I always hear how important it is for writers who wish to establish their online presence to forge acquaintances with other bloggers and fellow writers. They say that you have to leave comments and feedback, take part in online discussions, bloghops and memos, use social networking sites to expand your network of 'friends', become part of the community, etc.. They say that it will inevitably help you create your own circle of online friends and critique partners who will support you and will always be there for you, reposting your posts, retweeting your tweets, cheering you on when you're down, whatever. Well, guess what? I've tried all that and got nothing. I've tried time and time again to engage with other fellow writers, readers and bloggers, with whom I share similar opinions in writing, common interests in reading and whose blog posts I enjoy. I left feedback, commented on their posts, took part in different discussions, online reading groups and bloghops — somehow managing to remain largely unnoticed, snubbed, ignored and un-befriended. I always feel left out. I've discovered that people out there just don't care about what I think and they don't have the need (or maybe room) for another online friend. At most we exchange a comment or two but my attempts at prolonging the conversation usually leads to nothing. The point is that I want to connect with other people and geek out over my favourite books, films and TV-shows, but they are not so keen on the idea, because, unlike me, they have others to do that with.
In any case, I follow many different blogs and try to leave comments whenever I have something relevant to say or when I have the need to squeal over a favourite book or something. But when I repeatedly leave feedback without getting acknowledged even once, I start feeling like a stalker and stop. I guess I just assumed that making friends online would be easier than making them in real life and that once we see that we have something in common, we'll hit it off straight away. Well, what can I say? I'm a foolish, naive idiot. I have always been! Last week as I was desperately trying to engage my so-called friends' help in voting for the story idea that I'd submitted for a competition, it become clearer than ever that I have no resources whatsoever and that I can't even count on people I actually know in real life. I don't know, do I have to be a cute kitty or a cuddly otter to garner views, retweets and reblogs? I suppose being a celebrity would help. It's a mystery to me how someone become an online celebrity. I'm sure I could keep blogging for millennia and still have only a bunch of followers (if that!). Case in point: I've been blogging roughly since 2009 - when I started working on my first big writing project. I think I had around 30 followers when in 2012 I made a mistake on my blog that I couldn't correct and had to start a new blog, losing all of my followers, who chose not to follow me elsewhere. I've been blogging regularly and semi-regularly ever since then and I still have only 5 followers and they never comment on my posts anyway. That's really depressing. It's like I keep trying and all my efforts are for naught.
Another thing that struck me rather forcibly while I was trying to find someone to vote for me (the organisers of the competition actually actively encourage us to involve our «friends» in the voting process — apparently without giving a single thought to the fact that some of us don't have a lot of friends on- or off-line) was that while I was desperately trying to breach the impenetrable walls of English-language book market and get published there, I lost a golden opportunity to connect with other authors in my own area and make my entrance into the Ukrainian-language publishing world before one of the publishing houses I really wanted to get published in closed for submissions until further notice. I never questioned my choice to write in English. While it is not my native language, I feel at home using it. So when I started writing, I started doing it in English. It was a subconscious choice. But now I can plainly see that I should have been developing both lines. But it was only two years ago that I suddenly decided to attend a writing conference in L'viv; it was quite illuminating, educational and interesting as it provided a glimpse at our publishing industry, but being my shy self, I managed to make only two friends there! It was then that I conceived an idea to try and write in my own language and started reworking what had been a short fairy-tale in English into a longer and more expanded version in Ukrainian. It took me over a year to finally finish it — just in time to take part in the competition.
Speaking of the competition, I wish they would not insist on online voting or at least not take into consideration (they have a jury to pick up the winner after all!) and prolonging it for another week too! It's pure torture. I mean, if that had been the plan from the beginning - the online voting - they should have made sure that each entry had an equal exposure by promoting them all on different, specialized websites. I mean, they can't imagine that we all have a lot of friends who use social networking sites and who will spread the word and help us get as many votes as we can. In any case, I'm mostly over it by now. My aunt managed to engage the help of some of her friends and though I'm still far from the top spot (about a million years away from it actually), I'm not at the very bottom, so that's something. But in view of recent events I've decided that I need to work on expanding my acquaintances not only online but also in real life and with that in mind I'll keep an eye on other writing conferences and literary events in my area and maybe try and be a bit more forward and active, get out of my shell (ha!) and get to know more people. I will also continue looking for more blogs to follow in hopes that some blogger or other will one day become a good friend, perhaps even a critique partner...
My failed attempts at networking and connecting with other bloggers, writers and readers bit.ly/1LS3tGu via @faridamestek (Click to tweet)