Published writing, then and now

I found a passage in a book which was published before blogging was invented that suits me perfectly.

Seeing yourself in print is such an amazing concept: you can get so much attention without having to actually show up somewhere.

Anne Lamott wrote this in her book Bird by Bird which was published back in 1994, a year after she released Operating Instructions. Of course blogging wasn’t even a twinkle in anyone’s eye at the time, with the internet not exactly a household name either. So naturally when she wrote her book Bird by Bird, which has the sub title of “Some Instructions on Writing and Life” she referred to writing and publishing in print format.

It doesn’t matter though. I was told by various followers here that publishing a blog is equivalent (on some level) to publishing in the sense that your typed words are made public to be read by the masses. (Ok, maybe not the masses, but there’s a few of you who like to read here…thank you for dedicating your time, it means a lot to me.)

I can back this up: when I submit some of my writing to contests or things like that, the instructions often include a statement that only previously unpublished works will be accepted. They include the stipulation that ‘a blog post is considered published work’.

So there. 🙂

But that quote above holds true to me in more ways than one.

For instance, when I publish something on my blog(s) and see feedback in the forms of likes or comments, it provides a certain amount of validation to me. This validation, that someone is interested enough not just to read me (lurking), but also to take a moment out of their time to let me know they liked it, it somehow feeds my forward propulsion to keep writing.

This is crucial to me. Not that I would stop writing if I had no likes or comments, but the likes and comments in particular propel me forward on a daily basis. Often, it’s the comments which become new fodder for future blog posts (or articles or books or essays or stories or journal entries etc).

I suspect I’m not the only one who feels this way about blogging.

I like the feedback. Do you?

I like the comments. Who doesn’t?

I like the sense of community. I’ve heard this mention by others often enough to know that it keeps many of us coming back for more.

But I also like that I don’t have to go somewhere…Allow me to elaborate:

On the same page as the above passage I quoted, Anne say this about writing:

…writers, who tend to be shy, get to stay home and still be public.

As an introverted, sometimes shy person, this type of social life suits me. It doesn’t of course take away from the physical socializing I do; the gatherings or outings with family or friends, the mingling at the rink or baseball diamonds, the catching up with other parents at school pickup (when the kids were younger).

It’s nice, mostly.

But my few hours of solitude that arrives when the family has left for school and work is my happy space. Two hours before I have to walk a dog, edit a book, research an article, run an errand or get dinner started that I can dedicate to writing. Just writing. I could write naked if I felt like it during that time (ha. Just kidding! Just checking to see if you’re paying attention.) 😉

Anyway… I have heard that this book is a must read for writers, and although I vaguely remember having picked it up before I don’t recall having finished it. Anne’s world view is very different from mine (she is deeply spiritual and religious, I am not), but I remember devouring her Operation Instructions book where she journaled her way through the first year of life with her baby, as a single mom. She made a HUGE impression on me and now, so does her writing instruction book.

On that note, I decided to publish some of my creative writing stories, starting on Friday. Perhaps I will call them Fiction Fridays or something. I can’t promise I will do this every Friday, but I will start this Friday only because I was suddenly hit with a deep inspiration for a story that just had to come out. I wrote four chapters in an hour and a half right around the time the family came back from camping and I gotta tell you, there was nothing they could do to get me distracted from my story.

The words were at the tip of my tongue and I simply had to get them out.

So, here’s to all of you bloggers and writers: don’t despair when you hit a dry run. I get those all the time and then suddenly, out come the words and nothing can stop me.

Did you read any of Anne’s books, or specifically, Bird by Bird? What do you think?

