Saturday, January 3, 2015

Oh Blogger, Where Art Thou?

Yes, it's been over six months since my last post. And here I sit, yet again, wondering what I have to say to anonymous people who may or may not read this. I think that's the biggest barrier for me in writing a blog: Who is my audience?

If I were a published author, the answer would be easy. I would have a group of people who were interested in my work and might come here to find out how I went about creating my story's world, or to hear me expound on the philosophy of my magic system, or any number of topics regarding my book that I would love to talk about. But, as no one has read my book yet, such posts would be meaningless.

Then there's the thought that, hey, I don't think anyone is reading this anyway, so why not just write what I want? Well, then you get into the issue of maybe someone important might one day read it and you don't want to give them the impression that you are a raving lunatic, basically talking to yourself about work that only you and a lucky few have had the pleasure of reading.

I'm sure my way of thinking about this is completely skewed (such is often the case when I try to interface with reality). For some reason, I really have trouble getting into this, though. So, hey, why even have a blog at all?

Good question.

I can tell you the reason why I thought I should have a blog. At some point in my creative journey, I encountered a LOT of advice that as a hoping-to-be-published writer I should have one as part of my "author platform." It was the thing to do, and if you didn't do it, well, you were sailing your future as a writer into treacherous waters (or more likely, the doldrums).

I have a lot of trouble with anything that comes after the words "You should..." It never fails that the people who tell you this are already doing the thing that they claim YOU should do also. Like people who eat paleo and tell you that you SHOULD eat like a caveman. Then they go about saying that coffee is okay because coffee beans grow in the wild. Well, sugarcane also grows in the wild, but apparently cavemen didn't consume that. Apparently whoever came up with the paleo diet liked his coffee black.

The whole internet is like this. People yammering away about what they think others SHOULD do. Diets, exercise programs, makeup tips, hairstyles -- ADVICE FOR WRITERS. Seriously, I think that last category probably makes up about three-fifths of the internet. Another fifth is comprised of the blogs of writers, which I am convinced are read only by other writers.

So, I don't know. Should I keep going with this? Does the internet really need another blog of an aspiring writer?

The blog did serve one hugely great purpose: It helped me find my fantastic, talented, insightful critique group (well, it helped them find me). I did not know any of these people personally prior to being contacted to join. I had maybe tweeted with one guy (the group's organizer) a couple of times and he could see that I lived in Frisco. When he was looking around for people to invite, he remembered me and came here to check to see if I knew how to string two sentences together (you can never assume anything). He said he was pleasantly surprised and genuinely enjoyed my article about Morrowind.

I was pleasantly stunned to find out anyone had read my article about Morrowind. And it led to what was probably the best thing that happened to me in 2014. The best thing to happen to my writing in...well...ever! I had almost given up finding a group when out of the blue I got the call.

So, I guess the blog is good for something. Just maybe not what I was expecting it to be good for. I guess for now I'll keep it around, since it seems to have some sort of lucky charm about it. Maybe I just need to re-evaluate what I'm doing with it.

For one thing, I'm thinking that the huge elaborate posts of worlds that I deem worthy of visiting may need a retool. For one thing, I don't come across that many worlds that I honestly do feel are worth visiting. Shocking, I know! But that was one of the main reasons I started writing in the first place. I found myself slogging through book after book that did not interest me in the least, but felt an obligation to finish. Not anymore! Now if I am not hooked by at least page 100, I'm looking elsewhere. And looking, and looking, and looking...

It got to the point where I felt it would actually be more efficient (and more entertaining) to try and create my own story than keep up this constant, often fruitless, search. And it was, and is.

It's not that I think these books are terrible or that I think I'm the only person in the world who knows how to write a proper story. I'm just VERY picky about what really appeals to me. So, I was thinking of maybe sharing a few books that caused me to cut my visit to their worlds short and why. I do NOT want to be negative about other people's work. But I think that ultimately it might be more interesting to talk about than a lengthy gush about why I loved a certain world.

Plus, I will have a lot more material. For every one book that I love and finish to the last page, there are probably twenty that get abandoned. Maybe I could think of it as my contribution to the plethora of advice to writers. Perhaps something I say might resonate and steer an aspiring writer away from certain things that might cause a discerning reader's interest to wane.

Maybe if I start now there will be some books I like in twenty years!