Anthony Wilson sent me some questions and I’ve answered them in this post. Some of them are to do with me taking part in NaBloPoMo and NaNoPoblano and blogging every day in November. I’ve sent some questions to him and you’ll be able to read his answers tomorrow at his blog.
Can you say why you started blogging?
It was to do with wanting people to be able to find me after I’d gone through a long spell of not writing. I was sort of saying “Hello! I’m still here and this is what I’m up to now!” I set up this WordPress blog on my 50th birthday and I think I was also saying “I’m not ready to disappear, yet.”
In the usual scheme of things, how much time does blogging take you each day/week?
I usually blog once a week and writing that post can take anything from 15 minutes (like this post which I wrote against the clock) to several hours. I keep an eye on the clock and the calendar and limit the amount of time I spend blogging because I don’t consider it to be my primary form of writing. Once I know what I want to blog about, I make notes and add to it during the week before publishing my post, usually on a Sunday. I spend about another hour reading other people’s blogs, commenting and replying to comments. I try to be reasonably disciplined about how much time I spend in the blogosphere because I’m working on a full collection of poetry and that needs my time.
How different is NaBloPoMo from your usual blogging?
It’s been completely different. I decided to take part on the spur of the moment – I had no plan and no prepared posts. I’ve posted some image posts and I’ve piggybacked onto various hashtags – #wordlesswednesday; #weekendcoffeeshare, #weeklyphotochallenge, etc., in order to fulfill the daily requirement. I’ve pressed the publish button on posts I would usually have deleted.
What have you learned doing NaBloPoMo?
It’s made me realise that I can really blog about any topic I like. I’ve learned to be a little bit braver and far less fussy. I think I’ve discovered the fun of blogging for the first time.
Could you foresee yourself blogging every single day again?
Not for a while! Maybe next November. It’s been fun but it is distracting. I think I might blog more frequently than before – possibly two, three or four times a week. But I hate to put restrictions on myself and once I say I’m going to do something, I like to go through with it, so I’d better not make any announcements here.
How does blogging fit in with your other writing and commitments?
I put all of my other commitments first and I don’t think about blogging until my other jobs are done. I’m a list-maker so ‘Write a blog post’ is a ‘To Do’ item but it tends to appear near the bottom of the page. My primary focus is my children because I’ve been their main carer for most of their lives as Andrew’s job takes him away from home a lot. Having said that, now that they are becoming older, I have much more free time. I don’t have a full-time paid job but instead I’ve done an assortment of part-time jobs to fit in with school hours. So blogging fits in around all of the other things I do.
Something that increasingly takes up a lot of my time is my poetry site And Other Poems. This started as a ‘poetry blog’, somewhere to post my own poems, but it quickly developed into an online journal that has gained and continues to gain more and more readers. I take more care with And Other Poems than I do with this blog because it involves other people’s work. I spend time reading submissions, replying to emails, formatting poems, adding links, and sharing the poems on social media. Increasingly, people inquire about submitting to AOP or send in unsolicited work – it’s amazing how much time this takes up and I just can’t reply to every request. I’m not sure how to move forward with And Other Poems but I know that I can’t continue to give it as much time as I do.
How far do you think blogging makes a difference?
I’m a selfish blogger: someone who blogs for myself and not because I think that what I’m writing will make any kind of difference to anyone else. It’s lovely to hear that a post has resonated with a person in some way but I don’t write with this in mind. I’ve heard from people who’ve said they’ve used some of my ideas for workshops in workshops of their own and I’ve heard from people who’ve told me they’ve started blogging after reading my blog and I’ve heard from people who’ve told me they’ve started a poetry site after reading my blog.
Perhaps a blog post will make a difference to a reader if they feel some kind of connection with the blogger and this will give them the feeling of not being alone in the world. Speaking as a reader of blogs, this has been my experience, sometimes.
Would you encourage other writers / poets to blog?
Only if they want to. There’s no point doing it unless you enjoy it. I’m not good at encouraging people to do things! You have to want to do something in the first place, for whatever reason. Blogging can be really pleasurable and fun. It’s brought me into contact with lots of writers and people who have become friends in real life. It is a distraction but don’t we need some distractions? I don’t spend hours on Facebook and Twitter and I don’t watch much television so I feel it’s OK for me to spend time blogging. I think I’d say, if you want to try blogging, just do it.
Do you have plans or ‘goals’ for your blog? How do you see it changing in the next year or two?
I don’t have any plans or goals for my blog but your question has made me think that I should have. I do fiddle around with the way it looks but you’ve convinced me, Anthony, to stop doing that (I think you said, just make it look as good as you can and then forget about what it looks like – or something like that).
What is your favourite blog post that you have written?
I suppose it’s the posts I’ve written about my parents: In Memory of my Mother and My Dad showed me how to be human. My mum died far too young and it was wonderful that some of my immediate and extended family read my post about her and remembered her on what would have been her 90th birthday. (They would have remembered her anyway, of course, but it prompted us to talk about her and share our memories and talk to our children about her). More recently, my son read my post about my Dad and told me he thought it was lovely. That made me very happy. I really like hearing that someone in my family has read my posts. We used to live together or near one another in Southport, a seaside town in the north west of England, but over the decades we’ve dispersed around the country and the world so we don’t get together the way we used to. My daughter sometimes gives me positive feedback about my blog posts and that is the highest praise I could receive because she is the sternest critic I know.
Do you have some blog recommendations for your readers?
There are so many but here are some of the blogs I like to read:
- Media Diversified
- Yanis Varoufakis
- Toby Litt
- Helena Nelson
- Robin Houghton
- Fiona Moore
- Kim Moore
- Chrissy Williams
- Pascale Petit
- Helen Mort
- Dave Coates
- Martyn Crucefix
- Rebecca Goss
- Clare Pollard
- Anthony Wilson
Anthony has now gone live with his interview and you can read his brilliant answers to my questions here