The Blogger’s Dilemma

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If my novels are the great love of my life, then this blog is my best friend. Don’t feel sorry for me, I have human best friends too, and they are wonderful. But in terms of my writing, this blog is my confidante, my guide, my adviser. It is a shoulder to cry on, a witness to the ups and downs of my life. This blog is the longest friendship I’ve ever had.

I don’t write as often as I would like to. Sometimes I lack time or inspiration, other times I would rather binge-watch all four seasons of “Jane the Virgin” for the second time instead of doing something productive with my life. There are times I go weeks or months without writing, and I barely realise. I take this platform for granted, because I’m so used to it being there for me when I need it.

For the past week, my website was down. I couldn’t engage in my favourite pastime: stalking the analytics to see which countries people are reading from. And worse, I couldn’t upload new blog posts. I could have written, I suppose. But there doesn’t feel much point in writing blogs if I can’t upload them immediately afterwards. I write what I feel, and if I wait to post, then the moment is lost. I may as well write in my diary instead.

I love this blog, and I love it differently to my novels. My novels are a different world. They are a place where I can explore other people’s voices. I can be a scientist, a tsar, a revolutionary, a robot. But here? I can be myself.

A question I’ve been toying with lately is whether I should change the kind of blogs I write. Right now, I primarily write about my personal life. I don’t write about my drama because I’m a self-absorbed narcissist, I write about it because I know from experience that sharing my pain and my healing can help others in similar (or entirely different) situations. I can use my writing to make people feel less alone, and that is something that’s really important to me. I don’t want to create “content”, I want to write from the heart.

But lately I’ve been wondering, is what I write a little too personal? If I am writing about me and my life, does that mean people who don’t know me won’t be interested in what I have to say? I write this blog for two reasons. As you may have gathered, the first reason is that I like to vent about my life into the void of the internet. The second reason is that I write novels, and it’s important for writers to build their online author platforms in order to gain a following, otherwise no one will read their novels.

I originally self-published my novels when I was 14-15, and I am currently in the process of rewriting them. I plan to republish the first book in my series at the beginning of 2019. I have spent three years rewriting the novel that was once called “Consequence.” Its new name is “The Purest Form of Chaos”, and it is in many ways an entirely different book. The characters have the same names, and some of the same characteristics, the basic plot is similar. The overall series plot has changed entirely, and what was once a trilogy will now become a series of six.

I am both a practical person and an idealist. I have grand plans of building my literary empire, and I will make it happen because I am determined and I will put in the hard work. But as determined as I may be, I can only work with the resources I’ve got. I am an independent author, with a student budget. In order to build an online presence that I will eventually use to market my books, I have to write blogs that people will read. I’m never going to go viral on twitter because my tweets aren’t funny or interesting enough, and I don’t have the body, wardrobe, or camera quality to gain a large amount of instagram followers. So the weight of my online presence falls on the shoulders of this little blog.

In which case, I need to write blogs that people will share, blogs that people will encourage others to read. And my usual “I’m Eliza the anxious introvert who writes deep stuff about all the ways she transformed by getting her heart broken by whomever she had a crush on this week” kind of blog won’t cut it. At best, my friends will read it to find out whatever my latest sensationalist drama is. It’s never going to get people to read my novels.

But what would I write about if I wasn’t writing about my mental health or broken heart? My writing only feels authentic when it is raw, I can’t do anything less than let my heart bleed through my fingertips and into my words. There are so many websites with lists of article prompts for bloggers, but I couldn’t write about those things. I don’t do basic, it’s not in my nature. I want my writing to be authentic, I’m not here to write “7 things I learnt about [fill in the blank]. You won’t believe #4!” It’s the same reason I haven’t monetised my blog. I don’t want tacky adverts distracting people from the actual words I’ve written. I don’t want to feel like a sell-out.

As I write this, I can imagine what a friend of mine would say if I told him this. It would be similar to his reaction when I said I hate Halloween. He’d call me a socialist and say I take myself too seriously. I am a socialist. And I do take myself seriously. I know that I live in a capitalist society where nothing is free and everything comes back to money. But at at the same time, I am an idealist and I believe art transcends that. When my books come out I will sell them, because they are a product. But I don’t view my blogs in the same light. It would be like selling my diary, or photos of me. My blogs are too personal to be capitalised on, and I don’t want to create generic “content” in order to gain more viewers. But I do want to gain more viewers. To sell my future books. Because capitalism.

Authenticity is incredibly important to me, both in my writing and in my day-to-day life. Ambition is also important to me, it is my driving force. I want to climb to the top of the ladder, even if I don’t always believe the ladder should be there in the first place. When I play a game, I play to win. My Capricorn planets are at war with my Aquarius planets. My practical side wants to be a successful business woman and build an empire, and my idealistic side believes art should be readily available to all. Neither side wins, it is a constant balancing act.

There has never been a question of whether I would monetise my blog. The answer is simply no. It goes against the values this blog stands for. Capitalism can pry this blog from my cold dead hands. The question is whether I will change what I write about, in order to make my blog more interesting to a wider audience, in order to entice them to buy books I haven’t even published yet. *Capitalism laughs evilly in the distance*

There must be a way to expand my readership without selling out or losing my integrity. Like most things in life, it’s about compromise, and trying new things. There are plenty of things I could write that don’t resemble a buzzfeed article but are still accessible to people who don’t know me. I am interested in and knowledgeable about things other than myself (I promise!)

I could write about writing, I could write book/film/television reviews. I could write about travel or veganism or feminism or astrology or improv or *searches the farthest corners of my brain for any other interests I have* cat videos?

This is where you come in. The only way for me to know what people like reading about, is to ask actual people.

If you’re brave and willing, leave a comment below and answer any or all of these questions:
What would you like to see me write more of? Do you like my blogs as they are, or would you prefer me to expand the topics I write about? Would you be more inclined to share my blog posts if they were about topics that were less personal? What about the format — do you prefer blogs with subheadings and/or numbered lists? Would my blogs be easier to read if they contained photographs? Are there any topics in particular that you would like to see me write about? If you have read more than one of my blogs, do you have a favourite that you’ve read?

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