The big advice writers hear a lot is that they have to have a platform. Nobody wants to read nobody—they want to read people who have a presence! Who have a blog, a Twitter account, a Facebook author page, three portraits, an Instagram, a Tumblr, and that Linkedin that they don’t use.
Last summer, I went on Twitter, which turned out to be a ton of fun. I got the hang of tweeting and RT-ing and using hashtags. That mastered, I expanded my Facebook account to an author page under my main writing name, S. Hunter Nisbet. And in order that I’d have something to put there, I started this blog. Three days a week, no ifs, ands, or buts.
The topics were a bit random at first. I didn’t really know what to post, so I posted everything. Thoughts on where I live, on social media, on my play-writing. I did a series on how people like to write their characters learning new languages in the space of two weeks and how much that annoys me. There were some video game commentaries, and a series of recipes. It was a weird couple months. Enjoyable, but weird.
Somewhere around the beginning of December, I settled into a routine of alternating posts about writing-craft with comedic posts about my everyday life. People seemed to like both types in equal amounts, and that type of post is easy enough to write; it’s just talking about what I do. My editing series did fantastic, and people found my irritation at coffee tables to be quite amusing. The hit count started trending steadily upwards. Engagement rose.
All good things, so why have I been doing this blog wrong, then? That’s the point of this post, isn’t it? What’s the problem here?
The style I’ve been writing with here has nothing to do with the style I use in my books. In fact, the jokey sentences and forays into oddness have as much to do with the novels I write as a cheese soufflé does with a pine tree, and that metaphor is a prime example of it. I began this blog to get people interested in reading my books, but my books are neither comedy nor slice of life. So it doesn’t matter how many people read this blog if the style I write in here isn’t the style my books are written in, and hint, it isn’t.
I’ve been doing on this blog what I do in real life: covering up the intellectual, focused, too-intent me with a veneer of adorable harmlessness and just a touch of schoolteacher. It’s so much easier than trying to be taken seriously while being serious.
You’ve seen the serious me: a furious rant about the politics of cereal, a post lamenting a local chemical leak. That piece on Schrodinger’s novel that was picked up as a WordPress Editor’s pick alongside the likes of Chuck Wendig was a serious post.
Those posts did fine, but putting them out there induced the sort of anxiety normally associated with 2am phone calls from elderly relatives. The post about why I’m not humble netted the obnoxious sort of comments that make me not want to write those sort of posts.
In fact, they did make me stop writing them for a while. Serious me was difficult; that was made clear.
And yet, my books are all about difficult things. They’re serious and angry and raw because anything else is unrealistic when you’re that worn down by life, as my characters are. As I have so often felt.
But while they struggle and scream, I bury the furious rants on everything beautiful and bullshit and hopelessly human under a combination of sarcasm, bewilderment, and amused irritation, as evidenced in vast majority of my blog posts. The person who writes those pieces is my public facade, and she’s great, really. She’s funny, she’s personable. She has a way with making everyday life a ridiculous adventure.
She’s just not the person who writes the books, the me that stares at the world and pieces together what’s under the skin to come out with the right answer whether I want it or not, because the answers we hide are not the nice ones.
A couple days ago, I realized that the private me is who should be writing this blog, because at the end of the day, she is the one who matters.
That’s tough. There’s no risk in admitting that I suck at yoga. Nobody is offended by my gross hatred of Papyrus. We all want to be better editors.
There is risk in being real without fictional characters between myself and the reader.
Yet I suppose that is what a platform really is; rather than simply drawing eyeballs on the page because I wrote about the Roomba eating my laptop cord, it’s the place where I engage you, my readers, on a level that makes you realize I have a lot to say and I’m saying it well. So well that you want to hear more.
Seems obvious, looking back, but there you have it. The truths we hide from shine harsh lights.
My humorous posts aren’t going away; I enjoy writing them. The writing stuff will likewise stick around. But perhaps it’s time I stopped watching my hit count and worried about whether the voice you read here is the voice in my books.
The voice that, at the end of the day, is the one that speaks for the trees. And, more importantly, for me.