Back in the saddle – why I took a blogger’s time out
I flatter myself by thinking that one or two of you may have noticed I stopped adding new posts to my blog in October 2015. The reason is twofold: firstly, I’ve been deep inside my writer’s cave rewriting Halliholm in line with new input from my wonderful editor, Jean. And secondly, and perhaps more significantly, because I didn’t know what to say. No, I wasn’t suffering from writer’s block — I’ve managed to dodge that particular ailment and possibly for the same reason that I seldom find myself speechless — but because I began to question my own motives and voice.
There are shelves of books written on the art of blogging and how to attract the most traffic to your site: which buzz words to use and how many, which sites help you zoom in on other buzz words, how regularly one must blog to gain a faithful following, which days of the week are the most profitable, which subjects are in, which are out, and which should simply be avoided. Last year’s trends, this year’s trends. How Facebook is best utilised (utilised? Am I naive when I say I use Facebook to keep me updated on how friends are doing?), the Twitter dos and do nots, hashtag etiquette etc etc etc.
Then comes the content advice: every blog must have a message or a regular theme, be useful and contain an element that breaks through the internet noise. Well, there’s one problem right there. What could I possibly have to say that would make the internet fade enough for some people to listen?
Which is when the second-guessing kicked in. If I write about this, I might upset these people. If I write about that, I might upset those people.
I’d already been on the wrong end of a Facebook attack. A video of a father mocking a tantruming four-year-old (off camera) to the huge delight of an older brother (grinning on camera) induced me to comment that I could not see how uploading that video was in the best interests of the upset child. The abuse rumbled on for eighteen months. One sweet soul wrote people like me made him want to kill himself. I refrained from replying that I was not inclined to stand in his way. I refrained from replying to any of the comments. But yeah, they chinked my confidence.
The final nails in my blog coffin were hammered in more piecemeal. I realised that I’m sick of being sold to. Blatantly or by stealth. Retweet my blog post and I’ll retweet yours. Like my FB page and I’ll Like yours. Let me send you a free copy of my book — all you need to do is allow me to keep your details on file.
Even (?) established celebs like Dr Phil are at it. This year, he announced that, after 10 years of trying, he’d managed to get his wife’s favourite band to play on his show for Valentine’s Day. She, of course, screamed and displayed major TV shock and delirious delight. I racked my brains as to whom this iconic band might be. Turned out to be their son’s band…. Puhlease. As the mother of a flautist, I can guarantee that Robyn McGraw has seen her son play umpteen times. Or she dang well ought to have. Yet another surreptitious sales opportunity. Albeit on behalf of their son.
To some extent, I can relate.
I’m not a musician but I am a writer. Yes, I want people to read my stuff, recommend me to others. Obviously. Yes, I shall announce with a deafening drumroll on Facebook and Twitter if and when my book hits the shelves (cyber or mahogany and preferably both) — but not relentlessly with automated posts designed to poke and prod. And I shall never sell my integrity by stealthily pushing for a sale. I will not become one of those bloggers/writers/TV psychologists.
And in the wake of this confusion, I simply quit blogging.
So what changed my mind? I was showing a friend how to set up a blog and happened to reread my own bio line: British/Swedish writer of romance and women’s fiction plus blogs on anything that catches my midlife ear or eye.
And that’s what I’m going to do. Blog how and when the spirit moves me. No agenda. I’ll blog about my writing progress too, because that’s a huge part of my life. No apologies there. But no stealth either.
I’m going to round off by doffing my writer’s hat to all the wonderful bloggers out there — because there are thousands — who write with passion. Both those who offer practical help and advice on a given recurring theme and those who write on more random matters. I shall endeavour to join your ranks.
And I’m going to post this on a Monday. Because it’s ready and I’m ready and to hell with the traffic statistics to my site.
Wishing you all a fantastic week.