out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.
“the most beautiful and exquisite things that can happen in your life are the lies you tell yourself. the dreams that you have that will never be realised. the utopian paradise that can happen – that will never happen – but it sort of gets you through life. and it’s as beautiful as the truth of existence.”
i just want to start with saying your blog(s) are such a great source of inspiration and entertainment to me (they may have taken place of any other reading material). you really do have a great gift of expression and i admire it. I am still ever so new to the blogging world and have really appreciated the small messages you leave me. Seen as i am slowly educating myself about this blog thing, i was wondering if you would have any wise words of advice or tips on getting things going and things to keep in mind.
I want to start by saying it is very awesome of you to send me this email. It means so much to me that anyone at all would be entertained or inspired by anything I do, so thank you for totally making my day.
Wise words about blogging? I’m really not sure I’m qualified, but I’ll do my best. Here are 10 things I’ve learnt about what matters when it comes to blogging, in no particular order.
1. Know why you’re doing it. You don’t have to tell anyone else, but you need to know. It will help you know when to say yes, when to say no, and where your boundaries are on everything from the topics you write about, to the kind of photos you post, to whether or not to monetise (accept paid advertising) on your blog. If your goal is to blog as your true self, then go for it with all the honesty you can muster.
2. Try to be brave. Don’t worry too much about making mistakes, or about what other people might think of your blog. This is really hard, but important for your sense of self and sanity.
3. ‘Done’ is better than perfect. It can be hard to put yourself out there and hit publish. But a post that’s ‘good enough’ and published, is better than a perfect half-finished post that’s hiding in your drafts folder forever. (This is advice I need to take too.)
4. Having said that, do try to proofread and use pictures that are clear, interesting, and add to the story you’re telling.
5. Know your focus. If you haven’t started your blog yet, look for an area that interests you that may not already be saturated (fingers crossed!) and focus on that. Allow that focus to be carried through in all of your posts, your ‘about’ page, your social posts, everything. The more specific your blog is, the better.
6. If that topic is well and truly covered but it’s your thing, your passion, then I say go ahead and blog about that anyway. Your point of view is your own, who knows what unique perspective you may bring. And if not, who cares? It’s your blog (refer here to point 2.).
7. Read other blogs. It helps to know your medium and understand the established conventions. Once you understand the conventions and why and how they work, you can then break them.
8. Comment. Commenting on blogs used to be such a big and glorious thing in the blogosphere. It was a great way to make community and engage with others. I think it’s died down a lot in the last couple of years, and maybe people are doing that more on Instagram now? I still think it’s a great way to meet other bloggers and they can head over to your blog in turn.
9. Know when to let go. Once you’ve made something and put it out there it doesn’t really belong to you anymore. This is super important. I’m not talking about copyright, I mean that people will lay their meaning or intention on what you make and that has nothing to do with you. For example, there was a photo I made of myself once and that photo was pinned and reposted thousands, maybe tens of thousands of times over. Sometimes media outlets reposted it without permission and people commented about how I looked or who I was, both negatively and positively. What I learnt? Once something is out there in the crazy beautiful internets, it’s out of your hands.
10. If it’s not fun anymore, stop. I’m not talking about the initial pain barrier when you’re just getting started and figuring things out. I mean that blogs don’t have to keep on forever. Like everything else, they’re just a piece in time. There’s no harm in winding your blog up when you’re done.
I hope this helps, and I wish you all the best in your blogging adventures.
p.s Context: a lovely soul sent this message to me a good couple of years ago. Recently I came across it and decided it was time to finish my response (see point 3). Hopefully it’s better late than never.
I talk to my inner lover, and I say, why such
We sense that there is some sort of spirit that loves
birds and animals and the ants —
perhaps the same one who gave a radiance to you in
your mother’s womb.
Is it logical you would be walking around entirely
The truth is you turned away yourself,
and decided to go into the dark alone.
Now you are tangled up in others, and have forgotten
what you once knew,
and that’s why everything you do has some weird
failure in it.
