?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

Rant about blogging pressure part 2

Rant about blogging, part 2 sort of

ETA: No one is pressuring me to blog; for some reason, no one ever has. So the pressure I resent is not being applied to me -- it's making people I really like miserable.

But the real reason I hate all the pressure to blog besides the fact that so many people don't understand how it works?

Because it's being applied to people who, being writers, often already shoulder enough doubt and fear, and it's being sold as "you're failing your book if you don't." I'm sure that people don't intend to do this, but it's bullying, and it's something that a lot of writers – balancing careers, children, day jobs or schooling in any number of combinations don't need. It's like being told to go out and join the in-crowd or the popular crowd when you're in junior high and you're a geek because then you will be ... more popular. Most of us have outgrown that paradigm – but just in case you want to stay on that side of the fence, there's the reminder that your books need this.

It brings back all kind of awkward, and people don't need that kind of awkward. And if the people offering this advice paid a bit more attention to the dynamics of blogging, I think they'd be less likely to apply this kind of pressure.

It's like telling someone that the sure-fire way to be a bestselling writer is to be a movie star – and then expecting them to go be a movie star; the scale is smaller, but the phenomenon is not appreciably different, imho. Some of us can act. Some of us can't. Most of us will never be movie stars, even if we are all forced to audition. But the auditions, such as they are, and stretching a metaphor to near-breaking, can make the entire process of dealing with the writing insecurities so much worse.

Look, I blog because I enjoy it. I tend to say more or less what I'm thinking about a narrow range of subjects. There are things I won't talk about because I don't feel I own them completely (my kids, for instance). But I enjoy blogging in part because no one is standing over my shoulder metaphorically breathing down my neck and telling me I have to somehow endear myself to people that I don't know and might never meet, with the subtext of failing-your-book wedged in there.

Comments

( 24 comments — Leave a comment )
arielstarshadow
Feb. 24th, 2008 05:11 am (UTC)
I'd have to say that I agree with you. I love it that some of you published authors out there blog, but I don't think people should be pressured into doing so; I can't say how wonderful it is to not only learn from those actually doing it, but also to see that you, too, have doubts and troubles and sometimes think everything you write is crap. Not to mention it's great to see what else you do with your life aside from writing.

No one needs performance anxiety - goodness knows I sometimes feel as if every post I make on LJ has to be profound and filled with the wisdom of the ages (which is just ridiculous); I can only imagine how much worse it could be for people such as you, who are known for your writing.
mmarques
Feb. 24th, 2008 05:30 am (UTC)
I love your blog posts, but if you don't feel like blogging, what's the point?
msagara
Feb. 24th, 2008 05:42 am (UTC)
I love your blog posts, but if you don't feel like blogging, what's the point?

Oh, no; maybe I wasn't clear -- I blog because I feel like it and because, when I blog, I enjoy it.

I don't think of it as a promotional effort; I don't really think of it as work -- I choose what I say, and when I say it, and even how. But I would probably bite the head off of anyone who suggested that I had to blog for the good of my books or my career, and that I had to be something other than myself when I did blog, and I'm aware that a number of writers face this pressure to greater or lesser degree, and it makes me really cranky.
sphericaltime
Feb. 26th, 2008 09:01 pm (UTC)
Can we suggest that we really like it when you blog, and that we, personally (as personally as a faceless online name can get, anyway) would very much enjoy seeing you blog more often?

I'm not saying that you have too. I have no right to say anything of the kind, and I'll buy your books if you blog or not, but I do enjoy reading your musings.
(Deleted comment)
arachnejericho
Feb. 25th, 2008 07:20 am (UTC)
And of course the kicker to that one is people saying things like, "Well, you'd write more books if you didn't waste all your time and energy fardling around on the net blogging."


I never know how to answer things like that. I mean, it's true. It's just not relevant to me. But I feel terrible nonetheless.

I had no idea that the reverse was actually being pushed upon---mostly I read various suggestions on the blogosphere of late (like Rachel Vater's) to be "get a simple website, and then maybe a blog if you feel you can keep up with it."

