Is There Anybody Out There?

Note: This is not a pity party or doing that whole ‘have sympathy for me’ rubbish. I have some pride left. Not much, but a little bit. I lost most of it back in 1987 when I was my hometown’s Carnival Princess and had to wear a flowery pink monstrosity. This post is just saying it like it is, ‘cos that’s how I roll. Although new followers or more page views would be nice. Please. For the love of all that is good and holy. Please. *Slinks off feeling a little emotionally soiled for all the shameless begging*

Communication

Blogging and writing are initially solo, occasionally lonely, exploits. Working alone is a bonus, to a degree, for the stereotypical version of the introvert. The introvert hides in caves and snarls at the world, right?

Well, rightish, but also, wrong. We value our alone time but we do actually like to be with other people, if a select few, and for a set amount of time. Introverts like to converse every now and again; be it in person or through the interweb. Or pigeon carrier. Or GoT type ravens which are far more bad ass than ‘rats with wings’. I’m not fussy about the form of communication; just communicate. I can take it.

The newbie blogger

The newbie blogger begins all excited. You are potentially reaching the masses. You have so much to share. You could be the next Martin Luther King. You are also in need of psychiatric help if you think this is true.

You send your posts out there into cyberspace and brace yourself for the followers and the feedback. Then reality hits… You get one comment or ‘like’ if the wind is blowing in the right direction that day and you didn’t publish your post when  Eastenders was on.

Your ‘genuine’ followers i.e. those who chose to follow you, amount to your most nearest and dearest and a few marvellous people who think you might be quite good at this. You love, cherish and respect these people dearly.* You blackmailed, sorry encouraged, them to follow your blog. Cheques are in the post people. Husband, it was in the marriage vows – you weren’t listening properly.

But, and here’s where the ungracious toddler tantrum begins, you can’t help but think it would be nice to have other followers. It would be great to know that people want to follow your blogs and share comments with you. After all, the writing advice out there dictates that you must build a following through social media from the onset.

I am wondering how many people currently dislike me because I linked them in through Facebook . You’re all either too polite, potentially interested, or don’t know how to get out of this one technologically. If it’s the latter, you’re stuck for life. Really. It’s the Facebook rules.

Getting it into perspective

Joking aside, I’ve come to realise that I don’t want anyone to follow my blog, my writing progress, or the published pieces (hopefully) that will come, unless they truly want to. I desire readers who are delighted and inspired by what I produce, not bored or feeling under duress to read it. This is where I am learning an important lesson and I am now down on the floor in Tesco, looking like a numpty, because my mum walked away after I threw an epic tantrum. Shame on me.

It’s not all about the number of page views, the amount of followers, the ‘likes’ or the comments. Of course it motivates me and it is encouraging to know that people are engaging with my work. But I am finally learning to step the hell away from the ‘stats’ section, or count the ‘likes’ on Facebook, because it does not reflect reality.

Thankful for cheerleaders

I may be a writer working alone, but I am not isolated. I have received encouraging comments, positive feedback and genuine good wishes; electronically and in person. They may be few at this stage but they are so incredibly cherished.

My cheerleading squad may not be extensive, but it has a core group of the most dedicated, awesome people on this planet. Too many cheerleaders just creates pom pom havoc anyway.

Thanks cheerleaders. You are the reason I continue blogging and writing. Thank you Dave, Belinda, Frank, Linda, Pam, Kate and Chantelle. You are rocking my world and keeping me bolstered. To those that are following my blog and my Facebook group, unbeknownst to me, I thank you too. You count.

I may not see the stats that add it up, but knowing there are unknown people out there rooting for me helps more than you can imagine. Please don’t leave me because I didn’t name you here. I am open to using your name in my next blog post. Incentive required: Dairy Milk and it’s all yours.

I have been surprised by those who have, and have not, engaged with my decision to write. It’s true that some of the people I thought would be giving the loudest cheers, have been silent. That’s okay. I know people are inclined to make their own choices and decisions when others follow their seemingly impossible dreams. On a positive note, it is often those I considered to be the most unlikeliest of people, who have been incredibly supportive. You are flipping amazing.

Thankful

As for the actual writing process, maybe it’s not as lonely as I sometimes think. I am writing with people, with readers, always in mind. Therefore I engage with you every single day. I hope one day you will ‘speak’ back when you get to read more of my writing.

I also have a lot of new ‘friends’ in fiction world and I can make them do whatever I want. If they get on my nerves, I kill them off. Now, can you say that about your real, live mates? Nope. So there. I win. **

* Please don’t unfollow me ‘faithful few’, I’m on the edge already as it is. Unfollow and you’re dead to me. Except you’re not because I’m too nice and I like you. Bum. You’ve got me.

**Realises that this is not grown up behaviour and has possibly now lost more potential followers. Some days I am my own worst enemy.

About Lisa Sell

Lisa Sell is a fiction writer and blogger. When not wrestling with words she can be found showing the love for chocolate, cheese, coffee, the cat, and the Husband. Not particularly in that order.

17 comments on “Is There Anybody Out There?

  1. Ah Lisa, I feel your pain and I’d like to say it gets easier once you’ve published something but in many ways it doesn’t. I totally agree with you when you say the people you most thought would engage have not, and the least likely to have. I experienced that same thing, and still do now. It really is hard to fathom sometimes, but it is what it is. When i started blogging, I wasn’t brave enough to post actual blogs, like you have, ie opinion pieces and experiences. I posted chapters of the books I was working on, and literally two people on Facebook followed and read them. Luckily they liked them and asked for more, and that encouraged me enough to keep going!! Eventually I got braver and started posting other things, to do with writing or life. It helps to be linked to Twitter, which i think you said you were? Remembering to tag things etc. I can only say one thing for certain; writing is a rollercoaster, you are up one minute and down the next, on cloud nine and then quickly on the verge of quitting. I’m sat here having had no downloads of the book I have discounted (I am not giving them for free anymore as it does not get reviews!) and as usual no engagement from my Facebook friends. I get way more support on the author page but that has taken a few years to build. I’ve also got no kids booked onto my next workshop so I’m pooping myself over that too! Which is often how it goes and then fingers crossed, I’ll get enough bookings to cover costs. Constant panic, fear and self doubt! But there will be another up day, I know that by now. I just look forward to it! So all i can say is brace yourself for more of the same but keep doing what you are doing and remember why you are doing it 🙂

  2. Thanks for both sharing in the misery and the awesomeness of writing! It really helps that you get it! I am just an impatient little madam sometimes and need to learn how to play the long game. I feel heartened that I’m already learning that it means a lot to have the following I currently have and to value those people.

    I totally agree that even a few people following you initially makes it all so very worth it. I am not looking for fame. This is a tough gig and I’m under no illusion that selling millions of books can happen for me. If it did; flipping amazing. If it doesn’t; I’m just glad that I’m writing and it will be shared with someone.

    As for your book sales and the kids’ workshop, I guess you know better than many that it’s all about the the possible last minute rush. I’m sure you’re already doing it but if not, contacting directly teachers, specifically English Heads (if this workshop applies to secondary) could be useful. Literacy leaders in primary schools. I will continue to share your posts regarding book sales etc. Always more than happy to support you.

    This writing rollercoaster is one of the scariest but most exciting rides I’ve ever been on. I’m not ready to get off it anytime soon. Thanks for coming along for the ride and showing me how to negotiate the twists and turns. Ooh, I’m being mega metaphorical tonight!

  3. Hi Lisa,
    Flattered you think of me (at least I assume you mean me) as a cheerleader – although after 3 chocolate digestives for lunch, I hope you don’t want us to wear costumes.
    I’ve been out there since last night when the post first popped on Facebook. Yep. I was looking forward to reading this at 10pm. Then Mikey decided he was having a late one, so postponed reading amid calls of “Erre!” to deal with my errant 3 month old.
    Finally got round to reading it at 7am with baby attached to me. Mission accomplished. Boredom relieved. Temporarily.
    As I head off to feed the Bottomless Pit aka Mikey, I must ask… when is the next post? No pressure but you are single handedly stopping my brain cells from dying of boredom.

  4. Missing commas are no biggie, Pam. Didn’t even notice. If anything, I use them too much! Bit of a fan of the long sentence which is completely the opposite of what I taught my pupils. See? Just did it!

    I love that my posts are fortifying you through initial motherhood! Makes me feel like some kind of motherhood guru whilst having absolutely no knowledge about how to be a parent whatsoever.

    By the way, have no doubt; you are most definitely in the cheerleading squad. No silly short skirts required. Chocolate digestives are far more important than shiny outfits.

    As I told you last week, you were the first person to ever comment on my blog. You made me cry with your heartfelt words because until then, for decades, I never believed I could ever make anyone feel anything with my words. You spurred me on and continue to do so every time you read and/or comment what I write.

    I promise I am actually writing other things apart from this blog and you will get to see them soon! I’ll contact you separately to arrange this. I will also keep blogging for you and for Mikey because it sounds like it makes mummy a little bit happy and less likely to become a zombie. As you know, that little fella is more than worth it all.

  5. I haven’t been doing much of anything (when it comes to writing, blogging, etc.) lately, but today I decided to play catch up and your blog was one I clicked on for the first time. So hi! I’m not a devoted follower who lurks and you’ve simply never seen me, I’m literally a fresh off the boat viewer.

    I to have ups-and-downs when it comes to blogging and audience. I don’t have anything published yet, I’m not a wealth of information, I’m not famous, I don’t even have tons of friends. I’m not one of those bloggers who EVERYONE in a certain hobby follows because they’re “the person” who knows all on the subject.

    I went into blogging knowing that and realizing that I had to do this my way and not expect a whole lot. Now, I have noooo idea what the norm is for views/comments on average blogs. So I haven’t the foggiest notion of whether I’m doing “better” or “worse” than the everyday blogger.

    It does get disheartening though to not have 20 comments on everything! And 200 page views! (haha, both of those numbers are way higher than my average) i worry something awful on those occasions that I’m boring people and every time I share my blog post somewhere everyone’s thinking, “oh great. It’s Kristen AGAIN. Sharing her boring posts that clutter up my feed.”

    It’s important to write what you enjoy so that even if no one is reading, you’re still having fun. And it’s also important to step back and just be grateful for the little things. I’m grateful for the probably 5 devoted readers I have who drop me a comment.

    I didn’t realize when I started blogging, how valuable comments were to bloggers. I commented on someone’s blog a few months back and they responded with “You’re the first person to ever comment!” This person’s been blogging for much longer than I have! And even with zero comments and no way of knowing if anyone was appreciating or enjoying what they wrote, they still kept posting.

    1. Hi Kristen. It is so great to hear from someone I don’t know! Very encouraging, as I’m sure you understand. Thanks for stopping by and hopefully you’ll be interested in other posts on my blog. Thanks also for providing a link to your blog which I will definitely check out – we’re in this together, right?

      I’m pretty much where you are; nothing published yet, not famous, not high on the friend quotient and not ‘the person’ to follow in a sea of other writer bloggers. But we persevere eh? There is a reason for all this and you have cast some light on it. We do it because we enjoy writing the posts. We enjoy writing. Go figure. Writers actually enjoying writing.

      I’m not sure of the norms and targets for a successful blog either. I don’t think I care anymore now I’m getting over that ‘new blog, must be popular’ rubbish. I’m no saint. Some days I wonder why I bother when no comments or likes appear. No additional followers than the faithful few.

      Then I realise that I should be VERY grateful for the followers and views I have. I should just keep on enjoying the process and probably do it for me, more than anyone else.

      Thank you for your comment. You have taught me a lot in a short space of words. Let’s keep on doing this and doing it as well as we possibly can! I wish you well with all your writing endeavours. It’s a tough, but exciting world!

  6. Totally hear you on this. You start blogging, but don’t understand when you’re not getting as many likes and comments as someone like Chuck Wendig, and you think – I CAN BE INTERESTING – I HAVE AS MUCH TO SAY. See? I can even do the INTERMITTENT SHOUTING BIT. Why don’t people find my stuff funny? Or interesting? Why don’t they see me!

    And then you get a comment from someone ‘on the interwebz’ who you’ve never met, but they start commenting… every week. Someone – nay, one person – finds you interesting. Nothing is more gratifying! (Well, I expect there are lots of things more gratifying – LIKE A MOUNTAIN OF CHOCOLATE UNICORNS LICKING YOUR EYES)

    Lovely post.

    1. *Sighs at the heady combination of chocolate AND unicorns* Thanks for the encouragement, and from someone not related to me too. I’m officially on my way. Check me out, ha ha!

  7. Hi! I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’m out here, and just stumbled over from Scribophile, where I’m catching upon a pile of posts.

    I know I tend to only comment on posts I feel I have something to say–just saying “Good post!” or something like that feels like too little to me. But I’m trying to get better at commenting, because I know how thrilling it is to get comments, since I experience that through my own blog!

    1. Hi Heather. Thanks for reading my blog and for commenting! Glad to find another blogger that gets the need to check their readers have pulses via making comments. Give me your blog details as I’d like to take a look and show the love back! We are all very much in this together eh?

  8. Hello (from amidst the tumbleweed)!!! I’m out here, and it’s a pleasure to read your blog. Keep on plugging away and you might get, oh at least, 50 wordpress followers like me 😉

    1. Ha ha! We bloggers are such needy creatures, aren’t we? Thanks for bumping up the numbers and actually enjoying it. Your blog has given me some insights and chuckled, so keep on doing what you’re doing!

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