In summer of 2012, I built this website.
After six months of rejection and discouragement, I had just signed with my agent. I didn't have a book deal yet, but I was gearing up to go on submission and was feeling good about things.
I was going to be a writer.
Correction, I had always been a writer. But I was to be a published author. I could feel it.
Plenty of people will tell you that the writing's what matters, and that writers write, and that real writers will write regardless of whether or not they make any money from it, regardless of whether anyone ever reads it.
I believe that's true. If my publishing contracts dried up tomorrow and the ability to self-publish went away, I'd still write because I need to. I feel most "myself" in the written word. It's why I love email and abhor talking on the phone. It's why, quite often when I'm in a funk I don't know precisely why until I start to write about it. It's why writing is the first thing I do ever morning, and why my last thoughts before I go to sleep are what I want to write about when I wake up.
But let's be very clear about something:
There is no high quite like finding out you're going to be a published author.
We can romanticize the writing craft all we want, and perhaps we should, but the truth is, wonderful as writing as a hobby is, writing as a career is better. At least for me.
My passion is also my day job, and because of that, there are few things I like more in life than working.
My life is good, and I know this.
Wait. I've digressed.
Like I said, it was back in 2012 and I was well on my way to achieving The Dream. I had two finished manuscripts and had another in the works.
And because I'd done my homework on what it meant to be a published author in the modern-day, I knew I needed a website.
Now, I was actually pretty excited about this. Before I quit the corporate world to pursue the writing thing, I worked on a web team, so I knew plenty about web marketing and e-commerce and HTML and a proper homepage, etc.
Building the website wasn't the problem. I'm quite good at such things, especially after a friend introduced me to the magic of SquareSpace. In fact, I'm so good, that Mr. Layne and I have even started our own web design company for authors.
But I found out pretty quickly that skilled as I was in making my website look pretty, until I had a book deal on the table, it was damn hard to find the content for that website. Simply put, I had nothing to talk about.
At this point in my career, I didn't have much beyond my headshot, my bio and links to my barely-used social media accounts. Desperate for something--anything--to populate my new (beautiful) website, I did what any newbie would default to:
I started a blog.
So here's a fun fact for you: most author blogs suck. If you're an author and if you're reading this, there's a very good chance that you have a blog, and an equally good chance that it sucks. I say this without much remorse, because honestly my blog sucked too. (Hugh Howey, by the way, is one sterling exception; his blog is fantastic.
That first blog was started for the two very worst reasons:
(1) to hide the fact that I didn't yet have any published (or soon-to-be) published books
(2) because I felt like I was supposed to have one
Even in 2012, blogging was starting to wind down and see the end of its heyday, but still ubiquitous enough that if you had a website, chances are you had a blog. Heck, if you had a website it probably was a blog and nothing else.
So I started a blog, which nobody read, because nobody knew that I existed. And I did what 99% of aspiring writers with no published books talked about: writing.
Now, that's not to say I'll never talk about writing. I love a good blog post about process as much as the next person. If JK Rowling writes an article on her writing process, you can bet your ass I'll be all over that trying to soak every bit of wisdom she has to offer.
But most of the time, nobody cares about the writing process of a writer they've never heard of, and back then I was definitely a writer you've never heard of. Heck, I still am, in most circles!
After several months of writing blog posts because I felt like I had to, most of them about plotting vs. pansting, or character development, I read this bit of advice on Twitter:
A bad blog is worse than no blog at all.
Truer words people, truer words. I archived my boring blog that very day.
Fast forward to 2015 ... my writing career had taken off in a modest way. I had a small but loyal fanbase (hi guys!). I'd made the USA Today bestseller list. My book releases had numbered in the double-digits, with a dozen more under contract. My sales were good enough that I was finally earning at least as much as I had in my day job.
And though I was feeling good, really good, about my writing career, I was also feeling lopsided. I couldn't escape the notion that I wanted to be more than an author.
I wanted to me be more than my books.
I want to talk about my life. My passions. My beliefs. I want to inspire and motivate people, women specifically. I want to discuss my favorite lipstick and my never-ending battle against my frizzy hair. I want to inspire twenty-somethings to watch less Bachelor and read more newspapers. I want to talk about fashion and shoes and politics and how to make a really good spinach dip.
For 2015, I did this. For two months.
I blogged every week for a couple of months talking about everything from that one time bad reviews made me cry, to my favorite beauty products to why I think baking soda is the most magical ingredient in the world. I loved every second of it.
I felt whole.
I also felt ... lonely.
The good news about blogs falling out of favor is that authors no longer have to have one. The bad news is if you do want one ... they've fallen out of favor.
You guys, I'm going to get real here: Sometimes I feel like if it's not on Facebook, you guys don't care enough to see it. I don't take it personally, because to each her own and all that, it was just ... a hard realization for me.
I was pouring my heart and soul into these blog posts, and there was very little interaction. A post of my dog on Facebook will get a hundred likes and two dozen comments. A blog post that I spent three hours on and was wildly important to me would get maybe three comments.
I was frustrated.
I find time spent on Facebook rather unrewarding. I can't explain why, it's just not a good forum for me.
But I'm in the minority. That's just the way of it.
And it's fine, really. YOU WIN, FACEBOOK!
I shut down my blog, deciding that it was taking up too much time for too little gain.
But here we are, a year later, and as Mr. Layne and I were doing our annual review, I realized that I'd come full-circle to where I was at the same time last year. I still had the exact same itch to talk about things other than writing, other than being an author. I wanted my website to be about more than what book I had coming up next, or who my celebrity inspiration for a certain character is. I'll still talk about all that stuff, because, believe me, the book stuff's as important to me as it is to you guys. More so, probably.
But I'm also more than book stuff.
And I miss blogging.
As I was putting together the Lauren Layne Weekly last week, I realized this. The newsletter kept getting longer and longer, because I have stuff to say.
I also realized ... I'm okay if this all goes into a vacuum. I'm okay if nobody ever replies or comments, and even if nobody ever reads it.
The blog is back. And this time I'm doing it for the right reasons.
Not because I feel like I should.
Not because I want praise and gratitude.
Simply because I have something to say.
Here's the PS: While I will absolutely be linking to my blog posts on Facebook (because while I know I was hating on Facebook, I do respect it as a communication tool!) I won't be responding to comments about my blog posts that are left on Facebook, if that makes sense. My Facebook page is increasingly managed by my fantastic assistant Lisa, as I've decided to shift gears and focus on the things that bring me the most joy: writing books, writing blog posts, and the Lauren Layne Weekly.