Monday, March 28, 2011

Thou Shalt Keep a Blog

Over the last few weeks I've read 3 different articles/postings on the importance of writers keeping regular blogs and building an on-line following prior to their books being published. Each article gave the ideal time between an author starting a blog and their book coming out as 3 years. Each article waxed lyrical about the importance of regular, informed and interesting posts. Each article talked about complementing the blogging activity by using Facebook and Twitter to further build the author's online presence.

Maybe it's just me, but I can't help but feel uncomfortable with that kind of advice. Not because it's wrong per-se, because I don't think it is. I think what I object to is the way it's put forward as the only possible way for a budding author to publish a successful novel, and that any author who ignores the advice and, heaven forbid, doesn't actually blog or use Facebook is setting themselves up for an epic fail when it comes time to publish their book (or to attempt to get it published).

Sorry, but that's utter tosh.

How long has the internet/blogging/Facebook been around for now? How long have successful authors been around? To suggest that frenetic blogging and deep wading in the social-network pool is the only path to writing success is total nonsense. It's one path, yes. But not the only path.

Writing a book is really, really hard. Anyone who's tried it will tell you that. It's hard coming up with ideas that are original and interesting. it's hard developing your own natural writer's voice. It's hard finding time to write. It's hard dealing with statistics that tell you you have very little chance of success. It's a plodding, difficult, frequently excruciating journey that takes every ounce of will-power and determination to keep you from giving up. The last thing you need is someone coming along and laying a whole bunch of extra burdens on an already close-to-toppling pile. "Oh, you're not doing a regular blog yet? Well, you better get started." or "Oh, only twenty friends on Facebook? Gotta do better than that, fella."

If you're a full-time writer, perhaps you have time to act on this advice. For most of us, it's little more than an added pressure we don't need.

Monday, March 21, 2011


At the moment I'm going through a bit of a spell of rejection letters. I've had one from ASIM, one from Strange Horizons, and yet another "your story did not win" from Writers of the Future to add to my collection. At the same time, I've been reading a brilliant collection of short-stories (a collection of brilliant short-stories?) called Australis Imaginarium. If you haven't taken a look at it, I strongly recommend grabbing a copy from here.

Reading the anthology has helped me keep the rejection emails in perspective, because the more of those stories I read, the more I understand why my own efforts didn't make it. That's not to say my stories were bad, because I don't think they were. They just weren't anywhere near the standard of the ones I'm reading. Far from being discouraged by that, it's encouraged me to keep writing and to keep striving for improvement.

One thing I do need to work on is endings. I find it much easier starting a short-story and getting the whole thing rolling than I do coming up with a satisfying conclusion that wraps everything up nicely. My endings tend to be abrupt, or in some other way fail to complete the journey I've embarked on. I think I'm getting better, but still a long way to go1.

1I hope that wasn't too abrupt an ending for this post.