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Out of the blue feedback

We had a friend come over for a meal last night. This wasn’t unusual but something she said to me was. We had not seen her for a while and after the initial pleasantries she launched straight into questioning me about what was going on with my blog.

“Your writing is depressing me,” she said. “What’s up with you?”

“What do you mean?” I responded while at the same time thinkng “Wow, no one has ever been so forward in talking to me about my blog before.” I waited to hear what our friend had to say.

“I go to your blog for inspiration and I’m not being inspired. I want you to inspire me because that is what I expect from you. I want to read about you, your life, and what you think. I don’t want to read about what other people have to say. If you are going to quote other people then tell me how what they have to say connects to you. Your blog is called Marica’s Meanderings but you are not writing your meanderings.”

I sat there and listened. I felt she made some valid points.

I looked at my husband sitting beside me. We had a telepathic communication moment. His eyes and his look told me what he was thinking: “Have you heard any of this before?” “Are you going to take any notice this time?”

“Yes, I have,” and “Yes, I am” were the messages I sent back to him.

“You have an audience and you need to write for them. If you are writing for yourself then do it in a journal and not in your blog,” continued our friend.

I was stunned.

I didn’t expect any of this. I didn’t even realise she read my blog. She was so passionate in the way she gave me this feedback. I sat there speechless and took it all in. I had no response. No words came out of me.

As the evening progressed all I could think about were the things she had said. I realised how much I valued her feedback. However, I was unsure what I needed to do about it. I started to ask her some questions. The feedback kept flowing.

“You’re writing too academically,” she said. “This is not your PhD!”

When she said this I had to laugh.

“If only it was,” I thought. I so want to do a PhD but I have had to shelve this desire for the time being.

I have to admit that I sill find it difficult to accept that people may be interested in what I have to say. I have definitely not been writing in this blog from the perspective of meeting other people’s needs. It has always been about meeting my own needs and if someone else gets something out of it then that is a bonus.

This friend’s comments basically reminded me that I was involved in maintaining an online publication and that I have an audience to service. This seems like a huge responsibility and not something I had previously given much thought to.

The reality is that I know very little about my readers and why they come to my blog in the first instance. I don’t even know whether they find what they’re looking for, or whether they visit once and never return. I have set up a Guest Map and invited people to place a pin on it and leave a comment but to date only two people have done this. Some readers have contacted me by email to provide feedback and occasionally readers have left a comment on one of my posts. The fact is though that my audience is mostly a mysterious entity to me apart from some basic computer generated data I have access to. I’d love it if you’d take the time to let me know who you are and why you read my blog. What do you hope to find when you visit here?

To those of you who read my blog and who also maintain a blog of your own I have a question: “Who do you write for?”

I find it difficult to work out exactly who I am as I write in this space and I realise now I need to clarify that for myself and my readers. There are the many different facets of me as a person. Often the personal and the professional become melded together and the resultant product may appear a bit confused. Then again that is what I’m like in person so why should my blog reflect anything different?

I am clear that this is my personal writing space and not my professional one. However, a huge part of who I am is centred on my love of learning and connecting with others. A natural part of this process for me is the deisre to share these experiences with others in case they may make a difference for them too.

I have been given plenty of food for thought. I’m a bit unsure as to what to do next so I’ll go with the flow and see what happens.

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One Response to “Out of the blue feedback”

  1. on 20 Aug 2007 at 3:03 am patti digh

    I am intrigued by this post. My business partner is a theatre director who teaches young actors. One of my biggest learnings from David is this: one of the first things you teach young actors, he said, is that you cannot play two intentions at the same time on stage. I believe the same is true in life–and in writing. By playing to the audience (or reader), I fear we lose our core intention. I know that in my writing, I lose my intention when I anticipate reaction or try to write something my readers will enjoy–I must, instead, write from the inside out and know and stay true to my core intention. Some readers will join me for the journey, and some will not, I know. Having readers isn’t my core intention–writing my truth is. Perhaps the same is true for you…

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