Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Deciding what you are and what to do about it

So the deal is anyone can have a successful blog, if by successful we mean that they make a few thousand dollars each year off of it and they have a respectable number of followers.

The catch is that to make this happen, it's actually a lot of work. Without getting into all the details of what is required of a person to make this happen, let's just agree that it would be the equivalent of a full time job. This is something I sort of knew before I went to BlogHer, and then completely understood as a truth once I returned.

And since then I've been thinking: Do I even want to try to do that? Would it be enjoyable? Would it detract too much from other things I ought to be doing instead?

The answers: I dunno. Maybe. Probably.

I decided to test the waters with a fairly unreliable tool -- Klout -- and find out what my "influence score" is, and also what topics I am influential in. Klout tells me I have an influence score of 45. This is a lower score than the scores held by most of the people I am supposedly an "influencer of."

The topics I am purportedly influential in, from greatest to least are: Bacon, china, coffee, alcohol, and high school. So basically I am influential in food, stimulants, downers, things you can put your food, stimulants, and downers in, and high school.

According to Klout. Which may as well be a baby monkey with a stack of flashcards.

If I were going to guess at what topics I am actually influential about, I'd say: Vaginas, food, diets, cats, and alcohol. I could be wrong.  

In any case, Klout and the rest of the Internet are basically telling me not to quit my day job, which is: Writing a book. And luckily for me, there was a session at BlogHer on how to pitch a book. 

The room was jam-packed, as I expected it would be. Lots of people, including me, fancy themselves writers/novelists/authors. Unfortunately, the panelists left a bad taste in my mouth. The overarching message seemed to be: You may believe you are a writer/novelist/author, but you will never be successful at it, and in all likelihood are not as clever as those of us sitting on this panel and therefore are highly unlikely to ever be published. Go drink yourself silly and go back to banking or mid-level management or whatever it was you were doing before.

I'm admittedly a little sensitive when it comes to receiving "wisdom" from writerly types because for my entire journalistic career, 90 percent of the editors I worked for (I worked for about 15) were complete shitheads who wanted you to believe you were scum. You were less than scum. You couldn't write. You'd never be a good writer. Why did you ever decide to be a writer in the first place?

Their attitudes were not altogether surprising following years of professors emphasizing the dead-endedness of a journalistic career. They warned us the editors would be dickfaces. They warned us we'd never make any money. They told us it wasn't all glamor and accolades. And we didn't give a shit. Each of us had our own reasons for continuing headlong into the spiral of insanity that is journalism, but in the end we all did it, and now that the dust has settled I can point to a select few former college classmates who are still in the profession, and most of them are basically bonkers.   

Anyway. Tangent much?!

The moral of this long-winded story is that lots of writers are assholes and they're not looking out for your best interest, and there is no wrong or right way to be a writer or maintain a blog or publish a novel. In my book, if you write, you are a writer. If you blog, you are a blogger. Whether you succeed at either of those is half mental and half physical. This is a successful blog because I write here most days of the week and a few people read what I write. But it doesn't make money. I have almost successfully completed a book, which will be a huge fucking deal when it finally happens. Being published traditionally would be the icing on the cake but isn't going to be the end-all, be-all for me.

BlogHer was inspiring and made me want to tackle search engine optimization and other shit I don't know anything about, but for now I'm going to keep my day job and keep plugging away at this book.

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