Actually, only sometimes. Possibly not even most.
A little over a year ago I read a blog post (the link to which I’ll never find) by another writer who suggested starting Tumblr blogs for main characters. They suggested it could be a way for readers to interact with the story and the characters via some orthogonal medium. It can help keep the notion of one’s stories in the back of their minds between novels and it can give them insights, extra material, perhaps even clues: insights into the past or foreshadowings of the future.
I’ve mostly Tumblr’ed (tumbled? hell if I know) as Roderick, who is not the main character of The Withrow Chronicles but is a powerful force under the narrative surface. He seems to be merely supporting cast but there are events in Deal with the Devil which point to Roderick being much more than merely Withrow’s sidekick.
I hardly ever use Withrow‘s account. In-character, Withrow just doesn’t “get” Tumblr. He thinks it’s a scrapbook where he can store things he likes to look at. They remind him of a past he doesn’t necessarily cherish but which is gone forever and so he seeks opportunities to remember it.
I’ve used Roderick’s Tumblr for all the purposes above and then some. Roderick gets Tumblr. He comprehends it’s an exhibitionist act. He likes the idea of drifting among the angst of youth, his voice blending with theirs. Every once in a while I post something I think is foreshadowing, but ultimately it’s purely for my own entertainment. There are two posts in particular (okay, maybe three) I think capture Roderick’s personality and viewpoint, and that is definitely worth taking the time to explore as a writer.
It has not turned out to be a reader magnet. My reader base is extremely small, of course, and the readers from whom I most commonly hear are women between 30 and 50 who have not had children.* That is not Tumblr’s target audience, so I’m not surprised it hasn’t been noticed. For instance, Roderick has 9 followers. Yep, 9. Single digits.
Still, I keep doing it. The thing not a lot of writers will tell you is this: if you aren’t having fun, you should quit. It’s a lot of work, a lot of time, a lot of energy and all that effort has very little chance of being noticed. If it isn’t fun, you probably shouldn’t keep doing it because it probably won’t be otherwise rewarding in the long run.
I place a very high premium on having fun, day to day, so I tend to be someone who plays games, cracks jokes, looks for opportunities to enjoy myself, and indulges in navel-gazing for my own amusement. As long as letting Roderick peek out into the world every once in a while – as I wait in line at the post office or wait for some work task to finish – I’ll keep doing it. In fact, it’s very difficult for me to believe it’s been a whole year.
* There are a number of reasons I think Withrow’s stories resonate with people matching those descriptors. I won’t bore you with them; I’ll simply say I’m very flattered. I like those people a lot.