June 02, 2009
The Horrible Truth About (my) Blogging
I was asked today by another writer how I found the whole blogging thing and whether it was bringing the punters in. Below is a slightly revised and expanded version of what I wrote. I only post it up because I can't think of anything else to post, which kind of proves or at least reinforces my theory:
As for blogging, I'm not sure it does any good at all beyond the palliative effect of feeling like you are doing something. I guess I get about 4-500 people a month looking at my blog and probably less than ten of those people are actually there because they're interested in "Will Ashon". Most of them are interested in Roberto Bolano. A quite staggering amount are interested in dog sex (having a post with those words in definitely boosts your hits from Iran*).
Certainly, sales of my books support the idea that whether I blog or not makes no difference at all, but then I've only really done it seriously (i.e. frequent posting) since last September/October, by which time both of my published books were already dead in the water. I think overall I would say it's pretty pointless, but then that's how I feel about the whole book writing business at the moment. So I think the truth is that my attitudes to blogging mirror fairly accurately my attitudes to writing as a whole - or at least to that part of it which involves selling a book as opposed to making it.
In fact, overall, I think the internet is a perfect mirror. It doesn't create, it reflects, or perhaps, at best/worst, amplifies. If you have a big rep and people know who you are then your blog will probably be a great success. If you're as obscure as I am, then it will probably be a complete waste of time. There doesn't seem to be any middle ground. Which, once again, makes it very much like publishing.
So really, as I started by saying, the only reason to do it is to feel like you're doing something. It goes some way to filling those moments of panic when you can't write and no one seems to be interested in what you're doing and you can't imagine that any publisher will ever take on another of your books. Though, of course, with time, the blogging or the lack of blogging becomes part of the panic itself, only on a toned down, less abysmal level. A more manageable and slightly less painful form of panic, in fact, and hence, as a result, that lesser, misdirecting panic becomes a reason to do it (and not do it) in itself.
*I'm afraid this is true.