Wednesday, September 24, 2014

What Blog Am I, Really?

I've recently been having a bit of a blogging identity crisis. You see, the purpose of this blog is to write about the process of writing a novel. It says so, in big black letters across the top of the page, right under the header photo. I know, because I put it there myself, to remind myself about what I'm supposed to be doing when I get off-track and start talking about the perceived evil of e-readers or blog-comment etiquette. I need these reminders, or I tend to forget what I'm doing. A lot.

Here's the thing, though. I've been writing this blog for over a year now, and in the process I've learned something:

Writing a novel isn't always terribly interesting.

Gasp. Shocking, right? Who would've thought that a process involving a single person alone at a computer plumbing his or her imagination for endless details for hours and days and weeks and months and years on end might not be interesting???

Yes, well. It might seem obvious now, but when I started on this bloggy-journey, naive and hopeful and wide-eyed, I thought it would prove to be fascinating. And I mean those italics, as only a naive, hopeful, wide-eyed novice can. How fascinating!!!

And yet, it's not really fascinating at all for long stretches of time. Funny that. Weeks go by where the only honest blog post about my process is "I'm still researching," or "I'm still developing characters" or, worse, "I'm bored by my own writing in this scene, and I don't know why I'm bored, but I'm certainly not going to subject you to it until I figure it out."

For a while I tried to ignore this problem. I wrote about "still researching" and tried to make it interesting, and then I wrote about lots of other things that had nothing to do with writing a novel, all the while with this niggling, annoying pin jabbing me in the back of the head, telling me what was really happening was an identity crisis and I had to do something about it.

Obviously, the pin finally won, because here I am, doing something about it. And even better, I've devised an entirely writerly way of dealing with this problem.

I'm going to play with words.

You see, I decided that I've been defining "process" way too narrowly, as in "the actual writer things I do while working on a novel." I'm going to widen that definition to "whatever is happening in my life while I try to write a novel, and which I want to talk about." The premise being that all of the happenings are happening to me, the writer, and so they are in some way affecting the way I am writing said novel. Plus, I'm the writer, so I get to change the definition when I want to.

Perhaps it sounds like I'm making excuses. That's because I am. But I don't care.

You might now be thinking, "OK, so what does this mean for me, reading this blog?" You also might not. I don't know; I'm not in your head.

Let's pretend you are, OK? Great. Fair question. Truthfully, not too much. I'll still write about my neurotic brain and weird habits. I'll still complain about having too much to research or being overwhelmed by research or intimidated by writing characters from other ethnic backgrounds or whatever else I'm perseverating about on any given day. BUT I'll also write about something that happened to me, or a non-fiction piece I'm working on, or a story from my life that I just happen to want to talk about.

AND I'll do it without getting all guilty about it. How about that.

What about you? Do you limit yourself to a defined topic when it comes to blogging? Or, as a reader, do you get annoyed when a blogger posts about something other than what the blog is supposed to be about?


26 comments:

  1. I usually write something about writing but not always. For me as a blog reader the important thing is that the blog is interesting. You usually make me smile with your posts and I'll read them even if they're not about writing and researching. Variety is the spice and all that.

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    1. Thanks, Susan :) I'm glad I can make you smile!

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  2. I have certain memes I stick to--funnies or deep thoughts. Sometimes that includes stuff about my writing, sometimes it doesn't. You really just have to do what you feel fits you on the blogosphere, and the rest comes.

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  3. I initially started my blog to discover what blogging was all about. It was research from my actual job. Five years later, voila! Here it is, and it's mostly about whatever I want to write about, because that's what gets me writing, and writing is what you're supposed to do on a blog, right? ;)

    Keep writing whatever it is that your heart tells you to! Have fun with it, enjoy!

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  4. Sounds like a good idea. It would be hard to write about one's writing all the time. I hardly even touch the topic on my own blog. Now you can expand and make it fun again for YOU.

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  5. Liz, I swear you are a mind reader sometimes.
    I was going to write about this on my blog.. how it has changed since I first started my journey as an adult writer over a year ago. No longer only a children's book author who's mother almost died from alcoholism and liver disease.
    Yes, my blog and writing has changed immensely!!
    I loved when you wrote this, "I'm going to widen that definition to "whatever is happening in my life while I try to write a novel, and which I want to talk about." LOL! You CAN change this definition because you did, indeed, create it.
    It's fascinating how we grow within this community. I think it's not only because we grow as writers, but we have some really amazing influencers around us who inspire us to do even more with our talent. Not to mention all of the chaotic things that happen within our everyday life. Life would be too boring if we didn't blog about it!

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    1. Isn't that funny when that happens? Funny/wonderful. I'll look forward to reading your take on it!!

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  6. Works for me!! But, you've been to my blog. It isn't about anything even remotely definable. And I've been doing it for way too many years, but only recently to try and reach out to others. I used to just spout my nonsense to the ether and occasionally someone would find it and respond.

    Sooooo, what I'm saying in a really poor way is- it's your blog, dammit. Do with it what you will! Screw the fences you tried to put up around it. Bust 'em down!! Write!! Just WRITE!!!

    Whew, ok, time for me to go back to my crazy lair.

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    1. Well, yes, but I love the non-remotely definable stuff you post on your blog. So please keep spouting it into the ether, because my online life will be a lot duller and less funny if you stop!

      That being said, thanks :) I think I WILL just write!

