Blog writing, in fact all writing is personal. I’ve looked at other blogs and thought, should I be more organised and have my categories in careful lists, for example, rather than as a topics cloud, or have neat tabs for efficient and quick retrieval; but I’ve decided just to be myself and keep to my own personal style.
My garden too is a constant surprise. I weed selectively, allowing the wild flowers that thrive in this part of the world, those I like anyway, to flourish. This leads to a carpet of Celandine under the prunus in late winter and Violets under the maple in the spring followed by Bluebells and then Foxgloves. I behave similarly to flowers that seed themselves and I am only ruthless when I want to encourage certain flowers, wild or otherwise, in selective beds, thus Aquilegia abound, as do Canterbury Bells. Beautiful! Through my eyes anyway.
What on earth has this got to do with blog writing I can hear you asking? Well let me explain. In the same way that my garden never looks manicured or predictable, my blog too is a reflection of my personality. I have a multitude of topics, which to many blog writers must seem peculiarly diverse, so much so that it’s difficult for some to interpret a common thread. This means that a post one week will appeal to some, but next week my audience may be totally different. This might be irritating for my subscribers who may have been drawn in by a certain post.
My readers may love the Channel Islands for example, and have read my posts describing the background to Riduna my debut novel, deep rooted in the history of both Alderney and Guernsey (which are also as it happens loved for their abundance of wild flowers) or they may have read a post on tips for writers and liked my rather haphazard approach of having a rough plan allowing a few surprise leads to changes of direction, but I’m usually delighted with the result. Or they may have read a ‘one off’ post on totally irrelevant topics for example my cat stories, which may have moved, amused or even pleased me at the time of writing; like those individual ‘weeds’ or ‘plants’ which appear unbidden and unrecognised, sometimes they can give the greatest pleasure of all.
Mind you, when it came to my recent posts about proofreading a novel, then I can be ruthless. In my garden I can spend hours on my hands and knees rooting out unwanted guest plants which are out of place and just don’t look right. Yes, if you’ve followed the thread of my post, you’ve got it. That’s just like my style of proof reading. It needs to be brutal at times in order for me to be satisfied.
After all the hard work’s over and I’m content, that’s when I need someone else’s eyes.
‘That Vibernum is much too big. It needs trimming and the honeysuckle would be far prettier if you didn’t let it rampage all over that wall. It’s hiding the plants underneath struggling for space.’
‘Humpph’ I exclaim, since I was really just hoping for a compliment!
Gardeners, like writers are very protective of their creations. Reluctantly at first, I begin to trim the shrub and Honeysuckle. After which I step back to look at my handiwork and I have to agree that the effect is an amazing transformation. I was just too close to the project to see what improvements would be most effective.
It is essential that we have someone independent to view our writing with a critical eye too. That does not mean that we have to agree with everything they say, unless they are the editor of course, but if we take their challenge and constructive comments seriously, we allow ourselves to develop as writers. And, as the saying goes,
‘there’s no gain without pain!’