Tuesday, August 9, 2011

TheWriterFiles || 1.0

Here I was, toiling away for years by writing in notebooks and loose leaf paper, mastering my cursive and getting carpal tunnel syndrome, and all the while a new universe was being created around me: the internet, blogging, email, the whole enchilada. Mundane as it seems now, it was a revelation when I finally got plugged in to it (The world is a pretty small place when it’s just you and a pen and a piece of paper) because I realized that I wasn’t the only one with dreams of being a writer; there is, apparently, 30 million others with the same idea. This could be disconcerting to the uninitiated.

Even now, being a veteran blogger and internet surfer (do we still use that term?) whenever I lift my head out of the sand and browse around, I’m overwhelmed by the sheer volume of bloggers and writers out there. I worry about getting lost in the shuffle. I worry that the nuanced little writer (me) will have to resort to low-brow tactics just to keep people’s attention.

But it’s just not me; I’m old school. I’m a quirky writer, not a populist writer. Alas, some people lead such interesting lives that they can post their misogynistic adventures daily and get heaps of readers. Me, I’m rather low-key. No jumping off cliffs and then posting about it on my blog the next day, sorry.

So, how to avoid getting lost in a literary wilderness? I haven’t the foggiest.

I suppose my philosophy has always been ‘slow and steady wins the race’. I suppose that the only competition I should be concerned about is me. I’m not going to shout over millions of other bloggers – that’s a fight I can’t win. I’m just going to keep chuggin’ along, working on my book, posting what I can. And occasionally I’ll jump off a cliff and write about it the next day (assuming I survive).

Question: is blogging a popularity contest or something? What draws the flies? I’ve seen bad blogs with hundreds of followers, and great blogs with as little as 5. There doesn’t appear to be any logic to it (I’m sure there is, I’m just being obtuse). I can offer this explanation: the squeaky wheel gets the grease, and some people are squeakier than others (You can draw them in, but you have to keep them there somehow, which is a harder proposition).

Take this blog for instance; it started out as a catch-all for my thoughts on writing and life in general. But after hearing many blogging ‘experts’ talk ad nauseum on the subject, I decided to narrow it down to a blog about writing. Well, mostly. My one-track brain gets derailed from time to time (See my last post, for instance).


There’s a slight change in the program here at the Den. My writing column The Writer Files will appear once a week, hopefully on Wednesdays. Any additional posts will be consisting of variable subject matter. What that subject matter is, I cannot say. My brain will fire off something interesting, rest assured. It could be music, pop culture, or some variety of socio-political rhetoric. I’m also attempting to bring more guest bloggers in (a dastardly plan involving low-key blackmail is in the works).

Thanks for loitering! Come again!


  1. It's crazy out there, I agree. When Jane Friedman first asked me to write a blog for her, I had never read one. I had just learned about Twitter and Facebook because of her advice, and man, have things taken off in warp speed. I'd say the best advice is to be yourself. Which is what I adore about you. And you remain one of my favorites since the early days, two or three years ago.

  2. I don't think of it as competing against other writers and bloggers, but as working together to share a love for books and writing. The more you give, the more you get, and the writing and blogging world is so helpful and open to being a real community.

    Also, I’m a new follower—wonderful blog! Stop by my blog and follow me too? :) http://rachelbrookswrites.blogspot.com/

  3. @Rachel - I use the word 'compete', but it's because there's always a fight to be heard above the din, to stand out. And sometimes we do and write silly things in order to get some attention directed towards our work.

    But you're also right in that the blogging world can be helpful and supportive. Sometimes it helps to remember that. Thank you! And I'll be stopping by your site soon.

  4. @Ficwriter - This is the true test of a writer - trying to stay grounded, and to be myself. Sometimes it seems 'myself' just isn't interesting enough, but then I have a good stretch of writing and positive feedback and all is well again. What a roller-coaster ride it can be!

    And thank you for the kind words. You've long been one of my favorites as well; kindred spirits we are.


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