Not being connected to the internet whilst I was away last week was interesting. Firstly because it made me realise just how much I rely on it for checking little facts as I’m writing (‘what are the shutter speeds on a digital SLR?’ and ‘how much long-distance zoom can you achieve without adding a separate lens?’ were just two of the questions I needed answers to and couldn’t get whilst spending time writing at my parents’ house) but also because I realised, for the first time, how much I now feel that I am part of a community of bloggers.
I started this blog quite unashamedly as a marketing tool – anything to get my name and that of Testament out there and in front of people – but that was before I got involved with reading other people’s blogs extensively and commenting on what they had written. In fact, it wasn’t until I had a blog of my own that I realised how important it is to comment rather than just ‘lurk’ as I had done, for the most part, on the blogs I read.
I’m somewhat surprised that this feeling of belonging matters to me so much. Because I’m not a joiner, not a group person really. I’m more of a one to one person. But therein lies the joy of blogging – though you’re talking to lots (hopefully) of people – you can have one-to-one discussions through the comments box.
I shall be eternally grateful for Matt Curran’s establishment of the Macmillan New Writers’ collective blog where all the writers published under the MNW banner can post comments and interact with each other. It’s put me in regular touch with several of the other MNW authors and made me feel that writing is not such a solitary activity. Hearing about the neuroses, trials and tribulations of the others is, paradoxically, a great help. And the writerly discussions which frequently pop up are not just interesting but stimulate me to think in more depth about how I do what I do.
One of the MNW writers, Roger Morris, has been reflecting on the whole business of publicising one’s work and has concluded that the best thing to do is simply to write – and write the best books you can – and leave the rest to the bookbuying public. I’m tempted to agree with him but that doesn’t mean I’m going to abandon this blog. Because blogging has now moved on for me from being a marketing tool to being the place where I have my equivalent of water-cooler conversations, my sounding-board, my ranting space and my ‘hey, how’s it going’ space.
As a reader, I know I appreciate authors’ websites and blogs, but they are usually useful once I’m already a fan and so don’t function, necessarily, as a marketing tool. I’d be extremely happy if people who’ve read Testament were to find their way here and join in the conversations I’m having.