Monday, February 18, 2013

NINJA STUFF: Thoughts On Blogging

THIS WEEK IN NINJA-ING: Tuesday's Book of the Week is The Shadows: Books of Elsewhere Volume 1, Wednesday we're discussing Chapter 1 of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and Thursday author Jacqueline West will face the 7 Questions. Saturday, as ever, we'll be joined by a surprise literary agent

A few posts back, I wrote a little about blogging and some of you Esteemed Readers sent comments and emails asking me to post more about blogging. My motto is "if Esteemed Reader wants something, I'll do my best to do that thing (within reason)."

I've not written much about blogging here for two reasons: 1. Our focus is writing and reading books. 2. I'm no expert, which, if you're a regular Esteemed Reader, you already know:)

The reason this blog is anything is due to the authors, literary agents, and editors who've been kind enough to appear here. There are plenty of better, more organized, and certainly more popular blogs and sites out there--you could be reading them right now:)

That being said, I do have some blog experience under my belt now and this site does have a following, however humble. So I'll briefly give you some of my thoughts on blogging, then I'm going to shut up and let the experts talk.

In a lot of ways, this blog has been my writer's journal I just happen to have shared with the world. No one loves this blog more than me and I doubt anyone finds it more useful than I do, because I designed it with me in mind:)

Every interview posted here was an interview I wanted to read facing the 7 Questions I wanted answers to. Every book I've reviewed I did because I thought it would enhance my own knowledge of being a writer. I reread these interviews and follow the links in them to keep tabs on these writers and see what they're up to.

I agree with Ayn Rand to a point (the devil's best lies are based in truth) that there is some virtue in selfishness. I've always believed the best way to write a story is to write the one you most want to read.

I've written bad things before. When Esteemed Reader looks at me with those big puppy dog eyes, a single tear on her cheek, and whispers, "Why, Mr. Ninja? Why did you make it suck?" the only reply I can make that gives me any peace is "I'm sorry, Esteemed Reader. I honestly thought you'd like it because I did."

So that's my first tip: Write what you love and blog what you love. Blogging takes time and effort like writing and if the subject you're blogging about doesn't interest you, you either need to be getting enough benefit (usually monetary) doing it to offset your aversion, or you won't stick with it. I've not made a dime since this blog started, but the knowledge I've gained and the connections I've made have been a reward far more valuable than money.

My second tip for bloggers is the same advice I'd give to writers: if you want to do it, do it. Never mind you're not smart enough, good enough, etc. Do it badly until you learn to do it well.

My first short stories were often not good, but I kept writing them, reading the work of others, and seeking advice and criticism until they've gotten significantly better. There's no way for me to ever objectively judge my writing, but I try to be my sharpest critic as well as my first fan, and the negativist in me concedes that my more recent manuscripts have at least been formatted properly and spell checked, unlike my earlier efforts.

A writer/blogger can be a lot of things, but timid can't be one of them. To write for reader consumption is to put yourself under the microscope. Readers will make judgments about you, fair or not, and as you are not perfect, you will screw up. Over the course of writing this blog, I've put my foot in my mouth, I've been embarrassed in front of writers and publishing professionals, and I'm quite certain I've occasionally come off like a jerk.

Well, if you don't want to risk the likelihood of some failure, stay home. Never do anything and there's little chance of anything happening to you.

For all the times I've written overly long posts and humiliated myself with spelling errors and obvious grammar mistakes, or gone long periods without posting, thereby hurting my readership, I like to think I've said some good stuff and there are multiple posts I'm proud of. I've taken my first steps and fallen down in my journey as a blogger out where everyone can see me. Fortunately, most people don't care:)

There's a reason I address you in every post as Esteemed Reader as opposed to Constant Reader, a moniker I've always found to be a tad presumptuous, even when the presumption is made by the world's best-selling novelist. I call you Esteemed Reader to remind me always that you're out there and what I do, I do to find you, because you're what it's all about.

And also, you're out there.

My third and final tip for bloggers is be as educated as you can be. Just because you've never done a thing doesn't mean no one else has. Read other blogs, listen to the advice of successful people who've gone before you, and learn everything you can. Sort through as much knowledge as you can get your hands on and decide what advice works for you and what doesn't.

To that end, I'll shut up now and finish by leaving you with a lists of resources for bloggers written by far greater experts than me. These are sites I've read and found helpful. Some of them may contain foul language and other malodorous content. The internet is a weird, scary place sometimes, so you watch yourself out there, Esteemed Reader. But I'll do my best to point you in the right direction:

Stuff I found useful:

If you haven't read it already, here is Casey McCormick and Natalie Aguirre's wonderful and incredibly useful blog for writers, Literary Rambles. This is the blog I wanted to emulate early on and where I did most of my agent hunting.

And here are some other links teeming with blogging resources:

1 comment:

  1. * Wow, thanks for sharing your thoughts and advice, as well as your generous list of resources. Blogging has always been kind of scary for me but, with your supportive words in mind, I hope to plunge into the blogger world someday.


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