On the avoidance of personal pronouns in blog posts

On a recent blog post about setting up an e.mail-based feed to go with the RSS feeds, a visitor left the following comment:

Hmm. I guess the limericks aren't doing it for you, eh? I'm not surprised. Even for folks that like poetry, limericks are an acquired taste.

On the one hand, I guess I should feel pretty good about this comment. It began with love, and is as gently phrased as it could be. Wrapped up in this comment is the belief that I'm potentially worth listening to. Perhaps this is for amusement, insight, wisdom, or just for technical instruction on how to set up auto-crossposting of your blog posts to Facebook and Twitter. Regardless, it's nice to know that some of my content is well-received.

On the other hand...

Look, you can't say I didn't warn you, OK? Over on the left hand side of the blog, in that "Welcome Visitor" widget that nobody ever reads, it begins with: "This is my writing blog, which means you'll find fiction (short, medium and long), thoughts, ideas, experiments and other grammatically correct prose." What I mean by that is you should expect to see fiction (short, medium and long), thoughts, ideas, experiments and other grammatically correct prose. I didn't say anything about my poetry, since I try to keep that to a minimum, as a public service.

Sometimes my blog posts are about specific subjects related to writing, sometimes not. The most popular thing I've ever written was advice on how to use Twitter to maximum effect, but I wrapped it up in a rant that was, you guessed it, all about me.

How come I talk about me so much on this blog? I'll avoid the obvious answer and instead try to be more thoughtful. Because I'm not the New York Times, committed to a one-way flow of factual, dispassionate information. Hell, I'm not even the New York Times Review of Books, which is 100% erudite and artfully expressed opinion.

I'm not a Chuck Wendig who can dispense terrific inspirational kick-in-the-pants writing advice, or a John Scalzi, who can do the same thing with less profanity and more pictures of dogs, cats, sunsets and Hugo and Nebula awards from years past. I'm not a Jane Friedman who can share loads of publishing advice from years and years of successful activity in the biz.

Who am I?

Vell, I'm just zis guy, you know?

I promise, when I have a book out, I'll set up a website which will be all about that book, and nothing but. It'll have character bios, pictures, excerpts, polls, giveaways, live webchats, the whole nine yards. Until then, though, you get me in all my flawed glory, and this blog, ditto. That's not enough for some of you, too much for others. What can I say? I'm trying not to take this comment too seriously, but I tend to take everything too seriously.

To finish this post, I was going to open the comments for suggestions about what you'd like to see me post about instead. However, as this is clearly one of those posts about ME, I'll do a separate one that can be about YOU.

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  1. This made me smile. Broadly.

    Funnily enough, I find it utterly impossible to write a post on my own site without embedding it firmly in the context of my own experience - creating a lot of "I this and I that" but it's for a very good reason:

    I am not pretending to be an expert.

    When the day comes that I find myself writing a post that is not firmly planted in the rich soil of "it may be different for you, all I can say truthfully is how it has been so far for me" I may have to stop blogging. I would be worried about becoming a preacher of writing lore, or some kind of bully, or an evangelist that wants to ride roughshod over other people's discovery process.

    Yes, these are our personal spaces. We can write what we like, in the way we like. As Nathan Bransford (I think it was him anyway) says, "If you don't like it, get out of my car."

    And for the record, I wouldn't have you any other way.

  2. Unless you're an industry guru, the blog really should be your perspective in your voice. This is your way of connecting with other writers and potential readers and letting them know who you are and what you're about and you give them samples of your work along the way.

    As long as you can relay the information in a funny, interesting, or different way, it's fine for it to be about you. Why is my blog strictly fiction and no commentary? Because it would bore you out of your mind. Seriously. That's why I stick with the fiction. But you have a fun way of giving us your take on things and I think most people appreciate that. Anonymous comments aside.

  3. Emma & Danni: Thanks for the comments, guys. You both have hit on it exactly. This is my experience, my perspectives. Who else would I be talking about?

  4. I I I I I I I I I I

    I'm for almost everything you post Tony, but I think you took that Anonymous comment too close to heart. You didn't need to justify yourself, and posts defending something one does and will continue to do seldom work on me. Don't sweat criticism from people who hide their names. Write content that shows it's wrong. Three posts in a row without "I," or an amazing post with "I," or business as usual and your regular readers (myself included) don't mind at all.

  5. Nurrrr? It's a blog. It's supposed to be personal. I can go just about anywhere to read some impersonal self-motivational tripe, and I don't.

  6. What a thoroughly peculiar comment. It's *your* blog, after all. More significantlyy, it's your brand here, something exclusively Tony Noland. Whatever one commenter may say, dozens of us will point out - you've got it right. As you were, sir!

  7. Yeah, I wouldn't worry about it, Tony. One person's opinion. Your blog. Your perspective. Imagine if you wrote your posts in the third-person. ; )

  8. John: I worried that I was just feeding a troll with this, but yeah, it bugged me, probably more than was warranted.

    FAR: Oh, my tripe is never impersonal. No, that's a point of pride with me, that it's all hand-tailored.

    Chris: No kidding. I puzzled and puzzled over it.

    Ezzy: Tony would certainly sound strange if he suddenly started speaking in the third person, wouldn't he? 8-)

  9. I like your blog just the way it is. Maybe I didn't take the comment seriously enough, because I read it as a writing prompt or writing challenge like the three word challenge. Either way, keep up the good work!

  10. Just keep writing any way that makes you happy.


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