What was your original intention when setting up your website?
Although I started my website way back in 2014, I must confess that I still haven’t made a clear distinction between my website and my blog. That is still on a hypothetical ‘to do’ list! In 2014, I hardly knew what a blog was, but like Barry I wanted some kind of social media presence. I had resolved to become ‘a writer’ after many years of working as a musician and in educational research – and this was one way of establishing a writerly presence.
I looked at a few blogs and enrolled for a workshop at Writers Victoria on setting up your blog. I was flabbergasted when the person taking the workshop spent her time talking about recipes and childcare! I think it hadn’t occurred to me that people would want to share these very important aspects of their lives in this way – I’d envisaged blogs as being ‘literary’.
Barry acquainted me with WordPress and my nephew helped me with the initial setting up of a blog, designed with categories covering the various areas I thought I might write about. The six categories haven’t changed over the years (although I haven’t had any travel to write up since 2018). They are: My Reading, Memoir, Comments on concerts, plays, films, Travel, Short stories and Writing.
My Reading: I read quite a lot. I always have at least one book ‘on the go’. Often, although I’ve enjoyed reading a book, a few weeks later I can’t recall a great deal about it – I need something to jog my memory. Way before 2014, I’d been keeping a record of my reading. Why not share this on a blog?
Memoir: I like writing pieces of memoir – it helps me to reflect on my life. I had written some memoir, for example, a piece about my grandfather. People had enjoyed reading it, so I thought maybe it could go on my blog.
Comments on concerts, plays, films…: I usually go to quite a few concerts, plays, etc. and as with my reading, I find that I sometimes forget the detail quite quickly. I had been keeping a record of concerts etc. attended – posting these descriptions on my blog might stop me from being lazy!
Travel: Back in 2014 I was still at my educational research job and this required travel to interesting places such as Bogota and Saudi Arabia – places I probably wouldn’t ever go to on holiday. Writing about these places on my blog helped me to keep a record of these experiences.
Short stories: When I started my blog I’d thought it would be a good means of promoting and publishing my work. But I soon learned that publishers and competition organisers do not want material that has already been ‘published’ on a blog. So the amount of work I can post here is very limited.
Writing: This is what I do. The centre of my life. I don’t see myself as being in a position yet to post on ‘how to write’, but I like to share ideas and information that I’ve found helpful.
Thus in many ways my blog is self-serving. It’s a form of public record of what I’m reading and thinking. The obligation of contributing to the blog stops me from being lazy. It also provides me with short writing projects when work on my current piece of fiction is too daunting. It helps to confirm to me that I am a writer.
What are your reasons for maintaining a blog?
So – my original intention of setting up a blog was to help establish myself as a writer and in maintaining the blog, I hope I’m maintaining my existence as a writer. Would I work my way through the Booker Prize short-list if I didn’t have an objective of reviewing on my blog? Would I stop and reflect on the previous night’s concert and perhaps chase up the biographies of composers and performers if I didn’t believe that others might be interested in reading my musings? My blog keeps me writing.
What audience are you trying to reach? What do you hope to communicate through your website?
When I started my blog I didn’t really have a target audience in mind. I guess I assumed that most readers would be people like me, who like reading books, going to concerts, travelling… It all sounds a bit stuffy middle class – that’s absolutely not my aim. My blog provides an opportunity to ‘talk’ to people who are different from me. On the whole my reviews are off the top of my head – not an amateur version of the Australian Book Review. I want more freedom than if I were writing for an established journal. I’d like my blog to provide a conversation about a book, a film, a place… I’m always pleased when I see that someone very different from me is following my blog. And I’m intrigued to see where some of these people come from – parts of India, Africa, China. Sometimes I laugh when 75 people from, say, Wisconsin, view my review of a Jane Austen novel: the local high school class has a project, perhaps? I hope they got good marks.
My blog is a means of promoting my own writing, but I see that as a fairly minor role. I hope that through it people are introduced to books they might otherwise not have read, and to composers they might otherwise not have listened to.