Why Blogging Is Important For Me
by Zoe Brooks
When I was younger I was a successful poet. I was one of the bright young things of British poetry, appearing in the seminal anthology Grandchildren of Albion. But then something happened – that something was life.
It’s very difficult to make a living from novels, let alone poetry, so I had to focus to on another way of making a living. My first job was as community theatre manager in London’s Covent Garden, my second was running the UK’s national centre for puppetry. Both were fascinating and demanding jobs and I threw myself into them. At the same time I got married and two years later my son was born. Caught somewhere between my work and my family, my writing suffered and after a while dried up completely. I am sure a lot of women will have experienced something similar.
Virginia Woolf said that every woman writer needs a room of her own. She was not just talking about a physical room but also a psychological one. About a dozen years ago I started visiting the Czech Republic regularly. It was a place where I could get away from the pressure of my work. Then about eight years ago I bought a derelict farmhouse there. One of the reasons for doing so was the hope that I could write there. At first nothing happened, so I decided I would start writing a blog about the Czech Republic. Adventures in the Czech Republic is still going and has won various awards. It was even featured in an exhibition by the Czech Centre in London. My experience with the blog massively increased my confidence and showed me that I could write prose as well as poetry. The act of blogging regularly was also very important. I really do think that if I had not started my Czech blog I probably would not be writing novels now.
Every author is encouraged to have a blog nowadays, but what you do to make your blog stand out among the thousands of others? I actually have two writing blogs. The first is my author’s blog, in which I talk about the inspiration behind my books, share poems, photos and anything else. It’s a bit of fun for people who are interested in me and my books and gives me a way to talk to them. I don’t see it as a way of marketing my writing to people who haven’t heard of me.
My second writing blog on the other hand is about reaching out to new readers. It is a book review blog, focusing on magic realism books. I am told I write magic realist books, because my books are realistic with an element of magic or fantasy. Every week I read and review a different magic realist book and share that experience on my blog. It’s a fascinating project. I have discovered lots of writers and books that I hadn’t heard of and I am learning so much about my craft from studying the works of others. I am now being approached by other magic realist writers asking me to review their books. Of course by having a specialist blog, my readers already have an interest in reading books in my genre, but I am not constantly pushing my books, which would be wrong and counter productive.
In addition, I have a weekly online newspaper pulling together in one place the best articles about fiction books by and for women. As with the magic realism blog, the newspaper works in all sorts of ways for me. It appeals to people who will also like my books, it makes me read widely about what is going on in women’s fiction, and as the newspaper also has a twitter feed, it has introduced me to lots of interesting people in my field.
It used to be that having a writer’s blog was enough. I don’t think this is the case any more. As writers we have to do more and gear our blogs to our markets. Most importantly we have to provide a service to visitors to our blogs, by providing information, reviews, news, or other material that will interest our readers. We miss much of the point of blogging if we only think of it as a way to market our books, it is a way to learn our craft.
If you are interested by blogs can be visited here:
- Adventures in the Czech Republic: http://czechproperty.blogspot.com
- Zoe Brooks, Books and More: http://zoebrooks.blogspot.com
- Magic Realism Books: http://www.magic-realism.net
- Women’s Fiction News: http://www.womens-fiction.net
Blurb: “I had always felt most alive, when I was healing. Without healing I was a tin top spinning out of kilter soon to catch the ground. It took all my energy to hold myself from skidding into chaos.” But in the city of Pharsis traditional women healers are banned from practising and the penalty for breaking the law is death by hanging. After being arrested and interrogated twice Judith is careful to avoid suspicion, but then scarlet fever breaks over the city like a poisonous wave, leaving in its wake the small corpses of children. What will the young healer do? Love of Shadows is the second novel in The Healer’s Shadow trilogy, which began with Girl in the Glass, and follows the lives of Judith and her Shadow, Sarah. It is a study in grief, love and defiance.