SHAMELESS SELF PROMOTION

A friend asked me why I do this, why I blog. So I asked her why she plays golf.

We do what we do because we love it, need it. Or both. Because, despite the fact the many bloggers pretend they “write for themselves,” it’s untrue. We blog because we want other people to read our words, to connect with our ideas. If we wanted to write “for ourselves,” we’d keep a diary.Garry - Writer Christmas Day

Why are bloggers so coy about wanting an audience? Is it because they aren’t getting a good response, so instead of trying to figure how to bring in more readers and followers, they say they don’t care whether or not anyone reads them?

And then when one of us is moderately successful and popular, they get all squinchy-eyed and moralistic, as if  we’ve ruined the purity of the blogging experience.

Really? Seriously? When did we achieve that lofty spiritual level where we are above worldly concerns … like popularity and success? The hypocrisy of it takes my breath away. If that is how you really feel, you shouldn’t be blogging.

We all care. Anyone who says otherwise is lying — probably to themselves and definitely to us. We all want to be read, to be seen, to have an audience. If we take pictures, we want people to look at our images and say “Wow, that’s amazing.” Because we want to be amazing.

Writing is like breathing. If I don’t write, I suffocate. My friend?  She needs to compete. To play golf. Or she will suffocate.

TELL ME HOW TO WRITE

I can’t begin to count the number of people who tell me they want to be writers, but don’t know how to start.

That they ask the question suggests they will never be writers. Writers write. No one has to tell you how or when. You write and will keep doing it because it’s not what you do, it’s what you are. You may not write brilliantly, but you will write. You’ll get it right eventually. Doing is learning.

I started writing as soon as I could read. Putting words on paper was the same as speaking, but took longer. I didn’t mind the extra time because I could go back and fix written words. Being able to change the words and keep changing them until they said precisely what I wanted them to say was the prize.

I was socially awkward and my youthful verbal skills not well-suited to my age and stage in life. I wasn’t good at sports. No one wanted me on the team. In retrospect, I can understand it, but when I was a kid, it hurt.

Games and other social activities let you become popular, make friends, and do those other things which matter to kids. I couldn’t do that stuff, but I could write. And read. I might be a klutz, but words let me build worlds.

75-BookStory HP-2

If you are going to be a writer, you know it. Practice will make you better, help you understand how to build plots,  produce books publishers will buy. But writing itself is a gift. If you have it, you know it.

Writers have words waiting to be written, lining up for the opportunity to be set on paper or in the computer. It may take a while for you to find what you want to write about. But you will write.

Talent comes in an endless number of flavors. If you are a musician, you’ll find a way to make music. The same with painting, photography, drawing, running, hitting a baseball or throwing one so that it just skims that outer corner of the plate at 96 miles per hour. Mathematics, engineering, architecture … creativity and talent are as varied as the people who use it.

Ghost Photographer

ADVICE FOR THE BEWILDERED 

My advice to hopeful writers is simple. Write.

Don’t talk about it. Do it. Write a lot, as often as you can, even if most of it is crap and you won’t show it to anyone. Sooner or later, you’ll find your way. If you don’t write, it’s your loss, but it may also be the world’s loss. You never know how good you can be if you don’t try.

This blog is my outlet for the millions of words stuffed in my head. Yes, I really want you to read it. It matters to me and I see no reason to pretend it doesn’t.

On the other hand, I hate golf. Can’t figure out why anyone would want to walk around an enormous lawn hitting a little white ball. I can’t think of anything more boring, but I know a lot of golfers. They live for it. The rest of the week is just a pause between tee times.

So, if you don’t get why I write, that’s okay. You don’t have to get it. That I get it and can do it and other people read it … that’s fine.

You do your thing, I’ll do mine. And we will all find happiness doing stuff we love.



Categories: Blogging, Books, Photography, Writing

Tags: , , , , , ,

53 replies

  1. For a year I kept a private blog, a diary of sort, about my gardening. 1 day in August this yr I decided to “expose” myself (must have been after a glass of wine) to see what real blogging/writing is all about. I didn’t know what to expect. Well, it’s been good fun, reading what others write, what they like & this post with open honesty has made me do some thinking. OK, I’ll write more, to see what I can produce, what surfaces & who reads what I write. I really like your writing style… you’ve got a new follower. 😀

