Blogging With A Little Help From Your Friends. A Guest Post By Sherri Matthews @WriterSherri

Blogging, in my experience, is a strange beast. Show your blog you’re in charge and it behaves. But turn your back for just one minute, and it’ll sink its teeth right into you snarling, ‘Who is Master now?’

 

#blogging #blogger

My early blogging years had a slow start for the first six months, and then one day, I found my poor blog under lock and key in spam prison. Back then, I had no idea what was going on, so I posted a plea for help. I didn’t think anybody would notice, but they did. Relieved to learn it was a widespread problem at the time (and nothing I had done wrong, phew!), it was soon rectified.

Better yet, I discovered a kind, caring, all-embracing community in the great wide ether that I hadn’t known existed.

From then on, blogging became a way of life as my blog took off. I kept it up for a good couple of years, and all was well. Until the day my blog bit me on the proverbial, and that was it. Panic set in when I realised the book I was supposed to be writing lay untouched. Time was running away from me, and something had to give.

#bloggingtips #blogging #time #saving

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

As many of us know, life has a way of throwing curveballs at us at the worst times. For me, as mum and carer to my youngest (diagnosed at eighteen with Asperger’s Syndrome), I’m long used to curtailing my activities at a moment’s notice. It’s life, and I find ways around it, as you do.  But three years ago, my mother had a stroke, my dad passed away, and a year later, I moved house.

Needless to say, I abandoned my blog and writing for long stretches at a time.

Once back on my feet and returned to my blog, I realised I had to choose: my blog or my book. The book won, but I agonised over my decision. All those years of hard work and building my blog – was it all about to disappear? I worried greatly that I was letting my blogging friends down, that I couldn’t keep up with visits to their blogs never mind keep my own blog going.

#bloggers #blogging #bloggersbash

Some of the bloggers from the 2015 Bloggers Bash

But the response from my dear readers and friends astounded me. They assured me they would not go anyway and would be waiting to cheer me on. In fact, they were pleased I would be working on my book. Still, it took me a while to settle into my new writing regime without continually stressing over my blog.

Three years later and those same friends were/are right. They haven’t gone anywhere.  Thanks to them, the light still shines at the Summerhouse, and I am so thankful.

Hugh is one of those lovely friends who I’ve also had the pleasure of meeting in person several times, thanks to the Bloggers Bash. At BB 2018, we got on the subject of blogging communities as we sat and chatted over a glass or two (or was it the whole bottle… ?) of Prosecco.

#Champaign #drinks #celebrate #drink

A blogging friend of Hugh’s from Australia, Debbie who writes at Deb’s World, had attended the bash that year, which led to a conversation about our mutual and lovely Aussie blogging friend, Norah Colvin. I lamented that I had missed out on meeting her when she had visited London not long before I knew her through blogging, darn it!

But as Norah and I always say, never say never, and we always have SMAG! (Norah created the Society of Mutual Admiration and Gratitude badge in honour of her community, which the Summerhouse proudly wears.)

Hugh asked me how I had met Norah. This led to me telling the following story which he kindly invited me to share here.

Back in 2013, when my blog was brand new, a lovely lady also from Australia, Irene Walters, found and followed it. A memoir writer like me, she left a most wonderfully encouraging comment, and we became fast friends. We had a lot of fun on the way to building our new blogs. It was through Irene that I met Norah over at Carrot Ranch with Charli Mills – not to mention, a brand-new-to-me writing prompt called ’99 Word Flash Fiction.’

#flashfiction #fiction #challenge

Click here to participate in this week’s 99-word flash fiction challenge at the Carrot Ranch.

That was five years ago (where has the time gone!) and the rest, as they say, is history. We have blogged side by side ever since.

I’ve never been to Australia, but I have a small family link there, which proved to be an interesting coincidence with Irene, discovered through one of many of our blogging conversations.

My great-grandfather was a Baptist minister who left for Australia in 1907 with his wife and three children. He served as pastor at a church in Melbourne for seven years. His middle daughter, my Granny, showed me a copy of the book he wrote about his experiences in Australia. Today, Seven Years Under the Southern Cross sits proudly on my mother’s bookshelf.

