Is blogging bad for writers?

I’m not thinking of the usual reasons. The usual trio of: it’s a waste of time, who cares, it doesn’t sell books.

No, mine is more personal. Mine is–how can I put this delicately–I don’t really want to tell you what is really going on with me. Which in theory is the whole point of a blog, isn’t it? Someone out there in the cloud telling the world how it is to be them?

The idea was that I would write an author’s blog and the people would come. Readers want to know you, said the publicists.

Actually they said, We haven’t a clue but you might give it a shot.

So I did.

And I wrote very bland things. And the couple of times I wrote less bland things, I lost my agent, upset a friend, and well, luckily there wasn’t a third disaster because by that time I’d learned my lesson.

BE CAREFUL. BE VERY CAREFUL.

Authors, if they know what’s good for them, are not going to bare it all in a blog.

I never gave this blog a title because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to focus on: writing, living in London, parenting. There are so many excellent writing blogs out there that I didn’t know where to place myself. Then I thought, I know,  I’ll write about being a struggling midlist writer!

All the squirrels outside my window fell from the trees with boredom.

So I’ve hopped around, trying to give a sense of what a novelist might think about. But always inoffensive. Light light. Nicey nicey.

But to get an involved following an author is supposed  to offer something of herself. Warts and all. Real opinions. Real feeling.

But sorry, I can’t do that. All the good stuff I have to keep close to my chest. Anything interesting I’m not going to divulge facelessly through the ether. To be read by those I don’t know. Or even worse, by those I do!

This reticence is why I became a novelist in the first place. To divulge the workings of my conflicted soul in the safe anonymity of my characters. Where I can let lose all those uncomfortable, sometimes cruel observations and opinions that lurk inside me. That bubble up in all of us. Which are acceptable in characters but not usually in real people. Which is why we all love fiction so much.

If readers want to know a writer, the best they can do is read his or her novel.

Where we can be conflicted, twisted and snarky to our heart’s delight.

photo by mugley (flickr)

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15 Comments

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15 responses to “Is blogging bad for writers?

  1. Sometimes nicey nicey works. I really feel your pain, as we used to say here in good ole USA. My boring blog definitely needs something! Humor, the kind that made me laugh when I read your observations of your nearby squirrels, would be my preference, but I can’t always slow down enough to use it appropriately.

    I never aspired to be an expert on anything. Yet, I persist in the notion that being an expert on my own point of view has value. At least those are the blogs I like to read most.

  2. I like your posts, Nina. I like your voice and whatever you’d care to share.
    Who says real stuff can’t be nice?

  3. ninakillham

    Thanks, Lois and Sarah. Nice can be good. Absolutely. I suppose I’m thinking about when the story is not all nice I start avoiding the subject.

  4. For me, I’ve always written a journal since I was a kid, and a blog was an easy transition for me when I was a teenager and got my first lap top. For me, I make sure I am completely anonymous with my identity in my blog, so I can write about what I want. It doesn’t help with my writing career, but it does help me to get the stuff out.

  5. tanner parsons

    I think you are on a journey toward your best writing ever and this blog is like going to the gym. Your blog is sweet & nicey nice because that is a part of your nature as is the part about protecting the immediate world around you. But a piece of you must keep commenting. It’s like a razor sharp teenager at the back of the class pretending everything is boring. Writers need to explore new ways to write a sentence and mix them in around in paragraphs in order to find something interesting. You are being honest on the dangers of being completely open. Every writer has to deal with this. Writers are whistleblowers. Whom do we sell out? Sometimes journals are used in court cases. Please keep discussing this place of wanting to write but not upending things. It will whittle down to a sharp point that’ll scratch out truths we need to hear.

  6. ninakillham

    I checked out your blog, sarahnsh (I’ll call you that because you don’t have name on your blog!) and yes, I can see how much you can write freely when you do it anonymously. I love it. Good luck with your blog and your future writing when you put your name to it.

  7. ninakillham

    Hey Tanner, thanks for commenting. God I can’t tell you how much I feel sometimes like that teenager in the back of the classroom, not bored, but feeling snipey. Very thoughtful words. Thanks.

  8. Lisa

    Nina…this is the absolute truth…I understand this so much and feel so relieved that someone else does too. I know what you mean. I love your observations – they make me laugh outloud and I realize that someone else shares my partially hidden snipey side! I love your blog. 🙂

  9. I’m a fan! Please don’t stop giving us readers those glimpses into the wonderful novelist and person you are!

  10. ninakillham

    JoDee and Lisa, thank you so much. I wasn’t fishing for complements but boy do I like ’em! I was wondering if anyone else out there had the same trouble with blogging and it’s nice to know that others feel the same way. xx

  11. slvhap

    indeed, love it all- the light, nicey, slightly revelatory, and especially the snarky!
    I remember hearing Anne Lamott speak once and say that people always assumed they new everything about her because she wrote so personally. She then made it quite clear that this was in fact an assumption and a false one. Lamott said that she chose carefully what to share in her writing and in the way she chose to express it, but that really she kept the intimate stuff close. I think about that a lot as I am one who was making that false assumption of “knowing her” from her writing, at least to a degree…

  12. ninakillham

    I love Anne Lamott. Her Bird by Bird is my bible.

  13. Ooh, not been here before — hello! Loved this post; I’ve been pondering the same as I write in vanilla ink and take pictures of myself kissing bottoms. A few weeks ago I blogged that being on a writing competition longlist was equivalent to being a third favourite girlfriend… Stony blogosphere silence: oops! (New blog post since: Eating My Words.) Seriously, saccharin is good. We’re women, we love all women. We’re writers, we love all writers/authors. And publishers and editors — ohhhh, we love them, lots. I love everyone. Except me. I don’t over-love me because that would be blog-ugly.
    The same principle goes for book reviews: I’ll prattle on about books I enjoyed, but what about the honkers? The real hoots full of typos and long, droney bits — that start on a split infinitive and end three chapters after the story’s done? I can have scathing epithets pouring from every orifice but dare I pop it blogwards? Nuh-uh. A friend of mine wrote a mid-way, balanced review on her site a while back and the author popped up in the comments to discuss the critical bits. I could feel my friend shrink down through her clothes and squelch sadly into her shoes, as she whimpered her thanks for his comments. Ha ha (snort!)… but really — do we want to do this to ourselves? Orrr… are we happy to be saccharin clones? I have no idea, but I’m really glad other people are wondering the same.

  14. ninakillham

    Hi, Martha. Love this comment! Thank you. You are hilarious. See you on twitter where I can hang myself with fewer words….

  15. Pingback: Men in Showers (and other inspirations) « martha williams

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