In pursuit of popularity

We moved on to the third series of Black Mirror this week, which began with the slightly too close to home satire of Nosedive.

I say too close to home, but actually as I was watching (and judging) the protagonist as her picture-perfect life descended into chaos after her pursuit of people’s approval became just that bit too obvious I spent most of my time thinking how glad I was that I had managed to avoid getting sucked into the social media cess pit that already bubbles just beneath the surface of our society.


Sure, I have a pretty active online presence. There’s this blog of course, and the instagram and twitter and Facebook accounts that go with it. But I don’t strictly use them as promotional tools. I mean I use them to promote my posts sometimes of course. But not exclusively, or even mainly. And the rest of what I post is just observation or record-keeping. I don’t really care if anyone reads it, or if I get more followers as a result.

Not much anyway. At least I don’t think I do.

I mean, I don’t even know my Klout score.

I’m not even sure I really understand what Klout is, but that’s what I thought of as I saw Lacie delight over the positive reviews she received and despair as her rating began to plummet. And if you’re serious about blogging, or social media in general, then of course you have to come out on top, right? Of course people have to like what you do the best, because otherwise why would anyone want to invest in you, to use you to help sell their brand and bestow on you all the perks that come with that?

I guess it is different in that ultimately the things being rated are brands themselves, yes? It’s not the people who are being judged, even if sometimes it’s tricky to tell where the person ends and the brand begins. And really that’s the whole stamp of a successful brand in this personality-driven blowing culture I’m dipping my toes into – it needs to be authentic, to have integrity. Otherwise what’s the point?

Anyway. I’m not doing that. That’s not what this blog’s about – it’s not what my social media presence is about. I don’t care about my ratings. It doesn’t matter how popular I am. I just want to write.


A few days ago I heard back from the administrators of the competition I’d entered one of my novels into. It was a standard response – exceptionally high standards, yada yada, I should be proud of even finishing a novel, yada yada – the upshot of which was that my novel hadn’t made it through to the next round. It hadn’t even been longlisted.

And I reassured myself that it was the response I’d expected, obviously. I hadn’t thought I’d hear back so soon, had figured I’d be able to hold on to my optimistic imaginings for a little while longer, but I hadn’t really dared hope that my novel would get anywhere.

Except of course I had, because that’s why I’m still doing this. That’s why I’m still writing, and editing, and submitting, because one day I believe that someone will pick up one of my books and declare it a masterpiece.

But not this time.

And really, why should it bother me? It’s just the opinion of one person after all. One more person, who admittedly counts for rather more in this fickle world of publishing than your average reader, and in fact is one of the gatekeepers who decides whether the average reader ever gets to make their own mind up about the book I’ve written, but still just one person.

And it’s not really about me. It’s about my words – my work. Except I haven’t quite mastered the art of separating that out from the very essence of my soul quite yet.

Ultimately I guess there’s less than I thought that separates me from Lacie, and that whole slippery slope of the popularity game. I could ignore it completely I suppose, just write because I love it – because I do love it. But if I’m honest I’d quite like people to read the stuff I write, and to like the stuff they read.

So I’ll keep on keeping on, nurturing my corner of the internet whilst not being too bothered if it sometimes seems a bit littler than I might like. Writing the things I feel like writing, occasionally reaching out to the gatekeepers who might help me find a bigger audience but trying not to mind too much if they don’t respond.

It’s all a bit of a minefield this aspiring author business.

I think I might need a holiday…


Writing Bubble

6 thoughts on “In pursuit of popularity

  1. Beth

    I had similar feelings watching it (phone in hand messing around on social media at the same time) – of course that’s what’s so good about Black Mirror – it’s so close to our reality!

    I have always mainly blogged for myself but the more time I spend on it the more I want people to actually read it – it’s such a tricky balance!

  2. maddy@writingbubble

    Oh yes, I know exactly what you mean! My blog isn’t popular and really that’s because popularity and ratings are not what drives me – I just want to write what I want to write and connect with like-minded people, which is what I do. But still, I do want people to read what I write and sometimes I think if I was really a good writer would readers not simply flock to my blog just because of that? so I can’t be that good. Of course it’s not that simple though. Blog posts are not picture books, or novels, or short stories – it’s a different type of writing all together. And branding and marketing is a huge skill in its own right. I know I could have a much bigger online presence if I made that my priority but despite caring a bit, I just can’t bring myself to care enough. My blogging priorities are about authenticity and relationships and community and that’s always going to mean a small scale blog. I could disappear into a spiral of introspection here… Thanks for making me think (again!) and for linking to #WhatImWriting xx

  3. Reneé Davis Author

    I need to watch this program! Although if it was close to home for you, I have a feeling I might spend most of it hiding behind a pillow and cringing.

    I don’t know how Klout works, kind of pride myself on that. Along with refusing to play the game of spending every waking hour on IG to increase my Tots ranking. But, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t care if no-one read my blog, because I do care.

    It’s all a fine balancing act, and I’ve not seen a single person master it. The ones who are vocal about their blog/life balance are usually the same people who are all over SM 24/7.


    Best to keep on keeping on… if nothing else, blogging regularly helps hone our writing skills, which is what’s actually important if we are to call ourselves writers xx

  4. Jude

    That sounds like a really interesting program. I’ve stayed away from black mirror since the prime minister pig thing, it was just too grim, but maybe I’ll take another look. I know what you mean though, I think all writers are looking for validation of some sort, aren’t we? It might not be the motivating factor that makes us pick up the pen, but who wouldn’t love an editor to be totally gipped by our words? Writing is a solitary sport, it would be fab to have a cheerleader! #whatimwriting

  5. Alice @ The Filling Glass

    Popularity is always close to home. Ultimately humans are social animals, approval of the group is desirable to some extent. I think though where it is getting tricky with social media etc. is the reason behind popularity. Like you I would one day like to have recognition for my writing, but that is something concrete, rather than popularity for the sake of itself (those Kardashians (et al.) send as shiver down my spine…) xxx

  6. mamaelsie

    Have been gutted to miss this round of Black Mirror as it’s moved to Netflix – grrr! I don’t bother with all those rankings etc as I know why I started my blog. And it makes me write about all sorts of stuff. And yes it is a minefield – I’m in it too. Keep your head up and keep your pen moving!


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