A couple of days ago, through Twitter, I found out about the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. Now, I already have more to get done in April than I have time for. I have short stories to edit, manuscripts to comment on and a book to prepare for submission. I have a house to overhaul in readiness for my impending parenthood. I have my actual day job to fit in somewhere. And for that reason, I did what any sensible writer would do.
I jumped right in.
The idea is that this month, I write a short blog post every day: one for each letter of the alphabet. Because there aren't 30 letters, the other Sundays in April are free – except that Sunday is when I put up my usual longer articles, and I don't want to disappoint my regular audience (the dog can be quite demanding). So brace yourselves, my friends. I'm going to be with you, to a greater or lesser extent, every single day in April. Yep, that's right: 30 whole days. Please restrain your excitement.
As you've probably noticed, I happen to begin with A, and so I was going to call this first post after myself. (Self-centred, I know, but since I've also called this whole website after myself it's a little late to worry about that now.) But then it struck me that Anonymous would be a far better title. Because that's what no author wants to be these days, yet when I started on my literary path it's exactly what I intended.
It's the same dilemma we all face when confronted with this newfangled interweb malarkey. How much of myself do I reveal? What's private and what's public? I'd already decided that as a writer I'd use a variation of my name that gave away as little as possible, mainly in the belief that some male readers might be put off by an obviously female name, and vice versa. (As it turns out, that doesn't seem to be much of an issue any more, but I thought it was sensible at the time.) In addition, I had a stupid kind of pride that meant I didn't want my writing life to be connected with my personal or work life until I became a 'success'. I imagined dropping in on a group of acquaintances one day and happening to mention, oh so casually, that my first book was due out in the autumn. So when I started online as a writer, I didn't post a photo of myself or anything personal at all. I didn't encourage my family and friends to come and support me; most of them still don't even know I have a blog or a website or a Twitter account. I was determined to go it alone.
Now, I'm beginning to wonder if that was a mistake.
Because the thing is, the writer and their work are bound more tightly together now than they ever have been. Readers find out about new books through what the authors post on Twitter and Facebook. They can feed back instantly on what they liked and didn't like. They want to know who a writer is, not just what s/he does. And in fact, there's no longer really a separation between author and audience: all writers are readers, and many readers are writers. As the politicians are so fond of saying, we're all in this together. By making myself anonymous, I'm detaching myself from a new and collaborative way of doing things, just because I'm afraid to let anyone I know in the 'real world' see me fail. And that's just silly.
Admittedly, I'm not ready to bring all the parts of my life together yet. I don't want to try and sell myself with a glamorised photo, or use my family to boost my Twitter numbers. But I do want to get to know people and let them get to know me. For that reason, my plan for the month is to reveal something new about myself every day. Make myself a little less anonymous by sharing some of my personal fears, dreams and opinions. Stick around, and you might even get to find out what A.F.E. stands for …
But probably not.
Write Every Day: tip of the week
It's not too late to join in the A to Z Challenge! You have until Monday night to sign up, so if you want some encouragement to write every day then why not give it a try?