Humbled by Blogspace High


Who could ever ignore this guy?

With my previous post attracting exactly one visitor, my doubts about the purpose of blogging have reached overdrive. I know what publishers and agents say that the purpose is: to motivate them by making myself pre-famous (thus rendering their services moot). While it is always nice to see Tanya Cliff, having her make the only visit to one of my most heartfelt and soul-baring posts is making me feel rejected by more than just those agents. I’m feeling rejected by the process of blogging itself.

In fact, blogging is starting to remind me a lot of High School.


I didn’t start blogging thinking it would return me to this place.

Anyone who’s been to High School knows that this probably isn’t a compliment. Blogging doesn’t remind me of lazy hours talking in Ian Cuthbertson’s Dodge Charger, nor does it bring back the taste of my school cafeteria’s Pizza Puffs: so carbolicious that I had to eat them in private. It has nothing to do with the friends I made on my first summer job, or the rites of passage that attach themselves so informally to graduation. Blogging has done not a fraction for me of what that special teacher did, when she taught me that life would be a series of joys and challenges that I was uniquely equipped to navigate.

You see, Mrs. Marcuk didn’t know about the challenge of blogging.

Mrs. Marcuk didn’t know, like none of us knew, about places that would expect us to be relentlessly witty, post after post. She didn’t know that good writing would be redefined in a place where our popularity would slam doors, like a poltergeist, over the minds and judgments of literary agents. She never imagined a place where ‘likes’ could be clicked and forgotten, and ‘followers’ so easily earned and lost. Mrs. Marcuk couldn’t imagine—really, none of us imagined—these terrifying places that aren’t even places at all.

She knew a lot about High School, though. She knew how I felt whenever I wondered what magic the popular kids summoned to become popular; if she were here now, she might understand my sinking heart when I compare my two dozen followers to the thousands on other blogs. Because she knew how students feel when excluded from discussions, Mrs. Marcuk might wonder, like I do, why posts on other blogs seem to inspire pages of comments. I believe she would see that having a finely crafted post ignored—like last week’s post, about my own student—is just like being unnoticed for earning good grades.

The fact is that the blogspace has a lot in common with… well, with the Student Common. Divisions occur almost mystically based on age, social status and physical appeal. There are those of us old enough to be at a disadvantage, because we still use apostrophes correctly, and still avoid nominalizing verbs. Thoughts shared by any of the Kardashians are barely thoughts at all, but their inexplicable social clout blows most bloggers’ stats out of the ether. As for those gravatars… well, who wouldn’t rather click the millimeter-high image of a beautiful girl than the mutant checkerboard that WordPress supplies?


Who dares enter the cheerleaders’ doors?

The fact is that wherever we go—even if we go to the blogspace, a.k.a. nowhere—we cannot completely avoid being judged and excluded. At my high school, we used to measure our social status based on which doors we were allowed to enter and exit; now, it is based on which blogs accept our comments. To some extent we will all feel the same highs of that acceptance, and the same crashing troughs when the cool bloggers turn their backs on us.

As writers, though, we can’t just turn our backs on them. Since the publishing community tells us that we must be popular bloggers to be considered good writers, I guess I had better recommit.

I’d better just keep felling those trees in the forest, until somebody happens by to hear one make a sound.


9 thoughts on “Humbled by Blogspace High

  1. There are weeks like that. Thanks for the mention. I try to read as many blogs as I can, and I notice an ebb and flow on my own blog as people get busy.
    We press on and blog away.
    Have an awesome week!


  2. You have written eloquently about an issue, if honest, all bloggers feel or have felt at times. I enjoy your posts and are most grateful for your contributions to my blog. For me, I try to remember why I began blogging and that it isn’t a competition. Blogging for me was a platform to share my words, and glean from others the things I needed and wanted to learn. Your piece resonated with me especially in light of my continued health issues. Thank you for sharing, all your support. Sometimes it’s a matter of putting one word in front of the other. @sheilamgood at Cow Pasture Chronicles


    • I appreciate that, Sheila. I also understand that blogging for the love of it is a different matter. Sometimes I love it, but that is different from doing it for the love of it: I am doing it to develop that “social media presence” that everyone tells me an author must have.

      When that presence fails to ensue, I can’t help but question why I am doing it at all. Posting on your blog, though, is another matter entirely: it is a privilege.


  3. K. ~ Blogging takes time, just like anything else. You’ve been blogging for what…a few months? It takes years of dedication to build a following. Jane Friedman wrote a post yesterday that I think fits, “Building a Platform to Land a Book Deal: Why It Often Fails”: – she basically says not to force it or you’re reverse engineering a process that is destined to fail because you’re focusing on superficial factors. Consider why you’re blogging and if it’s something YOU love to do or if it’s something you’re doing for other reasons.


    • Angela, thanks for your comments and for the link to Jane Friedman’s excellent article; I recommend it to anyone. However, she is wrong about one thing: smaller presses consistently and repeatedly demand a social media platform with high stats: and that’s for fiction, not just non-fiction. I have encountered numerous agents, especially, who specifically prohibit queries without a pre-existing “platform.”

      I am afraid that my criticism of the process is being misunderstood. Most of the time, I enjoy posting very much; it gives me an audience, no matter how small. What I tried to suggest to Sheila, which resonates clearly in Jane’s article, is that the “look-at-me” culture is doing more harm than good to authorial quality. While I agree that your gradual view of the process is a sensible one, publishing no longer seems to be a sensible industry. Blogging takes time… but so does writing, and we all have a finite amount of it.

      So, yes, I am also doing it for other reasons, as I believe any honest author would have to confess.


  4. “The “look-at-me” culture is doing more harm than good to authorial quality.” ~ I’m in complete agreement with that statement. But there are also writers/readers like us that appreciate quality writing and posts. I’ve been reading a lot of essays on literary sites lately that aren’t highly trafficked or highly shared, but the writing is excellent and makes the reader feel strongly about something. I think people like myself seek out this type of writing, and by writing it in the blogosphere, you are leaving a digital footprint for readers to enjoy in the future. I know it’s hard, but try not to focus on the numbers.


    • Readers like you are significant to keep in mind when deciding what to post, Angela. I shall try to keep those visitors more in mind… but I will still need my moments to rail against the direction of the world!


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