I was recently asked by Mary Bowman Kruhm to contribute to an article she was writing for the December 2010 issue of Children’s Book Insider. My short blurb about how blogging serves my writing career got me thinking about how my humble corner of blogosphere has evolved in the last year. And how it reflects my evolution as a writer.
The truth is, when I threw the first words onto the blog page in 2008, I was basically clueless. I knew only that blogs were recommended as a way to establish a “presence,” a “platform,” a “niche.” That sounded awesome! Problem was, I had no idea what any of those terms really meant in the context of snippets that may or may not be read by another human being. I filled my designated writing time with…well…writing manuscripts. And reading. And revising. And rewriting. Then I sat down at the blog page and stared at the screen, as if some twisted word-strangled Poltergeist held me by the eyeballs.
What finally spilled out was either personal dribble that should have been reserved for a private journal, or repetitive information that could be read on countless other blogs. Without focus, my blog floundered. I had nothing original to add to the writing conversation. Insecurity didn’t help. I had only sold magazine pieces and was trying like the dickens to shrink my middle grade nonfiction book down to a picture book biography, at the advice of an agent. The switch in genres threw me into unfamiliar territory. I had a lot to learn. 2010 was the year to do it.
I searched countless writerly blogs, hoping to find insights into structure, pacing, voice, tone, theme, all the nuanced considerations that make nonfiction biographies such a challenge. I am nothing if not inquisitive and a barage of questions plagued me. If only I had a well-seasoned mentor on retainer or, at the very least, an editorial pixie sitting on my shoulder sprinkling advice when I needed it.
There were sadly few sites and blogs that satisfied my craft-related needs. So, I turned instead to an intense self-study, dissecting and analyzing hundreds of books. And, with a bit of gumption, I stuck my neck out and posed a few question to some generous, talented authors. Knowing that I retain information best when I write it down, I turned to my blog to record my observations as interviews and craft-related conversations, spotlighting specific books.
Traffic to my site has grown 80% in the last eight months. How interesting!
So, ultimately, my blog has became my own self-serving classroom where I can be teacher and student at the same time. As I look ahead to my pre-planned post topics, an unexpected pattern is unfolding. I have to wonder. Have I accidentally built myself a platform that will bend and shift along with my writing journey?