On Writing On-Line

By Alison March 6, 2012 28 Comments 5 Min Read

Sometimes writing on-line is worse than pulling teeth, because there are days when it feels like you are trying to pull gold nuggets out of your mouth, (without too much blood let), while your arch-enemy stands next to you ready to grab your bling and sell it to the highest bidder for her own gain.
Oh yes. There are days when this modern-day writing life hurts your head.
Not only because you have set your own goals so high that you will delay the sending of a much over-due section of one of the lovely PDF’s you sell while you drive yourself close to insanity dithering over every last word, but also because a quick scout around the hallowed halls of the internet quickly reveals that some of what you write is being copied almost verbatim and passed off as somebody else’s work, de-valuing your own and making you feel an emotion that sits somewhere between embarrassment and fury.
It is rare that I get on my high horse about internet related matters. I have been on-line for eight years now and I have seen bloggers come and go because they have failed to nibble their way into a niche of their own making and I have spawned my very own set of copycats who have eventually withered away, and that is fine: for the most part I consider imitation to be the sincerest form of flattery and I  don’t get upset about it. Though I now limit my own personal blog reading to those blogs I can learn from as browsing around those in similar niches to mine, all too quickly has me worrying that I will, by some form of internet osmosis, absorb other bloggers ideas and convince myself I came up with them all by myself!
So yes. I live in something of an internet vacuum. Trawling around looking for inspiration without ever considering being a pale imitation of someone else. My blog is meant to be a reflection of my life. Not yours. Or hers. Mine. And yes, while it is occasionally embarrassingly personal, BrocanteHome is also the way that I earn a living for myself and my son and I have worked extremely hard to establish a business that I hope supports my readers too by providing daily food for thought and (admittedly erratic!) longer pieces of writing designed to help them create a life less ordinary, that I labour over, long and hard and only release when I am absolutely satisfied that every word captures the spirit I want to convey, without resorting to the kind of heavy advertising I now see drowning other blogs.
Eight years later I still feel the same passion for blogging as I did on the very first day I signed up for my Typepad account and gave BrocanteHome life. I still love it and I feel so desperately honoured to be able to make a living out of doing what I love, without having to sell my soul to do product reviews, or accept advertising for companies I don’t admire. But lately the blogging landscape has changed to such a degree that I hardly recognise it and I am uncomfortable existing on the periphery of a community where originality is fodder for stealing and good writing has been abandoned in favour of pithy quotes, snarky occasionally downright nasty writing and a litany of images pinched from Pinterest and passed off as blog posts.
I have never been in with the in-crowd and I have never tried to be. In the beginning I turned down TV and book deals because they didn’t encapsulate the message I wanted women to hear, choosing instead to bide my time and work at my own pace  because I wanted my writing to be celebrated on it’s own merit, and the success of my business to be reflected in it’s year on year growth and my own development as a writer. And that is exactly what I have achieved: a reasonable living,  the respect of women I deeply admire and enough good writing in The Art of Homemaking, Trash It or Treasure It, A Year of Puttery Treats and Muse to pull together the book I want to see sitting on the shelves of housekeepers across the land for always.  Neither comment nor reader counts have ever been important to me because I understood from day one that having a few raging, dedicated Brocanteers would be more meaningful in the long run and I am thrilled that I continue to delight many of you who have been with me since the beginning, because blogging IS NOT a popularity contest and we don’t win by gaining a legion of “fans” but by doing the work we set out to do daily and quietly and persistently turning a blind eye to those who want to walk in our shoes without enduring the pain of the  blisters we have earned walking the long road to this gentle, oh so very personal success we have lately come to cherish.
So this is where I’m at: though last night I nearly sent myself batty with fury after I wandered on to the blog of a woman who used mine as a stepping stone to create her own pale imitation of BrocanteHome and now spills out much of my work daily to an apparently eager, fawning audience, and for a moment or two seriously considered spouting off a solicitors letter, I have since come to my senses. I don’t need to do I? It is pointless and catty and I am bigger than that. I am Brocantehome and Brocantehome stands firm in it’s ambition to be authentic no matter what. To reflect my own growth as a writer, woman, vintage housekeeper and woman and to understand that those who remain loyal to Brocantehome in what ever form it might currently take, know that everything I write comes from the heart, not from wild ambition to dominate the housekeeping landscape, nor cynical means to line my own pockets.
I write because I have to. I write because I have something that I want you to know. I write because holding a place in readers hearts for eight long years is an honour and I hope you know how very much it means to me, so I will not sully it by getting hysterical about silly little girls with alley-cat morals and talent they have stolen and dressed in poor woman’s rags.
Ok. End of rant. I do so hope you will continue to hold me in your hearts regardless.x


