Yay! 101 posts! Arbitrary milestones ahoy!
Ok. Enough with the exclamation points, I’ve settled down. I actually intended to do make my 100th post the milestone, but I forgot that it was coming up until I posted the five sentence fiction story last night. Doesn’t matter, I’m actually kind of happy that I did – that last post was probably the most personal one that I’ve done to date, which I figure is kind of nice.
Anyway, at this milestone I thought I’d do a quick reflection over how blogging has been going, what has been hitting and what has been missing.
What has worked?
Looking at my list of posts that get the most views, almost all (10 of the top 11) were from the Friday Fictioneers – the 100 word flash fiction challenges set by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields on her blog Addicted to Purple. No surprise really – this is a writing blog, so it’s hardly unexpected that writing posts would prove to be most viewed.
Then again, a significant part of blogging is finding your place in the community of bloggers, and I consider myself fortunate to find a well established one directly in line with my goal – to develop my writing skills. Friday Fictioneers is a weekly photo-prompt, where you have 100 words to tell an engaging and complete story. It receives close to 100 submissions every week, and is exceptionally welcoming, very friendly. I’ve found it an excellent way of developing an efficiency and economy of words, whilst also stretching the writer to generate some content of meaning, depth, or at least just interest. Honest feedback is encouraged; whilst it tends to be predominantly on the positive side, if you will get told if your story doesn’t make sense, or doesn’t quite hit the mark. To get the most out of the Fictioneer community, I consider it’s important to read as many other stories as you can – and to comment where appropriate. Reading and commenting feeds the community, and every story you read teaches you something as a writer – a cool new piece of history, a fancy new word, even a mistake to avoid.
The 100 word challenge (and the Five Sentence Fiction on Lillie McFerrin’s blog) is a perfect spot to practice, to experiment, to try new styles, genres, and themes. Get serious, get funny. Find your rhythm and rhyme with some poetry. Carve up a bloody swathe with a horror story. Let things get weird with a M Night Shyalaman-esque twist. Nude up with some erotica. Do many of these of these things at once.
The following are the ones that have received the most views best since I started:
In each of these I tried something new or different, and the feedback I got keeps me coming back. Good or bad feedback, simply knowing that someone is reading your stuff is enough to make blogging more satisfying and less like screaming into the void.
Wait… a book review?
Might seem odd to say a book review is popular given I have only started doing them this year and have a grand total of… three. Maybe three and a half. Regardless, I have been pleasantly surprised with the popularity of book-reviews (I don’t know why I was surprised, I visit book reviews all the time, and follow a number of excellent reviewers). Whilst most of the top ten posts have been flash fiction, the second most popular post was my first book review on The Seeds of Time by John Wyndham, which is only a month old.
So why is this post so popular? Again, I think it comes down to community. Community… and timing. There is a strong community of Science Fiction book reviewers, and it so happened that when I started reading The Seeds of Time I discovered the ‘Little Red Reviewer Vintage Sci -Fi Month’ and posted a link to my review there. This clearly drew some traffic to my review.
I also noted a large boost in traffic to this book review (and then some of the surrounding posts) after my Wyndham book review was linked by SF Signal. I’m still not entirely sure how it got on their radar, but I admit that was pretty chuffed that they thought it was worth linking to. 🙂
Anyway, I’ve discovered that I enjoy doing book reviews (which strikes me as odd – it’s basically the homework I complained about in high school) and will continue to try and get a few done a month. Reviewing a book is a great way of making sure that I am fulfilling my goal of ‘reading with intent’ – analysing the books I read for style and for theme is a great way of reflecting over the content and actually codifying what I got out of it.
I’m interested to see how they continue to be received.
What hasn’t worked?
Whilst the flash fiction that comes with a community does very well, fiction that I write that does not have an established bank of readers often falls by the wayside, unloved, unviewed. Again, this is not surprising. The flash fiction communities bring an interested audience to a single place to consume short tales, and there is a sense of quid-pro-quo – you read and are in turn read. A stand alone tale, an ‘orphan’ of any length must find its audience from the wider internet – and without a brand, or a presence, your signal is likely to get lost. This is not a bad thing, merely a factor of being a new blogger, I am still proving that I am worth following, that my links are worth clicking. This is a factor of both time and quality – the better I get, the longer I am at it, the more hits my orphan posts will get.
I think to be honest, if I look at some of the low count ones, they were early and still… rough. I polished less in the earlier days than I do now. I edit more, I re-write more. I think about theme more than I think about ‘twist’. I think this improved focus on quality shows in the higher view count, and a higher number of followers.
So these are unpopular pieces:
I considered leaving these unlinked, but there is value to exposing one’s dirty laundry – if only to have someone else point out the skid marks.
Limited interest pieces
Ah, my ill thought out bits on role-playing-games and horror… I thought I had enough material here for a bunch of posts, but by the third I was stretching, completely out of ideas. Worse, the last post was cobbled together, with limited editing and less care. I don’t regret trying the themed posts – again, I learned some valuable lessons – but I think I will do this differently next time:
- I will completely plan (if not write) the series up front – maybe keep it to two or three parts tops.
- I will choose a topic that is broader – RPG’s and fiction, or elements of horror – going too narrow robbed me of scope.
- I will pump the posts out and wrap the series up quickly – keep any interested parties interested.
So thanks – I still consider myself new to blogging, and I’ve found it a very satisfying experience. A great community, and a chance to meet and engage with others of similar interests. Its awesome.
To my early followers – thanks for sticking with me; to my new followers – welcome and I hope you find what I have to post to your liking.
To everyone, I hope that I can continue to be interesting over the next 100 posts.