Tiring of aspiring

NS April 3rd, 2010

By now I thought I’d be a writer. A ‘real’ one with a regular byline or a book jacket, my name in ink stamped upon the printed page. So far, the name that has gotten me the furthest, the closest to my dream, is not my own but this one — Noble Savage.

It’s a great name, isn’t it? I read it or say it and I feel more confident. Noble — grand. Savage — grrr! It makes me feel smart and unique and clever. But it’s not me, it’s the spinner of this particular tangle of web here in cyberspace. As Noble Savage, I can tell you my darkest secrets,  sweetest moments, most haunted memories and things that make me laugh until my atrophied stomach muscles collapse into puddles of quivering mirth. I can write off the cuff with little self-censorship and press publish before a clearer head, a red pen or a no-nonsense editor can tear chunks out of the sometimes nonsensical and emotionally-overladen projectus that spews forth from my brain, dribbles down onto my keyboard and then out onto the information superhighway. This freedom of self-expression can be a gift but perhaps it’s also a bit of a curse.

Am I actually bettering my writing by blogging or am I, without any structure or professional feedback, actually distancing myself from my dream of being published? Does blogging make me a lazy writer? Should I be taking my ideas for posts, all those raw emotions, and pour them into the articles, essays and book proposals that swirl around my head at any given moment, or am I selling blogging short as a real avenue for creative and professional fulfilment? Maybe being a middlin’, indecipherable and often-times apathetic member of the blogging community is as far as I’m going to get. And maybe I should stop fighting that and just accept it.

After all, blogging is New Media. It’s the wave of the future! It’s what everyone wants a piece of, right? Except that very few bloggers actually ‘make it’ so I’ve never really taken it too seriously. But is getting published any easier? Is standing out from the crowd clamoring to get their names in ink any different, less competitive or easier to crack than the elusive blog success story most of us secretly dream of from time to time?

I know this is all going to sound really self-pitying and melodramatic; I don’t mean it to be. I’m just trying to sort the wheat from the chaff and which bits of my words are me and which bits are Noble Savage and whether either have any hope of success. Am I a blogger or a writer in the more traditional sense? Can I be both or does one always have to be done well to the detriment of the other?

For those of  you looking to become published authors or journalists (or who already are), how do you balance your professional aspirations with your blogging? Do you think they complement each other or do they compete for your attention?

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21 Responses to “Tiring of aspiring”

  1. You just have to write as honestly as you can, in whatever you’re doing. One of the advantages of blogging of course is that you don’t have editors telling you what/how to write.

    I know sometimes I blog when I should be working on my journalism or novel. Naughty. I don’t think blogging makes you (one) a lazy writer, because it encourages you to write and get into the discipline of writing. But it could make you (one) procrastinate, if you were that way inclined.

    NS Reply:

    @Liz (LivingwithKids), Your last sentence sums it up, I think. It’s the procrastination that gets me because blogging seems so much easier and straightforward than the uncertainty and scariness of putting my work forward professionally. I’ve just got to do it and stop dithering!

  2. Gappy says:

    I’m not a journalist or a published author but I do think that writing becomes better the more you just do it, and so for that reason blogging is good writing practice.
    Gappy´s last blog ..Yippee, Yahoo, and Cockadoodledoo My ComLuv Profile

    NS Reply:

    @Gappy, Yes, you’re right. Thanks.

  3. lori day says:

    Follow your dreams and don’t give up.
    Do you want to be a writer or a blogger?
    I enjoy reading your blogs but I don’t read books (sorry) because I have a short attention span, so I am out of the loop as to how books are written these days.
    With blogging – like you said, you can put your thoughts down so quickly and get feed back right away. To author a book I think one would need to be passionate about the subject, find a way to captivate the reader, and capture their minds and hearts. Draw them in, have them “walk” a mile in a character’s shoes, make the reader feel as one with the character and the events surrounding the story. For example, a lot of everyday subjects make us angry because the situations should never happen in the first place. We all can vent, cuss, or shed tears about it — but to express a story that sticks is something. You can do it, I have seen it in your writings.
    Follow your dreams!!

