Monday, June 25, 2012

Why Do We Do This?

Why do we do this?  Why blog?  Most of the folks I interact with online are writers, like me.  Many of us have written novels or memoirs we want to see through to publication, and part of that journey requires we “build a platform.”  That means we must establish a public identity, a soapbox, if you will, to display our talent or voice or whatever it is we want and need to exhibit.  It’s more or less so we become recognizable, build a following, have fans who might consider buying our books.  It’s part of the job.  But there’s no rule that says we have to.  It’s a choice to put ourselves out there for everyone to see and possibly criticize.

I wasn’t thrilled when I realized I needed to establish a blog.  It’s just one more thing on my vast list of things to do, and it’s a very time-consuming one, at that.  Not so much the actual writing itself, but rather the giving back, the trolling of all the other blogs, the reading, the following, the commenting.  It’s practically a full-time job in itself.  Just ask Alex Cavanaugh.  It’s playfully believed he has an army of clones who comment on all the blogs he follows.  So if it’s so hard, why do it?  Certainly our time would be better spent writing our stories, sending out queries, or agonizing over revisions.

What I’ve found is that, in this most solitary of professions or vocations, there are others just like me, who want to connect, who need to feel a part of something, a community, a brotherhood, a family.  We don’t compete against each other.  We’re there for moral support or a virtual hug, a pat on the back or smack upside the head.  We are a team.  I, for one, know for a fact that I could never have gotten as far as I currently have without all my writer and blogger friends.  It is the single most supportive community I’ve ever personally been a part of.  And I’m proud of that, of all the folks who populate that community.  Or almost all the folks anyway, until I read a few of the comments on one of Cassie Mae’s blog posts last week.

It was a sweet post, as Cassie’s often are, about being tagged and recognized for receiving several blog awards, ones she most decidedly deserves.  Yet, while nearly every one of her friends offered congratulations for being such an inspiration to others, a few commenters felt the need, or thought it was the appropriate place, to criticize Cassie for not being serious enough, for not putting herself high enough up on a platform, as the commenter erroneously believes all authors should.  To be above it all.  To be adult and write material so she can be taken earnestly as a writer.

My thought when I read one of those comments:  

Seriously, it’s like someone being invited into your bedroom, asked to sit down on your bed for a chat then proceed to rifle through your drawers, open your diary, read it, and criticize you for what you’ve written.  I mean, basically, that’s kind of what our blogs are, a journal of what’s important to us, what matters, what makes us happy or irritates the hell out of us.  Just because we open the door and ask someone if they’d like to come on in for awhile doesn’t mean they should be rude or offer unrelated, unwanted, uninvited opinions on a completely irrelevant topic.  And then to do so without even introducing themselves, without offering a link so their authority could be recognized, so the merits of their expertise could be verified, well, that’s just plain cowardly.  And if I may say so, not very writerly at all.

What was writerly though was the reaction some of her friends had.  They took a virtual step in between Cassie and her assailants and endorsed what we all believe, that our blogs are our own.  They are who we are, what we are, and how we are.  They are an extension of our lives, our beliefs, our interests, our talents, of our very personalities.  They are us.  And we are them.  Who’s to say we’re doing it all wrong?  By what authority?  Sure, I would never post anything inappropriate or embarrassing to my publisher or friends or family or anybody, really.  But what I say, what I write, if it’s about me, it belongs there exactly as I want it, as I’ve written it. 

It’s my blog and I’ll say what I wanna say, do what I wanna do, be who I wanna be.

What about you?  What do you think?  Why do you blog?


Natalie Aguirre said...

So sorry for Cassie's experience but glad her friends supported her.

I blog to connect to other writers like you, help support each other, and to promote debut MG and YA authors and their books. I do agree with you that it does take a BIG time commitment.

Cathy Olliffe-Webster said...

Here, here!!!!! I agree with you a thousand per cent!

I actually started blogging because I wanted to start writing again. I had no novel, no stories, no platform, just as desire to be heard, to share my thoughts with the world, and become a better writer. What I love most is the community of blogging, the people, as you say. Poor Cassie. I'm glad everyone took her side.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Well said, Nancy! It's like showing someone a prized possession and they have to say something mean or negative.
Despite the lighthearted and entertainment-driven content of my posts, I do take my blog very serious. I'm in a position now where I can help a lot of other people and that means a lot to me.