From Kabir translated by Robert Bly.2 Comments
Here’s something I wrote way back last January, when I wasn’t feeling so great about having my story published. It seems like a long time ago now.
As 2013 rolled to a close I considered my position at Uni. Knowing I was unlikely to return, I submitted: I handed in a piece to the Anthology. That book was one of the reasons I’d chosen UTS over Sydney Uni back when I was accepted into both Masters courses at the end of 2009. The dual acceptance, at that time, felt like an achievement in itself.
The Anthology ‘congrats’ email that landed in my inbox read something like this: I am writing to inform you that your submission [insert name of story that isn’t mine here] to the 2014 UTS Writers’ Anthology has been shortlisted – congratulations! There were over 300 entries this year, many of a high standard, so we’re pleased to be able to extend this opportunity to you.
A few emails went back and forth confirming that it was actually my story that was shortlisted.
Then I told Mark.
I’m not surprised, he said, not looking up from internet banking.
I commented on his lack of revelling and fanfare. I told him that this moment, where he didn’t look up from the internet banking, will make it into a story one day.
But you’re not acting like it’s a big deal, he said.
It was true, I wasn’t: I was conflicted.
I’d submitted the most recent story I’d written. It’s not the story I thought would be my first published story. It’s not even a story I wanted to publish.
Maybe that’s just how these things go.Add Comment
For the past few years I’ve been taking a class in creative writing, just doing one subject at a time. I wrote this post about the class last year.
One day I guess I’ll be finished this degree — hopefully by then I’ll be a good ways into my first novel?
It’s so scary for me to even write those words.
Another hope I have in doing this course is to push through my fear of having others read my work.
So once a week I go to a three hour on-campus class. This involves in-class creative writing exercises, discussing readings, talking about writing techniques and/or critiquing each other’s work.
There’s an art to critiquing that I’m yet to master. Some of the others are awesome at it, hopefully I’m learning from them.
The first time I read a piece of my own creative writing out loud to a class was in 2010. I was scared. So scared. Like sick in the stomach, sweating kinda scared.
After that class I went home and lay in bed and wondered why I was doing this to myself. Why I was putting myself through this pain and humiliation when I didn’t have to.
I wanted to hide under the covers and not come out for a long time.
After a couple of days I felt okay again.
Now I can usually share my work in class and only feel a bit nervous.
Every time I share my writing the fear is squashed a little more.
But it seems crazy to me that the one thing I really want to do as an individual sometimes makes me feel physically sick.
Like I’ve said on a comment previously: getting the work out of myself feels like it breaks me over and over again. The place I go to, to summon up the feelings involves a process that at first is like cutting through long-healed scars. I don’t think of it as a catharsis. I don’t know what it is. I guess everybody has to find their own way into themselves, out of themselves and onto the page.
* * *
Even though my posts here are few and far between, I’ve added this blog to my Bloglovin profile, so if you’d like, you can follow my blog with Bloglovin.
Then I got a full time office job which I love, but which I now have in addition to the three kids, my other blog, the mister andthehouseandtheuni and now I’m in the very cool position of having too many things going on that I love. Something has to give. (And it’s not going to be the job or the three kids or the mister.)
It’s such a succinct summary of so much of what I know to be true, and of where I’m trying to go with my writing. Of where I already strive to go with my everyday life.
What do you think?Add Comment
Text message: dear friend. cheryl strayed is talking at festival. must go. you?
The interview is being broadcast live at the Sydney Writers’ Festival in front of a cafe style seated audience. My friend and I get there early to save our spots. I’m an ABC radio nerd so I’m fascinated to watch the presenters and guests live. We watch a few segments before Fidler and Strayed come on stage.
Should I look at you or the audience? she asks. You can look at me, I think I hear him say.
We clap. They are off air. People start filing out of the room. Fidler leans towards Strayed and kisses her on the cheek.
They are smiling and talking to one another.What is it to give over such intimacies to another this way?
What is it to lay yourself bare over and over?
What is it to be a writer?3 Comments