Blogger of the Month – July

I truly believe one of the most important parts of blogging is supporting other bloggers.

With that in mind, I’ve started a monthly series where I will feature a different blogger each time so you can all get to know some of my favourite people to follow!

This month is all about James from Celtic Riverside.

Introduce yourself and your blog!
I’m James Keenan, an introverted novelist-in-progress with a nice mix of anxiety and personality disorder. This blog, Celtic Riverside, is my way of digitally venturing out into the world with my ideas and working on my writing as I develop my novels. 

Why did you start your blog?
I have been working on drafts of my main novel-in-progress for nearly 20 years. It’s never good enough. In addition to struggling with my perfectionism, I also wrestle with self-doubt about my beliefs and worldview, worried that I am coming from a place of profound ignorance. The blog was meant as a means of putting down non-fiction versions of my thoughts in an unpolished format to get them out of my head and hone my writing skills while connecting with readers. By writing about things that matter to me, which will undoubtedly reflect in the themes of my novels, I felt confident that the blog would attract readers who would later want to read my polished works. Having that sense of connection with readers from a early point sounds wonderful.

How would you describe your blogging style?
Stream-of-consciousness. I am a workaholic and perfectionist, which makes writing difficult because what I write is never good enough. The blog was a way of working through that by presenting ideas with little revision – it’s not polished writing as a novel might be. I see the blog also as a sort of lightning rod that attracts like-minded people or polar opposites seeking to challenge those ideas. The blog does not come from a place of expertise but rather a place of belief based on my understanding of the world. It seeks less to influence and more to connect.

What is your favourite post that you’ve ever written and why?
Definitely the letter I wrote to my “daughter”. I did revise this one from an early draft, which was one of the first that launched my blog. As the entry describes, “Alice” is how I imagined a daughter for years in dreams and in thinking about the future, the name borrowed from the Lewis Carroll character. After I got married and the world revealed more of itself, I started to feel concern about raising her in it. The letter to her was a vehicle for expressing concerns that many of us share about the state of things, expressed specifically to a future generation. It’s probably the most emotional piece I’ve written.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve got to share about blogging?
Write for yourself, not everyone else. Find a topic, or topics, that interest you and hone your writing skills, the readers will naturally follow. You do not have to write what you think people want to read to attract an audience. If it helps, choose a specific reader and compose things with that person in mind. If you try to write to appeal to a broad audience it will come across as pandering and put off readers. Broad appeal for good writing comes from the sincerity of the writer.

What is your favourite thing about yourself?
My close friends and family regard me as highly principled. It’s one thing for people to think highly of you, one thing for them to trust you, and quite another for them to trust how highly they think of you. Apparently it’s a manifestation of a mental health issue (OCPD, covered several times in the blog), but I have a strict adherence to principles. After years of doing what I regarded as the right thing, even when it was considerably more difficult or others would be unaware that I’d cut the corner, it created tons of trust with those in my inner circle. So, definitely my character.

What is your favourite self care activity?
I’m already a private and introspective person, but when things are particularly stressful I have a playlist and go find someplace quiet. I also use a technique called “method of Ioci” for recall, but it doubles as my happy place and I retreat there in my mind for some peace. Reality infringing on the peace I find there is actually the basis for my in-progress novel.

What is your biggest achievement?
This is a tough question for someone with OCPD. I tend not to consider things achievements in an accomplished sense, just as things that I have done that lead to future things. In my writing about gender equality, I did earn a follow from the highly respected Prime Minister of Iceland, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, and a re-tweet from the #HeForShe organisation. Standing up for something in a way that draws the positive attention of leaders in that area is a positive by even the strictest standards.

What photograph is guaranteed to make you smile?
I am the proud owner of a pair of corgis, once since he was a pup, and photos of them never fail to make me smile. Also, on a stranger, more reluctant note, photos of Emma Watson. She represents an idea of personal character, activism, and personality that I adore, so seeing her in photos restores my energy and makes me smile.

Who are your top three bloggers right now and why?
Cara herself from Cara’s Corner, Lisa from OneMoreLightLB, and Beth’s video blog are my favourites. First, they all have an emphasis on mental health, which tops my list of topics to read. Second, while they are successful and influential blogs, they are all more intimate than popular blogs. I know all three of the bloggers personally and it makes for a more meaningful connection to their content. I value knowing them even more than having their blogs available to read.

If you had to give just one piece of advice to a new blogger what would it be, and why?  
Be patient. Focus on your content and allow the readership to grow – do not race to garner a huge following at the expense of your writing. Even if you get that following, it won’t be the quality you want if your impatience causes neglect of your writing development.

What question would you like to ask next month’s blogger?
What is your favourite response to a post, either a specific person’s response or a general sort of response you might see from multiple readers?

Thank you so much James! Please check out both his twitter and blog for some amazing content.

Stay tuned for August’s blogger of the month!

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