From a writing perspective blogging has saved my life.
For years of I toiled away in isolation trying to get something published. My only communication with the literary world was the steady trickle of rejection slips that trickled through my letter box. Okay, a couple of agents did offer me some mild encouragement, probably because they were soft-hearted.
Writing in a vacuum is hard. Soul destroying. The process of constant rejection would grind down the toughest heart.
Then the blog came along.
Blogging did two things. First of all, in the constant struggle to find something interesting to say, it made me think about what I was trying to achieve with my writing. Why did I write? What was I trying to say? Who the fuck was I?
Writing my near-daily posts stretched my mind. It also got my flabby writing muscles working again. Blogging is the best exercise an aspiring writer can indulge in, believe me.
The second thing is equally important. It's called feedback. The comments visitors leave on my blogs. Suddenly I found I wasn't working in a vacuum any more. After years of neglect like-minded people were taking the trouble to offer me constructive advice and encouragement. Simply out of the goodness of their hearts.
If I get depressed at the state of the world - and thanks to Bush and Blair I often do - then thinking about some of the kind - and perceptive - observations people have made about what I'm trying to do has restored my optimism, my faith in human nature.
What's even more remarkable is the number of comments I've received. If you look at one of the literary A-listers like the Grumpy Old Bookman who gets between five and six hundred hits a day you'll see that very few people ever take the trouble to leave comments on his blog. By and large he works in a vacuum, which makes his achievements all the more remarkable.
If you want to know how to encourage an aspiring writer, it's easy. Just leave a comment. Any observation, however trivial, or cutting, or funny will be cherished, believe me. Tell me about yourself, if you wish. If you visit this blog we're bound to have things in common. Don't suffer in silence. We're in this together. No more will we be screaming into empty space.
So, if you've ever left a comment on this blog, or you might in the future, thank you. Truly. It's what literature and writing and books are all about. Readers and writers connecting. Believe me, for a writer nothing is more important.
Oh, and my next novel? It's coming along fine, thanks to you.