By Guest Author, Ellen Hawley who blogs at www.notesfromtheuk.com
I’m new to blog-world, and I entered it only because I had an ulterior motive.
I have a novel coming out in January 2015, and my editor suggested that an online presence would be the best way to publicize it. She recommended a few author blogs for me to model myself on.
I read a few and decided I’d rather drive a spike through my foot. They were, basically, me-blogs: My cat is cute; my kids are cute/profound/inspiring; my computer has a virus; my husband/wife/partner/child has a virus; I went to San Francisco/Nepal/North Dakota but now I’m home and writing again; the garden is beautiful this spring.
Where’s that spike?
I tried a cooking blog. I didn’t actually create the blog, just wrote some posts to see if I could sustain it. Cooking’s central to my novel, I enjoy cooking, and I’m a decent cook, even if am the only person who’s going to say so in this format, so the topic didn’t seem unreasonable. But I’m also a hopelessly disorganized cook, and a lazy one, and recipes are both precise and a lot of work. That spike was starting to look good again.
The topic that I found I could sustain is living, as an American, in England. It’s not a tourist blog, although I’m not above writing for tourist blogs in my endless quest to make my own visible. What I’m doing is exploring the spidery corners of the British culture and the oddities—and absurdities—of being an outsider inside it. I write about baked beans, about tea, about the ways people talk about weather, about living in a village, about the tendency to organize a club any time two people discover a common interest, about who stole our beach’s sand. I do seem to write a lot about food, and I’m not above tossing in a recipe, but if I can’t pull one together I don’t have to. For weeks now I’ve been meaning to work out a lemon drizzle cake recipe using cups and liquid ounces instead of grams and kilos and milliwhatsits, but I haven’t gotten around to it. Eventually I will, because lemon drizzle cake is only one step short of holy, but the not having done it yet? It’s not a crisis.
My great discovery about all this is that the posts are fun to write. I’d been struggling to finish writing a heavy-duty, oh-so-serious novel that, for reasons that aren’t yet clear to me, I had driven right into a wall, and it had given me a major case of writer’s block. How long, I’d begun to wonder, can you be a writer if you’re not writing? Then I started the blog. It’s a place I can play with my writing, and it’s unleashed an aspect of myself-as-a-writer that I’m grateful to have access to.
Unlike writing for the page, it gives me immediate feedback. People comment. They seem to be having as much fun as I am. It’s a party, and I don’t even have to clean the house.
The hard part has been finding ways to make the blog visible. It doesn’t seem to fit any of the defined categories—or none I can think of. Try googling International Mayhem and see what you find. Top listing today? “Evil frog spawns international mayhem in ‘Muppets Most Wanted.’” Other categories I’ve tried come a bit closer, but none of them, so far, has brought me to the right community.
But I’m writing again, and I’m loving it. And even if my audience isn’t yet as big as I’d like, I’m still reaching an audience. Besides, no writer ever said, “I think my audience is as big as I want now.”
Ellen Hawley blogs at www.notesfromtheuk.com. Be sure to pay her site a visit to find an interesting read.
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