Those who can't do, don't blog

So I've been on the blogosphere now (officially) for almost three years.  As someone who professionally writes fiction, blogging seemed like a natural segue.  It's also been a great way to network with, encourage, and promote fellow artists of color who would otherwise be neglected.  Moreover, blogging has been a way to combat the culture of complaining which many people of color have developed here in America.  We complain about the absence of color in TV and film.  We complain about the whitening of (some of) our musical performers.  We complain about the misappropriation of our music, our arts, our cultures, our styles, our slang - you name it, we complain about it.

Complaining is fine.  Criticism is healthy.  Doing nothing after complaining, however, is unacceptable, and the blogosphere is great for that.

So to combat complaining, I started highlighting actors, singers, musicians, and writers of colors (directors will be along shortly).  I started dreamcasting projects to inspire original writing as well as give additional attention to actors of color from around the world.  I started interviewing many of these artists themselves in order to further promote their careers.  I want them to sell more books, more tickets, more mp3s, and more DVDs.  I want them to have more exposure.  I want them to make their money and gain their success.  I'm happy to see these people succeed.

And I am not alone.

First, the importance of the 'sphere

A couple of weekends ago I was on the phone with Robert Darrien (scroll down), whose name some of you recognize from the Blasian Narrative.  Like me, Robert blogs and writes fiction; also like me, Robert seeks to interview artists and thinkers of color to help promote their work.  Robert, dear man that he is, called me a "mentor" and asked how I went about interviewing people, what it's like, and what to look forward to.  Some of you have voiced similar questions, and I'll be real with you all - it can get unpleasant sometimes, but not often.  Some folks don't respect the 'sphere.  They think you blog because you don't have anything better to do, and that you're a waste of time.  You run into passive aggressiveness and pretentious condescension.  Mind you, it's fine if someone doesn't want to do an interview or contribute to a blog - that's their right.

But sometimes I get the feeling people like these don't realize whom they're talking to.

Becoming a prolific blogger with a decent following requires patience, sacrifice, vision, and extraordinary time management skills.  For example, I work six days a week at a fairly exhausting job, but I have to find time to run errands, spend time with the Moms, kick it with cousins and friends, research and write fiction...and find the time and energy to maintain five blogs and attempt to promote other people's careers, whether by fiction, interview, article, or video.

 In short, I'm busy.  And I'm busy all the time.

To some bloggers (and vloggers), this sounds familiar.  Robert himself didn't know what he was signing up for when he joined the Narrative.  He became popular overnight, and before he knew it, folks were emailing him directly asking when the book's coming out, when's the next post going up, what's taking so long, etc and so forth.  Humorist Huy Le found himself in a similar situation; he didn't initially promote his blog Jagged Noodles.  I asked if I could post some of his (extremely) hilarious work on the Narrative, and the next thing he knew, readership on his blog skyrocketed.

Poet and actor TJ Medel is another example; after Modest Goddess introduced him to us on the Narrative, I still had to turn into a CIA agent just to find out his name.  This was during the summer of 2011; I checked his Facebook to find it had 69 fans and hadn't been touched since 2009.  After tracking him down and doing an interview, all that changed

That's the power of the blogosphere.

These three men are just a few to name, but my point is this: they're all talented.  They all have vision.  They just needed someone to have a little faith.  Edward Hong is an excellent example of this. I didn't really know who he was or that he was an actor until I found out by accident. Typical Moi, I did some research, did a brief post on the Narrative about this guy, and his fans came out right away. Edward himself stopped by to thank them.  When I brought up his following in interview, he said, "I'm actually quite stunned by this really. All I can say is that it's an amazing blessing that ya'll believe in me. It's sheer awesome beyond words."

Because sometimes, that's all some of these artists are asking for.

Second, respect the 'sphere

Blogging is tiring, it's time consuming, and when it's done for someone else's benefit, that needs to be respected - end of story.  When Robert first asked me what to look forward to or how to go about a running successful blog or two, I wasn't entirely sure what to tell him.  I mean, I told him what to watch for and offered to help with design, but I couldn't say much more than that.

However, if any blogger - regardless of color, gender, or sexual orientation - were to ask to me now for some Fashion Tips about starting a blog or improving a blog, I actually have quite a few things to say:

1 - You are a person.  You are awesome.  Never forget that.  I say this because the trolling and the hate mail is inevitable, and you need to be ready.

2 - You are not getting paid for this.  You doing this out of the kindness of your heart.  Because you are a person.  And you are awesome.

3 - Choose your target audience and come to terms with whatever topics really matter to you.  I emphasize target audiences because universal narratives don't exist.  Try to make everyone happy and you will make no one happy.

4 - Speaking of happy, your happiness is more important than anyone else's.  It's your blog.  It's your house.  Your rules apply; everyone else's can go to hell.

