No more blogs?

I was watching a show on social media the other day and it said blogs are now passé. A vlog (video log) is still acceptable, but apparently blogs are on their way out. Naturally, this got me thinking about this blog.

When I started blogging I attended social media workshops and researched SEO tips to get the most out of it. I also started my Twitter account and ramped up my Facebook profile to back it up. Social media was going to be the key to my publication success.

I spent hours on my online profile, at least double the time I was spending on my actual writing. As all the articles said it would, I slowly increase my likes, followers and comments. I didn’t finish any stories.

Then I unexpectedly got moved to Adelaide and suddenly my focus changed (briefly) to removalists, breaking leases, finding homes for things etc. My online profile tanked the moment I looked away. In a very short time my three months of hard work disappeared. I got very disheartened and turned my focus back to my writing. I got some stories finished.

But I kept the blog up. Why? Because this blog represents something that I think is very important in writing; dedication. Even when I’m coughing up a lung and producing double my weight in snot I will still make sure I’ve got something to go up on Sunday. So it may have a readership of just six friends, three strangers who happened upon it by accident and a bunch of people who want to sell rip-off handbags, but it is here and that’s what is important to me.

I’m not slagging social media, I know it does work, but for me the commitment and accountability are a bigger appeal, and the blog provides that. Also I have a theory that sitting at my computer also inspires me to finish stories, which is what I think writers are really meant to do.

So for now the blog stays.

It’s an honour

The Australian Horror Writers Association Short Story winners have just been announced – and I’ve got an honourable mention for my short story ‘Glow’.  I am so excited that I’m almost shaking!

I started this story three times. I finally finished the first draft in March and two days later put it through my Adelaide writers group. There were problems with the story. I re-wrote it, re-wrote it and re-wrote it. Finally I subbed it to the competition nearly a whole week before the closing date (I was determined NOT to be the final entry as I normally am). By now I both loved and hated this story.

Then I got the news that there had been a record number of entries. There were nearly double the number of what they had received last year. My heart dropped. This story had been banging about inside my head for four years, why did I pick this year to give it life?

Of course you know the punch line, so I won’t labour the point, but I do have to give a massive thank you to Lilliana, Sam and Margot from my writers group for their fantastic feedback. I thought the story was finished and they all explained to me the many reasons why it wasn’t. It was a much better story after I added and cut what they suggested, and this honourable mention is proof of that.

For all of you out there who think a writers group will crush your creativity or box you into a style that is not yours, I want to say that’s rubbish. You have been going to the wrong writers groups. I’ve been a part of two so far and they have both taught me so much. I am a better writer because of them.

Thank you!

Cover story

I do most of my reading on the bus. Recently I read a historical fiction novel, the cover of which had a lovely painting of a woman by some little known renaissance artist of the era. I pulled said novel out on the bus and was greeted with a shocked reaction by one of my fellow commuters. At first glance the only thing to really stand out on the cover was the woman’s exposed boobs (I confirmed this with a test book-cover-flash on my work colleagues when I got in).

It was not a boob novel.

Now I’m reading one of the Janet Evanovich Stephanie Plum novels, which has a ridiculous-looking scantily dressed bimbo on the cover. I got another odd glance from the guy sitting next to me on the bus on Friday night when I brought this out. I nearly said to him that it was much funnier than the cover made it out to appear. The truth is, if I hadn’t read previous novels in the series there is no way I would have picked this book up.

I think the old adage of ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ is just too hard to live by. A book cover does something to communicate to the world what the book is about. With so many books out there to choose from, there has to be something quick that we can use to filter which book we want to pick up to find out more about it.

There are ‘tropes’ of book covers – hooded people for fantasy, brightly coloured cartoon style ladies (usually with large handbags) for chick lit, fuzzy-edged couples for romances etc.

It almost makes you want to put out a book which is all black with a basic grey font title. Or does that make it horror?

More rejection

In keeping with my send out something every month resolution, I’m getting much more experience at rejection. It’s funny but my response differs each time and I can’t work out if there is any reason behind it.

The good response is that I get a fire in my belly and go out with the ‘I’ll show them’ frame of mind. Unfortunately this often leads to me sending the story out straight away without giving it the proper review a rejection probably invites.

The medium response is that I hope that maybe I can get the story up to scratch and find it a home, all it needs is a really good edit, and then another one, and another one, and maybe one more time through the writers group. These responses often lead to the story getting trapped in a never-good-enough loop.

The bad response, and the one I had this week, is the ‘why do I do this to myself?’ response. I write to entertain myself, and maybe what I find entertaining isn’t what the world wants to see. This response threatens to bring my whole send out policy to a standstill.

Fortunately I’m OCD enough to know I have committed to sending out a new piece every month, so I will continue with that until the end of the year when I can make some new resolutions. But what may happen is that once they get rejected the stories can just sit for a while.

Or maybe I’ll show them and get it published in an even BETTER magazine!