By Dana Hanley
I have always wanted to write. Not necessarily professionally, nor as a dependable income, but as a creative outlet and means of sharing my thoughts. I used to fill notebooks with half-written essays, outlines of research articles and openings to stories and an occasional poem scratched in between.
Then I discovered blogging. For me, it was the perfect outlet. I could write on my terms, not worrying about publishability, nor who would be interested in what I had to say. I needed only to write it, and those interested would eventually find me. In two hours, I could write a good post from beginning to end, publish it and have immediate feedback. I had the opportunity to write about exactly what I wanted in the way I wanted and interact directly with my audience. My ideas did not have to be completed in a single entry, but could develop over time, through comments or through subsequent posts.
These connections also brought me something else I had never expected. After several rejection slips, an editor finally wrote me back asking for published clips. Not having any, I invited him to review my blog. It seemed a terribly unprofessional way to demonstrate my writing ability, and an editor of a larger magazine probably would have deleted the email when they read the disclaimer about possible typos since it was just a personal blog. But he didn’t and was impressed with my blog, bringing me my first offer to write for print. Through my blog I have also received invitations to contribute to a few books and have made contact with established authors whose experience I hope to draw from in future.
After a flurry of queries and proposals sent off over a year ago, I have allowed most of my projects to begin collecting dust. My notebooks sit virtually untouched. In fact, the last thing I wrote in them was notes I took during a public hearing. For publication on my blog.
As much as I love blogging, however, I still have a desire to write more for more traditional media. I enjoy writing magazine articles and I have some plans for a book. Striking a balance has not been easy, especially since I have been etching out the time I do spend on writing between raising and homeschooling four children. Thus far, my blogging has led to all of my opportunities for print, and I wonder how much more powerful that could potentially become as my blog grows. I also have begun to look at my blog as my education as a writer. I am making contacts, trying out ideas and seeing the kinds of responses I get to different types of stories and different writing styles. I am developing a stronger voice as a blogger, and I am acquiring a larger base of knowledge through each post I research.
At the moment, I am hoping this will come together when I decide to begin writing my first book. But I also look ahead to that with some reservation. Because I know when that time comes, I will be making a choice to pursue one form of writing and not the other. I know I will likely still blog, but I also know it won’t be the same. After all, there are only so many hours in the day.
Dana Hanley is a homeschooling mother of four, writing mostly after bedtime for her blog Principled Discovery.