So I always thought it was us bloggers who were bad, not the non-bloggers.

amber_fool
Feb. 24th, 2008 07:27 am (UTC)
I actually didn't realize how widespread that is. I've just been getting really, really excited every time I find a blog from one of my favorite authors. Like the toy at the bottom of the Cheerios box. I really liked the Cheerios, and now I have this bit of plastic fun!

I especially like the approach you take, where you talk about the business end of writing. It lets me see the other side of the novels I love. I mean, sure, I write, but I don't expect to ever get published because it's only a passing hobby and I don't have the time to put in the effort that I know it takes.

Speaking of - I discovered today that it is apparently mostly impossible to get a copy of Children of the Blood in the US - it's the only one of the series listed as out of print, and I'm not finding any used copies for sale anywhere...
starlady38
Feb. 24th, 2008 11:23 am (UTC)
I actually didn't realize how widespread that is. I've just been getting really, really excited every time I find a blog from one of my favorite authors. Like the toy at the bottom of the Cheerios box. I really liked the Cheerios, and now I have this bit of plastic fun!

Ditto. And hey, it's your blog and your choice to blog in the first place, so write what you like, right?
(Anonymous)
Feb. 25th, 2008 02:44 pm (UTC)
You can order 'Children of the Blood' directly from BenBella books for the cover price. That's what I did a couple of months ago when I was looking to get a copy and could only find a used one (of the current printing run!) for £40 (about $80). They ship in the US, so that won't be a problem.
xnamkrad
Feb. 24th, 2008 09:52 am (UTC)
I have a number of friends here - some of who happen to be writers. I enjoy reading about my friends, if that happens to cover their work, fair enough. You're right, blog (who invented the word anyway?) because you want to, not because someone is trying a guilt trip on you. There were successful authors long before this technology.
(Deleted comment)
twiegand
Feb. 24th, 2008 01:34 pm (UTC)
Blog when and about what you want. You know there are those out here reading and interested in what you have to say. I will read and reply as it moves me. You have interesting thoughts, I don't which is why I don't blog.

Keep your family and whatever else private as you wish. It's your choice and choice is good. However, I hope that they are all well.
ciage
Feb. 24th, 2008 03:01 pm (UTC)
If you don't mind me asking, how has pretty much instant access changed the process as an author? I mean before the internet and I wanted to know about a book, I'd have to either read part of it/hope for the best or ask someone else who read it what they think, but now, it's almost like oversaturation.
rolanni
Feb. 24th, 2008 04:21 pm (UTC)
how has pretty much instant access changed the process as an author?

Speaking as an author: The good thing about the internet is that it's so much easier for readers and writers to interact. And...

...the bad thing about the internet is that it's so much easier for readers and writers to interact. :)

Before the internet, I wasn't likely to accidentally come across a bad review of Book One while I was struggling with a particularly nasty bit of Book Two. Which, yanno, always seems to be the way it is and not vice-versa because the universe likes to jerk people around.

On the other hand, the internet was instrumental in bringing us back from the dead, which is All Good.

We've always tried to be accessible to our readers, even before the internet, but sometimes the sheer weight gets a little frenzy-making. There are, after all, lots more of you than there are of us (where "lots" is more than two) and now I have to choose between answering my email (being accessible) and actually writing. It's a tough choice.

On the blogging front, I started mine because a friend had died and LJ was the best way to keep in touch with the rest of her mourners. I stayed, oddly enough, because there wasn't any pressure to call up my aspect as a writer; it was my journal and I could write about whatever I wanted. The cats, the weather, my day (which often includes writing), and whatever happens to interest me at the moment.

msagara
Feb. 24th, 2008 09:48 pm (UTC)
If you don't mind me asking, how has pretty much instant access changed the process as an author? I mean before the internet and I wanted to know about a book, I'd have to either read part of it/hope for the best or ask someone else who read it what they think, but now, it's almost like oversaturation.

First, of course I don't mind. I'm actually perfectly happy to answer questions asked here, or to riff on questions asked of other lj users in their own LJs if I know I'm going to go on for a bit. Which, sadly, I frequently do.

