“Heroes take journeys, confront dragons, and discover the treasure of their true selves.”
- Carol Lynn Pearson
When I began my blog, I wasn't really sure to what it was going to be other than chronicling my saga as a substitute teacher. Most of my family members hadn’t followed blogs, so the whole process was a mystery to all of us. When I told my husband that I wanted to set up a blog, he suggested Blogger and helped me with any kinks as I followed the instructions.
A few years ago, when I wrote my first manuscript, my husband read chapters after I wrote them, making suggestions. Then I wrote another manuscript, which he read when it was completed. After that, he stopped reading what I wrote, saying he couldn’t be objective. Writing middle grade and young adult was not his typical reading genre, but I didn’t know whether to be offended or relieved or neutral. I think I’ve felt each at one time or another.
I’m not suggesting that he’s been anything but supportive. I’ve attended four conferences, and he hasn’t batted an eye about the cost or watching the children so I could attend. This year, I’m attending two conferences: a three-day weekend at NESCBWI and one day at BlogHer in Manhattan, and I’ve received the same support.
On the few occasions that an agent or publisher has asked for pages based on a query or an entire manuscript based on a partial, he’s been as excited as me. But when it hasn’t worked out, nobody has been harder on myself than me.
When I began writing, I don’t think either of us understood how long and tedious the writing to publishing process could be, especially when a writer had as much to learn as I did. Last spring, he said something to the effect of maybe I should give myself a deadline for getting published. That stung. I couldn’t imagine not writing and persisting. I defended my continuation by telling him that Laurie Halse Anderson said that she gave herself a five-year deadline, but in retrospect, why not ten years or more? Based on Anderson’s keynote address, I’d kept at this. I wasn’t ready to give up.
Back to my blog. My husband, sister, and mother-in-law were my first followers. I remember when the first stranger joined, which awed me. Someone wanted to read what I had to say. I told more family and friends, and then linked my blog to Facebook (Networked Blogs). When I had around nineteen followers, plus some on Facebook, it held steady. Then it began to grow. First mostly teachers found me, and then mostly writers.
It’s great getting comments because it gives me feedback. I feel a boost when someone takes the time to read it and decides that something about it was comment-worthy. And I comment at the blogs of my followers and/or blogs that I follow. One of my posts has a quote that a blog is an ongoing conversation*. I think sometimes the comments become as interesting, if not more so than the original post. It’s worth mentioning that the regular commenters, who have blogs, happen to be ones worth following.
I had been worried that my blog was too general: teaching, writing, domestic (for lack of a better word), and miscellaneous/all of the above. Would it appeal to anyone? But some aspect of what I was writing, others were relating. And I found writer, teacher, whatever blogs that I loved. I became part of a community. I’m at the point that I’d love to meet some of these people in person, if the opportunities arise because they seem like old friends. (Anyone want to attend BlogHer in Manhattan with me this summer?)
Along the way, I’ve had some big fans who have been there from the beginning. My mother-in-law e-mails or calls every time I get new followers or commenters, and then she checks out their blogs. My sister shares some of my posts with her large number of Facebook friends. And my mother-in-law and sister tell me when they think a particular blog is good. They are also regular commenters.
Then there’s my husband, who checks every day to see if I’ve posted, letting me know if I’ve made a typo, by sending an e-mail entitled, “Mistake”. Lately, due to some family issues, I had an e-mailed entitled “Blog Mistake (But Not as Big a Mistake as Eating Eight-Year-Old Butter)”** and “ Blog Mistake (But Not as Big a Mistake as Giving Away $1000)”. Even if you don’t get the jokes, know that he’s making me laugh. He also tells me when he’s particularly enjoyed a post and which type he thinks is strongest (There’s a debate between him and his mother about that).
One part of blogging my husband hasn’t liked is when I’ve complained about aspects of domestic life***. He wants to be painted in a more positive light. But who wants to hear that kind of boring stuff? It’s like writing the sequel when the first book ends, happily ever after. Yawn.
When I attend the NESCBWI Spring Conference, one of the workshops I’m attending is called “Social Media Tips and Tricks: How a Savvy Online Presence Can Serve Your Career”. I didn’t believe that my blog was going to help my Middle Grade (MG) and Young Adult (YA) writing career. Then I came across a post about building a platform****. I wrote a comment to Jane, voicing my confusion. Her response, along with the links she provided me, gave me an epiphany.
Although I didn’t begin a blog to create a platform, it may be just that. It doesn’t have to be specifically about MG and YA. If I’m reaching out to teachers and writers, and someday I am lucky/good enough to get a book published, maybe my followers will spread the word. And I would use my blog to promote their worthy books or endeavors as well.
Teachers, writers, mothers; we all toil away in virtual obscurity. Our blogs are vehicles to: vent, promote, question, answer, link, support, request support, voice and be heard. And so we should have support behind the blog too. So, I have sung about the unsung heroes.
* Quote and early post about blogging:
** Butter reference is explained in this post:
*** A couple of domestic posts:
**** See Jane Friedman’s post and the comments section:
I also recommend a related post that she wrote on another blog: