Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Stage Fright

So, a funny thing happened in the last three years.

No, it wasn't that I realized how many paragraphs I start with "So," and quit doing it. I know how many paragraphs I start with "So," I just choose not to care.

The funny thing is that people started reading this silly blog I started just for fun to connect with other writers and catalogue my journey to...uh...wherever it is I'm going? At first it was just a few, and we'd have whole conversations in the comments, and it was great. Then more people found it, but it still wasn't a big deal. I'd do things like post passages from WIPs, and draw cartoons of my internal organs (complete with frowny faces!), and let Laptop take over and yell at people.

Last night I found myself in a very strange position, though. I was trying to decide what to blog about this morning and realized I was thinking, "What do they want to read?" Which made me realize I had shifted from writing this blog for myself (because it was ALL ABOUT ME! ME, ME, ME!) to worrying about what people thought when they read it.

It was kind of inevitable, especially when my mom told me about the conversations she overheard standing in line at the signing, with people comparing how long they'd been reading the blog and reminiscing about favorite posts--complete with wondering why I don't do [insert their favorite feature] as often anymore. And then there are the times someone points out whole discussions on other blogs or websites about my blog, and me, and my methods, and how it's a great marketing tool, so on and so forth.

Suddenly when I sit down to fill this box with nonsense the room feels very, VERY crowded. "So-and-so from Utah wants more Laptop posts. Maybe I'm not as funny as I used to be. But a lot of people who have never seen my blog before are going to be coming from the website, so I shouldn't have it be too inside-jokey or they'll feel left out and not come back. And why does Random House keep visiting? Did I mention one of their books, or do they have an irrational fondness for parenthetical statements? And people are going to come to my blog now and study it and try to figure out how the crap I have so many incredibly awesome readers and why on earth anyone likes me. And I can't write anything negative or mention [insert craptastic thing happening in my life here] or complain because I'm where so many people wish they could be, and I don't ever want to appear ungrateful. But I also can't whitewash my life, because even when you get a dream book deal and are published stuff still sucks and writing is always hard and my kids still don't sleep and there's never enough time and why the crap can't I get pregnant anymore? I mean, I don't want to be one of those SPARKLES SPARKLES MY LIFE IS AWESOME AND YOURS KINDA SUCKS bloggers because let's face it, I clean up way too much puke for that to ever be true. But I haven't been very funny lately. What happened to my funny? Come back to me, funny! I love you! Coooooooooome baaaaaaaaaaaaack!"

Then I give up and go to bed.

The point of this is that sometimes in writing (and, obviously, in blogging) we can become overwhelmed by audience. That's when I have to sit back and say to myself: Self, quit talking to yourself. You look like a lunatic.

And after that's been established, I think to myself: Self, your blog is not a marketing tool. It never has been. If it helps people find your books, fantastic! But your blog is to entertain yourself and keep yourself from doing things like making a lot of weird references to yourself as "self" and "yourself," because let's face it, even though you're thinking now instead of saying it out loud, you are still bordering on lunatic territory. And if other people are entertained, too, well that's fabulous!

So, I'm gonna keep starting out way too many paragraphs with so, and having fun, and if I want to draw diagrams of my internal organs with frownie faces, well, so be it. The day I start thinking of this blog as just a tool is the day I'll stop writing it.

Please bless that day comes soon.

Shut it, Laptop.

42 comments:

Jillian said...

I 100% agree with you. (And I still think you're funny.) :-)

Vicki Rocho said...

You still have your funny girl, cuz I'm laughing my butt off over here! It helps that I JUST THIS VERY MORNING realized I do the "so" thing a lot. Like way more than I should. And I've already censored myself a couple times in this little bitty paragraph.

Just keep writing -- about whatever -- your personality shines through and I'm pretty sure that's what most of us come here for anyway.

Emily White said...

I love your cantankerous self-aware laptop!

the Lola Letters said...

Blogging for yourself is definitely an important choice to make and keep on making. Well said

I use definitely and actually way too much, but also choose not to care.

LOVE your blog!

Michelle said...

KIersten, keep on being you, and we'll support you every step of the way! I have a game for today--use a different finger (other thumb) on the spacebar. Yes, go on, try it!

Sarah Laurenson said...

Getting to the other side and realizing you can just be you. That's how we all found you in the first place.

Congrats! I hope you hang on to that one for a long time.

Allie Sanders said...

