In the beginning…
Six years ago when I launched this website and short story blog, I was excited but at the same time a little terrified. Would people read my stories? Would they like them? Or would this experiment be a big “flop”?
Little did I guess that I would make so many friends online through my website and blog and, six years on, have thousands of folk reading and following my blog and Facebook page! I am overwhelmed and thrilled.
Story writing: From ideas to reality
Having made the decision to write stories and publish them online, I brainstormed story topics. I jotted down all the story ideas swirling around in my head. I wrote lists…and more lists. At the same time, I tried to group all these possible story topics into four or five categories. I looked for common themes (life’s lessons, family, faith, people, ageing, cooking and food, family history). I composed a number of simple stories, in readiness for the launch of my website. Eventually, I settled on five categories.
Choosing a website name
Next, after deciding on the scope of my story writing and the five categories, I had to choose a name for my website. It was not an easy task and involved a lot of research and soul-searching. The name had to be positive and reflect the inspiration for my writing. It had to be both personal and intriguing.
The name I chose, “Love in a little black diary” is based on the correspondence my paternal grandmother recorded in a diary she kept during World War II. You’ll find the story of my grandmother and her diary here: A mother’s love (and a little black diary) (October 24, 2015).
A website in the making
I did a lot of research about websites and blogs before I launched my own. The process took months. I examined many different websites, focussing on content, appearance and ease of navigation. I investigated different writing styles and formats. I decided what I liked and didn’t like, what seemed to work well and what didn’t. I found a couple of trustworthy websites that helped a novice (like me) set up a website/blog. I learnt how to use WordPress (an online web content management tool). In the meantime, I took an online photography course, which included learning how to take great photographs, use Lightroom (an online photo editing tool) and prepare high quality images for use online. The entire process was (and still is) a huge learning curve.
You might be thinking: Why go to the trouble of setting up a website and blog? Why not just write a book and publish it in the usual way?
The word “blog” can be a noun or verb. As a noun, a “blog” is a regularly updated website or web page written in an informal or conversational style. Each new text entry is called a post. Posts are typically displayed in reverse chronological order, so that the most recent post appears first, at the top of the web page. Used as a verb, to “blog” is to add a new post to the web page.
My website and blog enable me to publish my writing, that is, to make my stories available to the general public. In the past, publishing referred only to text, images and audio-visual material, in hard copies. Today, electronic publishing or online publishing is common. Copyright laws govern ownership of all published material.
I own the material I publish on my website and blog. In comparison, what I post on my Facebook page, for example, belongs to Facebook. It’s not mine.
A blog is an excellent medium for self-publishing short stories.
This is because short stories are –
- Suitable for online reading (not too long)
- Satisfying for the reader (a complete article)
- What most people are willing to read online (compare with newspaper articles)
- Suitable for sharing with Facebook followers
- Suitable for documenting small chunks of family or local history
- Satisfying for the writer (a complete article)
- Can be compiled later into book form for traditional distribution.
Each story is special
Each story I publish on my blog is special to me, regardless of its subject or length. It’s like a baby in gestation. I put much thought into how I will construct a story, what to include/what not to include. I reflect on the topic for a long time before I begin to write. Even the title for a story requires much consideration. I do a lot of reading and research on and around a topic. I contact people to gain or check information. Each story takes considerable time and effort to compose. I write and I rewrite. As well, I spend a great deal of time choosing and preparing appropriate photographs for a post (photographs are critical to most of my stories).
My husband is my main proof-reader and best critic. My daughter also proof-reads some of my stories (when she has time). But I’m my own hardest taskmaster. I won’t publish a story until I am satisfied with it.
You be the critic.
Now, it’s your turn to be the judge. Do my stories resonate with you in some way? Do they inform, challenge, stir your emotions, or arouse your curiosity?
I’d love to hear from you.