Back in the old days, long before there was the Internet, the only way writers and their readers could connect was at a reading, workshop or conference. Readers knew little about their favourite writers, other than what appeared on the book jacket or perhaps from an interview in the mainstream media. There was a distance and perhaps a mystic about writers and the writing process.
The Web has changed all that. Lots of writers have their own websites to promote their work and many have blogs that give their fans details into their lives and how they write. This is great for the fans, but also exposes the writer to people and view points that can be negative or downright hostile.
Writer Guy Gavriel Kay wrote about this in a Globe and Mail article. The fantasy writer George R. R. Martin discovered this recently. Fans of his seven-book fantasy series have been waiting years for the latest installment and have been getting rather impatient. They complain that he is spending too much time watching football and taking holidays instead of working on his book. Martin was not at all happy but this response from his fans and wrote about “the rising tide of venom” on his blog, cutely called “Not a Blog.” While I understand that writing is hard, Martin’s fans are complaining only because Martin himself told his fans what he has been up to on his blog. I was once told the adage “under promise and over deliver.” In other words, you have to manage peoples’ expectations. Don’t tell your fans that your book will be come out at such-and-such a time if there is a remote chance it won’t be done by then. And don’t tell your fans all about what you do with your time if you don’t want to be criticized.
This blog has been in existence, in a couple of different incarnations, for a number of years now. Each time, it has stalled because I’ve struggled with how much to give of myself. I’m a pretty private person; however, the writing blogs that I really enjoy are those in which the authors share of themselves and their personal struggles. Blogging after all, is about community and not just writing on the Web. I will share some of my own struggles (and triumphs hopefully), but also manage expectations. On the other hand, if I communicate my goals for my writing on my blog, I will feel more obligated to actually achieve them. Perhaps Martin should keep that in mind too.