A Blogger Or A Writer?

Writers, not bloggers (that’s Lionel on the far right with the pink wellies)

The quest for information was genuine. For the past three years I’ve been jostling along through the blogosphere without direction. It hasn’t been a rapid launch along the information super highway, its been more of a bumpy ride through the backstreets. I’ve taken a few dirt roads, been bogged a couple of times, and stopped to change a flat.

Recently I sat with a girlfriend who has started an online business, we both despaired over our lack of technical knowledge.

“I was up until 3 am trying to work out why the ad wasn’t showing up properly.” I said as I gulped down my morning coffee.

“It took me two days to discover how to use my business Facebook page when I comment” she offered in a consoling response.

This is what I miss about the office. These are the things you’d ask a colleague, you’d just duck your head over the cubicle, or ask the person in the office next door. I never thought I’d say this, but I miss lunch and learns.

I love writing, but the business of blogging, the fiddly bits, often has me anxiously pushing buttons and hoping for the best. My technical clumsiness lay bare for all to see. It has been nearly a year since the comment button disappeared from my page, and google analytics continues to have me nervously scratching a technical itch. I physically shudder when someone asks if I’ve moved to Google + or considered affiliate links.

I arrived at the blog conference ready to out myself. I was sure there was some sort of 12 step program to begin once I’d admitted I had a problem.

Hello, my name’s Kirsty and I don’t know what SEO is.

I signed up for a “blog clinic”, ten minutes of one on one time with an expert. I looked through the names along with their expertise and found someone who I thought could educate me. I scheduled my own intervention. When the time came, although I’d only had to walk ten steps, I immediately hit flustered mode. As papers fell from my bag, I awkwardly balanced my laptop on my knees and stumbled over the right terminology. What was my question again?

“Okay” I said breathlessly as my heart increased its rhythm. “I’ve been blogging for 3 years now and I really love the writing bit, but I don’t know anything about sharing or how SEO works. I mean, what exactly is SEO? What do I need to know about SEO? Do I need to know about SEO?”

There was a pause while my new found guru embraced a look of pity.

“You know this isn’t SEO, right? I’m not the SEO person.”

In the following moments of awkward silence I was pretty sure I heard a craft blogger drop a pin in the background.

“Oh, yes of course. Erm…what would you talk about if I came here with a question?”

We decided to have a look at my Facebook page.

“Wow, this is really good, you have a really engaged audience.”

“I love it here. I reckon within this group of women they could pretty well answer any question you had about travel, kids or relationships.” Instead of asking questions I spent the next five minutes talking about what we talk about.

“Just keep doing what you’re doing Kirsty” she offered.

I walked away wondering what that was. What was I doing?

The next session was the one I’d been waiting for. A group of exceptional female writers talked about their own writing process. I stared at Lionel Shriver, simultaneously starstruck while captivated by her observations. Not a word was wasted, her opinions and ideas seemed to flow with clarity. Her answers were precise, no fumbling. She sat comfortably in jeans and an oversized jumper/sweater with her hair pulled back in a plastic clip. No heels, no make-up, no added extras. It occurred to me that she looked like she’d been dragged straight from her desk at home.

The internet has made writers hyperaware of their audience

I noticed she didn’t have a twitter handle, and when she talked of distancing herself from the audience I began to understand why. 

I wonder if the internet, or being closer to your audience, has been destructive to brave thought.” I thought about all of the times I’d thought too much about what people would think. I truly believe the best posts are the ones you feel wary of publishing.
When you’re insulted its hard to ignore, the insults scar, but the nice things people say go away. It’s one of the great challenges of writing right now…I don’t let myself read the comments.
Maybe I was a writer and not a blogger? Everything these women said made sense. Maybe I just needed to write books rather than blog posts? I’d heard myself say the same thing over and over all day “..I really love the writing bit, but..”  
I raced to my next clinic. More one on one time with a long time blogger. 
“How many subscribers do you have?” she asked.
“I don’t know. How would I know that?” I cringed at my own incompetence.
Within about thirty seconds I was staring at a screen I had no idea existed. On my own blog, there it was – my subscribers.
“Shit!” she said  “You’ve got more subscribers than me and I’ve been blogging for ten years?” 
I sat motionless, staring at the screen. All I could muster was a whispered “wow”.
In front of me was what probably looked like a list of names to others, but to me it was faces, real people, smiling back, waving, here we are we’ve been here all along, you just hadn’t noticed
“That’s them” I said running my fingers over the screen. I noticed my eyes were wet. Why was this making me so emotional?
And then it finally clicked.
I can’t lock myself away for months, working silently without others. And I can’t live my life constantly online. I’ll probably never be truly tech savvy. But somewhere in between is the happy balance for me. A community to reach out to, to have a laugh and discuss ideas, as well as a place for me to get inside my own head each day.
I am a writer who blogs, a blogger who writes. 
I still don’t really know what SEO is.

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