It's something I haven't really thought about before now, because I was reading (and even occasionally posting) in the newsgroups in the early '80s. I was emailing my friends at the University, and then at other Universities, from about that time on, so I had access to the internet before I sold my first novel, and in fact, before I wrote it. The internet was not the web as it is now constituted; my sff.net site was designed so I could access it from Lynx because I would not web-surf on a dial-up, and therefore logged in to my University account via a VT100 terminal emulator.

rolanni brings up good points in her answer – there's a lot more opportunity to interact with readers. The down side – for me – is that there's a lot more guilt when I fail to interact in anything approximating a timely fashion.

But in terms of the process of actually writing a novel? I don't think it affects very much. It affects the length of time it takes to submit manuscripts (and the postage costs).

If you're subject to fretting (and frequently I am), you learn not to web-surf for information about your own titles when you're already in the middle-of-a-book writing slump and you're pulling all your hair out and punching holes in walls (figuratively speaking) because generally, it just doesn't help – the good reviews are stressful because you know that what you are writing Right Now is so much worse and people will be disappointed and the bad reviews are stressful because, well, bad reviews.

But the upside is that it's far easier to find communities of writers who are also experiencing the same levels of stress, because it's so much easier to be objective about their work – i.e. you know that they're stressed out about nothing. Which is encouraging not because misery loves company (well, okay, there is that), but rather because it gives hope that you are also, in fact, completely unable to look at your own work rationally at that time.

But as a reader? I think it makes a big difference.

janni
Feb. 24th, 2008 05:16 pm (UTC)
Because it's being applied to people who, being writers, often already shoulder enough doubt and fear, and it's being sold as "you're failing your book if you don't."

I think all the promotional possibilities are presented to writers this way, and that, yeah, it's a problem, and leads to lots and lots of insecurity. (To the point that I've heard writers struggling to sell their next book who haven't sold in a while express relief that at least they don't have to deal with all of today's promotional expectations.)

I never know what to say when folks ask how I find the time to blog. In some sense I've been living online for a couple decades, and while I've modified what I share a little as I've become a writer, mostly I still do it for the same reason I did it then--because it's fun. Yet more and more there's this notion that it's an obligation--or even that one is being "good" by blogging regularly--and I don't know quite what to make of that.
msagara
Feb. 24th, 2008 09:40 pm (UTC)
I think all the promotional possibilities are presented to writers this way, and that, yeah, it's a problem, and leads to lots and lots of insecurity. (To the point that I've heard writers struggling to sell their next book who haven't sold in a while express relief that at least they don't have to deal with all of today's promotional expectations.)

Now this is just depressing =/.
(Deleted comment)
msagara
Feb. 24th, 2008 10:04 pm (UTC)
I thought you'd find this interesting. I certainly did.

It was, but he's at the far end of the spectrum vis a vis self-promotion. I do think, modulo the emphasis, that he's largely correct, but also agree that his (and my own) age are probably a part of my response.

I remember asking my very first editor about self-promotion, and she thought it was all a total waste of time -- i.e. if I had any time I should be writing.

But a younger editor, many years later, was very pleased at the number of authors who were willing to self-promote.

I just think that the book has to come first, and if that's all you have time and energy for, that's where it should go, partly so you can make deadlines and maintain a reasonable publishing schedule, and partly because the writing is, in the end, what sells.
isis_daughter
Feb. 25th, 2008 04:20 am (UTC)
Hello Michelle, I wanted to leave you a comment to let you know that you are one of the greatest writers that I have read. You are also one of my favorite authors. I read The Sun Sword Series a few years ago, I enjoyed the books a lot. At the time I picked up the 1st book of The Chronicles of Elantra, I didn't know that the author that wrote the sun sword series was the same author as The Elanta Books, which happens to be my favorite book series. I just cant wait for the next book in this series. Even though it is coming out later in the year than the other books have, I'm just glad that there is more books in this wonderful series. Thank you for you hard work in giving your fans hours of enjoyment.
msagara
Feb. 27th, 2008 03:00 am (UTC)
Thank you :). I sometimes miss these comments, but I am always happy to see them!
andpuff
Feb. 25th, 2008 04:30 am (UTC)
People get pressured to blog? That's just... weird.
arachnejericho
Feb. 26th, 2008 04:59 pm (UTC)
I was thinking about the writers getting pressured into blogging when it's not necessarily in their best interests, got a bit upset, and wrote a post tearing apart six myths I have heard around and abouts with respect to blogging.

