Writing Anonymously

I tried writing anonymously once upon a time. It didn’t last very long. I’m just not that good at keeping anything a secret. But, it was fun, liberating and let me try some things or say some things I would not have done or said with my name and reputation attached to them. Yet, when it all changed and I became known as the writer there wasn’t anything I really regretted. For me, there is a line I don’t cross whether I am anonymous or not. Ethics, values, standards of some sort are important to me. It’s true I create my own but I stand by them.

Sugar writes an advice column where she (he?) posts anonymously. At one point she writes about being an anonymous writer. It makes an interesting post about something not everyone gets to experience (but should!).

Q:  I’ve been curious: how does it feel different to publish anonymously? Do readers react differently when you’re anonymous?

A: Writing anonymously has been liberating. I write openly and honestly in the work I do under my own name, but there’s something about anonymity that allows me to take it up another notch. Readers respond with incredible openness and love—literally after each column goes live I get messages from people saying “I love you, Sugar.” It’s interesting how the impersonal in this case allows many to feel more personal.

So that’s the positive aspect of being anonymous. The negative aspect is how maddening it is to have a secret identity. I find it especially difficult when friends who don’t know I’m Sugar are Sugar fans or when people write to me saying they’d love to read my other work if they only knew what my name was and I can’t tell them. I sometimes give in and tell, but I’ve become much more careful with my secret over time.

Live Press for LiveJournal with WordPress

I’ve had LiveJournal for a long time. I was happy to install a new plugin (I’ve become a plugin window shopper) today. Live Press says I can choose to publish any of my WordPress posts to LiveJournal at the same time. That is a good thing. I am always having trouble trying to post at LiveJournal. Yesterday it would not even let me type in the screen for adding a new entry. It was pretty odd. I’m hoping this will work around that and give me the chance to keep my LiveJournal account from getting too stale. I won’t be using it as a receptacle for everything I post here. Far from it! But it can have enough to look less ignored.

The Great Interview Experiment

Citizen of the Month is doing The Great Interview Experiment again.

Here’s how it is going to work. The first person who comments on this post, will get interviewed by me. I will read the person’s blog, then email him ten or so specific questions, hopefully more about his life (what makes them tick) than their favorite blogger (too obvious! — me). I’ll give my interviewee as much time as necessary to answer the questions, but hopefully he’ll finish it by next week. There might be a back-and-forth if the person feel uncomfortable with a question, etc. or if I want to explore a topic further. Finally, when it is all written up, I will polish the draft, send it back, and the interviewee can proudly publish the interview on their own blog.

It doesn’t end there. While I am interviewing the first commenter, he will be interviewing the second commenter. The second commenter will be interviewing the third commenter. Each person should then put their own interview on their own blog, or on the interviewer’s blog, or both (your choice!), answering the questions as openly and honestly as he chooses. Not only will this give others a new way to know you, but we will sabotage the idea of an interview only being for “somebody.” Everyone is somebody.

Will you try it? Are you ready for a random interview as both the interviewer and the interviewee. It’s a bit dangerous. A bit risky. But you might find yourself meeting someone great you never would have found elsewhere.

The Passion to Publish Your Own Words

Do you have the passion to publish your own words? I really like this quote, below, from the site of David J. Richardson and his guide to creating, publishing your own fanzine (zine for short).

First off, be very very sure you want to produce your ‘zine. It can be a very thankless arduous task, especially when you’ve got set publication dates. The need for passion was probably best stated in the 1996 British Doctor Who fanzine November Spawned a Monster, where they said:

If you feel keenly interested enough in any subject to bother spending your precious hours compiling a magazine only a very small number of people will read, then you must care passionately about your subject. You should, surely to God, actually have something of your own to say about it. There’s no merit in being dispassionate. That’s what all the professional magazine and books are required to do. You don’t have to do anything. It’s yours. It’s blank paper until you scribble on it. If all you’re writing is ‘William Hartnell, ‘1963-1966’ then why the dayglo purple fuck are you wasting everyone’s time?