Heather M. Gardner said...

You go girl! Tell them bit...sorry. Got carried away.
I wholeheartedly agree with you.
If you don't like my blog, then you are free to move about the blog-verse and find one you do like. Take your comments and go.


Aimée Jodoin said...

I find it difficult to read and comment so many peoples' blogs. It's so time-consuming, and though I honestly wish I could read, comment, and support all the other writers like me that are out there, I know that I need to be spending more time writing my manuscript than building a platform. To me, the product is more important than the marketing, quality over quantity... I really do support other writers, but I don't have time for a second full time job along with my writing. Good post, Nancy. :) I blog to get the thoughts across for which I don't have another outlet.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I know a few people who've had complaints (via email) about their blogs. WTF!!! If you don't like someone's blog, then don't read it.

I love blogging because I've met so many cool people through it who've later become my CP and beta readers. Plus it's fun to support the bloggers I've become friends with and who I admire.

L.G.Smith said...

I kind of missed all the drama on Cassie's blog last week, since I've been in my hidey-hole writing. Any time we publish something though, it's going to be out there for anyone to comment on, to criticize. And they will. Just look at all the idiots who leave mean, uninformed reviews on Amazon, often about books they didn't even read. It's just in some people's DNA to be a jackass.

Michael Abayomi said...

I've been a part of the blogging community for less than a year. In that short time though, I have met/discovered some truly awesome people. Cassie just happens to be one of them. So I was quite displeased to learn what had happened.

The fact is people would always try and dictate what others should or should not do. They would always try and fit you and your actions with their shortsighted notions. But it is ultimately down to the individual to determine what is right or wrong. What is appropriate or inappropriate.

Some of us blog because we have a need to share information with others. Others blog to build a platform and connect with others. But the reason why most of us continuing doing it is that sense of community we derive when we get to share in other peoples' journeys.

Matthew MacNish said...

I dropped by Cassie's before all those other comments, but when I went back and looked today, I was certainly surprised.

Cassie Mae said...

Can I just point out how awesome everyone is? All the support shown to me in my moment of... ahem... weakness... was so amazing, I couldn't believe how many people who were stronger than I was when it came to those comments stood up and told me not to silence my voice. After a whole bunch of emails, comments, and yes... even phone calls, I deleted the most painful comments made and moved on.

My reasons for blogging may have been simple before. Build a platform, write about my books, entertain and share stories. But now, it's all about the community and making connections. I did that before, don't get me wrong, but that is now the sole reason of WHY I blog.

Thanks for posting this, Nancy. I appreciate your support! *big hugs!*

Carrie Butler said...

I'm with Matt. I commented before the drama started, so I missed hearing about it. Ugh.

You would think people remarking on professionalism would understand the sensitive nature of their words. Things like that are better suited to private messages. :(

My two cents? I'm all for having a professional presence, but not at the expense of "voice" or personality.

Emily R. King said...

I was pretty ticked about the personal attacks the commenter made against Cassie, too. I'm glad I'm not the only one who wondered if I was next. Those sorts of public displays are unnecessary.

Tara Rendall said...

I don't understand why people feel the need to criticize anyway. Didn't their momma's teach them that if they "don't have something nice to say then don't say anything at all?" If someone wanted to give advice, it would behoove them to do so in private conversation and to reel in the condescending tone.

Eva Gallant said...

I blog because it has given me a fun thing to do since I retired 3 years ago. I love the connections I've made with people all over the world; it's also given me the incentive to write more. In the past 6 months, I've published 5 books on Kindle and Nook and am working on number 6!

Heather M. Gardner said...

Did you see this?

Thought you might want to steal a date.

Anonymous said...

I clicked over to Cassie's page and was very sad by what I read. Actually more sad for the haters than Cassie actually. B/c it's obvioius Cassie has it goin on and those trolls have nothing better to do with their day than to peruse the blogs of the internet and leave hateful comments to stir up the hornest nest. You have to wake up pretty early in the morning to fool us--they weren't trying to help anyone. I think this hilarious song sums up my message for them nicely:

Annalisa Crawford said...