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  7. I hadn't understood the whole idea of niche writing when I started my blog. I just wrote whatever, whenever. I didn't have a following, either.

    I like personal blogs, regardless if they're related to writing or not. Niche blogs are helpful, if I'm searching for information on a particular topic, but if I'm following a blog for the fun of it, then I like glimpses into life.

    Write whatever. I'll keep reading. :)

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  8. Well said, Loni. We definitely learn a great deal from both niche and personal blogs. I try to do both in my blog space.

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  9. I started my blog with the same sort of "writing process" idea in mind, but I've branched out just a tiny bit more. Basically I write about writing. I think as long as you have even a tiny bit of focus, it's cool to write about whatever you want. I mean, I know I wouldn't start ignoring your blog just because you wrote about personal stuff. I actually enjoy those kinds of posts from people--they're usually fun to read and you get to learn more about the person.

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  10. Oh...if you look at my blog, I write about anything and I create my cards..I am a mish mash of Fun- O' Rama! In my brain at least. I enjoy writing on my blog. I love creating my cards and posting them and following other card people and I love reading people i have met through Super Alex's IWSG and Ato Z-I am so glad I did that otherwise I would not have met you and others:) Should I say you analyze things to the Nth degree:) Why? I do the same thing, In fact, I will analyze the word "analyze". If I am wrong, correct me. I want you to have fun, enjoy what you do and, in time, you will write your superb novel. Not everyone can be Stephen King, he sneezes and a book is done. When you write here it reminds me of my ex when we were in university. He had to write an essay, about what, can't remember. When I looked for him in the library, he was reading the wonderful world of the lizard! he was doing anything but the essay that he told me he would enjoy writing about. he got his essay done and got a great mark like always. Oh..I am rambling now. so write away, enjoy as I enjoy reading your blog:)

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    1. I love your rambling! Ramble away :) And yes, I might have a tendency to analyze things to the Nth degree...oh, to be Stephen King!

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  11. No, it really isn't always interesting, although I do love hearing about other people's writing processes, even the boring stuff.

    It's been four years, and I'm still trying to figure out what to do with my blog. Don't worry. I think whatever you put up will be great.

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  12. You mention research and writing from different backgrounds making you nervous . . . Well, I was pretty comfortable with my novel featuring a gay British spy, and then I had a literary agent tell me, "Well, we do need more gay protagonists, but I can't accept a manuscript like this from a straight woman." He didn't say there was anything unauthentic or invalid about my work or my character; it seems that my NOT being a gay man (the British and spy parts may be negotiable) was the fatal flaw. So: men can write women, women can sometimes write men, but somehow it's just going too far for a woman to write a gay [British] man [spy]? Hmm. I felt kind of bad after that, second-guessing all my hard work. But then I had people e-mailing and asking when there would be more Peter, and I feel the fact that I do have an audience speaks somewhat for itself. Can't please everyone, I guess.

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    1. Ok, I'm sorry, but I totally disagree with that agent. Straight people SHOULD write gay people, and vice versa, just as people of color can write white people and white people really, really need to grow the courage to write people of color. We'll never get it right it we don't try.

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  13. Totally with you on this one. ^_^ My blog will always be about writing in one way or another, but it's not always going to be about the process; I've written too much about the issues I'm having with and/or because of writing for that to be a thing. If you mean this to be a writing blot, I think as long as it relates to writing somehow, you're good.

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  14. I think blogs should have some focus or a theme. This isn't only for the owner of the blog but also for the readers. Like I know it helps me when I have some idea of what to expect from a particular blog. It's also partly the reason why I follow one blog and not the other. That said, I don't think you should berate yourself for writing whatever comes to your head. It's your blog, your house, your rules. And so far, I'm quite enjoying myself having a sneak peek at it every now and then.

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  15. Liz, I struggled with this issue for quite some time with my own blog. Who was my audience??? Readers? Other writers? What kinds of topics would interest them? I drove myself nuts. Finally, it dawned on me that the only way to approach blogging was to be honest and spontaneous and to write about things that truly interest me. I enjoy your posts and writing style so I think that whatever direction you decide to take your blog, it'll be fine. Good luck!

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  16. I think anyone who ever reads my novels will say they are similar to my blog, because a lot of the stuff I blog about comes from researching the novels. Like all those badass women, and references to Shakespeare, and an entire A to Z blogfest on Wales and England. So, yeah, your blog can be about writing a book without actually talking process all the time, although some of that is good too. :))

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  17. I think this is a great idea. I've been having a total identity crisis with my blog as well and hope to get back on track with it in October. Of course, I said the same thing about September...

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  18. Our writing is totally a product of the accumulation of our daily lives, so heck yeah, I'm buying your logic. Carry on!

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  19. I totally get what you're saying. Basically my writing blog is about me as writer, writing tips and me writing stuff that's on my mind. Although I try to keep it interesting for the writers reading my blog. (They are, after all, my biggest audience there.) That said, I've found that only writing tips with nothing personalized bores people, but so does personal updates with no writing tips. At least, that's what happens on my blog.

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  20. The truth is, as a writer you don't write a novel in isolation anyway. The stuff that happens in your life has bearing on your writing - that's the premise of my blog.

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  21. every time I start a new project I say I'll do like a series on my blog about it--then I realize how utterly dull the process of novel writing is and I wind up just posting about whatever strikes me. :)

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