What to Write

Mom's garden, Florida, last month!*



I've written/touched on my feelings before about blogs being (seemingly) less and less personal in recent times, but it's a subject I keep coming back to, in terms of: how do I, someone who writes a lot of personal type musings keep at it, and also, where have all the little (personal) blogs gone?

How personal is too personal? For me, as a reader, there is no such thing really. Unless a post makes me feel uncomfortable or like I worry the person is in distress, and then it becomes a little bit awkward. But honestly the more personal a blog, whatever the topic, the better, for me. Because the best writing to me always comes from the heart, from some sort of life experience. If a blog is completely void of that I lose interest quickly.

As a blogger/writer it is something I do grapple with. Not long after meeting a couple of fellow bloggers in real life they both said to me "Your blog is SO HONEST!" with what I couldn't help but interpret as a slight tone of wonderment (or horror!). It had never really occurred to me that my blog was particularly noteworthy with its "honest" or personal content, as most of the blogs I had read before starting my own were pretty personal in nature.

I have, since then I think, always tried to have a mix of stylistic content on the blog, but I do feel that what has kept me writing a blog for 5 years now to a relatively similar effect (non-monetarily successful, occasional gifted posts, occasional posts with more than a couple of comments!) has been my need to express myself through writing stuff down, and ideally connect with other people who relate or are interested in the topic in some way.

Last week I read a blog post by a successful lifestyle blogger who has now moved most of her content over to the La La land of Instagram. I always liked her writing, and was a little disappointed to see she had not written many posts at all in the past year (compared to her previous output, and no I am not one to talk here, either!).

But she did have a post up about how and why she had stopped writing personal content for the most part. It was understandable in its reasoning - she has basically become too big to be so open, it made her feel vulnerable, something I understand in theory although my blog is small so I can still sort of pretend I am writing into the void (and these days it's not difficult to feel this way!). But it also made me sad, because I always enjoyed her posts about mental health and life and stuff.

Obviously it is up to the individual how personal they want to get. No one owes anyone in their readership anything more than what they are comfortable and willing to share.

I've been struggling myself with posting anything on the blog recently, as most of my creative output has gotten very personal: yes, even for me!

This has sprung mostly from my attempts at creative non fiction (2 submissions and 2 rejections and counting, thanks very much!). I guess it's only natural once I tapped that well it would be something I would want to keep trying.

I have quite a few pieces that stem from the c.n.f. (that's shorthand for it if you search Twitter hashtags!), it's a process where in order to write the creative piece I need to remember the real life event in some way, and some of those are now tasty over personal (?) little essays in my drafts box.

I had this one thing I was writing, it started as c.n.f., but it was so loooong, I just couldn't contain it to anything resembling a reasonable length. So then I tried to write the story as it happened, without the subterfuge, for my eyes only.

And then THAT turned into a poem sort of thing that I finally felt a little bit happy with, until the inevitable rejection ha ha! (the editor who rejected it said it read like c.n.f. but was a poem), so uh yeah, I am on a steep learning curve (or breaking the boundaries of alt literature, depending on your viewpoint! ;-0). And believe it or not I filtered all of that down into a blog post that was more of an essay and I felt was maybe ok to share (until I didn't press publish!).

I like the idea of c.n.f. but if I'm being honest/self critical of my writing, I don't think I quite have the flowery, esoteric, fireflies in a jar on a muddy porch soulful mystique type writing in me to actually get published writing it (ok so maybe I just need to read a wider variety of creative non fiction, but I didn't want to be derivative and over saturate myself with it). The stuff that has come out of me has been sort of too sparse and bare and fiery (I feel) to be comparable to other c.n.f. I have read anyway.

But the idea of turning some of my real life experience into something beyond memoir feels much more natural and inspiring to me than any other kind of writing right now. I don't think I have it in me to write fiction. I wrote short fiction in college but it was honestly like pulling teeth, and mostly thinly veiled real life stuff dramatized.

I feel like if you are a fiction writer you have infinite stories inside of you waiting to be told (I know there is lots of work and research involved too, maybe I am just too lazy ha!).

Occasionally I will get an idea for a book, and even run with some plot points in my head - and then I try to think what the main character would be called and honestly that is the hurdle I fall at! There are no good names/all names sound cheesy or fake or weird I swear, I am just not decisive enough for fiction I think!

I have toyed with the idea of ghost writing even, because I do think I have an ability to write that is a bit underused. I feel like I have it in me to have a bash at something like that. I have read SO MUCH CHICK LIT in the past few years, and weirdly I do feel I could maybe in theory ghost write a book of that genre if the motivation overtook me. Could someone just fill in the blanks for the character names for me please? (I know this sounds ridiculously delusional, I am sure ghost writing is probably equally as hard in its own way as solo writing).