17 thoughts on “Published writing, then and now

  1. I just finished one of her books for the second time, “Grace Eventually” and have read half of Bird by Bird. I follow her on Twitter and just think she’s hilarious and wise.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I read selected parts of Bird by Bird while studying for my MFA, and I honestly don’t recall anything. 🤭 I still have the book, dust and all, on my bookshelf so perhaps I should make an honest effort to read it in its entirety. At this point, it’s a book acting as a bookend.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Good post, but I view it different. I write for me. If nobody else reads it or comments, it does not change the purpose. Almost like a diary that I am willing to share. When I do get a comment, or even a like, I do not see it so much as validation as a willingness for someone to allow me to share my thoughts. Sometimes they are funny, sometimes not so much, but in the end, they are what I intend them to be, not really my readers. Thanks for letting me share.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes. The ‘write for me’ is a big allure…

      To be clear, if I get no likes or comments, I would not stop. I can’t…it’s in my blood. 🙂

      I find my ideas for more topics however are inspired by comments and/or visiting other blogs. The community aspect seems to propel me into more creativity…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Something that I’ve noticed is that general blog posts, the ones about the minutiae of life, get a certain kind of attention, usually involving comments and interaction. Creative writing posts get an entirely different kind of attention where that interaction is limited (this is only observed as I don’t actually post these kinds of things) and where you may get the likes, but not the comments. Other things like photos or something more specific like book reviews tend to fall somewhere in the middle and depends entirely on your audience. The disparities in the kinds of interactions can be a bit surprising if you don’t expect them.

    I’ve been a blogger for years and, even after having published my book, I still struggle to use the label “writer”. I claim author now, but for some reason I still can’t accept writer. Yeah, I’m a little screwy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m really happy you made this comparison about the creative writing vs the daily blogging. Because I experimented with that on another blog and I noticed I’m getting likes, but not comments on the creative writing blog. AND, I suspect, quite a few lurkers.

      I follow a few blogs of women who date who talk extensively of their experiences, getting quite explicit in their accounts. I look at their visibility with interest: how many followers, how many likes that show up on their posts, how many comments. Here’s what I found:

      The people who like and comment are usually in the same boat (also dating or recently dated). The people who like only (don’t comment) are of varying backgrounds and interests (like me, for example. I’m not dating but I read them for different reasons). But what happens behind the scenes? There are probably many, many lurkers, especially if the post is descriptive about their sex lives.

      I think it’s similar for the creative writing side of things, the stories. If a blog is simply used for publishing stories, there is less traffic or visible traffic. But if the stories are intercepted on a blog like this one, there tends to be more visibility, and also feedback.

      See my memoir section on my blog. I released two chapters and got quite a bit of feedback. But if I hadn’t mentioned it (or its location providing links) who would have chosen to go read there? (It’s a question without answers).

      I probably would not have gotten this reaction on the memoir chapters if I had posted on a separate blog dedicated to creative or memoir writing only.

      (sorry about the length, but you got my creative juices flowing here…) 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I have let go of stressing over the numbers lately. At least outside of the active participation. There are people follow that just don’t comment (and I can say that in some places, this is me as it takes me a LONG while to feel comfortable doing so, though I don’t “like” every single post) but will like most everything. Some are what I call spam followers or spam likers that are only looking to maximize links back to their own blogs and like every single post ever made, but never comment. Yes, some of those may fall into the lurker category like I do, but if you look at the blogs, it is pretty obvious which ones are really spam. Then I have followers that are only interested in one aspect of what I post (since I’m not just one thing), and will only comment on those types of posts and not others. It has been interesting to see how different posts get different reactions.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I used your link to see if I recognized any of Anne Lamont’s work – I don’t think so. I always have books on the go, books waiting to be read though. I even have a category about books which I should add my latest read to.
    I suppose it’s true, blogging is writing and here we can experiment like I am with the Allan and Mary series.
    I hope others enjoy my writing and the real gauge I have for that is the comments.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve never defined myself as a writer, and even said so on the blog at various times. I know many blog to promote their work, but I’ve never considered my odd little rambling posts to be significant. Real “writing” meant work to me, and this isn’t work, but perhaps that’s the wrong attitude, especially now that I have time on my hands. Perhaps it’s time to define myself in a different way and see if any inspiration comes from it!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think blogging, a form of writing similar to keeping a journal or diary, is a type of writing that some people shy away from acknowledging as real.

      That was me for 10 years. It’s only now that I have “come out” and label myself as a writer despite not having been paid for most of my words.

      I only know you as a writer. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

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