  1. CA says:

    There is definitely no one else who writes like you about the things you do, and if they dare to try, they're certainly doomed to fail eventually.
    Head up and carry on…
    My recent post The Post Where I Confess to Vandalism

  2. Hels says:

    I don't suppose you fancy giving us a hint of who this is so that we can wander over and put our tuppence ha'penny worth opinion on folk who copy other folk…I suppose that would be childish and I should put my trust in karma and just desserts instead. I really look forward to holding your books in my hands one day…there are a plethora of homey, shabby chicesque, natural, vintage books out there but none of them hits the spot the way that you do…

    1. BrocanteHome says:

      Oooh no names, yep lets leave it to Karma, but Hels? Thank you, it means a lot…x
      My recent post On Writing On-Line

  3. Lynn says:

    there is only 1 Brocante Home Alison x

  4. You know I sometimes feel really really weary of blogging,I dont update my own that often and when I do its for me,because I need to speak,my readership has dropped drastically and I think blogging has become so big that its hard to come across something that will grab your attention.I have a handful of blogs that are run by women who I have followed for years,these are the only ones I comment on,because Yes,friendships have been formed over the years and I do love it for that reason,I visit here daily as I am sure do many others,but it bothers me immensely that someone has been lurking around with the intention of trying to copy Brocantehome,Have no fear Alison,you are quite unique and I am sure it is a very poor immitation,your loyal readers should they stumble upon it would know this in an instant,it wont last I am sure and yes Karma.Wait and see xx

  5. Amanda says:

    Alison, just continue to be you and you will prosper, both financially and spiritually. You bring life, love,hope, joy and scrumptiousness[ wow,what a word!] to me and many others, even on your rainy days. I look to you first thing every morning to get my little change-of-attitude so needed when the same dishes, same laundry, same floors etc all clammer at me. I think of you when I put on my apron, push up my sleeves and sing my way through my domestic responsibilities. I picture your little brocante home and your postage-stamp little garden and wish I could join you for an elevenses treat. You know in your heart what is right, thank you for being strong enough to ignore those who have less in them. Amanda

  6. @RetroMother says:

    Is it word for word then? Or just stylistic??
    My recent post The fear

    1. BrocanteHome says:

      Not word for word… more kind of stepping into my shoes, services that imitate all that I do, and posts and printables that are thematically mine. I was so bugged last night but my fury has kind of fizzled away now that I've got it off my chest!

      1. Brunette says:

        Alison, you're the only blogger I've ever bought anything from. If you knew me, you'd know that says it all.
        There can be only one! :-p

      2. Brunette says:

        Alison, you're the only blogger I've ever bought anything from. If you knew me, you'd know that says it all.
        There can be only one! :-p

      3. @RetroMother says:

        glad to hear you're feeling better! If it's any consolation I'm always singing your praises to my readers 🙂 (and linking them to your downloads!)
        My recent post It's going wonderfully

  7. Carol M says:

    I don't think I've come across that blog, but if I did, I'd love to give them a piece of my mind!
    Alison, yours is the first blog I ever read and have been hooked ever since. Your writing is beautiful, and you write from the heart. That makes it authentic, and it shines through in your posts. The wanna-be's out there will soon fade away. Okay, Karma, do your stuff and be quick about it!

  8. @RetroMother says:

    additional comment – I do get wound up by the number of blogs that are simply great big adverts due to all the PR stuff they do. My blog is by no means wonderful, but anything I ever endorse is for a reason and not because some agency has given me a freebie.
    My recent post It's going wonderfully

  9. koma says:

    Ditto…there IS only one Brocante Home, and you! Admiration, inspiration, and civility…You carry us along, giving our choices for living vintage and authentic merit. I, for one, have your blog as my home page. It sets my day off with puttery energy! Stay just as you are…worry not! (I am new at blogging, and it IS dreadfully hard!)

