Thursday, 5 July 2012

So, this blogging lark...

I gave up on blogging about eighteen months ago. It was a decision I agonised over for quite some time. Up to then, I'd been blogging for four years, albeit infrequently by the time I finally quit. I owe my writing career to blogging; you can read how all that came about over at http://conduitnovel.blogspot.com, with most of the action occurring around spring and summer 2008.

Why did I give it up? The short answer is that I lost interest.

The long answer?

The purpose of the blog had been to record my attempts at writing a novel and getting it published. The blog eventually documented the writing of CONDUIT, a horror story that will never see the light of day.  Later, it was a genre-splicing thriller called FOLLOWERS that went on to be published as THE GHOSTS OF BELFAST in the USA, THE TWELVE in the UK, won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and Spinetingler Award as well as getting shortlisted for a bunch of others, and has been translated into more languages than I can count off the top of my head. It even got optioned for a movie, though don't ask me how that's progressing because I've been kept in the dark since I signed the contract.

I owe all that directly and indirectly to blogging. If I hadn't become part of the online writing community, stalking agent and editor blogs, getting my stuff critiqued by other hopefuls, the planets would not have aligned in the way they did.

But once those planets had aligned, the blog's purpose for being had been fulfilled. It was no longer relevant to my situation. I posted less and less often, going quiet for months at a time by the end, and frankly, it became an embarrassment. Around the time I retired the blog, I set up another with the intention of writing about my great passion for guitars. I didn't manage a single post.

So, now, why am I writing this? For some reason, I'm thinking about starting to blog again, primarily on what it's like to be a professional author. It's partly to do with trying to raise my online visibility to where it had once been, but it's also maybe about venting a little, a way to deal with the daily terror of trying to support my family by making up stories. Which, let's face it, is a ridiculous thing to do.

But here's a question: How many people out there still read blogs?

I'm down to just a handful these days (I might list those in a separate post some time). A couple of them are for entertainment, a couple are genuinely useful, and one I visit for the sole purpose of annoying myself. There are numerous blogs that I used to follow religiously that I haven't looked at in a year or more. It seems to be that blogging is no longer about networking; Facebook and Twitter have taken on that role for most people. So what value can I bring to the blogosphere (blimey, it's a long time since I typed that word)?

In other words, should I bother my arse establishing a new blog? Is it a waste of time? Thoughts welcome.

5 comments:

Sandra Cormier said...

I've been struggling with the same decision over the last few months. I haven't anything new to report, and after weekly posts, then monthly, I may have run out of things to say.

I was a contributor to another blog with fellow authors from the publisher of my only book that's still out there, and I received monthly reminders to post. So I whipped up something and sometimes double-posted on my own blog.

Soon, Twitter won out, because it's easy and fast. My faltering blog posts went without any comments, probably because they were so infrequent nobody looked for me anymore. Blogging became a chore, like doing taxes.

This might be a side effect of my own writing struggles. It's taken over a year to get to the halfway mark of my WIP, and as each day passes, my confidence lags.

If I ever finish the damn thing, I might start up blogging again, just to keep new writers up to speed about what it feels like to be a writer. I know there are a ton of great blogs with more relevant information, but we all want to be heard, don't we?

I always enjoyed your blog, but must admit I haven't haunted my old friends' blogs for a while. We usually make do with 'fly-by hellos' on other social media. If I see an alert on Twitter, I visit my friends' posts, and I try to comment as much as possible. I know how lonely it feels when you put a lot of work into a post that nobody reads.

If you return to blogging, maybe try for monthly posts, rather than feeling pressured to post every time something happens. It's a good exercise and keeps your writing skills honed.

Maybe I'm just talking myself into blogging again!

moonrat said...

It's not quite the same blog culture as it was back when we were kids, is it? It's a tough call. Especially when vibrant Facebook presence seems to be replacing longer-form casual online journalism.

But I'm with Sandra on a once-a-month post being interesting. Especially if there's a meaty story to tell. I bet your publisher would be interested in cross-posting the content, too, if you wanted them to.

Consultifi (tm) said...

I think it needn't be either/or. The various social media have their own uses: writing longer form articles, quick takes, witty asides, dumb pictures and so on all have their place. You don't stop writing postcards just because you have a mobile phone. Actually maybe you do and that just dates me.

Stuart Neville said...

Thanks for the comments, folks. One deciding factor behind this experiment was to see if anyone would comment on this post. If no one did, I would have my answer.

Three comments might not be much, but it might nudge me into posting again. Having thought about it a lot, I might make it a place for me to generally blather about stuff that interests me, whether that be books, music, movies, guitars, my dog, by family, whatever. At least that way it won't feel like work, and I can make the occasional career related post.

Gary Corby said...

Well you can make it 4 comments. A 33% gain on previous!

I'm still blogging, but that might be because I loathe Facebook with a blind seething hatred.

Do write about what interests you, not what a hypothetical audience wants to read.

My experience is, don't judge blog interest by number of comments. My most popular post ever has had 110,000 readers but only 28 comments. Conversely I posted something that only 90 people read but 60 of them commented.