The thing I always look forward to about your blog is the fact it is genuine. I don't feel like you're trying to connect to readers because you want to sell books or because your readers demanded you blog and you grudgingly started. It's fun, silly, sometimes helpful but almost always worth a good laugh (with you, I hope). Sure, you had some that were all about writing but it's more like reading a friend's blog than something you read just to find out the status of the next novel and do we get to see the cover yet? rather than, I wonder how Kiersten's doing today. Sure, new readers like myself may sometimes be wondering what you're talking about but hey, that's the fun of archives.

Tere Kirkland said...

Kierst, just keep being yourself. We love you any way we can getcha!

~Tere

Denise Grover Swank said...

I have had a blog for three years. When I first started it, it was to record the crazy adventures of my then four, now six kids. The audience grew and the more followers I attracted, the more nervous I became-- do they think I'm too weird? Are the tired of Emma stories? (my youngest daughter)

I reached a soul searching point. Ultimately, what did *I* want from my blog? I decided to write what I wanted to write. I LOVE my audience and the reason they read is because sometimes I'm weird and because of my crazy Emma stories. Once I let go of the worry, it became fun again.

Oh, and congrats on Paranormalcy! I plan to buy it for my daughter (and of course, read it too!)

Kristan said...

Rock on, Kiersten.

I've been thinking about this a lot lately, and I think the issue is bound to come up for most writers/bloggers, regardless of how successful or not we are. How can we ignore our audience? Isn't that the whole point?!

Well, yes and no. Of course we want to please our audience, but didn't we attract them in the first place by pleasing ourselves?

So, like you, this is my guiding principle:

"The day I start thinking of this blog as just a tool is the day I'll stop writing it."

I started blogging *for myself* when I was 9 years old (nerd, I know) and I don't plan to change that any time soon. I consider my readers to be friends, and real, true friends only want you to be yourself. :)

lotusgirl said...

Don't sweat it. Just be you. That's what keeps bringing those of us who enjoy you back around. Loved Paranormalcy btw. Lend is so cool!

~Jamie said...

Doesn't so and so from Utah KNOW that you can't force laptop to talk? :P

patdwhite said...

Wait, you have a blog?

patdwhite said...

Seriously,

Many times when I read your blog I feel like you have just come in the room and sat down on the couch next to me. Then we have a nice warm/funny/serious/sad/happy conversation. Since we don't live close together we don't get to do that in person often enough, but I get to have a little part of you with me when I read your blog. Just keep being you, my Kitty bug, that is what people enjoy the most.

Sara B. Larson said...

I love your blog! And, personally, I like it when authors do share some of the personal stuff in their lives. Not all of it of course (hence the word "privacy") but, enough to feel like you kind of know them. I think you have to ultimately do what feels right for YOU and don't worry about what the readers "want." Otherwise, it won't be your voice anymore. KWIM? BTW, I commented a couple of times to you on twitter, but never heard back, so it probably got lost in all of your tons of fangirl tweets - but it was so great to meet you in person last weekend. I posted about your signing on my blog today in case you're interested.

And P.S. : I struggle with infertility too (I have endometriosis) and it sucks hard core. I'm so sorry you are dealing with it too. :(

Sommer said...

Kiersten- I'm actually part of a conversation about you on Nathan Bransford's forums. You stopped in to say hi and I thought that was awesome. I was one of those that mentioned you in particular. I mentioned you because you don't write your blog as some particularly clever marketing tool.

It happens to work for you as a marketing tool, but the thing that makes you and your blog so great is...that's not its intended use. And you can tell. You can tell that your blog is for you.

Please don't change that aspect, even when any of us are saying "More of this! More of that! MOREMOREMORE" (we are greedy little monsters, aren't we?) You are awesome because of the way you do what you do. It may feel necessary to change because your book is out there now, but don't. Please don't. This is still all about you, you've just been kind enough to invite us in and let us sit and listen a bit.

-Sommer

Caroline Starr Rose said...

This is fabulous. I've enjoyed watching your blog develop as your writing and readership have grown. If what you're doing works for you (just like your regular ol' writing), I think people will connect with it.

Keep it up!

Kiersten White said...

Dad--You are cute.

Freya--That is totally fine! I'm excited to see it!

Everyone--You all rock. That's part of what makes blogging so much fun--all of the wonderful personalities that come visit : )

Lisa said...

I just wanted to chime in and say I start almost all my blog posts with "so." Now I just have to work on not caring like you :)

By the way, I'm halfway through "Paranormalcy" and I'm really liking it!

Steph Sinkhorn said...

Guilty *shifty eyes*

Heh. For what it's worth, I've never felt like you use this blog as a "tool" for anything, which is exactly WHY I think it's so popular. You're you, and people like you. If you're going to blog, you have to do it for yourself and the relationships first. Like, duh! :D

Melissa said...

