By JC Inman
Publishing is seen by many as the end goal of writing; a tangible affirmation of one’s worth as a writer. The number of pieces published is a currency that seemingly determines your rung in the pecking order whenever you meet a new circle of scribblers. Almost every aspiring author dreams of the lucrative book deal, the one that sets you up for life, with an antique writing desk located by a sunny window overlooking the garden, hot chocolate in hand and a cat drooling on your lap. Rather than waiting for one of the readers at Pan Macmillan to scoop your manuscript from out of the slush pile of unsolicited texts they are drowning in, you may be interested in checking out your other options, such as blogging.
If you are unfamiliar with blogs, chances are you aren’t reading this…
Many people choose blogging as their method of publication. I contacted Bernadette Welch from The Farnarcler to discuss the pros and cons of blogging as publication.
Blogging (Web Logging) started out as keeping an informal web diary and has evolved into a stream of new media. It is now an accepted form of journalism, a valued communication tool for politicians, a library of technical articles for computer engineers, a photographic catalogue for the distribution of art. Travel blogs are popular with those who enjoy turning their adventures into anecdotes, food blogs for gourmands and life-hacks for the inept.
A gifted creative writer in high school, Bernadette felt she lost the ability to escape and express herself artistically during the whole career and family thing. The Farnarcler was Bernadette’s return to writing some thirty years later, with a slew of life experience and her “internalised deepest angst”.
Born out of a writers retreat in the UK, Bernadette explains, ‘I have never written with a thought of making a living out of it. In fact, before doing the course I never really thought about having others read my work. But that changed for a couple of reasons. First, one of the guest novelists on [the] retreat spoke to us about the benefits of having a blog. She talked about the times she just couldn’t move forward with her book, but how important it was just to continue writing – anything – to keep those writer muscles working. That was where her blog came in.’
On returning home, Bernadette had saved some of her poems on her computer, but this didn’t satisfy her need for expression. ‘The way I write is that I have an idea and I just put it down. I don’t think about it for long and I get it out fast. But writing and saving my material didn’t give me the release, the satisfaction or the “completion” I needed. So I started a blog.’
A blog wasn’t just a window into her diary, it satisfied the literary imperative burning inside. ‘Having a blog changed everything. I found that writing and publishing enabled me to let go of a piece of writing and move on. When your writing is all about releasing emotion, moving on is fundamental. And when you are a prolific writer, you need an outlet.’
Blogging is often maligned as not real writing (obviously I have an invested interest in the opposing opinion) and Bernadette touched on this as well.
‘The down side of blogging – when you write out your emotions and publish them, you are putting yourself out there. People google you and they really see you. So if you blog my kind of stuff you need to be brave. And if you have ambitions of making a living or a name out of more than your blog, then you need to understand that blogging is publishing. You should be prepared to keep your best back, save it for those opportunities where you might not have a lot of time to produce an unpublished portfolio of work. Fortunately for me that’s not an issue.’
For many this isn’t a problem either, (I suggest you check out the hilarious 27b/6, a blog that has become a bestselling book) and Bernadette talked about the best parts of blogging. ‘Once you have a following, and your blog is shared multiple times throughout cyberspace, you realise that the only way to maintain those connections is to keep on blogging, because no one follows a silent blog. People followed my blog and shared my posts for all different reasons, but the main reason was because they were interested in hearing my voice.
‘My blog is plain, unvarnished, a standard template. It has no advertising or sponsorship, pretty pictures or fancy background. It’s just me. And for some reason, people seem to like it. And now, over three years after I ventured into the world of self-publishing through my blog, I get over 10,000 hits a year from dozens of countries. Until very recently when my paying job meant I was constantly on the road I was publishing at least every few days, and I have found that regular updates means regular visits. If you drop the ball and stop for a while, your hits will dissipate fast. It’s a constant reminder to JUST WRITE.’