When my writing and I first dipped our pinkies into the shallow waters of the public pool, it was not done without some weighty trepidation and a massive urge to run back to the safety of land where we could feel nothing but the comforting feeling of warm sand beneath our feet.
I have mentioned before that I wrote for years without ever uttering to a single person that I did so. I don’t doubt for a second that I’m probably not alone in doing that; whether you have love for writing, painting, singing, design, whatever….I’m sure many of you have done the same as me and hidden your passion away, for fear of a negative reaction from your nearest and dearest.
Well that hurdle was well and truly climbed a couple of years ago now and there was only one road that I could really take and that was the path down to the murky waters of the public world. I already had an open twitter account which I basically used to talk to* (*stalk) celebs in the hope one might reply and so it just took a few advanced twitter lessons to learn how to connect with other writers and soon my follower count began to grow quite steadily.
I created this WordPress blog, spent ages staring at the laptop screen, scratching my head and looking suitably confused as I tried to work out what the hell I was doing. A few more lessons from another well-versed WordPress devotee and soon I had the blog looking exactly how I wanted, had linked it to my Facebook and twitter accounts and set about thinking about what I should write about.
My first post (go check it out: Book-writing, Bloodlust and Blogging) focused on my rather nice but dim foray into the world of blogging and how I knew very little about life as a blogger. To be honest, ten months down the line and I still know and understand very little about the world of blogging, and it seems, even less about writing.
Okay, so I can write, but ten months worth of blogging and wading through the waters of the writing community, and I can pretty much say for certain that I don’t understand the writing world at all.
I write because I love to write #thatisall as we like to hashtag on twitter but really that is not all. In fact, it seems a simple love for writing is very much far from all these days. As a writer and one who aspires to get their work out into the public domain and acquire a readership wider than their friends and family, I have discovered you need to have a much wider understanding of the world beyond the written page.
Blogging is something I am still coming to grips with. For a start, I rarely find the time to sit down and come up with a post. I’m not here that often, so I’m already facing a barrier in the sense that random, rare blogging is never going to attract a wide range of readers. Blogging isn’t just about posting your thoughts on-line and wandering off into the sunset, pleased you got that out of your system. It’s about dialogue. It’s about striking up a conversation between yourself and your blog followers. It’s about posting an opinion or a story or poem and asking your followers “So what’s your take on this? What do you think? How did this make you feel?”.
If like me, you don’t blog very often, your dialogue is going to be limited to a few supportive comments from family and friends and if you’re lucky, the odd constructive comment from someone who you don’t have dinner with on a Sunday lunchtime. Hell, I still get excited when someone hits that ‘like’ button.
Secondly, there’s the twitter writing community. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have been lucky enough to meet some amazing writers through twitter but out of over 1000 followers, the majority of whom are writers, I probably talk regularly to maybe just thirty-forty of those. Is that usual? I just don’t know. Maybe I jut don’t make enough effort to connect with people, but the truth is the writing community scares me a bit.
I see people who are completely on top of their game and know exactly how to master the twitter and blogging world. Most of the time I’m in a daze, baffled by everyone’s ability to self-promote, self-market, blog, re-blog, blog-hop, blog-tour and review without batting an eye-lid. People talk about writing groups, beta readers, editing, cover designs, writing forums, e-publishing and traditional publishing with such knowledge and expertise, that I’m completely bedazzled by it and embarrassed that I know practically nothing.
If anything, I find it all very daunting and pretty damn scary and I’m tempted to go scuttling back into my shell and pretend the outside world doesn’t exist.
But, the truth is that I can’t. If I want more people than my dad, brother and close-knit group of friends to read my work (and I really do) then I need to keep dipping my feet in the shallows until finally I’m ready to tread the waters like everyone else.