole lot of other little things.

      It may just be that I have too much on my plate.

      But I’ve enjoyed writing the blog; one of the fears is of giving up something that provides pleasure!

      I never went into it for the pleasure part, though – that came later. I’ve always been clear that what I want to do is write fiction – except that I have over 400 posts, and that boggles the mind.

      Liked by 1 person

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  6. gracecrandallauthor

    I’d actually enjoy hearing your opinion on some controversies… Mostly I read this blog because your thoughts and tone of ‘voice’ are interesting and fun to read, and any subject you’d choose to use them on is wildly welcome 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

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    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      I’m selfish.

      My main aim is to sell lots of fiction.

      The blogging has been a sort of safety valve, someplace to put ‘stuff.’

      But blogging, putting out opinions and getting into long comment-conversations with people looking for reading material – has the potential to completely derail writing fiction FOR ME.

      Other people can handle both – I can’t.

      Or I could – before I ran out of easy topics.

      Liked by 2 people

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  7. juliabarrett

    Not sure blogging is much more than an echo chamber. Didn’t used to be like that. If it’s valuable to you, the blogger, I think you should continue to blog. It’s a useful tool. Sometimes gets us in writing mode.

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    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      There are many ways to continue to blog – but not say anything new.

      And there are many ways of saying something new – but they require risk.

      My opinions about formatting were not particularly risky.

      I dunno. Maybe blogging is a phase some writers go through – a rite of passage.

      But whatever I end up choosing, the blog will become different.

      I now understand people who remove their blogs and posts from the current universe, and sink into obscurity. I didn’t get that before, though I understood just getting tired of the grind.

      There are so many blogs.

      Liked by 2 people

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  8. clairechase51

    Since I know you personally and we go way back, I may be in a smaller category of readers. Reading your blog purely has to do with time. If I am behind on everything, I leave them for later and hope to get to them. If I have time, I read them. It is that simple. I read them to know you. I also read them to get educated. Being a nurse, I appreciate the medical ones. Still, it has been very educational to read so much about writing and publishing your book. I had no idea all it took…who knew? Being that we are friends from way back, you won’t lose me with your opinions. Actually, reading how you think would probably explain some of how I think…since we grew up in the same city, at the same time and under similar circumstances. We both came to the US to further our education, married and stayed here. We share a lot! You go, girl! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

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    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      Thanks, Claire.

      I love the modern world’s connection abilities. I wish I hadn’t missed so much of the middle part of our lives – but being sick with children makes you barely able to breathe some days, and even ‘just’ having a career and/or kids is a huge job.

      It is so very satisfying to have this now.

      Liked by 2 people

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