Oops, I missed all that (not surprising when I have almost 600 posts in Google Reader!) but I don't see why anyone should comment on the style of someone's blog in that way.

I'm glad there was lots of support for Cassie on her blog, and obviously a lot of support here too.

Donna K. Weaver said...

The blogs I love to follow are the ones that are real. There are some places (read topics) I will generally avoid because they're personal (like religion and politics). But with me, what you see is what you get. Or as Popeye says, "I am what I am." I like to read other people's blog whom I think are what they appear to be online.

Cassie rocks.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

I can tell you something even more interesting. As you spoke about Cassie and her ordeal, I could feel your temper flare, the hairs on your neck stand up, your overwhelming urge to knock some sense into the perp. (One of my fav words)

I think that's what is most wonderful about blogland, the way strangers become virtual friends who will probably never meet, yet are so quick to defend the righteous. Bet those same wonderful bloggers aren't near as quick to defend themselves, in most cases.
Bet Cassie would be one of those quick to come to the rescue if she saw one of her dear bloggers insulted. It's so much easier to guard the feelings of others than to protect our own.

We had a young writer on one of my lists get a nasty review. A downright stupid review really. He copied a good para from the book, called it trash and said "I rest my case". Cowardly dickhead.

I feel the need to inflict pain when someone is that stupid, generally with words; yet I've had the same thing happen and turned the other cheek.

I shared a little of my story as a writer during a reading last winter. Some of my family attended. Nobody was more surprised than me when I was told later that it was my ego that was getting in my way.

I know. Commonsense has us believing that otherwise normal, average people can't possibly be that insensitive.

But they are. And there always will be.

Thank you for this very important discussion, Nancy. I'm proud to know you.

LD Masterson said...

I got curious and checked out the post in question. Am I the only one who thinks those negative comments were all written by the same person? Same writing style. No links to respond to. Deliberate reference to different genders. Feeble attempt to come off as an agent or editor. One person. And a pretty pathetic one at that.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

If our blog lacks personality, then it becomes just another website.

I've blogged for over seven years now. I've seen bloggers come and go. I even went through a long spell where I experienced Internet burnout. But those who last are the ones who enjoy what they are doing and that shows in their blog posts.

Lynn Proctor said...

i totally agree with you--although i can't say i feel the freedom i would--say in just writing and then having something published---we do put ourselves out there, with this blogging thing---and to be totally honest--after the az thing i was hooked by the wonderful blogging family out there----but i also thought i could make a little money with the google sense ads---i haven't made one cent---happy blogging :)

Lynda R Young said...

yikes, it's a worry. Sometimes people don't realise what they are saying... I'd prefer to think that than think they were being mean on purpose.

Why do I blog? At first it was just to build a platform, but then I discovered the amazing coommunity here and now I've met so many fantastic friends.

Arlee Bird said...

The reason I blog now is a whole lot different than the reason I first started blogging. For one thing, blogging is a compulsion of sorts for me--I love doing it and in many ways I feel an obligation to keep it up.

There are tons of different blogging styles with different approaches to content. Thank goodness they're not all the same. We can pick and choose the ones that appeal to us most and fit our needs. If I'm not interested in what a blogger is saying I can move on and it's not up to me to condemn them for saying it.

I still maintain that in Cassie's case that the commenter may have had a helpful motive in mind with her comment, but it just didn't resonate well with everyone else. I'm just offering that possibility in advocacy of another way of looking at things. Maybe not the best approach, but I suppose it is possible.

In any case, like I mentioned in Cassie's comments or perhaps elsewhere, I wouldn't mind having someone offer a comment like that to me, whether they were an agent or not, just from the standpoint of opening up a discussion. Look what the comment on Cassie's blog did. I love stuff like that.

Wrote By Rote
An A to Z Co-host blog

Liza said...

I guess I just figure that if people don't like what I write, then no one is forcing them to read it. I started my blog to build my own writing skills, before I even knew what a "platform" was. If it helps me sell books some day, that's great too...but so far, it's done what I wanted it to do in the beginning, and continues to do so.

otin said...

I blog because I'm an opinionated guy who likes to get my point across every now and then. Also I use my blog as a platform for writing short stories. I have removed most of them for fear of theft, but over the past few years I have posted over a hundred.

