About the elusive “About” Page

Beware, this might turn into a rant. Just hang on, or pass, and wait for my next book post.

On second thoughts, it’s not really a rant, it’s a late reaction to Litlove’s thought-provoking post (as always!)

**

Everywhere I turn, the blogosphere urges you (me!) to “define your message” to increase your readership. To put yourself neatly into one of those tiny white squares and cut, cut, cut everything that goes beyond the neat black line.

You’re a mommy blogger, so you’re entitled to an opinion about education, breastfeeding, guilt trips, and if you ever speak about books, they are supposed to be on family stuff, on organizing your pantry, or on upholding values (I’m kidding, or am I?)

You’re a book blogger, so your entire (free) time must be devoted to books, and it’s even better if you can narrow it down to one or two genres so that you’ll become some kind of specialist (niche markets are what internet is all about, supposedly). Don’t ever dare mentioning that you might want to write a book yourself. And forget about your family, the favorite food or other interests (you may only mention snacks that go well with reading books). Or branch out and just write another blog.

You’re an aspiring writer blogger. You’re supposed to talk techniques and rant about inspiration, encourage each other with word counts and deadlines and book deals (not be jealous), whine about rejection slips and the big mysteries of the dark forces behind the Submission desk. But you have no family, you simply don’t read and don’t eat.

Of course this is not as black and white, but these are prevalent expectations everywhere. And I am guilty as charged as well. As a blog reader, I am cruising the internet with those very same prejudices. I scoff when a mommy blogger mentions, by the way, that she is reading Madame Bovary. I scroll down and wait for the next post whenever a favorite book blogger speaks about family trips, or pets, or whatever s/he really had in mind on that day.

Pardon me, but that’s incredibly rude and harsh, because behind all our little blogs we are people with many diverse interests and worries and events going on with our lives. We write posts because we care. This is no TV show here, we don’t lead perfect lives with only one or two “plot lines” that “arch” perfectly so that every added episode adds to a breath-taking saga.

Well, well, of course everything that runs on the internet should be taken with a pinch of salt. Even my own posts I suppose.

Ever since I opened this blog, I never changed the design (is it getting boring?) nor did I put much thought into defining who I am, what I am doing here, except for the two little words: “writing and reading”. Not really earth-shattering I’m afraid.

Reading, check. But I am not here to write a proper review (sorry you guys who stumble here looking for stuff to copy-paste into essays… I bet I won’t get you a good grade). My posts are more about feelings, memories that a book might spark, and I do love to compare books on similar themes. I’m as un-professional as you can get.

Writing, mmh, I’d perhaps leave the thing blank. My writing hasn’t gone anywhere since my son’s birth, nearly four years ago. And I hasten to add: I don’t mind it so much. The odds of ever getting published again must be getting lower by the day, but you know, now isn’t the right time for me. And my blogger self has an acute awareness of how many good novels are getting published every single month out there. My whole life can’t be defined by getting my own words onto printed paper, validated by people I don’t even know. Perhaps I can just use this blog as a neat place for my own little pieces of fiction or non-fiction.

I don’t fit into a square. Hey, I’m curvy in real life. And I want my life to be anything but one- or two-dimensional. So I’m with Courtney here, not eager to be pigeon-holed anywhere. Never mind readership stats, just here for fun.

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6 thoughts on “About the elusive “About” Page

  1. I’ve read a fair amount of blogging advice over the years, and I think a lot of it is geared toward people who really want lots of readers. Me, I want readers, but I’m more interested in having loyal readers that I can get to know than lots who remain strangers. So I end up discarding a lot of the advice I read.

    That said, I am one of those bloggers who keeps focused pretty much entirely on books, but that’s because it’s what I want to write about. I enjoy having a focus, even if it means people don’t hear so much about other things I’m interested in. But that’s all a personal choice. We should all blog in the way that pleases us!

  2. I do agree with Teresa’s comment! And I hate the endless push push towards commercialising ourselves as some sort of brand or product. I’m also tending not to read blogs that have adverts on them – at the very least they take forever to load! The great advantage of blogs was that they were written by people without agendas – it’s a shame to throw that advantage away, I think.

  3. Great post, Ms. Smithers. I, too, don’t want to be branded. The tag line on my (not-so) new blog is “bits and pieces from my little space on this planet”. That’s about as specific as I can get. I know that there are lots of people who “follow” me who see it as a photo blog, but that was not my intent when I started blogging again last summer. It just sort of happened. If I had boxed myself, I wouldn’t have had the freedom to explore/get feedback on my photography. I’m hoping to go back to more writing in the coming months, but I can’t tell you what about — maybe books, maybe something else. Maybe lots of something elses.

    • I just went to see what I had for an “about” page and realized I don’t really have one. I have one that explains the origin of my blog’s name (one that I’m not very pleased with a year later). I guess that says a lot about me, without being an “About”. 🙂

  4. Yep, just here for fun, too – I could never keep of the pace of blogging just about one thing. I have a terrible attentions span and like to blog about whatever catches my fancy at the moment, whether that is a book or a recipe or irritating piles of resumes, badly written.

  5. This is just wonderful – I am definitely shy of blogs that seem to be trying too hard to commercialize themselves (either by category or by blogads). And I quite like the quiet mix of personality and bookish or other passions that tends to define the blogs I read most. People writing their thoughts out tend to be the most honest and interesting.

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