When he retired, he was presented with a silver tea service, which I eventually inherited. The tray is in the shape of Australia and is inscribed in honour of the Reverend F.C.C. Spurr, dated 5 February 1914. Granny told me that my great-grandmother served tea regularly to her friends with that tea service. I loved listening to Granny’s stories from her younger years.

#tea #cakes #food

Image by Rudy and Peter Skitterians from Pixabay

Irene had shared on her blog that both her grandfather and father were Baptist ministers, also in Melbourne. We pondered, what if my great-grandfather had stayed in Australia? We also discovered another link running parallel through our lives: Irene’s husband originally hails from the Sussex coast in the UK where I have strong family roots from my childhood and today. We could well have been in the area at the same time many years ago and long before blogging existed.

It really is a small world.

You just never know what you’ll discover about the great people you might meet through blogging. My Aspie suffers from severe social anxiety, their entire social life online. I used to worry about that…as a mum, you know…but since I’ve been blogging, I’ve come to view the value of online communities in a positive light. With so much upheaval, hatred and bullying in the world, how wonderful to find friendship in healthy and uplifting online communities.

To know we are not alone in our struggles.

Today, life presses in and challenges remain, but my book is almost there, and my blog plods along nicely. No more teeth marks, so that’s good. I think it’s going to be all right, with a little help from my friends.


#writer #blogger

Writer, author and blogger, Sherri Matthews

Bio: Sherri Matthews

Sherri once worked in the medical and legal fields. When she got laid off, she praised the heavens for the chance, at last, to write her book. Six years later, her memoir, Stranger In A White Dress, is in final edits.

Blogging at her Summerhouse along the way, Sherri also writes from her life as a Brit mum raising her children in California and as advocate for her youngest, diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome at 18. Sherri also shares snippets of life with her dear old jailbird dad.

Today, Sherri lives in England with her hubby, Aspie, two black cats and a grumpy Bunny Nutkins. She walks, takes photos and finds joy creating a garden full of bees and butterflies with her dad’s words, ‘Keep smiling, Kid’, ringing in her ears. Especially when the robin sings.

Click here to view the memoir book blurb for ‘Stranger In A White Dress.

Click here to view the publications Sherri’s work has appeared in.

Anthology Publications with Sherri’s contributions:

The Congress of Rough Writers: Flash Fiction Anthology Vol. 1

books #flashfiction #stories

Lady By The River: Stories of Perseverance

#books #stories

Slices of Life: An Anthology of Selected Non-Fiction Short Stories

#books #truestories #stories

Heart Whispers: A Poetry Anthology

#poetry #books

Sherri would love to connect with you here:

Blog: A View From My Summerhouse

Facebook Author Page

Twitter

LinkedIn

My thanks to Sherri Matthews for writing this guest post.

Do you have any questions or comments for Sherri? Leave them in the comments box. She would love to hear from you. (Please, no comments for Hugh).

Copyright © 2019 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

69 comments

  1. Hello Sherri, it’s nice to “meet” you. I found this guest post through the Blogger’s Pit Stop. I too have struggled at times balancing life, blogging, and writing a book. It’s comforting to hear that others have made it work as well. The connections I have made through blogging came as a wonderful surprise. This is a lovely community. Thanks for sharing your story .Enjoy your day!

  2. It’s so comforting to read the experience of a blogger who has faced these questions. I don’t have enough time to do everything I want to do, and to do those things well. Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us, Sherrie. Thank you, Hugh.

    1. And a lovely treat to read your comment here at Hugh’s, thank you so much, Sylvia. Aww…you’re very kind and the Summerhouse wouldn’t be the same without you 🙂 I’m so glad we met through blogging and are in touch on FB…I can manage that better at the moment, but I will be back soon 🙂 ❤ xxx

  3. What a wonderful world we live in, accessible through our writing and internet connections. I love that your Summerhouse arrived to my Ranch via help from Down Under! Wouldn’t that have been something, if you could like your Baptist minister to Irene’s!

    Thanks for hosting Sherri, Hugh!