Bring Back the Ezines?

Should ezines make a comeback? Although an ezine can use content management systems (blog software) it is the format and style which make them different. An ezine is an online magazine. They don’t need to be published daily, they don’t need to be the work of just one person and they can have various sections geared to offering information, services and promotion of the business.

If you can’t write your own blog post each day, consider an ezine. Hire or find people to create the graphics, articles and power up your ezine. You can make your own graphics, write your own content too. But a magazine isn’t built by just one person, generally. They update monthly or weekly, or bi-weekly or bi-monthly or seasonally even.

A blog should not expect reader feedback or rely on it. People read, lurk and leave. That’s how it goes. If you want interaction with your readers/ sales prospects look at message boards/ forums or Twitter. You only need to make a short post, maybe just a quick question, then let the readers post their opinions, ideas and questions. It is interactive and relies less on your own input than on the people you want to inform about your skills, services and/ or products.

It is a good idea to make sure you have recent posts so be prepared to make at least one each week, more when your message board is just starting up. You can make a Twitter post a couple of times a day, but not just a link to your site. Have something to say, to interest people and bring them in.

Always go in to moderate your boards for spam, discussions that get out of hand or someone who has asked a question about your business. Message boards are a great way to inform the public. Instead of a blog which cycles posts a board has all it’s content sorted and displayed on the front page. Readers hit the section they want and follow the thread, like a train of thought. It is a great format for site owners who don’t really want to spend time learning how to write and publish.

Another option is the email list. This isn’t as great an option as it once was. People get a ton of email now, newsletters they once subscribed to and don’t really have the time to read. It is still an option worth noting, and things could change. Email may become less cluttered and more useful once again.

An email list/ newsletter goes right to the people who subscribe. They will see it in their inbox and read it at their convenience. You don’t rely on bringing them to your site. Have a site with more information, a back up, with instructions for subscribing to the email newsletter and an archive of past posts.

Post the newsletter on a schedule, monthly, weekly or some other time period that suits you. It does not have to be stuffed with articles. There is a lot you can do, depending on what your goal is. Notify your readers about a contest you are running, a sale, something new that has just come in. Or give them tips and advice regarding your niche or area of expertize. Add a link to your site and the archive at the end of each email. It is important to have unsubscribe instructions too, make them clear and visible. You will still get people asking to be unsubscribed and sending it through to the whole list, but you do what you can to make it simple and easy for them.

New formats and software will come along that can be applied to running and ezine. Some blogs are set up with the magazine theme/ template and look like an ezine. They post daily and have a set of writers and designers and others who keep the blog running. What is the difference between an ezine and a blog set up like one? I’m not sure. But it does seem an easier way to run things, if you can find others to write on a schedule, you don’t have to do it all yourself.

Feeling Like a Fraud

I wrote this in my blog. What do you think? Do you feel the same way?

You have no idea what a big fraud I feel like. I’m no expert in or about anything and yet here I am writing newsletters for Pagans, travelers, gardeners, writers, decorators, and so on. Who do I think I am? But, more than that why do they listen to me? There’s the real mystery.

It’s weird isn’t it? When I’m writing I have in my mind the critic who keeps shouting over my shoulder that someone could poke their eye out if they listen to me. But, I keep going. I keep writing anyway. The sending for publishing part is even harder than the original writing part. If you actually try to publish your unexpertness someone is bound to catch you and report you as the fraud you are.

I admit I know nothing beyond the contents of my own brain. Maybe that’s good enough. I do have a lot up there after all.

Those brain contents and our research are all any of us have to go on really. Think about that next time you feel like you’re a writing fraud. If someone can read your words and come away with something concrete or something they see as good then you’re doing your job as a writer. You don’t have to be the perfect expert with all the answers. Sometimes it just takes someone to write it, even if all they really know are the questions.