Ten Questions for A Clown on Fire
Canadian web and social media consultant Eric Robillard is better known in the blogosphere as “Le Clown,” the brash but big-hearted personality behind the popular blog A Clown on Fire. In his six months of blogging, Le Clown has built up the kind of engaged and vocal readership many of us dream of. His opinionated, take-no-prisoners style isn’t for everyone—but for others, it’s made A Clown on Fire a daily read and WordPress.com favorite (Or, as Le Clown would say, “favourite.”).
The Daily Post recently convinced Le Clown to let Eric answer some questions about his process, inspirations, and experience:
You write under the nom de plume “Le Clown.” Who is Le Clown? Why did he start a blog?
I have been trying to get Le Clown to answer these questions himself, but he has been making himself unavailable since his Freshly Pressed consecration. He’s been walking around in my head, talking to himself, and wearing sunglasses, even when taking a shower.
As his author, I’ll do my best to answer this one for his Magnificence: Le Clown is a French-Canadian fictional character who’s a tad obnoxious, but has a huge heart. I decided to blog under a pseudonym as it made it easier to write about my family, my wife and my kids, and mental health. English being my second language, Le Clown is also my scapegoat: you can poke fun at him for the clumsy prose… he can take it, he has broad shoulders. Le Clown serves as my Tony Clifton.
Why did Le Clown choose WordPress.com?
Truth be told, WordPress.com is the best blogging platform. Hands down. Not that my opinion as a web and social media consultant who’s been quoted by Amber Mac [ed.: a leading Canadian tech journalist] as “being on top of his craft” matters….
Le Clown, shut up, get back in my head, find a mirror, and stare at yourself. Try not to drool. I’ve just washed your clown costume.
Anyway, WordPress.com is rich in features and has a great community. It is also the platform that I suggest to my clients. You’re welcome.
Where does Le Clown’s post inspiration come from?
I carry a little notebook where ever I go. In it, I write down my list of groceries, the directions to my therapist, and the nonillion ideas about blog posts that pop into the otherwise very serene head of mine at any given time. I’m inspired by literally everything.
Well, almost everything.
What is Le Clown’s typical process for developing and writing a post?
It starts with the notebook—when I can decipher my handwriting, and differentiate “buy milk” from “write about breastfeeding in public.” I usually write my posts a few days before the scheduled date. I tend to write my posts in one shot, save the draft, request feedback from trusted associate Madame Weebles and my wife The Ringmistress, let the post simmer, play with my kids and brag about it to boost my credentials as father of the year, come back to the post, make a few edits, and let go of it once and for all.
What is Le Clown’s proudest blogging moment?
My experience as a blogger on WordPress.com has been a very positive one. I only started blogging last February and I have gained a considerable readership. That in itself is a proud achievement.
The Blogroll Contest has to be the most fun I have had yet in the blogosphere. It was a tremendous success, the participation level was just phenomenal, and I had the chance to discover many new bloggers and build a rapport with some of them. There will be a second edition of the Blogroll Contest next year.
Le Clown has a vibrant and engaged community of readers. How did he create it? How does he sustain it?
My friend and fellow blogger Jen Sharp once said about the comment section of A Clown on Fire:
Coming here is like a mad party among friends where everyone has a voice—the comment thread is as fun as the posts.
It is indeed an engaged and loyal readership that I have on A Clown on Fire; I just hope my kids will forgive me one day for using their college funds to buy my readers’ love. Le Clown enjoys the interaction between bloggers, and will answer every single comment left on his blog. If a reader takes a time to leave a note, I think I should reciprocate the kindness with my own reply.
I also read many of my fellow bloggers’ posts, and interact as much as I can (if I did like one of your posts without leaving a comment, be certain that I did read your piece. And if you’d like a response to your post, ask Le Clown—he will oblige).
Lastly, I invite other writers to be guest bloggers on A Clown on Fire. Le Clown enjoys it when other bloggers praise him on his own blog.
What advice can Le Clown give to new or struggling bloggers?
Be passionate and have fun—that would be my golden rule. Write because you want to, because it satisfies a need.
Read other bloggers—but don’t compare yourself; it will drag you down and might put a serious dent in your creative flow. Instead, be inspired, and take something from their success (or their missteps). Read, and read more posts. Add a comment and interact with bloggers.
Write everything down in a notebook, your iPhone, or your forearm: there are no bad ideas, there are just unwritten ideas that could potentially become a great post. Write them down, and edit them later.
But most importantly be passionate and have fun. I can’t emphasize that enough.
What does Le Clown’s blogging setup look like?
Le Clown is a serious geek, and he’s a PC. He writes on a messy desk, in his office—which is also the living room—surrounded by frog vivariums and Star Wars paraphernalia.
I write usually in the morning, as I’m an early bird, and old, and by the time it’s 8PM, my brain cells abandon me for a cosy bed. Coffee is my favourite writing tool, and there’s always a song playing, to my wife’s dismay.
Le Clown is one-half of a high-powered blogging couple and maintains multiple sites. How does he balance family, work, and blogging?
I work as a freelancer, which gives me the freedom to write whenever I feel. And when I work, because of the nature of my trade, I am almost exclusively sitting in front of a computer—unless I meet a client. My wife is also a social media freelancer, and our kids are either at school, or at daycare—when they are home, we keep them entertained with 19th century Russian literature, and we use American political debates to put them to sleep. Basically, at home, we eat, sleep, cater to each other with a great deal of love, and blog.
What are Le Clown’s top five daily reads?
These are the blogs that I will read, without fail, when a post is published:
- Laments and Lullabies: Nepotism, but luckily, my wife is a magnificent blogger, and a much better writer than I. Once could say I am biased, but her writing touches my core.
- Fear No Weebles: Madame Weebles is my favourite blogger. Hands down. She likes Rush and thinks Geddy Lee is hot, but she does have many redeeming qualities.
- The Roller Giraffe: She’s Canadian, she masters the art of the F word, and she’s a beautiful human being.
- Bring Me the Head of David Dixon: I don’t use this word very often, unless I talk about Le Clown, but David Dixon is an artist in the truest form of the word. And brilliant.
- Speaker7: Have you read her take on Fifty Shades of Grey? And have you met Hugo? I am in awe of her craft.
Le Clown is a capricious spirit, but Eric will answer each and every one of your questions, so fire away!
If you’d like more Le Clown, you can follow along on Facebook or Twitter. For the more serious side of Eric, visit his other blog, Black Box Warnings, which chronicles his struggles to support and treat his son’s ADHD.
Is there a blogger you love you you’d like to see profiled on The Daily Post? Head up to the Submit a Topic link and select Blogger Profile (or just click) to let us know about them!