Site Revamping: Changes are Coming

Despite my post-When Words Collide update that focused largely on my networking failure, I did leave the conference with a lot of good food for thought. Some of the most important things I learned at the conference this year involved websites.

I attended a panel held by Clare Marshall who not only covered the importance of the look of one’s website and/or blog and how it should relate to you as a creator, but emphasized the why of the website. She also mentioned that your blog has to be about you, but not in the way I’ve defined that statement with my blog here.

In a private conversation I had with her because I had some follow up questions about her presentation, she mentioned some foundational elements I need to think about (but won’t bore you with here) and the importance of adding value for my readers. For the record, Clare knows what she’s doing when it comes to all things websites, writing, and self-publishing, so you better believe I listened.

Another presenter at the conference who I unfortunately missed, but who wrote up an excellent blog post about her panel, covered the importance of the website why and the importance of adding value, too. Victoria Smith’s post on Girl Tries Life is well worth a read if you have a blog or ever intend to have one.

See the theme, here? Why and value.

When I came up with my own website, I had a fragment of an idea of what I could talk about. Just me is getting old fast though. I talk about a lot on here, but I can see the disjointedness, and I don’t think I’m adding value for anyone, myself included.

As much as it sucks to admit I’m failing a bit as a blogger here on E.V. Writes, and for that I’m sorry.

In the next few months you’re going to see some changes to my overall website as well as my blog topics. I’ve focused on me since the site’s inception, but I haven’t focused on the best parts of me. Or rather, the parts of me I think could add value to a reader’s experience.

I need to re-evaluate my why, and I need to start adding legitimate value.

Why do I blog? I want to spark discussion with like-minded individuals across the web. I want to share what I’m doing as a creator and hear from consumers and other producers and start a dialogue.

As for value, there are two things I’m highly devoted to: reading and writing. I blog about writing and writing related frustrations on Anxiety Ink, so I don’t want that to be a large focus here. And while I discuss elements of reading there, I want to devote myself to more of that here.

I’m not going to turn E.V. Writes into a review site. Even though my true passion lies with books, that’s not what I want to do. I’m going to figure out how to balance it out because I know a lot about books, I read widely, I have a background in applying literary theory, I enjoy literary theory, and I’m lucky enough to be able to dissect books from both a reader’s and writer’s perspective.

I’m also going to start sharing the best elements of the research I do, which is where my writer side will play further in. It’s about time I delved back into proper writing habits; instead of making more work for myself I’m going to blog about what I’m learning about. Given that teaching is the best way to understand something inside and out this sounds like a pretty good idea to me.

These are wide-scope ideas; as I go and figure out more what’s working for me, things will narrow. I hope you’ll bear with me as I start site revamping. Finding my niche is going to take time and bravery, but I’m ready to take things to a better level.

 

*Featured image: Elgin Mermaid 202… by Darron Birgenheier via Flickr

Prepping for When Words Collide 2016

As I’m sure you know, every year I attend the local (to Calgary) readercon When Words Collide. This will be my fourth year attending and I’m hoping to shake up my experience this time around; with August fast approaching I decided discussing my aspirations here will transform into a plan and help me to get my butt in gear.

In 2013 and 2015 I attended the offered pre-festival workshops featuring Patricia Briggs and Faith Hunter. Those were writing-life altering experiences. This year the master classes didn’t call to me, so I’m simply attending the festival, though that itself is rife with more information than any writer brain can process quickly.

All the writerly wisdom gathering aside, my focus this year is networking. I am a terrible networker. Atrocious really. My social anxiety, coupled with my doing-my-darnedest-to-be-punctual-but-rarely-am stress, and my myriad issues with strangers means that when I’m not inside a presentation or with someone I know, my brain is in defensive mode. Defensive mode is not the best head-space for trying to chat people up.

I was largely on my own last year because Kate, who is my WWC compatriot, had multiple presentations to prep for and attend and a merchant table she helped out with, among other things. I was pretty exhausted, but I did damn alright on my own –I even had lunch with someone I met outside the little café I was eyeballing.

I’m betting this year will be largely the same since Kate has her own merchant spot to handle on top of everything else she likes to tackle. I don’t mind the alone time at all, but I want to do more than mentally bolster myself during that time.

So, with a little under four weeks to prepare (as of the day of me writing this post, 10 days from it going live), I am going to do my best to learn how to network in such a setting!

I feel better armoured since I know in advance that I’m going to be largely on my own, and my day job in customer service has made me a pro at small talk, plus never underestimate the bolstering power of a professional persona. E.V. O’Day is much better in such a setting over the long haul than Elisa is any day.

Wish me luck! And I will absolutely be passing along my results and knowledge!

Oh, and I hope to see you at WWC!

Learning –Should I Take the Plunge?

On the heels of my annual spring slump, which I discussed in my last post, comes my dire need to shake things up and find meaning. Post-slump, I start to get itchy in both my personal and professional lives –I feel like I should be doing more, challenging myself more… Needless to say, a lot of feelings of inadequacy come out of it.

The only answer I really know to all of my problems is learning. However.

I have no desire to get an MFA; I never have. I don’t think having a degree in Fine Arts necessarily makes you a better a writer, unless you’re looking to get into the academic politics of creative writing. I don’t have the patience or the energy for such a world. Maybe that will change, but not in my immediate future.

Neither am I at the point of wanting to go to graduate school for anything in English because I don’t have anything to add to academia at this time. I can be part of the conversation, sure, but I want to start a conversation, not merely participate.

As for going back to school to study anything else, my heart’s not in it. Not to mention I’m still carrying a swack of student debt that I don’t need to add to simply on a whim.

Thus, I’ve been leaning towards more life-applicable courses in a field I never thought I’d have any interest in: business. Even writing that down gives me the heebee jeebees. But I work for a large corporation, and there are parts of it I want to understand better, and I want to have the knowledge and skills to put my feet in other doors because there are days I feel like I could be easily walked past. Plus, being a writer nowadays is akin to owning and running your own business, so any base in that area will be a boon for me.

I love the abstractness and critical thinking that are part and parcel of academia, but those outside of that world don’t have a clue that those are the main skills cultivated, or that those skills are important and widely applicable. Thankfully I am a person who can pick up almost any skill and apply my knowledge in a lot of circumstances; but sometimes people don’t want to take the gamble with me. I’ll admit I feel a bit vulnerable in the real world sometimes.

Then of course, money is an issue. As is time. I know if push comes to shove I am a good saver and a good prioritizer. So, do I take the plunge where learning is concerned? I’m still thinking, but I do have a course in mind and I’ve been looking at my budget.