Monday, October 8, 2012

Do You Reveal Your Deepest Secrets on Your Blog?

I visit a few blogs where aspiring writers bare their souls, tell their deepest fears and their personal secrets, and although I like these bloggers for many reasons and will always return to see what they have to say, I tend to feel a bit uncomfortable when I get too much information.

And I always wonder what kind of an impression those posts make on a literary agent or editor (or any other kind of employer) who might be researching the blogger as a potential client or employee.

I try to keep the posts on this blog professional, related (although sometimes loosely) to the writing life. I've wandered off course a few times, like when I wrote about the bully girls in my country grade school, some thoughts about high school, and the rant about cell phones.

But here's the thing -- posts about topics like bully girls and rants of almost any flavor bring in more readers and comments than any other kind of essay with the exception of humor.

Tell me what you think:

1. How much do you reveal about yourself in your blog posts?

2.  How do you feel when you read extremely personal information a fellow blogger has posted online?


Margot Kinberg said...

Pat - Oh, interesting questions!! Like you, I try to keep my blog professional. I do mention some things about myself but really, I'm not that interesting a person and I think readers are probably more interested in the topic of crime fiction than they are in me. Besides, I'm a very private person. So no I don't 'tell all' on my blog. I've read the kind of blog you mention and sometimes the writer does the 'tell all' thing effectively. And after all, people have the right to put what they want on their blogs. So I have two or three blogs like that that I really like.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I don't reveal details or anything about my personal home life. You'll hear about my likes and hobbies, but that's about it.
However, I do admire the ones who aren't afraid to talk about their deepest fears.
And I don't do controversial stuff either.

Karen Lange said...

This is a good question. I imagine some things that seem too personal to one person might not seem so to another. I try to keep it friendly and professional - in light of good taste and all. I think too much info, particularly on some topics, can turn readers off. I want it to relate to writing, too, as that is the main focus for my blog. Great food for thought, thank you! :)

Karen Walker said...

Oh Pat, now you've got me wondering if I'm one of the bloggers you are referring to, because I do post personal information as part of my blog. My blog is about my spiritual journey called life and I post what I experience and what I learn. But I'm a memoir writer (oh, who's now writing fiction). Maybe I should re-think what I blog about.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Margot, your crime fiction focus is a good one, but I have to admit that I love the occasional post from you that jumps off on a different topic makes me feel more like your friend that just a reader.

Alex, somehow without revealing much about yourself, you still manage to reach so many people who are thrilled to call you a good friend. As I often say, you're amazing.

Karen, it's hard to know what to do sometimes, especially if you're a professional such as writer or if you're job-hopping. Political rants, for instance, can turn off literary agents, corporate human resource personnel, and even the non-profit where one might want to volunteer.

Karen W, you're the perfect example of a blogger who did exactly what she should have done to build her platform as a memoir writer. I love your blog.

To tell the truth, the blog post I read that triggered my questions was written by a very young blogger who is confused and conflicted about a very personal issue in her life and she wrote about her thoughts and fears honestly and passionately. When I read the post, I suddenly knew too much about this young stranger, and realized a whole world of folks, both nice and not-so-nice, were now witnesses to her vulnerability. Even so, I know I'll go back to see how she resolves her life dilemma.

In your case, Karen W., you've established your blog for a particular audience, and I for one would hate to see that go away. Your mission in the future will be to reach a wider audience, writers and readers who will read your fiction. You can do that with the blog you already have, or even start a second one (which sounds like way too much work, doesn't it?)

Arlee Bird said...

I have revealed many things about my past, but I don't delve into things that might be hurtful to others or so personal that it would serve no purpose to reveal them to others. My thoughts are that if I wouldn't want my kids or my mother to read something then I won't put it on my blog since there's always a good possibility that they might read it.

It can be sometimes interesting to read very personal things on other blogs if they are well written and instructional or enlightening in some way. And sometimes humor can make them entertaining. But just an outpouring gush can get pretty uncomfortable for me. I might have a curiosity about what is said, but I always wonder a bit about why the blogger would have said it for all to read.

Tossing It Out

Patricia Stoltey said...

Lee, that's a very good rule to use when choosing topics. I always worry about what my kids will think if they read my blog posts.