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    • Nice to meet you 🙂 I am careful about how personal I get online. Via email directly, I tend to be more forthcoming, but even one to one with friends, I’m disinclined to tell everything to everyone. I’ve had some unfortunate experiences with people not being quite the friends I thought they were and if time has taught me little, it has taught me caution. I always counsel caution … The whole world doesn’t need to be in your business. If you wouldn’t say it to all the people on line in the grocery store, probably you should say it online, either. Just a thought!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you for your good advice. No, I would not have had the guts to reveal all & sundry. It was only relating to my backyard woes. Then I saw Cee’s site & joined in & that got me a little braver. I’m learning … 🙂

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        • I think we each have our own boundaries for our individual reasons and we find them by trying different things and seeing how we feel about them. I use “my neighbors” as a loose measure. If I wouldn’t be willing to tell “it” to my neighbors, I probably shouldn’t be telling the entire world via the Internet.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Everything you said here, the sage advice, is so true and cannot be stressed enough to hopeful writers.

    I’ve been back-tracking blogs this morning and someone had a few quotes from Hemingway, I MUST share them here. I mean, c’mon, who is going to dare say that Hemingway didn’t know what he was talking about? He was a brilliant writer…. and here are some of his brilliantly spoken truths about writing:

    “Write drunk, edit sober.” “The first draft of anything is shit.”

    Like

  3. I really like the way you put this. Thank you for your honesty!!

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  4. What you said…. “That they ask the question suggests they will never be writers. Writers write. No one has to tell you how or when. You write and will keep doing it because it’s not what you do, it’s what you are. You may not write brilliantly, but you will write. You’ll get it right eventually. Doing is learning.”
    This is what I have said to myself and others through the years, but not so succinctly as you just did. I have encountered so many people who say they would write ‘if they just had the time’. This somehow implies that writing is a luxury that takes time from more important things. Writing is not something you do if you have the time. It is something you do. You make time for it, as people make time for anything else they enjoy or need to do. It doesn’t have to do with being brilliant or original or even making money. It’s in you. And it comes out. (I know this because I tried to stop writing because of discouragement and other issues, but it felt so unnatural. Like I was denying a vital part of myself…) But writing is a form of communication, which implies readers. Connecting with other like minds who say, “I get it.” “I loved it.” “You touched me.” This makes the circle complete, when we connect with other people.
    Thanks, Marilyn–you touched me. Great post.

    Like

  5. Excellent post; I so agree with you. If people want to write, they just have to do it. This reminds me of Jeff Goins, do you know of him? Years ago, he used to say he wanted to be a writer; one day someone told him, “You are one.” It doesn’t matter if you’re not published anywhere yet — if you enjoy writing and do it, then you are a writer. Period. By the way, I love the pictures in your post — I have a thing for bookcase pictures! Must be the reader/writer side coming out. 🙂

    Like

    • People who love books love pictures of bookcases. Me, because a bookcase and books say more about us than even our shoes (and I LOVE shoes).

      I always tell people to stop looking for reasons to write and just WRITE. Maybe no one will be interested. Maybe you’ll discover you aren’t Hemingway after all, but you’ll never find out unless you try. Over-thinking can be the death of creativity.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I agree with you. My cousin is a well known author here in New Zealand and a couple of his books were made into movies. He had a hard life and ended up in prison. All this time he had these stories in his head and he didn’t know why. In the end he started to write them down and the rest is history. It is the same with me, but I write or hopefully write through my photos. It becomes second nature to stop what I am doing to go and take a photo. Much to the annoyance of my kids who have to take over the cooking at times. 😀 PS I also can’t understand why people play golf either – or why men in white can play a game for 5 days and come out with a draw (cricket) or as in New Zealand’s case lose in 3 – badly. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I have seen several bloggers disappear because their “safe place” wasn’t safe anymore. Basically, they treated the blog like a diary and were surprised when it backfired. You are right when you say that we are writing for others. We want people to know what we know. If someone doesn’t want other people to know what they know, then they should write on paper that can be burned.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was a terribly sensitive kid. It took me a long time to grow a skin, to not tell my deepest feelings to just anyone. That’s got to be triply true when you’re blogging. It’s PUBLIC. Some things need to be told to one or two people you love and trust, quietly, in private. NOT to the entire population of cyberspace. There’s just SO much that can go wrong … so much room to get badly hurt. And the people who do it always seem to be the most vulnerable.

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  8. That,s why I admire you. A visit to your blog make me enriched and enlightened on certain aspects which seldom talked on this forum of wp. I hope I am improving with time…..lol Thanks for sharing your experience.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Socially awkward and no good at sports sounds a lot like my youth as well 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Really love this post – so well said, and your honesty is very refreshing. I also love that the post ends at a point on the page that draws the eye to your ‘award free zone’ rationale, which is brilliant.

