This is my thirty-first post. I’ve had a blog now for nearly a year and have had great fun writing whatever I’ve felt like writing – be it my current thoughts on writing itself, reflections on mortality, the odd short story or the occasional political rant. I haven’t held back from being as bonkers as I wanted to be – Adelina’s words of wisdom or the secret life of the bloglet – nor have I shied away from mentioning Buddhism and spirituality. In other words, I’ve enjoyed being me here on the page.
Although I’ve tried to write the pieces as well as I can, I haven’t gone out of my way to attract followers. The message has pretty much been: ‘Take me as you find me’. I have added some tags as signposts to the kind of thing I’m writing and through them have picked up a few readers in far-flung places, but on the whole I’ve assumed my readership will consist mainly of people who already know me – friends who are writers themselves and/or are kind enough to be interested in my writing. I share my new posts on Facebook but know most of my Facebook friends don’t actually read them.
Which isn’t to say I wouldn’t like to reach a wider audience. It would of course be wonderful to be widely read and recognised as a blogger, to have tens or even hundreds of people following the blog and ‘liking’ each post, but I don’t know that I’d want to change what I write in order to make that happen. Bottledworder, a WordPress blogger who seems to have achieved a large following, has some sound tips for making writing more web-friendly at http://bottledworder.wordpress.com/2012/12/29/improve-your-writing-on-the-web/. If I followed them I’m sure I would write a much more bloglike blog, but there’s still that little voice inside me that says, however misguidedly, “I want to do it my way.” And if I can’t do it my way here, where can I do it? Nobody is going to publish the blog or critique it seriously: the blogosphere is the written equivalent of Speakers’ Corner (without the heckling) where anyone can say anything.
At the moment I’m revising my novel in the hope that this will make it more attractive to agents and publishers – and a better book at the same time. I’m happy to take most of the advice that the consultant and my writing friends have given me and turn it into a proper professional piece of work. I want it to look good and to be read and enjoyed, and there are ways of making this more possible. There are some things I won’t do because they don’t feel right, but I certainly wouldn’t insist on people taking or leaving it as it stands. At the moment what I have is a draft – one of several, which have been evolving slowly – and I know there may be several more to come before it reaches a shape that is presentable to the world.
But a blog isn’t like that – or at least mine isn’t. I write a short(ish) piece as it comes into my head, I post it, I may tweak it a bit and then I move on to another one. I try to write in a way that’s reader-friendly and hope people are sometimes amused by what I write. And that’s it. As far as I’m concerned that’s what the blog is for – to say what I want to say in the way I want to say it. Of course I hope it will get read, but if it doesn’t I’ve still enjoyed writing it. Ah well. ‘Always the soft idiot softly me.’*
*From Auden’s poem Law Like Love.