So yes, anyway. I need to figure out if anything I am writing is something I can share here on the blog. It's tricky because some things I have an infinitesimal hope of maybe someday publishing elsewhere, and the anonymity is crucial for a few pieces, and I have sort of laid some stuff bare in the detritus of writing the other stuff. I can imagine it's a challenge for a lot of people attempting the creative non fiction lark (...and also the whole point?).

I have seen some things and lived some things that can only be written with a bit of a mask on them to see the light of day, and even that feels...naked. It's one thing to blog about my life, it's another to turn it into something resembling fiction and try to keep it real and true but also respectful if anyone else is involved. Tricky.

So yep...that's where I'm at. Writing lots of...stuff...into the ether, that it seems there is no audience for. I know it's a bit defeatist sounding, but I hope it's maybe someday a source of something beyond rejection and failure!

I am a bit confused where that lands me in terms of blogging now. I have had a few more traditional blog type post ideas recently, so who knows, this could all change. But I just wanted to explain (part of) why my blogging has taken such a back seat recently, I do feel bad for not blogging more in 2019, but hey ho, almost a new decade an all that (eek!). I might not have much to show for my efforts, but I am proud of myself for putting my work out there. It was a big step for me and while the rejection wasn't fun, I do hope I find it in me to keep at it.

How about you, have you ever written creative fiction or poetry or put yourself/your art out there? How do you keep going? My feelings on dealing with the writing rejection bringing my whole former actress failures feelings up might lead to another post on this. Rejection sucks so bad. But it's better than not trying? I do believe it's extra hard for us introverted sensitive types. But we also tend towards the arts and lives of semi tortured creativity, so there's the rub I guess! Ah...





* In among all of this "Rah rah save the small blogs!", I have, you might have noticed, changed to a slightly zingier format. I resisted the magazine/ multi post landing page for a long time, because in many respects it doesn't fit my blog, but I do like having different choices to read when you land on a page. And I have noticed an upsurge in people sticking around a bit longer, so, I guess it is worth it? So now I have to put pictures up for each post or be annoyed by the lack of picture...something I knew would happen but alas, here we are! So expect possibly random photos with some posts! Especially as my new computer hardly has any of my old "bloggy" type pictures on it.

7 comments

  1. Good luck with your decision. I struggle with what I should or shouldn't share on my site as well. The answer is going to be different not only for every blogger but for the various stages they go through in life as well. Sometimes sharing more seems like a good idea. At other times, it definitely does not.

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    1. Thanks! I totally vary with my comfort levels of what I'm sharing. I don't think all blogs need to be personal but the steep move away from ANY personal content, to the point where brands are now constructing artificial "influencers" does confuse and worry me! :-)

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  2. I put huge amounts of real life into my fiction, stuff that's happened to me and stuff that's happened. There are a lot of bits of history, stories from WW2 or the like, a lot of the characters have aspects of myself, but it's not lifting an actual event and putting it in, a lot of the time, it's lifting the feel or the emotional aspects of that event and using them in something else. This probably doesn't make much sense but the most obvious example I can come up with off the bat is reading how WW2 pilots used to turn V1 rockets by diving to gain speed and just clipping them with a wing tip. They flew until they ran out of fuel so if you could turn one it would fly back out over the channel and explode harmlessly in the sea. They called this tipping, but the tipping in my book is one flying car trying to turn another in the skies of London and force it to land. So when people talk about writing your own experiences, I find there's a huge amount of processing before what goes in ... Er ... comes out. I may be weird though.

    Cheers

    MTM

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    1. I would love to read a post on your writing process (if you haven't done one already!).

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  3. On the blog ... well ... you know what my blog is like. I'm definitely out, because I don't believe I feel anything that others don't. The only difference is I talk about it. But I have a strict no skeletons policy. If my books ever take off there shall be no skeletons in my cupboard to come and haunt me because they'll all be out in the open.

    Cheers (again)

    MTM

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  4. Congratulations on trying!!! That's huge :) If you read up on other famous authors, you will see they were rejected over and over and over, and kept persisting!

    As for blogging, I think blogging means different things to different people, and at different times. This is your space, use it (or don't) however you see fit for the current you.

    One blogger I have been reading has recently changed her title to "influencer" instead of blogger, which I know she was resisting forever and was probably very cringe for her to do, and offers her more personal posts on patreon.

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    1. Thanks! It was pretty terrifying ngl! I feel like a lot of/at least a part of publishing with these smaller online journals is dependent on picking the right one for your voice/style too. And both rejections I received were super thoughtful and nicely written, I don't envy the people having to do that!

      I feel like the "influencer" thing is (maybe?) in for a bit of turbulence now that Instagram has taken away (visible to outsiders) likes. But who knows!

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