Mark Koopmans said...


(Steps off wonky stool.)

This here is Nancy - and I'm proud she's my Bluddy (blog buddy :)

Dude, I was just stopping by to say hey now, you got the smarts to pub a book, well then you can do a little ol' "What If?" Blogfest.

However, after this post... you win my second ever #BlogHero award (I invented it tonight for Twitter, so no button :)

Thanks for what you do, Nance, and for who *you* are :)

Lisa Regan said...

Well you know I blog to connect with other writers. For CPs and beta readers but mostly, I love the support and commiseration. It keeps me going during the rough times. I actually did see all that went on over on Cassie's blog. I agree with everyone else, as per my comments over there, that she should stay true to who she is--that is obviously working or she wouldn't have so many followers. I also want to say that I think it's okay to give other writers constructive criticism but I think it should be done privately, by email or something, not publicly in a blog post. I think Cassie handled it with a tremendous amount of grace though!

Ciara said...

It is tough when those comments are made. Sometimes I don't think people understand blog etiquette.

D.S.Taylor said...

What a great post. I just started blogging fairly recently, basically cause I was told i had to. Ever since its seemed to be a great drag on my time and i was alwasy wondering ... hmm what will so and so think of this ... but you're so right - it's my blog and I'll say what I wanna say, do what I wanna do and be who I wanna be!

cleemckenzie said...

DL Hammons raised this question on a post today and I wrote a comment similar to the one I'm leaving here.

I started blogged as so many of us do to tell about our books. But that didn't keep me blogging: meeting authors, discussing writing, sharing experiences did. Now it's part of my life and I write more today than I did before I became a blogger.

The Golden Eagle said...

I think it's the blogger's decision how they blog--and while feedback is helpful, comments like the one on Cassie's post are just rude.

Empty Nest Insider said...

Sorry that Cassie had to go through that, but I agree that it shows that her supporters are stronger than ever! She's so lucky to have people like you looking out for her! I do love the wonderful support of the blogging community! Julie

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy said...

This is such a great post. You described blogging so well, Nancy.

I began my first blog 4.5 years ago after my sister suggested it. At the time, I was only reading hers which is Chubby Mommy Running Club, along with Pioneer Woman and Derfwad Manor. I wanted to learn how to build a website, and thought that it might be a way to share my pictures with my family and friends. I had no idea what I was doing, and had no agenda.

After more than a year, I learned about memes and linky parties and joined in making quite a few friends, or so I thought. All at once, I got DUMPED in mass by about 20 of those bloggers. They were the "show and tell, see my vintage stuff" ladies. I was crushed; it hurt my feelings so much. After some time, I finally figured out who their ringleader was, and just got rid of almost all of their links ... good riddance. Then I decided that I wanted to be known for my work anyway (photos and stories), not what I had around my house.

Over time, I have been attracted to the writing blogs, because I want to become a better writer and you guys have a great group of folks. I have found you guys through A-Z. I also love my friends who enjoy history and old pictures, and find community and now real friendship with many of them.

Why do I blog? I can't stop! It is what I do, it is my passion. I try to stay positive and make things look nice on it. My blog is eclectic and all over the board, a day-in-the-life type of thing. and it doesn't always appeal to everybody. But as many of you are saying about yourselves and your own blogs, it is real and those that don't like it don't need to read it. I have comment moderation on mine, and don't publish comments prior to reading them. Nobody has been very mean to me yet in the form of comments, but that way I can just erase what I don't want it posted.

Thanks for writing about blogging and Cassie, Nancy. Jenny The Bloggess has a similar post today also, though I don't know if that is a coincidence or not.

Take care,

Kathy M.

M Pax said...

There are crumudgeons out there. so we discover as we really put ourselves out there and publish. I love how supportive we all are and how generous. I have learned more through being part of this community than from any where else. I'll have to go leave Cassie some hugs. said...