    NS Reply:

    @lori day, Good advice, thank you Lori.

  4. Mercy says:

    I’m a published poet, short story writer, reviewer and blogger. Blogging complements the other activities: it’s one place where you’re free from editorial input and constraints but also have the opportunity to showcase and hone your skills.

    If you have the discipline to source, research and write blog articles on a regular basis, those skills transfer to producing other pieces of writing to a professional standard to an editorial or publisher’s deadline. Similarly if you are familiar with the route of coming up with ideas, sending query letters and then finalising the agreed piece to deadline, you can transfer those skills to blogging. Remember too that a blog can help promote you as a writer.

    Like all jobs, writing requires project management and non procrastination skills and it takes a bit of discipline and a fair bit of practice to balance on and off line writing without letting one expand to the detriment of the other.

    NS Reply:

    @Mercy, It really is a balancing act, isn’t it! I’ve just got to throw some balls up in the air and start juggling.

  5. I haven’t even read this post– but I did just read “Goodbye Before I’m Gone” and am sitting here in tears now (that post would not let me leave a comment).

    So well said, and so how I often feel before, during, and after my trips home.
    I am adding you to my blogroll. Cheers.

    NS Reply:

    @Florida Girl In Sydney, Sorry you couldn’t comment on that post, comments close after 30 days. But thanks for the comment and for adding me to your blogroll! I’ve just checked out your blog and have added you too. :)

  6. And now that I’ve read this post– well I agree with Lori Day, I find blogs more interesting to read these days. Sooo… if you put your blog up for reading via subscription on Kindle, maybe that would satisfy your “real writer” ambitions? Clearly you are a writer– where and how is not that important.
    Florida Girl In Sydney´s last blog ..Steer Penis, Why Not? My ComLuv Profile

  7. Rae says:

    Hey, just came across your blog today and so glad I did. I know exactly the kinds of emotions you are dealing with. I started my first blog a few years ago and never really got anywhere with it – no comments, not much of a blogroll…but I love to write and I just kept at it for fun. I am sure that the regular practice helped me when I took the GREs and it also helped me transition from my last job into my new job as a magazine editor. I think writing professionally has helped me clean up my blogging and lose the “snarky blogger tone” my boss chided me for during the first few months. You might not ever get published just blogging – if that’s what you want, you have to put yourself in the ring. But blogging keeps you engaged with the world, involved in stimulating internet communities, and it forces you to think clearly and write coherently (in the best of all possible worlds). I would definitely recommend sticking with it but also invest yourself more in genuine opportunities to get published. Good luck!
    Rae´s last blog ..“Buying” a bride? My ComLuv Profile

    NS Reply:

    @Rae, “Snarky blogger tone” — that is so true! I definitely try to leave that out of my professional endeavours unless appropriate.

  8. Luschka says:

    I must admit, I often wonder whether the time and effort I expend in blogging would not be better served working on a book. I must have written thousands of words on blogs and comments by now – surely I could do more with my time. But after an hour or so of staring at a blank page, I click on to my blog and post the thoughts that suddenly pop in my mind again. Maybe this is as far as those 15 minutes will take me. It’s a funny thing – I moved to England because my favourite authors throughout history were inspired by her, yet I have lost all inspiration here, and the novels I started many years ago in the warm and sunny South Africa all lie unfinished and lost. Now who sounds dramatic? Lol
    Luschka´s last blog ..Letter to a Six Month Old My ComLuv Profile

    NS Reply:

    @Luschka, It’s frustrating when you lose your inspiration, I know. The lack of time and concentration because of little ones doesn’t help either!

  9. Rae says:

    I also just found this awesome post from Andrew Sullivan about why he blogs, if you’re interested:
    It’s from 2008 but still awesome.
    Rae´s last blog ..Some gems from the web My ComLuv Profile

  10. Platespinner says:

    Well, I agree with others that time spent writing is not time wasted and it does help to hone your skills and ideas. I really value your blog and sister website because it reflects many issues I care about as a mother and feminist yet don’t always have the words to express what I want to say about them. I always know your writing will be thought provoking and an enjoyable read.