    1. Hi Charli! Ha…I know, who would have thought? Irene and I have often pondered that very thought! I didn’t mention in my post another link with Australia, which is my mother has been writing to an Australian pen friend for 70 years, but they’ve never met! Blogging is like having lots of amazing pen friends, from all around the world. Thanks so much for reading, Charli…and I’m so glad I took that Summerhouse trip to the Ranch all that time ago! 🙂 ❤

  4. Such a great discussion, Sherry and Hugh. I’m struggling with writing and keeping up two blogs. It’s hard but hopefully I can settle back in after my own move. Thanks for sharing more about Sherry, Hugh. You both rock! ❤

    1. Aww…thank you so much, Colleen! I really appreciate you taking the time to read my guest post and leave your lovely comment. I’m sorry you’re going through the same struggle, and a house move on top of it. I remember it too well, though almost 2 years since then. It’s so stressful. Really hope life settles down for you soon,Colleen 🙂 ❤

  5. Hugh, this is a lovely guest post written by my good friend, Sherri. I told her we’d be here waiting for her, and we were. She may have been gone longer than you were, Hugh, but we were here waiting for you too. I’m so envious of you all meeting up at the Bash, but, who knows … one day. Thanks for mentioning me so warmly in your post, Sherri. SMAG.

    1. Aww Norah…thank you so much. You’ve never wavered in your support, encouragement and friendship to me, Hugh and so many bloggers. I know I can speak for Hugh too when I say how amazing it would be to meet you at the Bash…I’m still kicking myself that I missed out on meeting you that time you came to London. If only I had galloped over to your blog just a little bit sooner… But the years have gone by and, you’re right, here we all are 🙂 My absolute pleasure, Norah…it’s all about the SMAG! 😀 ❤

  6. What a great treat to see Sherri here today Hugh. I think we all have the same fears of how to split ourselves up to be everywhere Sher, And we worry the blog will suffer. But we’re all entitled to a break. a timeout, or a book write. The beauty is if they loved you before – they always come back. ❤ xox

    1. You’ve helped me many a time Deb when I’ve stressed so much about having to take blogging breaks. Your voice of calm and wisdom has always encouraged me, as now, and not to worry if sometimes it needs to happen… our blogging friends more than understand. That’s a great point too at the end…I will remember that! Thanks so much, as always, Deb, you’re a star! 🙂 ❤ xoxo

  7. Hi Hugh! Thank you so much for inviting me to guest post today, I’m thrilled to be here amongst your amazing blogging community and wonderful friends, some of whom I know, others as new friends 🙂 Learning early the importance of reaching out to fellow bloggers, yet at the time, I had no idea how far those connections would extend. And here we all are all these years later still blogging, albeit by a thread at times (speaking for myself, here!). What more can I say except here’s to the next BB…and the next bottle of bubbly. Or two… 😀

    1. You’re very welcome, Sherri. Thank you so much for putting together an excellent post which I can already see is attracting a lot of attention. The blogging community reaches far and wide and will always be there for us. It’s comforting to know. It also shows how important it is to communicate with each other by reading and leaving comments that add value to the occasional post of each other. However, we also know that it’s not always possible to do so, yet we’ll still be there when somebody comes back to blogging.
      Once again, thank you so much for stepping in this week on my blog.

      1. My absolute pleasure, Hugh. I’m so glad you and your wonderful readers are enjoying it, which just proves the point of how important our amazing blogging communities are. Encouraging interaction through comments even if not as often as we would like, is so important. A great comfort knowing that we bloggers have one another’s backs no matter what…it’s restored my faith in humanity, truth be told 🙂 Thank you again so much for inviting me, Hugh. I’m loving hanging out at your amazing blog! 🙂 ❤

  8. Thanks for sharing this Hugh. Sherri has written a very honest view of the blogging world and the fabulous community it leads to. I can relate to so much of this. A very good post, and a reminder that I really should a) visit The Carrot Ranch and b) write that book which niggles within my brain! 🙂

    1. Hi Sam and thank you for your lovely comment! I’m so glad this post has inspired you to not only visit Carrot Ranch (you will not be disappointed!) but also to write ‘that’ book. It isn’t easy balancing it all with the stuff of life, that’s for sure. Thank goodness indeed for our fabulous blogging communities! 🙂

