I have been following the recent WordPress challenge ‘Writing 101’ – you note that I say ‘following’ – it should actually read ‘participating in’ but I confess I have only added two posts instead of the intended post every day. (Sorry WP staffers, I fell by the wayside).
At the start, I really wanted to take part and answer the prompts with well thought out posts and if I can’t manage to get a post out there every day, what the heck am I doing joining up in the first place? But in my defence I also have a full-time job and the husband you will read about later. So a point for good intentions at least?
This started me thinking about blogging, why I do it and what I am hoping to achieve. The why is easy, I want to write, I have things to say, having a blog is a way of getting my work and my thoughts out there, the second question I find harder to answer.
I started my blog exactly five years ago this weekend. I had been thinking about retirement as my husband had taken early retirement and wanted me to do the same. I had read reports in the press of the increasing numbers of people approaching retirement age, who wanted to carry on working, in some cases they just had to. I wasn’t ready to retire then and I’m not now, but I thought that I would share my thoughts on my blog. So my first post went out there ‘Some thoughts on retirement’.
I thought it was a reasonably interesting subject and looked forward to a response from the blogosphere, but zilch – zero – nought – nix – nothing.
I was disappointed, realising that I cared more than I thought I would about the fact no-one had read my blog. I thought about this ‘rejection’ for a while, then reasoned that obviously there must be a lot of other bloggers on WordPress discussing more interesting things than retirement. (Yes, I was that naive)
I carried on blogging. But it wasn’t until towards the end of the year that one kind person clicked the ‘like’ button, and it was well into 2010 before my blog started receiving a few regular visitors. I analysed the posts and found that when I followed a photography challenge for instance, I had lots of visitors, but my normal posts carried on receiving little attention.
Undaunted, I carried on with a mix of photo challenges and ordinary posts. Late summer of 2012 I was invited to join the Friday Fictioneers group. I read a few of the posts submitted by some of the other writers and felt very dubious about attempting to join them. Their writing was of a very high standard – in my opinion it still is – and the idea of writing 100 words inspired by a photo prompt was huge a challenge, something I had never attempted before.
I took a deep breath, then submitted my first post ‘Shrouded‘. I was amazed by the almost instant feedback from the group. They were very welcoming, supportive and kind to a newcomer. When I faltered they urged me to continue, their criticism was always constructive and their support invaluable. Nowadays, we still share our stories but consider each other more as friends and the comments certainly reflect that – illnesses, family problems, travel plans have all been mentioned and shared.
Since joining the group two years ago, the visitors to my blog have increased, mainly through the other writers as we comment on each others’ stories, but also from new followers, who have found something they like and have stayed. And I thank them sincerely.
I’m delighted when someone leaves a comment, I enjoy responding and then reading and commenting on their work. It’s a bit like building a pyramid, thankfully it hasn’t taken as long as the ones at Giza!
When I read the stats in a Daily Post, about the number of bloggers using WordPress – like several million – and the number of posts published each and every day – several more million – I am doubly grateful that my posts have attracted any readers at all. I am also pleased that my work is not just disappearing into the ether, nor am I talking to myself.
So, what do I hope to achieve? I think the answer has to be to just enjoy doing what I like doing, not worry too much that it’s not perfect, or going to set the world on fire. After all we can’t all be racehorses, there have to be some plodders farther down the field!