This is a completely different type of post from the ones I have produced recently; some of you may have visited the blog many times but not even know that I have been working on a novel as I have hardly mentioned it for months.
Earlier in the year I was working on self-editing and revising the story but could not decide whether to keep my original first chapter in place or bring forward a much later chapter and use it as the introduction to the main character Ellie. Deciding that “temporary separation” was the answer, during the summer I spent much less time working on the novel and much more time on writing short pieces as exercises for myself and learning to use my new camera effectively. I have never been one to sit and write in my free-time to the exclusion of everything else and time spent in the fresh air walking or gardening is vital to my mental and physical well-being. Without my garden to nurture my soul I couldn’t be creative in other ways.
Some of you will know that I started this blog after attending a self-publishing conference where we were all encouraged to “build a platform” on social media as quickly as possible, regardless of whether or not we had already published work or were still complete unknowns struggling to finish writing our first book. I think this was bad advice.
I joined WordPress in late March and I quickly found Joanne Phillips who was very helpful, learned from her blog about the A – Z challenge and jumped straight in to posting every day. As a) I had not prepared any posts in advance like many of the other participants and b) I was still learning how WordPress and all the widgets etc worked, this took up a lot of the time I would have put into the editing and revising of my book. Without joining in the A-Z challenge I may not have found some of the wonderful bloggers whose posts I still enjoy reading every week and I certainly would not have got to grips with WordPress and gained confidence online in such a short time. I cannot help thinking, however, that I would have been much nearer to publishing my book if I had delayed setting up my blog. Do I wish I had waited? Well, no, because I have met so many lovely bloggers and had such fun reading their posts and producing my own.
The plain fact, obvious to anyone reviewing the popularity of my posts, is that my photographs of wildlife and plants are liked by a small loyal band of regular readers and a reasonable number of people who visit on an occasional basis. When I have exclusively written about my unfinished novel the comments have been supportive and useful but the appeal of those posts is limited. If I use up a chunk of my “creative thinking time” trying to write interesting posts about my writing endeavours I will hopefully get more useful feedback but I probably won’t have enough time left to read and respond to the comments and consider how to make use of the suggestions. I have really enjoyed reading and commenting on other writers posts about their WIP’s but, recently, several of them have announced that they plan to publish less blog posts in the future so they have more time to actually write the WIP’s.
I spend some time on Twitter but not on Facebook ; perhaps if I had joined Facebook when I started the blog I would by now have “built a platform” that affected the sales of my book when it is eventually published, but I doubt it. If anyone ever asks for my advice I shall say start a blog at any time if you think you’ll like blogging but, if the intention is primarily to achieve sales for your first book, wait until you are almost ready to publish and combine it with a self-promotion campaign to some established websites that will reach a much larger audience than your blog.
I have now made my decision about which chapter to use as the beginning of my story and it will mean lots of tweaking as the readers will know something from the start of the book that was previously revealed much later; perhaps slowing down the editing process because I was spending time on the blog has helped me to write a better book but I am not totally convinced of it. What I am sure about, however, is that sharing photographs of dragonflies, butterflies, bees and flowers has been an entirely positive experience.