    Having said all that, I’ve not been around the blogosphere much recently in part because I’ve been trying to finish my book and it is really easy to lose an evening or the hour or two I have off at the weekend blogging, reading and posting. I also started feeling overwhelmed by all the great stuff out there and realised no-one can ever keep up with it all. Can you find a way to link your ambitions as a writer to your blog; for example blogging about your ideas for your book? Just a thought. It’s such a hard balance to strike, but don’t lose heart and don’t set yourself an arbitrary deadline by when you have to have ‘made it’. I’ve found that kind of pressure dries me up quicker than anything else.
    Platespinner´s last blog ..Conception, Mumsnet-style My ComLuv Profile

  11. Charlotte says:

    Blogging is definitely an adjunct to my other writing. I love it for the freedom.

    On the one side, I have my creative writing which, since I’m still learning, is full of rules. (No adverbs! Show don’t tell!) On the other, I have my business writing, where I have to meet customer requirements and deadlines.

    Blogging is a huge relief, a freeing, where I can use adverbs liberally (see what I did there) and make myself happy.
    Charlotte´s last blog ..Feast of Reading My ComLuv Profile

  12. beta dad says:

    I just started blogging after having taught writing in high school and college, and having published a few academic articles and personal essays that hardly anyone ever read. I am thrilled to think that maybe 50 or 100 people a week read my blog, and some of them actually enjoy it. The feedback I get from readers, if not always sufficiently critical, inspires me to keep writing and trying to write better. That is a huge improvement over thinking, “yeah, that would be interesting to write about” and never acting on it, or filling my computer with Word docs that no one will ever see.

    And blogging allows me freedom that no other medium could–I can be snarky, or academic, or literary, or stupid. I even wrote some poetry (and I can hardly bear to read poetry) last night, and it felt great.

    That’s enough for me, for now.
    beta dad´s last blog ..What Maya Angelou Doesn’t Want You to Know: Poetry Is Easy My ComLuv Profile

  13. Capital Mom says:

    I think you are a writer. Not all bloggers are, but you are.

    I have thought about writing fiction, and even started a short story, but I find that at this point in my life I have barely enough energy for my life, never mind the lives of fictional characters. Maybe that will come. Maybe it won’t. I call myself a blogger and writer anyway.
    Capital Mom´s last blog ..Birthday party My ComLuv Profile

  14. blues says:

    Just reading this makes me feel guilty about not aspiring to even blogging well.

    Blogging has made me feel like I’m much less likely to succeed as a ‘real’ writer, because of all the half-assery with which I do it. No discipline, no regularity, no push, no…well…story. I’m not overwhelmed with things to say – posts come so infrequently and 90% of them I say ‘Naaaah, after this much silence that would be lame.’

    I do think of myself as a writer and feel like I’d be capable of writing a book – if I only knew the plot. If someone were to only tell me what was supposed to happen in the story. And this is where I fail. Because the story really is the most important part. It’s like taking a ride in a ferrari and not caring that you’re gonna end up being dropped off at a gas station in Goodyear, Arizona without a ride home.

    And this is my main problem with blogging – that I can’t for the life of me justify putting my passing thoughts into posts, but it appears that that is precisely what it takes.

    My other problem is that I like myself much better when I’m funny – and I’m feeling too sorry for myself to be funny, which leads me to believe that I’m not truly funny at all, if I can’t find humour in the pitiful moments of life – and that shames me a little, okay a lot.

    Despite my inability to do it well, or even do it right now, I can’t give up on blogging. The people are too real and wonderful and I care about them…you. NS, I’ve missed you. I’m a horrible commenter of late because of my work situation but I do read, even if it’s a month or two after you’ve posted. I love everything you write and you inspire me. I know that whatever steps you take toward professional writing will be worthwhile. You have the voice and the words, and more importantly, you have the story.
    blues´s last blog ..I’m already gone My ComLuv Profile