Blogging involves a fair amount of risk-taking. So it’s tempting to hedge one’s bets. Taking a risk in one venue but not in another. Encouraging some people to read and follow and hoping others don’t.
But the great writers of the world don’t write their masterpieces and hope that only certain people will read them. They write and release their words to everyone. Something important is said in a final, enduring way because it is published. Then Great Writer A, B. and C can go on to their next masterpiece.
Do the great writers of the world worry about who will read their work? Maybe. I’m sure in the Big Girl Writing School, there is instruction in how to step over fractured family relationships and surprised co-workers in the interest of literature. Is there, after all, anything nobler than the truth? A great writer of the world can handle the truth even if her former friends and relatives are weeping in the corner.
Blogging is the same, only different. There are a lot of people who denigrate blogging. I wouldn’t be one of them. There is junk in the blogging world but also a lot of genuine and beautifully expressed observations. I know. Sometimes I have them. I appreciate the bloggers that I follow, if only, some days, for a turn of phrase. I love an artful use of words. Other days, I am dwarfed and depressed by reading bloggers who are so much better than me. I wonder how they can write so perfectly and have such extraordinary photos day after day.
With many blogs, and sometimes my own, I’m struck by the blogger’s risk-taking. This isn’t so much in confessing big fat family secrets as it is tackling topics with which a blogger would not normally feel at home. Like race. The immediacy of the blogging world makes it the source of the rawest, freshest, and least edited commentary about race right now. It’s where people are saying what they mean even though it’s awkward and ill-put sometimes. I’d rather listen to a bumbling truth-teller than a TV commentator checking his hair between soundbites calculated to boost ratings.
But for all this brave talk, I hang back in curious ways. And I know other bloggers do as well. There remains a residual tentativeness. In my case, I’m fine with the rest of the world, ready to put my stuff anywhere it will be read and generally able to handle the consequences. It’s the people I know that are confounding.
This dichotomy occurred to me tonight when I was looking at my Facebook ‘fan’ page for Red’s Wrap. It’s irksome that I’ve been stuck at 195 ‘fans’ for months, especially when I look at other bloggers’ pages and they have thousands. It’s not a competition, of course, but it is. The more followers, the more one is read, the more interaction, the more opportunities, the better. If I didn’t want people to read what I was writing, I would write a diary and keep the key on a string necklace around my neck. So yes, I want more followers. I’m not an attention whore for saying it, I’m honest. Writing is about being read. Go back and ask one of the great writers of the world.
So I asked myself, what is keeping me from hustling people to like the Red’s Wrap fan page (you’ll notice that I’m trying to get over my reticence here)? And then I asked, in the infamous words of Sheryl Sandberg, what would I do if I wasn’t afraid?
I would decide that my blog is something worth sharing, no, wait, something worth selling to other people. Not in a coy, gee, I hope you like me, my blog is over here behind this large rock but in a straightforward, I’m a blogger that everyone should read. Tolstoy didn’t prescreen his War and Peace readers, why should I decide who should read Red’s Wrap? (Yes, the comparison is useful. Don’t get all tense.)
So that’s what I’m doing. Sheryl, if you’re out there, listen up. Tonight is the night I lean in. Or go all in. Or go big or go home. No more keeping my blogging life under wraps from the people I know like meeting Mr. Jones “every day at the same cafe, six-thirty, I know he’ll be there, holding hands, making all kinds of plans, while the jukebox plays our favorite song.”
Time for Mr. Jones to get to know the neighbors.
“Me and Mrs. Jones,” lyrics by Billy Paul