Readercon!

Readercon has come and gone, and now I’m on an island off the coast of Maine for a few days, contemplating writing conventions and the writing profession in general. And also petting cute dogs and the fluffiest cat I have ever seen. Seriously, it’s so big and fluffy that it becomes something more than a cat and veers into being a beast.

The best thing about the con for me, by far, was solidifying friendships with some really fantastic people. I always go to cons with this weird anxiety about impressing people, especially the “right” people, but then once I get there, I always have the realization that it isn’t about impressing people, it’s about making genuine connections with friends. Wow, that sounds really Pollyanna. But it’s true.

In the wake of the con, I’m thinking a lot about blogging. I started this livejournal when I moved to Ottawa in order to keep in touch with friends, and it still is largely for that purpose. But as I try to wobble my way along the path towards professional writerhood, I become aware that this is a public face, a place where I must represent myself professionally. And I wonder how much of myself to share. I look at a lot of blogs out there, and it’s clear to me that a good number of the people writing them are creating internet personalities for themselves, built with the choicest bits of their actual personalities. The most vivid instance of this that I can think of is when I sent a link to an artist’s blog to my friend Betsie. The blogger in question makes very cute watercolor drawings of Regency and Victorian ladies, and she writes about her works in progress on her blog, occasionally hinting at a very poetic lifestyle that includes walking through the woods and dressing up in hand-sewn historical dresses. It’s all very charming. But Betsie’s comment, which really struck home for me, was “reading her blog, I get the impression she poops rainbows and baby hedgehogs.” To which I say, well, yeah. One does get that impression. And that kind of creates a sense of falseness, because obviously she poops poop just like the rest of us.

So here’s my question, for those of you who extend your blog to outside your circle of family and friends: how do you create a blogging persona that’s separate enough for you feel comfortable, but genuine enough that it doesn’t seem like you poop rainbows and baby hedgehogs?

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9 thoughts on “Readercon!

  1. Pooping hedgehogs sounds terribly painful!
    I’d been blogging for several years before it ever occurred to me to submit any writing anywhere; I started blogging in the first place because I’d just moved from Florida to Georgia and my Florida friends wanted to know what I was up to on a daily basis. In the early days, my blog was very Twitterlike; I posted upwards of ten times a day, sometimes one-liners, and mostly very personal stuff, as it was only my friends who were reading it.
    And suddenly I had 50 strangers reading it, then 500…. and here we are, with much longer posts.
    I think the only thing that’s rally changed is that I’ve moved the one-line stuff to Twitter and Facebook and I’ve gotten a bit more discreet as I’ve started to get published. Which is also good because my co-workers at BARCC read my blog! But essentially I think I still forget sometimes that this is not an audience of a few dozen people I’ve known for twenty years. I think I’m always just me on my blog, and I’ve been told it’s so. Maybe because I’m too lazy to maintain a persona. 🙂

    • I think that your posts, especially with the structure you impose on them, are very professional. Though you sometimes veer into personal material, I find that you keep a very informative tone that keeps it real. In other words, I totally think you’re doing it right!

  2. Okay, so first, it was really wonderful to see you and have a chance to talk to you a bit more this year. And to hear you sing murder ballads! I’m so glad I could make a bit more of a connection with you and Claire and Patty and Amal. You’re all awesome and lovely people.
    Second, I’ve been blogging since 1999, and my level of openness has fluctuated, but I seem to have settled on only saying things I’m okay with anyone finding out. This means a lot of the time I don’t post about stuff that’s going on in my life, but I’ll post about books I’m reading, or pictures of autumn leaves I found on walks or other non-personal things. And sometimes I tell about personal stuff, but always with care. Today I posted a personal whingefest, for instance, and right on the heels of my Readercon anxiety post, too! This month is apparently LJ angst month for me. I wasn’t sure about posting that anxiety post, but I’m glad I did because it drew so many of my friends out and gave us all a chance to feel mutually anxious and reassured. But that’s about as personal as I get. Relationship and family problems aren’t likely to be discussed, nor are work-related problems.

    • It was fantastic to see you, and have a chance to chat at least a little. I’m really sorry I didn’t make it to your reading. I wanted to, but that was right when Claire and Patty were getting on the road.
      I also try to limit my lj posts to things I am okay with the whole world knowing… but I think it is those more intimate moments, like your admission of Readercon anxiety (so with you there!) that really make people connect.

      • I totally understand about not being able to make the reading. I was lucky enough to have several people come, and all the rest of you I am sure were off doing other necessary things. I’m just happy I got to see you. *g*

  3. Well…
    Okay, partially I can do this because the subject matter of my open-to-the-internet blog (not LJ, the other one) is all about sex and feminism. So it’s more that I’m trying to give the impression that, despite have A Day Job, my *real life* ™ is all about the Lesbian Porn and the art-modeling and the feminist discussion[1].
    Part of how I do this is to post fairly infrequently.
    I started The Other Blog with the vague intention of posting several times a week — a teasingly erotic piece of micro-porn (maybe a prose poem or something), a set of links, and a real, live, OMG post on whatever topical (sex/uality and feminism) thing happened to be sitting in my brain at the time.
    This totally didn’t work.
    So, instead, I post stuff when I have something relevant to post.
    This means that worry less about writing to a deadline (this may not actually be a good thing) and am able to tweak and edit the stuff I do post (not that I do that all the time, BUT it’s generally less off-the-cuff than the stuff that goes on LJ — I can spell-check it, find the missing words, that sort of thing), and also make sure that my posts are all relevant to the topic of the blog.
    This makes it, in my opinion, a much more thematically consistent piece of work and that consistency is what cultivates the Blog Persona. It means that I can write like I do, write in My Voice, without being all the hell over the place with my subject matter.
    Does that make sense? 🙂
    [1] Which, okay, is pretty much the case anyway, but still. I’m trying to conentrate it.

    • That does totally make sense. I tend to do the only post when i have something i really want to say thing… but then I find that I post really infrequently. I’m looking to bolster the frequency of my entries…

      • Honestly? Cheat.
        Do long posts when you have something you really want to say, and short micro-posts more frequently. Like “three paragraphs on three different subjects that are all relevant to this blog” or something.
        Linkspam with some commentary on why you think This Link is something you and/or your readers (will) find relevant.
        That sort of thing.
        It lets you post more frequently without having to do all the leg-work, so to speak. Handy when you’re short on time or inspiration. (Or when you keep finding stuff that Must Be Shared, for that matter).

  4. I find that I do not talk about my personal life at all on the blog. This mirrors how I am in day to day living. I am friendly and will talk if you get me one on one, but even then I’ll probably still hold a little back until I get to know someone better.
    No family issues, no relationships, no librarian issues (unless it is a whimsical worry) on the blog.
    I also post infrequently. I post when I have something interesting going on and I’m ok with that. And I sure as hell hope that it doesn’t sound like I shit rainbows…but I’m guessing that’s not an issue with me.

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