    Like

    • The location of the end is sheer accident. The writing isn’t. This is one of those subjects on which I have thought a lot. Because I have always written and being able to has always been very important to me. I’ve written when I had NO audience, but I’m definitely happier when people read me. I think all artists want an audience. It’s a sharing kind of thing. And a validation.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Writers. We are such weirdos.

    I’m always glad to hear I wasn’t the only wee little child scribbling away at a piece of paper. I love to think back when I would write stories about the adventures of my cats. I knew way back then that writing was for me.

    I really enjoyed this blog post… and your ‘AWARD FREE ZONE’ blurb. I think that kick ass.

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  12. Well,yes we need response for what we write no matter how much we deny it.
    Writing and writing is indeed the only way to get better at it.
    Great and an honest post.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. This was a nice series of posting/blogging. I agree with your analysis of our need to gratification and recognition. Before blogging I was a forum rat. I use that descriptive term because it was akin to living in the gutters of the internet. There are people on every forum that insist on trashing your work, disagreeing with every word you publish. They get some kind of sick pleasure out of doing so. Blogging & bloggers are so much better. Thanks for writing.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Bob, you and Marilyn’s other blogger friends seem to be pretty nice people. You don’t always agree. But that’s what it’s all about. Sharing thoughts and ideas. In today’s uncivil world, it’s very, very reassuring.

      Like

      • You and Marilyn will always get my honest opinion. My senior lady friends and I are the same way. We solve the world’s issues every time we meet but we certainly don’t agree on a lot of topics. They think I’m outspoken and sometimes outrageous but I think they are all liberals who are on polar opposite sides of most topics. I’m an ultra conservative so we don’t see issues of today the same way. We are still all friends.

        Like

    • Well, I met you as a co-rat on the photography forum, so I know exactly what you mean. I’d been looking for an outlet for a while and nothing had worked out. No one reads more than a few sentences on FB and Twitter is 140 characters. Flicker kind of worked a bit. For a while, but words are really my milieu. Took me a while to accept blogging and a thing for me. I think it was the name “blogging.” So undignified!

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  14. Truly an outstanding post, Marilyn. I blogged for years on another blog hosting site and achieved what I would call total obscurity. Very few people read my blog, but I kept at it, telling myself that it didn’t really matter to me that no one read the words that I regularly posted on my blog. I was doing it for myself, I insisted, as an expression of my ideas, my humor, my philosophies. I didn’t need no freakin’ readers.

    But now I’ve got lots of freakin’ readers — people who not only read my posts, but like them, comment on them, and follow my blog. I still write the same way I used to write. I still write as a way to express my ideas, my humor, my philosophies. But it’s so much more rewarding to know that while I blog anomalously, I no longer blog in obscurity.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Really enjoyed your post, too. You’ve inspired a fair number of MY posts. It’s one of several reasons I enjoy your writing so much. You make me think. Even when I don’t agree, it still makes those little grindy gears in the brain move. The symbiotic reader-writer-reader-writer cycle seems so natural and right. Wax on, wax off, wax on, wax off.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. I really agree with you on many points. If a writer does not like people to read what they write they should keep a diary. Actually most of us like to succeed in our work and be esteemed by others. Healthy ambition is normal in the human being. We must not be ashamed to be ambitious to bring out the best in us and shine. The world would not be where it is without ambitious persons to add something to what exists. I think we should have the courage of our ambitions just as we need to have the courage of our ideas. I am ambitious. I want to rock the world with my ideas. I want to rank among the great men of this world and I have a right to that as every other human being.So why should I make as if I were not ambitious?. I say all this to support the point you make. That aside, I like the passion with which you express your ideas. It shows how convinced you are. I do encourage you to keep on. I am sure the world will hear about you.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I suppose there is such a thing as excessive ambition, but I don’t think wanting people to read your blog would fall into that category. I think wanting to excel at whatever you do is a good thing and we should encourage kids to want to be excellent, to achieve at a high level. Telling kids that “trying hard” is enough is silly and it’s part of what’s gone so wrong with education. The real world is unconcerned with how hard you try. Out there, people only know you by what you achieve.

      Readers need writer and writers need readers. Writing is communicating and if you aren’t communicating with anyone, what’s the point?

      Like

  16. Beautifully expressed. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

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