Quite thoroughly, I think.

I have no idea if it will do anybody any good, but I thought I would give it a mention in case you think it may be useful.

And if anyone has any more myths for me to rip to shreds, bring 'em along.
(Anonymous)
Feb. 29th, 2008 03:33 pm (UTC)
Authors, blogging, and websites
Sometimes I find it interesting to read about what a writer has seen or been doing, or their general observations/opinions on things, because it gives me a better understanding of the person behind the writing. I don't NEED to read about it, but sometimes there's insights into what motivated an author to write about a particular subject. I guess it gives a slightly false sense of connection with the author, and you feel as if you care more about the books because you "know" the writer better. I'm an introspective person myself, and I'm always curious about how and what other people think - to me, there is nothing more delightful than little discussions like this one on so many blogs.

That being said, there are a few authors that I've learned to avoid reading anything they've written beyond the published novels. Occasionally I've run into comments by particular authors that have been so mean and rude that it makes me start to dislike their books as a reaction. Despite the fact that the writing hasn't changed, it makes me reluctant to support the author by buying any books, and colors my opinion of her writing, because I've gotten a glimpse of the poisonous person behind it all. You know, how you may be predisposed to hate something simply because you don't like the person who recommended it? Or, in a more appropriate analogy, like discovering that your favorite author is a member of the KKK and pedophile to boot. Whenever I come across someone like this, I shake my head in amazement that she can't see how damaging such remarks can be. The author I'm most appalled at has the worst habit of commenting on negative reviews of her books, and she typically responds in a provocative, insulting manner that sparks an avalanche of MORE negativity, then she 'tee-hees' and starts bragging about how much money she makes from her books! It's really quite amazing.

It's rare that an author is so inflammatory that it affects what I think of their books, but I do think it is one potential downside of having such close, instantaneous communication between reader/writer.

I don't think that an author should feel pressured to keep up a blog - I rarely keep up any sort of regular journal myself, so I definitely don't see why I should expect more from anyone else. To be perfectly honest, I think what is more important in terms of a career is actually to maintain a good website. While I LIKE blogs, I don't think they are necessary; whereas I really get annoyed when authors do not update websites with new information. If they don't have one, that's fine, but I more or less consider that when an author DOES, he is obligated to keep it somewhat current. At least by posting upcoming release dates/titles and hopefully a list of previous books (usually a blurb is welcome, but unnecessary since I can search one out). I keep bookmarks of authors' sites, and regularly check through them to find out any news. Nothing drives me crazier than to find the site completely out of date (seriously, one author still has tentative dates for 2004 listed!) because it might as well not exist if I have to find the information elsewhere. I think that up-to-date info and sometimes teasers like short excerpts whet the appetite of a reader and makes it more likely that they will be anticipating the next book eagerly. It's so much nicer when I KNOW a book I want is coming out, rather than coming across it by chance at a bookstore or library (that can be a nice surprise, but how long was it out before I found it?!). A lot of people rely on the internet for information like that, and a well-organized, maintained author website is the first place to look.

Again, it doesn't need to be fancy or super in-depth...just an update every few months at least. I don't expect books to come out any faster than that anyway. I think it's a valuable tool for an author in this increasingly technology-reliant world, and not enough people seem to be taking advantage of it.

Hm. I didn't mean to ramble on so long. Today is one of my check-author-sites days (that's how I ended up here, actually), and I'm disappointed in the lack of news from some authors that I KNOW have books coming out soon. It's kind of a pet peeve of mine=)
( 24 comments — Leave a comment )