Photography: Chris Gin
Sectioned off from Bringing Focus to Your Blog by Discovering Your Inner Authority.
Sometimes your authority won’t be quite what you originally set out for it to be.
Originally I wanted to write about writing. Like every single other writer out there, published or not, as I found out.
But as of this time, I don’t know anything about professional writing. Nor do I know anything about fiction writing, or non-fiction writing, much less publishing or even the market. I couldn’t write about those subjects with the detail and depth that would give value to my readers, value that wasn’t better found somewhere else. I can’t pretend to have knowledge that I don’t have.
So what could I give to my potential readers?
I tried to write about what I learned from books about writing. But without that professional connection, my advice was simply repetition. Sometimes I was able to dress it up by using an unusual metaphor I hadn’t seen before—like beginnings as literal seeds. Sometimes I could use a bit of humorous insight, like debunking what inexperienced writers think about writing. And I could definitely take a story apart and pick it to pieces.
These were all useful and good articles. But somehow they didn’t cut to the quick—and with blogs like Storytellers Unplugged, musings and essays from experienced writers of fiction, I just couldn’t compete.
What about the personal angle, then? “The writing journey.” Well, everyone writes about that. Which is not to say that the subject can’t be approached in a fresh way, or that the journey is the same for everyone, or that it can’t be done amusingly. I did try it out, briefly, if you look at some really embarassing archives.
I just didn’t have the style or the temperament for it.
Why was that?
Well, I hate doing what everyone else is doing. I like to be different. I like to be weird. It’s why I’m either a great or an awful person, depending on your point of view, to participate in blog chains.
What’s more, I thrive in adversity. If the world is against me? I like it, and I’ll try all the harder to make something work.
Additionally, whatever it was, it needed to be something specific. “My journey” was too wide; “about writing” was also. To me, passion is like a river; at the widespread mouth of a delta, it’s relaxed and lazy. But at the forced point of rocks and falls, it’s raging whitewater.
I looked for something else. This took months.
As I worked my way around the web, I noticed that while a lot of writers knew about writing, not that many of them knew about blogging—apart from, you know, the usual cliche of Bloggers Are Not Really Writers, which annoys me to the point of anger at times. (Anger is wonderful fuel to me. The good thing is that I write constructively, not destructively, about it.)
And conversely, while a lot of sites discussed SEO and attracting subscribers and blog design and article structure, not many covered what might be considered the less well-defined art of writing for the blogging world. I’m not so angry about that, but I did find it highly interesting.
Twiddle thumbs. Ponder while listening to James Brown’s Gravity and watching episodes of House, M.D.
Why not write about blogging with an emphasis on the writing part of the deal? And not just breaking out into the techniques of just writing—you’ve got any number of blogs that cover that bit well. There’s also the subject of writing in the context of blogging—in other words, writing and blogging as feedback loops into each other.
Hey. People do it for fiction, for non-fiction; for mysteries and fantasies and science fiction. For screenplays and comics. Why not blogging?
Perhaps it’s not an ideal match—after all, I’m learning about blogging at a far faster rate than I am about traditional writing, which was totally not the way things were supposed to work out. And I’ve yet to actually be a professional blogger, because my real job would proceed to kill me.
But I have the power of deep observation. I write decently. I’ve learned better techniques at non-fiction through writing heaps of it and listening to feedback (or lack of it, which is as painful as negative feedback). I’ve learned a more fitting, conversational style of writing by reading blogs from Neil Gaiman, Warren Ellis, and John Scalzi. I’ve even learned a bit of humor.
Most importantly, I’m learning what I don’t know, and who I can read and talk with to learn more.
And thus Spontaneous Derivation was finally, truly born, after six months of not knowing where the hell it was all going. The focus isn’t perfect yet, and I don’t think it ever will be perfect; but then again, perfect isn’t all that. Entertaining, interesting, and informative trump perfect all the time.
I’m not sure where the tagline
The unholy marriage of writing and blogging
came from, exactly.
Perhaps you find your inner authority when you find a tagline that you don’t think about changing every other week.