I admit it, I’ve been neglecting my blog. I could say that it’s because I’ve been busy with other things. Getting started on a new novel. Kids off for half term. A clutch of MA novels to read, assess and mark. A workshop to prepare. The sequel to The Exsanguinist to write. Tax return to submit. A living to earn.
All that’s true, but it’s not the whole truth. In the past, I’ve managed to keep up with blog updates while working on other things, even while holding down a day job. So what’s different now?
The difference is that I seem to have developed a fear of blogging. Let’s call it blogophobia.
The empty WordPress wizard
The more I tell myself that I need to get some fresh content on my blog, to give people a reason to come back and read, the harder it is for me to face the empty WordPress wizard.
I think the reason for this is that, through the Twisteries, I partially converted my blog into a vehicle for fiction. That was fine while I was working on smaller projects or writing opinion pieces for Aol. But now that I have started writing my new novel in earnest, I find that the challenge of producing two streams of very different fictional content has defeated me.
In the first place, perhaps selfishly, I want to keep all my creative energies focused. If I’m thinking about writing the next Twistery, I’m not thinking about writing the new novel. And the new novel is something very different for me, which makes it all the more demanding of my concentration.
Draining the well of words
But more than that, it’s almost as if I feel I have a finite source of ideas – or even words. If I draw on that source for Twisteries, there’ll be less available for the novel.
So I’ve found it hard to continue putting fictional content on the blog. Why not, then, do what other writers do and blog about the process of writing? Well, that’s precisely where my blogophobia takes hold.
I have a horror of revealing anything about a work in progress. I’m not a sharer. I keep things close to my chest. And really, as a fairly instinctive, untutored writer, the only process I know is to sit down and write. I can’t imagine that would make for many very interesting blog posts. “Day one. Today I sat down and wrote.” “Day two. Today I sat down and wrote some more.”
If I tried to unpick my techniques, I’m afraid I’d get a string of comments telling me what I’m doing wrong.
More interesting perhaps might be a record of my procrastinatory tactics. (Is procrastinatory a word? It is now.) Of which the main one, of course, would be the writing of the blog. But with some very real time pressures building up, I can’t really afford to add to my long list of diversions and displacement activities. Plus, it would be very embarrassing to reveal just how much of my time is spent googling myself or checking my amazon rankings. Yes, I was cured, but I fell off the waggon again.
The bottom of my blogophobia
Perhaps, if I’m honest, I still haven’t got to the bottom of my blogophobia. I wonder if it isn’t simply a desire for a quiet life. A hankering to hide away, to just be allowed to get on with the writing.
But even admitting to this extent that I might have reservations about blogging makes me feel uneasy. A blog is a way for a writer to interact with the world, with readers. To suggest that you may have had enough, or that you want a break, may be taken to mean that you can’t be bothered with the people to whom you owe everything. It’s easier to hide behind the excuse that you’re busy with other things.
The truth is creating a blog is a little bit like creating Frankenstein’s monster. Or more accurately, it’s like the plant from the Little Shop of Horrors screaming “Feed Me, Feed Me, Feed Me!” I hope you’ll forgive me if, occasionally, I hesitate before throwing myself into its man-eating buds.