LD Masterson said...

Deep dark secrets, no. But I do include some personal information. I've used my blog to say good bye. I've shared special memories and good news. And I often talk about my grandkids because - hey, that's what grandmothers do.

Dean K Miller said...

I'm betwixt and between on this one. Early version of my blog was very personal, but on a general level, things I thought, saw, learned, pondered, etc.

Now that I'm working on my first novel that involves fly fishing, spiritual associations, relationships, death I'm leaning toward including my own experiences to expand/support my platform base for the novel.

Still, some skeletons will always stay in the closet.

Anonymous said...

I don't reveal too much personal info. Also, I'll celebrate my successes but won't mention any pitfalls, because I never know if an editor or publisher is reading my blog.

Jemi Fraser said...

I don't reveal a lot of personal details either. I hope to keep things friendly without crossing that line. :)

Angela Brown said...

I don't reveal everything, but I've shared a thing or two that was pretty deep, mainly because it dealt with the novel I'm self-publishing so, in a way, it had relevance to the book. But I try to mindful of the fact that just maybe people don't want me to get all TMI with them. And I'm okay with that :-)

The Daring Novelist said...

I consider my blog to be a personal blog -- that is, it's a column about my writing life, which intersects with other things in my life. Just as a newspaper column might. (Erma Bombeck anyone? Or, for that matter, James Thurber?)

But my goal is not to connect with agents and editors. It's to connect with readers.

I don't actually reveal that much, all the same. I stick mainly to writing subjects.

Stacy S. Jensen said...

Good question. My dad subscribes to my blog, so I keep that in mind (and well, it is public after all). I do include personal information - maybe a parent issue or about my memoir's topic.

Before a recent conference, I planned to room with a fellow blogger. I paused for a second when the hotel clerk asked for her name, because at that moment it struck me - Did I know her real name or a pen name?

I also try to keep personal info at a minimum for the civilians (non-writers) in the family. Sometimes when parents write personal details about their children, I cringe. Just because I'm a parent, doesn't mean I have complete control over everything that is said about my kiddo.

Of course, with social media, there is a new generation growing up with every detail of their lives being broadcast on some network, group or circle.

Karen Walker said...

Patricia, thanks for your lovely thoughts about my blog. I wonder about that young person who triggered this blog post. I hope her blog isn't her only outlet for talking about her crisis.

Patricia Stoltey said...

LD, it's almost too bland and uninviting if a blogger never talks about personal stuff to a certain degree, and yes, I mention my darling granddaughter once in a while. I'm going to be a grandma again in January, so be prepared for another round of oohs and aahs.

Dean, your blog posts are spiritual and always make me think...and you do that very well. You may have struck the perfect balance of telling us who you are without all the "skeletons."

Medeia and Jemi, that's what concerns me too.

Hi Angela -- that's like what I tell guest bloggers when I send them my submissions...relevance to your novel opens the door to topics I don't usually want to feature.

Daring, Erma Bombeck and Dave Barry were able to deal with very personal topics by using humor. Have you ever read Barry's piece about his colonoscopy? Nobody else could pull it off the way he did.

Stacy, having a parent read your blog is certainly one way to make sure you don't go into too much detail. And being aware that what we put out there on the web is accessible to the whole world as well...makes me very cautious.

Karen, I suspect if she didn't have another outlet before, she does now. What I worried about most was the less-than-nice people who seem eager to attack wherever they see vulnerability.

Li said...

I reveal very little. I am also very careful about the comments which I leave, my tweets, and anything else which is available to the public and to search engines. I also "google" myself periodically to make sure nothing has been posted without my permission, and nothing malicious has appeared.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Li, I understand your caution. It's a real dilemma to want to be involved online and to enjoy the benefits of social media, but still not share too much information with strangers. After all, we don't really know each other at all. It's an interesting side effect of all this wonderful technology.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Patricia .. I'm quite careful and fairly nebulous - I convey quite a lot, yet not the detail or anything that might upset an applecart .. I cringe sometimes at things I read - and FB I'm sure is distinctly more challenging ... I really hold myself in - and will do more in the future as I branch out into socia media. Interesting comments you've received ...

Cheers Hilary