This week’s Guest Editor is the rather fabulous Adele who lives over at Circus Queen (and you can chat her on Twitter at @AdeleJK). She’ll be back on Friday with her top picks for this week’s 10 at 10, but in the meantime she’s been pondering on the importance of being an opinionated blogger…
I started my blog Circus Queen nearly two years ago, without any real sense of what it was or where it would go. I just knew that I was pregnant and wanted to blog about it.
When it started attracting commenters, some whom I knew in real life and others whom I’d never met before, not even on the Internet, it began to be about community.
It’s still about both writing and connecting. Yet, as I grew more confident in my parenting and in my online voice, I knew I wanted to begin to explore something much more jarring: opinions.
I felt uncomfortable about this on a number of levels. For a start, a few of my real-life friends read my blog. I’d blush when I bumped into a friend who’d chosen to bottle feed the day after I’d blogged about why breastfeeding is so important. I’d worry that my online audience would be alienated by a post about my faith. I’d wonder if people would feel judged by my posts about feminism.
The fact is, it’s very difficult to convey a full picture of yourself in a single blog post while giving an opinion. Face to face, people get to know you, so are familiar with the back story to your words. They can also read your expressions and pick up on subtle tones.
Good writing brings some of this across. It is gentle and compassionate. It softens its message with humour. I often realise that I’m not quite there yet. I’m still developing my style. Still, even the best writing doesn’t accomplish it all, all of the time.
There are also only so many times that you can say “but I know everyone doesn’t feel this way” before your argument is weakened. So I’ve stopped doing it. I’m very open to other perspectives, stated respectfully. That’s what the comment system is there for.
I’ve started saying what I mean and not losing my mind over it. I read blogs with strong opinions by bloggers who are clearly well-read online and offline. If I follow them religiously, even when I often disagree with them, why wouldn’t I publish the same?
I don’t even write anything that controversial but because I deal in parenting, just about everything is controversial.
To my surprise, though, the posts that make me worry the moment before I hit publish are the ones that attract the most traffic and comments. Those are the posts that get shared. I even get emails from women in other countries who want to chat about their experiences or to pull me up on something I’ve said. The latter have sometimes made me revise my stance.
I’m not saying that I write opinionated posts to get this kind of response but that people seem to respond to some glimmer of the true self. It speaks to them, even if uncomfortably.
I also want to challenge you to show your face and say what you really mean. The response may just surprise you.