I loved finding your blog via Twitter. I began blogging for the reasons you describe in your first paragraph, stumbling and mumbling in the beginning because I DID NOT WANT TO DO THIS. 50 some blog posts later, I'm wondering what took me so long. Yes, it takes away from writing on my short stories and novels, but it also improves my writing, urges me to write more, and teaches me the importance of writing honestly and openly. And you know what? That's hard, but the best kind of writing there is. I applaud your words about Cassie's blog (which I've never read, but I will now) and about our goal in blogging - to be ourselves and to be proud of writing without restraint. Thanks for saying it all (writing it all) so well.

Jericha Senyak said...

I'm a total newbie to the blog community - as in I HAD a blog for quite a while, but somehow missed the part about, you know, READING OTHER PEOPLE'S BLOGS. It was reading The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published that made me realize social media was awesome and not terrifying, and I earnestly took their advice about finding other bloggers who are writing, doing, and sharing things you find interesting and meaningful. The idea of using blogging to share and appreciate the work of other was completely new to me. The A-Z Challenge was a magical experience. That's what got me to submit a query to QQQE, and QQQE led me to come thank you for your lovely feedback...and discover your lovely blog :) So, in a word, the reason I blog: COMMUNITY.

The Desert Rocks said...

Nancy, it's a wonderful post like always and the reason I blog is because I was told at a writing conference that it was necessary. I also have subscriptions to writing magazines that have been telling me to blog for years. I started two years ago and I enjoy meeting other writers, after all I live in the desert.

Julie Musil said...

You're so right about our blogs being a reflection of who we are. And I absolutely love connecting with all the other awesome bloggers (like you!). At first I started the blog because I thought I had to, but now I truly enjoy it. For me, it's all about connecting and sharing. Pretty cool stuff.

Melodie Wright said...

I agree with Julie - it's all about connecting and sharing. However, a year after starting my own, I admit to blog fatigue. Am hoping it's just the summer-effect!

Chris Fries said...

Been very busy lately and haven't kept up well with my blog-browsing, so just reading this now.

Awesome post Nancy, and I wholeheartedly agree with you! As a new writer, I see my blog as both a necessary 'platform' AND a fun output to share the real me. It's also a fabulous way to connect with fellow writers -- something I never expected when I first started blogging -- that in itself is more than enough reason to do it. DL Hammons did a guest post on my blog this week and we touched on this very issue.

AND -- as a reader, I LIKE reading the blogs of authors and getting to know them as real people. I don't think there has to be some ridiculous wall of separation between authors, their works, and their readers. For one thing, I'm an adult -- I can separate the person from their work and judge each on their own merit. I've enjoyed books by authors who I might not have liked too much in person, and I've sadly not cared for books by authors who I really admire as people.

But to counsel a writer to put on this aura of un-approachability and snobbery as a way to be "professional?"

Balderdash and hogwash, I say!

jp said...

I don't know of the article in question but there will always people trying to put down those they are jealous of.

As for blogging, I began in order to find some answers. It soon turned into a form of therapy, became fun, then a burden and resulted in a book.

All in all as with the rest of my life, the journey was strange and the destination unexpected.

Al Penwasser said...

Whoa...whoa...whoa. I have be an adult? Oh, crap.
I'd like to say that my blog portrays me as someone who I'm not. But, that's not the case. I'm a type of person who really does think "pulling my finger" is funny. And wonders why there's such a thing as "Charmin Basic" toilet paper (meaning: I kinda thought toilet paper was pretty basic in the first place).
I blog because I enjoy laughing and hope that whatever it is I have for a sense of humor is shared by others. Goodness knows, as a Facebook friend, I think you've seen that I carry this mania into other arenas.
The only problem with blogging is that it takes me away from writing other things (like I'm I'm doing now).
Bottom line, I wouldn't change a thing.
Except maybe find a toilet which flushes next time.
But, then I'll probably have to get "Charmin' Advanced."

Al Penwasser said...

Thanks for this. I visited Cassie's blog and saw the comments in question. What trolls. Bottom line, she should never change. I think her "joie de vivre" (it's French and I probably misspelled it, but I didn't feel like looking it up. Why? I told you-it's French) is infectious.
I'm now following her.
Poor girl.

nutschell said...

oh my. so sorry to hear that about Cassie. So glad she had some awesome friends to rally around her. My thing is, if you can't say anything nice then don't say anything at all. Really don't get why some people leave comments that bring the blogger down. Generally, though, I think our blogging community provides a wonderful network of support.