  9. HI Sherri and Hugh,
    Thanks for sharing your story. I have made so many great friends through following and writing my blog also. I call it my WP family, and they have been supportive as any family can be. I also find it challenging to dedicate sufficient time between my blogging and writing of my next book. I’m currently rewriting my first book with the help of a writer’s critique group and working on my first fiction book. I understand very well the stress you speak about, and I appreciate you sharing this with us. HUGS

    1. Hi Chuck, and likewise, I appreciate you sharing your thoughts, thank you! Juggling it all is a huge challenge, but it sounds as if you’re doing a great job with the help of your ‘WP family’ and writer’s critique group. And a fiction book too…stressful for sure, but it’s great when you’re on a roll! Hugs back to you 🙂

  10. Blogging is fun and the connections created are fantastic, but, as you mention, it takes an incredible amount of time. And not just the writing, dealing with photos, posting, and replying to comments, but reading and commenting to all the blogs we enjoy following.

    Like you, I’ve struggled for years combining blogging and working on my memoir. Add to that the need to make money as a freelancer (I’m not retired) and choosing a life on the road, and I’m constantly overwhelmed and running behind with all the projects I need and wish to complete.

    I’m glad that you made the right choices and that your book is almost finished as a result. And, it’s good to know that your blog readers and friends returned when you picked up the blog and that they stood by the sidelines encouraging you all along. Yes, community is key! 🙂

    1. Completely agree, Liesbet, thank you so much for your comment. I felt a lot less stress when I was able to focus primarily on finishing my memoir (I started it the same time I started my blog, over 6 years ago) and it feels great to be almost finished save for last wrap-up edits (the last of numerous rewrites behind me, oh I hope!), but now I’m preparing for submittal to agents. That, I am discovering, is a whole other beast. It’s so great knowing we can all encourage one another as we press on the best we can. That overwhelm and constantly running behind with everything has had me on the run too many times. All the best with your memoir and everything else. What a fascinating life on the road! I look forward to reading more 🙂

      1. Thanks for the reply and the interest in my lifestyle, Sherri. I finished my memoir in May – after 3.5 years – and have been querying (and “perfecting” my query letter and book proposal) for many months without success. I’ve contacted about 65 agents so far and will stop at 100. I hope to keep up with this querying process from our camper van in Canada. Good luck with your query strategy!!

        1. You’re welcome, Liesbet…I’m intrigued! Hubby and I had a camper van for a while. I dreamed of doing what you’re doing but it was the wrong timing for us. Never say never though!
          Wow…I have to believe you’ll get a bite soon on your proposal. I’m still ‘perfecting’ my query letter and synopsis and haven’t sent a single submission out, not yet. It’s mind boggling researching the right agents for memoir, isn’t it? And where’s that perfect ‘elevator pitch’ when you need it?! I really do wish you the very best and thank you so much for your kind wishes…it isn’t an easy process, that’s for sure!

  11. What a lovely, heartfelt post, Sherri!
    The blogging community is absolutely amazing, if you take the time to find out.
    And it always amazes me too, how much support you get from people who you don’t ‘know’.
    But I’ll tell you something for free… I think I know more about some of my online friends than I do about some of my real life friends. That is how close we have become!
    Huge amounts of luck with your book too!

    1. Aww thanks so much, Ritu! Ha…yes, I know just what you mean about online friendships, so true! But as you say, taking the time is key to building that community. BTW, been meaning to say, I love your new profile pic,you look very glam! 🙂

  12. I had just popped over to read your latest post Hugh, when a notification popped up that I was linked into this post!! Thanks Sherri (and Hugh) for mentioning me and my blog, I really appreciate the shout-out. I enjoyed reading Sherri’s guest post and can relate to much of what she says about the blogging community and the various connections we make along the way. I really appreciate all the positivity in the blogging world, it can be a real delight! Thanks again and best wishes for your book Sherri 🙂

    1. It was lovely to meet you in 2018, Debbie. Thank you so much for your lovely comment and kind wishes. It’s wonderful sharing this amazing worldwide blogging community isn’t it? 🙂

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