This month marks my one year anniversary with blogging, and it has had a tremendous influence on me and my writing. A great number of people, including my husband, think blogging is trivial, an ego-centric burst of purging; I disagree. There’s purging, yes. There is a level of ego-centrism that prevails, sure. But it is also quite beneficial for the writer — especially when the writer is full of words, likes to surround herself in peace and quiet, and needs a place of her own — a room of her own in which she can write at will, the ideas rushing out of her with a force she cannot control or contain. During this first year of blogging, I have learned quite a few lessons about blogging that are universal for all writers.
1. A Writer’s Den: Every writer needs a space, “a room of one’s own,” as Virginia Woolf penned it. And although her essay was centered on women writers, it applies to this writer and all writers in general. We need actual physical spaces away from people and their noises of life. We need a place to call our writing dens — places we discover without meaning to, and which allow us the freedom to express ourselves and tell our stories without interruptions of children and spouses, traffic, music and television. A quiet place all to ourselves that takes in our words, our thoughts, embracing them, nurturing them with love until they are ready to be shared with the public.
My blog is that space , my writing den, which needs my personal and private log in information to be accessed. It houses my ideas, titles without content, pictures with no homes, videos without stories, and stories I have yet to tell. It is my space, my den, my home, and no one has access to it unless I say so. It is my private world, a home within my home, the core of all my angst and passions and loves and words. It is all mine. And I go to it at night, when the house is quiet, the children are in bed, and my husband snores quietly in another room.
2. Staying Connected: Most writers live inside their heads, conjuring tales, building worlds, creating characters out of love and memory. They seek out quiet places to work, and they live behind closed doors, seeking the company of a laptop over the company of real friendships. We tend to ignore those we love, and when we’re with them, all we want is to tuck ourselves before our work and write out that which has been created in our minds. At least that’s how I am. I have whole worlds and people that exist in my head, and I prefer to go there than anywhere else. When my kids are in school, I hide out in my house, losing hours in writing. Someitmes it gets a little lonely.
Blogging forces me to interact with people — and not just anybody. Through blogging, I have met interesting and lovely men and women who are like-minded. People who live in distant places, but who share my love for writing, our own children and the promise they hold, and who feel the same need I possess for empowering women and young girls. When no one around me thinks as I do, or even gets me, I know I have made connections with people that do get me — we share our blogs, our thoughts, and straegies for getting our work done.
3. Validation: My blog, my writing on my blog, gives me the validation and confidence that I don’t have outside of it. As I wait for my agent to find a publisher for Drowning Squirrels, a book about drowning mother-women and their survival, I use my blog to get me out there — forging a place that will welcome me as a writer, and will acknowledge and value my work.
Blogging is practice for me. When I feel like crap, stuffing another rejection letter in my file of dejectedness, I fill the spaces of my blog with powerful diction, and I can look myself in the mirror again. I have published, maybe not in a magazine or in a newspaper or in an actual book that you can find at the bookstore, but my voice travels to the blogosphere and bumps and grinds against other bloggers voices – and I feel connected. I feel heard. And I feel proud of the piece that I created with my voice, my words, my gumption. And for that day, in spite of my rejections, I smile and play with my kids, I hug my husband, and I feel good. Blogging feeds me — it feeds my appetite and my needs — and this frees me from falling into overwhelming lows drown me in nothingness.
4. Writer, Prolific: One of my goals is to write for Ms Magazine. I had an in for the blog, but my piece was rejected, and I crashed in humiliation. I haven’t tried since, but I am working towards it — trying to find a voice and style of writing that will help me achieve this. Ms is my Achilles heel, and I know that one day I will get there. Afterall, I blog about female empowerment, and I do it out of love and necessity. It’s where I fit. In the meantime, I find other places to write, and I am building a nest of published pieces. True, I haven’t gotten paid for any of them, unless you count the multiple syndications from BlogHer, but if I keep trying, I will get there. I know it. Just two weeks ago, an article I wrote for the women’s organization, The New Agenda, was recommended to the Huffington Post, and they not only published it, they also featured it – within the same day. Aside from securing an agent for my book, which is not an easy thing to do, this was a fine accomplishment for me, paid or not.
I feed my publishing needs by writing for The New Agenda on women’s issues as well as writing parenting articles for The WM Parenting Connection. Blogging gets me writing — sometimes, it’s an excuse to write. I have never written as much as I have since beginning to blog — other than my 300 page manuscript that I spent six years writing and rewriting and revising, of course. I’m learning to play with ideas, words, and I am finding a voice deep inside me that writes with urgency, vibrancy, passion, and ambition. It has given me confidence to write other things that I haven’t attempted in years, like poetry and short stories. And every time I finish writing, I heave a great sigh of accomplishment. I am a writer. I may not be getting paid for it — I may not be published — but I am a writer.