Hello? Is there anyone there?
These are two questions I’ve often felt of asking since I first started posting short stories and blogging with earnest here last August. Building an audience from scratch is hard work, and I’ve still got a long, long, long way to go before I’ll feel like I’m reaching a satisfying number of folk with my tall tales. However, over the past few weeks I’ve felt validated in my efforts, and it feels like the right time to reflect on the weeks I spent shouting into the void.
Many moons ago I set up a WordPress blog and posted short stories on an ad hoc basis. I’d just graduated from university and wanted to fill my time with something constructive and practice my writing skills while I fought my way through a bout of depression. Sometimes I’d post one or two stories a day for several days, others it would be once a week or less. But I seemed to, almost right away, get a decent amount of people hitting that that blue star on my posts or clicking the follow button. This time around, despite in my mind my stories being far better with several years of practice and maturity under my belt, it felt like nobody really wanted to know.
Perhaps WordPress has changed. Perhaps more people are writing, and it’s harder for our voices to be heard when there are so many to choose from. Perhaps less people are reading on WordPress, and it’s more difficult to convince people to give their time to our voices. Or perhaps I’m just imagining it or misremembering, and it was just as hard to get my stories read in 2012 as it is in 2017/18. No matter what it is, there’s no doubt that I felt like my stories were met with little more than radio silence in those first couple of months. And it was disheartening.
I write for me, first. I love writing. I love crafting tales. I love taking a random prompt or a fleeting idea from my brain and turning it into a story, no matter if its long or short. I love having a creative outlet for my words when I spend most of my time writing non-fiction copy for businesses and websites. Plus, writing short stories and flash fiction helps me to flex my imagination at times when I feel its stagnating from working on the same novel for months on end. But ultimately, I want others to read my work and take pleasure from it too. When you work hard to adhere to a weekly posting schedule, even when you have a million and one other things going on in your life, it simply feels discouraging to be sharing work that nobody seems to read or enjoy.
Perseverance pays off, though. These days, it’s rare that I don’t get at least a couple of Likes on my posts, and I receive wonderful, encouraging comments from time to time, too, in between all that pesky spam. I even had my first ever coffee bought for me by someone who appreciates my work, and that felt amazing (Thanks Mira, you’re the best!). I am so thankful to these lovely folk, because just knowing my voice is heard and enjoyed reminds me why I’m doing this whole writing thing.
If you’re new to WordPress, or to any other blogging platform, and you’re sharing your creative work for the first time, don’t be put disheartened about shouting into the void. I know that it can be enough to make you consider giving in on your blog altogether, but as long as you shout often enough, you will be heard in time. Post regularly and create things you’re proud of, and eventually your voice will be received by keen ears.