I've just finished reading a book I heard about quite a while ago - 'Petite Anglaise' by Catherine Sanderson. It's the true story of an English working mum who lived and worked in Paris, and how she started writing a blog in order to alleviate her boredom and her dissatisfaction with her relationship. I won't give away too much of the story in case you want to read it, but if I didn't know that she was among the very earliest bloggers, I'd have been staggered to read how her blog snowballed so that she had thousands of followers - mostly other English ex-pats living in France, but even so!! - and the blog became so popular, even famous, that she eventually got the book deal because of it.
If that sounds like a dream come true for most of us, don't forget that nowadays everyone seems to be writing a blog and I don't think blogging now has the novelty appeal that it once did, nor do individual blogs have such a chance to stand out from the crowd. Nice dream, though!
Catherine Sanderson called herself 'Petite Anglaise' in her blog, and admitted in the book that her alter ego developed a personality of her own, quite different from the 'real' Catherine. When she met people in the flesh, who had followed her blog, she would wonder whether they found her lacking - less confident, less interesting than 'Petite Anglaise'.
Do we all hide behind our blogging identities? Some of you may remember that I first started blogging in the name of 'The Write Woman'. I can't remember now why I wanted to keep my identity secret. I think perhaps it was just because I was a bit nervous of the whole blogging business. Once I got going and got used to it, I decided it'd make a lot more sense to write the blog as myself. But at that time, I had novels being published under the name of Olivia Ryan, so my editor suggested the blog should be in this name. Hence 'Olivia's Oracle'.
Until the third Olivia Ryan book came out, I was asked to keep quiet about the fact that Sheila Norton and Olivia Ryan were one and the same author, so my real name didn't feature on the blog for a while, either.
So am I different in real life from the person addressing you in this blog? Well, I don't think so - but that would be for those of you who know me in person to decide! I've never been very good at pretending to be anyone different from myself - which is why I'm a lousy actress and didn't last very long when I joined an amateur dramatic group!
But I do think - and certainly hope - that I probably come across as more articulate and eloquent when I'm writing, than I am in real life. (It wouldn't be difficult!). I suspect that's true for most of us whose main interest in life is writing! When I was younger, I'd spend hours on end writing letters to people for pleasure, so when we got a computer and I discovered e-mail, I felt like it must have been invented with me in mind! In 'real' conversation, especially now I'm getting on a bit - I find myself forgetting words, repeating myself, droning on and needless to say, like all of us, using bad grammar and syntax that would make me flinch if I read anything like it in print. And of course, as I use a lot of dialogue in my books, that's how my characters often speak too. It wouldn't be natural to have them all chatting away in grammatically perfect English without any hesitations, expletives or colloquialisms.
I'd be interested to know whether other bloggers write as yourselves in your blogs? Or do you feel as though you're acting, presenting a face to the world that isn't really your own? It's a fascinating thought.
Oh, and I did enjoy the book, although I thought the heroine came across as a little bit self-obsessed. But then ... maybe we all do. Maybe that's what blogging (aka writing about yourself) is all about!