  10. Loyal since the get-go. And perhaps because I am such a keen fan, I have yet to see a blog that even touches yours…
    My recent post Little Miss Cozy on Her Ride, Mandy

  11. Brunette says:

    The last three times I've tried to comment, the comment seems to post but then disappears without a trace. What am I doing wrong? (she asked plaintively)

    1. Brunette says:

      Holy cow, it's still here.

  12. Laura_Elsewhere says:

    You are Brocante, my dear, and I can't even remember how many years it's been. Quite a few!
    There is only Brocante, and that can only be Alison, and if someone else is mean-spirited and narrow-souled and shabby-minded enough to steal, then just you remember that it is you and your site we love.

  13. Carol M says:

    I don't think I've come across that blog. Yours is the first blog I ever read, and have been a constant reader since then. Your writing and authenticity will always win out on any wannabes.

  14. Janet says:

    They may try to copy you, Alison, but they will never BE you, or win us away!

  15. Julie says:

    Ahhh, there's only one of you. And you're the only one who is good at being you. You alone are the essence of Brocante Home. Looking forward to many more years of your influence.

  16. Kim says:

    Another blogger that i follow just recently had this same problem with some group putting her posts and artwork on Facebook. She also makes her living off her blog. You are not being catty. You should do what you can to get her to stop and if she doesn't contact her blog company directly. This is so wrong. You have the right to be given credit for your own hardwork. It's called intellectual theft and it's serious. Copyright infringement. You make your living off of your blog and you need to protect your living. If not for yourself for Finley because not only is she stealing your ideas but taking food off his plate as far as I'm concerned.

  17. pioneercynthia says:

    You are inimitable. That's why we love you. Of course, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, as Charles Caleb Colton said (had to look that up, since *everyone* says it).
    It seems providential that I read a quote from Joel Osteen earlier today that said, "Did you know that when you compare yourself to others or wish you were like someone else, it’s like saying [God] just didn’t do a good job?" How true that is. You're not comparing yourself to anyone, Alison. Your authenticity is what grab us and makes us want to come along for the ride. But only you can do it in your authentically Alison way. Believe me, if I said, "Let's make something scrumptious for dinner," to anyone but my daughter, I'd probably get laughed at. Well, mostly… Ha!
    I'm not surprised that people want to copy you. You're amazing! And in this day and age, when we're surrounded by so much stuff and nonsense, it's easier to copy someone else than it is to make your own statement. And most of the time, no one will even know! There's just too much out there. But we know, and we love YOU!
    Dear one, have a lovely day! I know you will!
    My recent post Spinning plates… or just one full one?

  18. mizsilverside says:

    Old me would have been firing up the righteous anger and demand a pitchfork-stylee march over to lil miss snatcheroo, but new me shies away from that kind of drama. I know I'm quick to get on my high horse so I've stopped chasing drama. Anyway, the real righteous anger should only reside in you, and you are staying your usual classy self. Keep on doing what your doing – we know the real truth, no one else holds a candle to the cosiest place on the internet!

  19. Valerie says:

    You seem to have horrible luck with the copycats. There must be something about you Alison that everyone wants to steal a piece of. 😉 I can't imagine how dispiriting it would be to find my words and myself parroted by some odd person.
    I've been reading your writing for so many years in all its random and unpredictable glory. I'm glad you're not letting the weirdos stop you!
    My recent post Week 36

  20. Megan says:

    Oh my. I have to agree with everybody here, there is only one Brocante home, the original and the best. Your attitude to this awfulness is admirable, Karma will do its thing. Yours is the only blog I check daily, in fact yours is the only blog I absolutely need to check daily. I will always hold you in my heart regardless. You changed my life, Im not going anywhere.xx

  21. Amy says:

    Dear Allison, it is terrible to discover plagiarism. I have been there myself and made the same tough decisions you ha e made here. I am happy to expect that it was the right decision (even ten years hence). Love and loyalty, Amy

  22. Amy says:

    Stupid auto-correct: reflect — not expect.

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