As a professional with an artistic product, I need to spread the word about the novels I write. But I’ve always felt self-conscious about promotional messages, either on social media or this website. I don’t want to annoy you, my reader, and I don’t want to create more commercialism noise. I get enough of that myself. So what can I do to connect with folks who may actually want to read my book? Some marketing experts claim authors should show the privates side of their life. I’ve always doubted that. Then recently I discovered something that shifted my perspective.
Should Authors Offer More of Their Private Side?
Not long ago, I was visiting the website of one of my favorite authors. Every now and then I google her to hear an interview or read an article about her latest books and such. But I have to confess, I was disappointed by her website. It includes a short biography of her with a list of books for buying but lacks anything personal. I clicked around, searching for bits of news and info. I wanted to know what she’s writing now, what she’s reading, what her workspace looks like, whether she has pets or is married, who her latest interviews were with, etc. I wanted some insight into her life and process.
Afterward, I wondered if my readers actually wanted that of me.
Do People Even Care About the Private Side?
Probably not, I thought. No one cared about an obscure writer like me. I’m not famous. Still, I looked over my website’s analytics just to make sure. To my surprise, people do care about my private side. The data confirmed this. My most popular posts are the ones that talk about behind-the-scenes aspects of my books. The second most popular are ones where I talk about my life and family. I sat back, a little shocked.
Why had I been avoiding those kinds of posts? Why not put myself out there? Well, I guess I thought the act of writing was rather boring. What I didn’t realize was that ideas aren’t boring. The artistic process as it relates to real life isn’t boring. After all, I did want that from my favorite author.
Still, I feel shy and strange about sharing online. I also feel like I have to formalize every post I publish. But maybe I’m overthinking things.
A New Birthday, a New Beginning
As my birthday approaches, I’ve vowed to make a fresh start. I’ll write fewer listicles and how-to posts, which take a lot of legwork in gathering pictures and such. Instead, I’ll focus on you, my reader. What you want. I’ll talk about the behind-the-scene aspects of my books and writing. My inspiration. What I struggle with and the discoveries I made so that perhaps my words can help you.
Once, I wrote a piece about having the name Karen in these modern times. The essay was intensely personal and a risk since Karen is now a villainized name. Well, I heard from hundreds of women named Karen. They said they felt heard through my words. They could relate, I spoke for them. And so, I’ll try my best to do that again.
Also, I’m hoping this more casual approach will allow me to show up more frequently. Use my website as a way to connect with readers more intimately, kind of like my newsletter. I may even start an audio journal. It’s all scary but exciting.
Photo by Carolyn V
Welcome to my blog about the writing life and who knows what else in time to come. It’s meant to inspire, inform, and support those out there who love language and love to express themselves through it. This first post is the outcome of my reading Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert’s first-person account of her spiritual journey. If you’re not familiar with this funny, vivid, contemplative memoir, make it your next read. It’s the kind of book that, while telling the story of one woman’s transformation from depressed wife-who-has-it-all to untethered woman trying to get her physical and emotional and then spiritual life together, inspires anyone who reads it into taking at least some sort of small action to make their own life (and maybe even others’) better.
Don’t Be Perfect, Just Be
I’m starting this blog against all of my better writerly intentions today. If I don’t, I never will. You see, I’m often at war inside my head about what to do, what is quality, what is interesting, what is The Best way to post on a blog. I’ve had this idea, for months actually (when I first created the blog and then abandoned it). I decided this blog needs to premiere with no errors, with lists and photos and recommendations and helpful resources and an archive. I wanted to create a faux archive of the postings I would’ve published had I been dedicated to writing. This ambitious goal lives in my head as if anyone out there, anyone who might be reading this now, would be disappointed if I just posted what I’m posting now — a journal entry about the writing life that’s meant to help myself and others.
An Epiphany About Self-Criticism
Why, of all times, did I have a breakthrough? Well, in reading Eat, Pray, Love, I had an epiphany (several actually, which is difficult not to do after reading that book, especially if you’re a woman). But it was Gilbert’s words on her website about writing that helped me most. She says:
One day, when I was agonizing over how utterly bad my writing felt, I realized: ‘That’s actually not my problem.’ The point I realized was this – I never promised the universe that I would write brilliantly; I only promised the universe that I would write. So I put my head down and sweated through it, as per my vows.
And though I might have heard words to that effect before, under the most intellectual of circumstances, I didn’t really register it. It didn’t zing to my core until I read her book. Then I related to a thirty-something woman eating delicious meals in the ancient city of Rome, battling with her minds’ wild thoughts in meditation in India, falling in unplanned love. I guess my imagination had to be triggered in order to really listen through my heart.
So in an act of dedication to making my writing life better, and hopefully, others’ as well, I’m launching this blog. I will update as often as I can. Some public blogs say, “Updated every Tuesday” or “every two weeks,” but if I commit to a window, I may fail. I’ll confine myself to a schedule and that, I suspect, is the quickest way, to kill the momentum I have going now. So I’ll just say “as often as I can,” which today, feels like it might be in just a few hours.