Monday, 24 April 2017

Why do you blog? by Tracy Alexander

It’s publicity.

I started blogging in 2009 to create some presence as a newly published author. I fashioned a website with the usual pages – about me, school visits, books, contact, and ‘the blog’. And so the ramblings began. It would appear that I was quite conscientious for a few months, posting regularly, finding visuals to entertain. Thereafter, random would be the word. And random described the content too – occasionally writerly, sometimes personal, anecdotes from the family, pics of birthday cakes, book and school events, holidays . . . whatever came to mind. It dawned on me some way down the line that I should have had a theme. Oh well, too late.

Hardly anyone ever looked at my website. I used to check the data but it was dispiriting and then I forgot how to do it. I never knew who I was writing for. Or who my (few) visitors were. My books were for ages 7-11 and I suspected my blog readers were teachers from schools I’d visited, librarians and my friends. My interest dwindled. The blog seemed pointless.

When my two YA novels arrived in their oh-so-happening jackets my enthusiasm for an online personality was renewed. I made a new site because, from a scan of the 27 pages that occupied, I decided I didn’t appear edgy enough to write thrillers. I had also been reincarnated so was born. But my heart wasn’t in it. It’s a largely empty embarrassment.

And now I only blog on ABBA. Being part of an interesting and lively multi-author channel with a loyal audience is great and I can see the point. (And it's a commitment.) Good.

And yet . . . all those posts from 2009 . . .

I haven’t been a diary writer since my early twenties. Decades exist only in my memory or through photographic evidence. But the eight years since I began writing are documented and, for me, compelling reading. In that way that authors show themselves in their work without meaning to, regardless of the topic my life is charted through my posts. Passing comments, dotted about to give flavour, assume a new significance as I look back. My children start off small, dependent, comic and then move out of focus. We see that I have no idea my dad is going to die.  The early forays into the public eye are fraught. The joy of being published morphs into a journey of highs and lows. The gaps speak too. Of months where writing seemed an indulgence life couldn’t afford. I would have forgotten the clay mummy ‘clummy’ without my blog. I would have forgotten Charlie’s picture of Bee - the girl in the Tribe gang - given to me at the Appledore Book Festival. Brian Moses, walking with his iguana, would also be lost to me. I would not be, as I write, reliving my role as narrator at the Babar concert – unable to read the music being played, desperate not to miss my cue.

I may not have furthered my career, but I’ve captured a period of my life where my children became adults and I became a writer.
Maybe all that time I was writing to myself . . .

Tracy Alexander


Sue Bursztynski said...

I started my blog because I needed somewhere to park my reviews of books I was receiving from publishers. I did have a site for which I was reviewing, a very good one, but it sometimes took weeks to post my reviews, so I set up my own site, while still reviewing for the other one. And then it expanded. I do interviews. I have guest posts. I sometimes have guest reviewers, mostly my students. I've even had my students interview their favourite authors on my blog. I write long, waffle posts about my reading and writing life. I have thought I need somewhere for kids to be able to look me up and ask questions, but my Wordpress attempt really didn't work. There are only so many things you can write about on a writer blog if you're not lucky enough to be able to make a living from it. So everything goes on to The Great Raven and hopefully any children who can spell my name will find my blog, which has my email address on it.

You do have to post regularly. YA author Kate Constable does, and it's not just about her latest book. She reviews other books and talks about childhood favourites, etc. this is something you might consider some time. Your fans will appreciate it.
T Is For Harriet Tubman

Sue Purkiss said...

Perhaps you'd give us a link to your blog, Sue? For me, my blog is mostly about what I'm reading. It was going to be a mixture of children's books and adult books, but after an initial flurry, I don't get sent many books to review, so it's morphed into being mainly a way of reflecting on what I'm reading. I really like it; it makes me pause and think, it makes me give books the attention they deserve - I'm a very quick reader, so I do have a tendency to gallop through a book and then go straight onto the next.

I do sometimes post about other things too - it's my space, so I can do what I like! I like to make it look nice - I change the picture most months, to reflect the season, because it's called A Fool On A Hill, and I originally had the idea because I often think about books and writing and things when I'm walking the dog on the hill, and the blog was to be a continuation of that.

I don't have many English readers - though the number jumps if I do a review of a recent release - but I have a very healthy number of American readers. They seem to particularly like reviews of recent history books. It would be nice to have more comments, and more signed-up followers, and I do sometimes wonder why I'm doing it - so I'm very grateful for your post, because it's made me think about that - and I think the answer is that, like you, I do it mostly for myself - but with a sort of wistful hope that there are people out there who find it interesting too.

My website is a place for people to find out more about what I do - I don't use it to blog.

Penny Dolan said...

I did enjoy hearing about the unexpected ways your blogs brought back the moments & memories from your past. Tracy, and glad you like being here on Awfully Big Blog Adventure right now too.

As a general blog reader, I find I respond to the voice of the writer as well as the content of their posts, which is part of the pleasure of a group blog. Who will it be? What will they say?
And why am I reading it, too? Sometimes constantly-strong, single-theme voices become tiring (even when about some relevant topic) whereas a mix of musings on books & things of interest & photos of the natural world - like Fool on A Hill - make a blog a pleasing place for a reader to visit during their day.

Sue B, thanks, though, for that reminder about the need for regular posts and also for the ways you've managed to expand your subject matter and audience.

Sue Bursztynski said...

Sue P, I follow A Fool On A Hill and comment, usually. If you follow the link at the end of my comment above, you will find my latest blog post - I'm doing the A to Z Challenge!

And yes, Penny, you do need to post regularly if you want people to keep reading. It's a sort of self discipline. I don't post daily, because I do have a day job and other responsibilities, but I manage to blog at least two or three times a week, even if it's only about "On this Day In History..." :-)

Sue Purkiss said...

Following you right back, now, Sue!

Rowena House said...

Great post - though Clummy is pretty scary.

tracy alexander said...

Thanks for the comments. I have detected an impetus, weak but strengthening, to sort out my woeful web presence . . .

Penny Dolan said...

Signing up for email posts is useful as a way of following without having to go in and open up the web. (Have just included your Raven blog, SueB.)