5 - If you're going to reach out to artists, taking time out of your life to play unpaid agent to them, you are awesome.  Therefore your blog must look awesome.  If you know about design, put that knowledge to good use.  If you don't, learn.  Consult. Artists are likely to check your blog first before saying yes to having anything to do with you.  It doesn't have to be complex, it just has to look nice.  Case in point, mines:






6 - Now let's talk standards.  Taking my own experiences into account, I recommend that aspiring bloggers start off by practicing the Philosophy of Once.  When you extend an offer to interview someone, extend it once.  Keep a list of the people you reach out to, and strike 'em out when they either decline or simply don't respond.  The time you waste begging or wooing one artist is time you could spend promoting someone else, someone more grateful, or even yourself.  The "I'm busy" excuse means dick.  Oh, you're busy?  Guess what?  So am I.  Life is hard.

I know this sounds harsh - particularly to those of us promoting fellow POC - but understand that if Vogue, Cosmo, Seventeen, or even TV Guide called these same artists and asked them to show up at 9 a.m. on Tuesday for a photo shoot and an interview in jeans and a sweater, these artists would arrived at 5 a.m. on the dot dressed to the nines.

The people photographing and interviewing would be getting paid and not giving two shits about that artist.  You, however, are not getting paid and yet you hand-picked the artist because you wanted that specific artist on your blog.  You were looking forward to their presence and you care about their career.  You gave up sleep, rushed through dinner, or skipped a movie with friends to help promote their career.

And that makes you awesome.

Comments

  1. Much love and respect to you and your work. I have been a follower/lurker for almost 2 years now.

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  2. I respect what you do Ank and the people who contribute to the many blogs I visit. I might not always join in the conversations but I enjoy the information being dropped. Good job everyone! :)

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  3. K:

    I came to terms with it early on. I got dirty emails and way too personal questions that seemed creepy, men who wanted to meet me and women who wanted to challenge every sentence I wrote.

    Then when I published my children's novel, a nasty email was delivered to my spam. I don't think people realize how exhausting writing is period. You write from your soul. All of it. The good and the bad.

    But then again...the first rule of writing is "Never write for anyone except yourself."

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    1. "..the first rule of writing is "Never write for anyone except yourself."

      This. This is something I need to internalize into my sub-conscious.

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    2. *handicap* Amen!

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    3. God! I hate the automatic spellchecker on my comp.Did this three times and it still came out wrong. Forgive me. I meant to say "handclap" instead of " handicap".

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  4. I moved to the U.S. for college 7 years ago from a largely poc community to a majority white, catholic liberal arts school and I cannot express how isolating, frustrating and often downright scary this type of shift can be. That's why I am doubly grateful for blogs like yours - they really are a powerful force. I only wish that I had found them sooner! And I can only imagine the painstaking strength and commitment it takes to keep this forum going. So many incredible writers that I used to follow from around the world have shutdown their blogs because of all the fucking hate mail. It takes an immense amount of resilience to keep writing and fighting out in the open. So, thank you for your amazing work!

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    1. I had to check to make sure I didn't write this myself because you took the words right out of my mouth! Shamefully, I thought I'd be okay in a white community because I didn't fit in black communities either. They called me a white girl for the longest. Oh, what a slap in the face that ended up being. I've since made my own community of all kinds of people and the cornerstone of that is our collective outlook on life. This blog has been a haven for me and I think for a lot of other people too. Many thanks and blessings to Ankh.

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    2. "This blog has been a haven for me"
      And for me too. I can't tell you how many times K has saved my life - literally saved my life with not only the power of her words, but the care and attention she gives to the subject matter she shares with us on her blogs. A thousand thanks K: you are the awesomest :)

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  5. Nailed it. This needed to be said.

    I'm in the blogosphere because of you. Had it not been for your suggestion, I'd still be wherever I was before I wrote the fic that changed my life. Because of your direct influence, I now have fans and followers. I currently maintain four blogs, write for three others, and am an administrator for two of them. I've met so many fabulous individuals and learned so much via the 'sphere.

    The power of connecting and sharing; most of us find our way to other blogs because of a link we saw on someone else's blog. I can safely and truly say that a lot of my readers found me through you, so those pretentious artists who look down their noses at bloggers are giving themselves a lethal injection. You wouldn't interview someone you had no interest in, so that makes you a fan. Insulting one fan in the 'sphere is akin to insulting many, and that's one way artists can lose a fanbase.

    The blogosphere is powerful. Anyone who disrespects it is a complete and utter clueless fool.

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  6. I really enjoy all the sites that oh have. I know that I have said this over and over again,but your blog is very unique. You promised a one of a kind blog(s),and it's certainly that. You have some blogs that entertain,educate informor is just there,but yours are all multipurpose.Youre a magical woman who brings out the best in potential writers and just your readers in general. Not a lot of people can say that. I've been entertained and encouraged,by your sites in more ways than one. Keep on doing your thing and continues to inspire others as you have done with the authors/ bloggers that you have done it to.

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  7. Thanks for the love, everybody. You're all awesome!

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  8. Definitely appreciate all you do and the community you have created.

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  9. And this is what the kids call, FLAWLESS VICTORY!!!!!

    *bows to the mistress*

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  10. I'm grateful for this blog, and the others you have. I didn't really imagine how much work it was for you, though sometimes I was like "how can she manage and update 4 blogs regularly??". I know I wouldn't be able to.

    I'm grateful of passionate people who like sharing (knowledge, entertainment, social problems, personal experience, etc) and analyzing via blogs or vlogs.

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