You never lost your funny. In my opinion anyway.

Also, I'd just like to say that every time I come to this blog, I come for you. I don't care what you write about or what it is because I enjoy all of it. When you write about bad things that happen to you, that's okay (even though they do suck and I wish they didn't happen to you)I don't mind. It just shows that your as human as the rest of us.

I love your blog and it doesn't matter what you blog about because I'll keep coming back because you bring yourself to every post. Except of course when your laptop yells at us but I like him too.

moonrat said...

Blech. Maybe you can guess what's been going through my head for more than a month now.

Mandy said...

I wouldn't worry, Kiersten; you still have you funny! ;)
Your blog is one of the funniest ones I follow, and I love it when authors have fun, relaxed blogs, because that usually says alot about how their books are - just as fun, if not even more so, than the blogs.

Lyla said...

If the I-don't-know-what-to-write posts keep coming out this good, I think you have a lot of mileage left in them :)

Nicole Grotepas said...

Yeah Laptop is pretty funny. But do what you want! :) I always think of "If you build it, they will come." Like Field of Dreams. Let Field of Dream be your guide, I always say.

Jessie Oliveros said...

I love your blog every day, funny or not. But usually you are funny, probably without trying.

VICTORIA SAAVEDRA said...

Bravo!!!!! "claps hands*

Natalie Aguirre said...

I just started following your blog about a month or so ago. But I enjoy it the way it is. I've read on a few other blogs (sorry can't remember which) that use yours as example of how to do a blog right and not have it all about you. And these days with your new book out and your fantastic success, I don't think it's bad if it is a lot about you.

C.E. said...

I can't tell you how many paragraphs I write in my blog that start with "so" I have to go through and do a "so" check and just start deleting.

And everyone LOVES your blog BECAUSE of you you you!

Larissa said...

When were you ever not funny? I'm afraid I'm going to need proof of that...

Rhonda said...

Of course your blog is all about you! It' supposed to be. Unless it's about me...but then I have my own blog for that so then that would be weird, yes?

So, it's about you then - and, honestly, that's why I come here. :)

Christine Fonseca said...

Dude! Just be you!!! Blog as you always have - it's your authenticity that we LOVE (at least that is what I love about you! - among other things)

Roy Hayward said...

Of course now I feel guilty for telling my daughter about some of the funny laptop posts while waiting in line in SLC.

I guess the only thing I want to say is, write the blog for yourself. (heck write everything for yourself.) (Especially your parentheticals.)

If you start trying to write for others, it will become a chore.

(And I thought yesterday's post about your bio, was hilarious.)

Fi-chan (Bookish-Escape) said...

You're still funny! And just write for yourself! I like you as yourself!

Whirlochre said...

That's why I come back to this blog every day: it hasn't really changed much since I started following shortly after its whoosh onto the blogosphere.

This is not to say it's become staid or stagnant, like the breath of some unwashed dog. It's new and fresh as always.

What's great is that you wear the trappings of your success the same way you did your ascent to it, almost like Cinderella staring in disbelief at her glass slipper. Only you're way smaller than Cinderella, of course. And the pumpkins, as I recall, were real.

Haiku Amy said...

A: You're funny. B: I start a ton of paragraphs with So. We So have that in common. C: People like to read Puke stories, it helps us feel close to celebs. It's like those pictures in the magazines with actual stars doing normal stuff. It's cool.

Claire Dawn said...

I love Laptop, but I love you more!

I just got a GoodReads Newsletter with PARANORMALCY as a mover and shaker! PSYCHED!

Karen Carr said...

I just found your blog last week and love it! It inspires me to keep working on my blog that no one reads! Maybe in three years...

Lauren said...

I love your blog, Kiersten, and never ever think you lost your funny streak. Your words are full of sunshine and your writing, pure delight.

Madeleine said...

Here's the deal, in my opinion: Reading blogs is way more fun when you can practically see the writer on the other end and get a feel for them. Your blog speaks so much of you that your book almost felt familiar when I read it - because you are the mastermind behind both.

If being you and writing a blog for yourself entails weekly memes on the art of doodling internal organs or complaining about the crap that is part of everyone's life at times, then so be it.

And I think you're incredibly funny. You're funny's still here... you just can't see him.

purplg8r said...

Such a funny post! And I've realized before that a lot of my reviews start with "so" :)

Janean said...

what do you need? ill tell you what you need, a night out with good friends, to laugh at stupid stuff and gossip, and wash away ur stress, and do nothing.. lets get on that huh?