Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Free Books, The Time To Read Them In (& a mini rant)

Okay, first off, the rant. It’s RUE (rhymes with Sue) tan (rhymes with fan).

Not Ruttin’ rhymes with nothin’, but said the country twang way like nuttin’.
"Whatcha doin' Billy Bob?"

The name is French. What the hell were they thinking in the 13 Colonies when they changed Rutant to Ruttan? That I’d open of a furniture shop called Ruttan’s Rattan? Not bloody likely.

I’ve moaned on here before about how long it takes me to read the average book. It seems to be double to triple the time of typical readers. The latest Rankin took me about 16 hours (at least Ian knows what he spent months working on wasn’t brushed off in an afternoon here) and that’s about standard for me.

The more review copies come in, the more books I choose to spend my money on that remain unread, the more I wonder how to get time back for reading.

And I’ve figured it out. Stop reading blogs.

Okay, now, seriously. I stick around the blogs because I love keeping in touch with my network of friends. Yes, it means sometimes people talk about me elsewhere and maybe it helps with my profile. I don’t know. I mean, all of you ended up here somehow, right? And there are a lot of you I’ve never met in person.

But for what seems like a prolonged time now I’m having trouble making it around to the blogs. Even more trouble commenting occasionally on some.

This morning, I got up, and had a topic in mind to blog about, but it was similar to something I’d blogged about before. You find yourself wondering, short of sharing all the intimate details of your life, how you can really hit new terrain year in and year out on the blogs.

And here’s an example of where laying it all on the blogs went bad:

10. Litigation log: Man sues sexual partner who publishes all on her blog
Robert Steinbuch is suing his girlfriend who discussed intimate details of their sex life in her online diary. A Capitol Hill staffer when the publication occurred, Steinbuch responded with a lawsuit.
Steinbuch has since accepted a teaching job in Arkansas, leaving Washington and girlfriend Jessica Cutler's "Washingtonienne" Web log behind.
But now, Steinbuch's case over the embarrassing, sexually charged blog appears headed for an embarrassing, sexually charged trial.
Lurid testimony about spanking, handcuffs and prostitution aside, the Washingtonienne case could help establish whether people who keep online diaries are obligated to protect the privacy of the people they interact with offline.
Cutler, a former aide to Sen. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio, says she created the blog in 2004 to keep a few friends up to date on her social life. On her blog, she described juggling sexual relationships with six men. One of the men was Steinbuch, a counsel to DeWine on the Judiciary Committee. Cutler called him the "current favorite" and said he resembled George Clooney, liked spanking and disliked condoms. "He's very upfront about sex," she wrote. "He likes talking dirty and stuff, and he told me that he likes submissive women."
When Ana Marie Cox, then the editor of the popular gossip Web site Wonkette.com, discovered and linked to Cutler's blog, the story picked up more audience than does a typical best-seller. Cutler was fired and Steinbuch says he was publicly humiliated. He wants more than $20 million in damages.
The trial is now in the discovery stage. Steinbuch wants to know how much money Cutler received from the man she called her "sugar daddy." Cutler wants Steinbuch's student evaluations from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Law School, where he teaches.
Steinbuch recently added Wonkette’s Cox as a defendant in the case.
Attorney Jonathan Rosen says what Steinbuch wants is the restoration of his good name. He’s embarrassed that students in his legal ethics class search the Internet and learn about the blog, Rosen said.
To win, Steinbuch will have to prove that the details of their sexual relationship were private and publishing them was highly offensive. Billips argues that Cutler never intended to make the blog public but, in the information age, data is easily copied and distributed beyond its intended audience.
Marc Rotenberg, director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said he may teach the Washingtonienne case this spring during his class at Georgetown Law School. "Anybody who wants to reveal their own private life has a right to do that. It's a different question when you reveal someone else's private life," he said, adding that simply calling something a diary doesn't make it one. "It's not sitting in a nice, leather-bound book under a pillow. It's online where a million people can find it."
Since being fired, Cutler moved back to New York, wrote a novel based on the scandal, posed nude for Playboy and started a new Web site, where she solicits donations "for slutty clothes and drugs."
U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman told attorneys for both sides, "I don't know why we're here in federal court to begin with. I don't know why this guy thought it was smart to file a lawsuit and lay out all of his private, intimate details." (Source: Associated Press and various newspaper accounts)

I would have sent you there, except there’s no direct link to this story.

A lot of us talk about it from time to time. Anne’s pondering her blog again.

Let’s face it. People only have so many hours in the day. And part of me got thinking about it because Mark Billingham sent out his first newsletter in nine months. And look how he takes himself off the hook.

It’s been nine months since the last newsletter, which would be pretty slack, even for someone to whom relatively little ever happened. While it is tempting to fall back on the lame old excuses of schooldays and try to convince you that I had actually written several very good newsletters which were destroyed by pets, I can only trot out the usual stuff about the pressures of work, the demands of a family…and an early draft being eaten by the dog.

I’m consoling myself with the thought that your own lives cannot have been affected in any profound sense by the absence of this newsletter. If anybody has been sobbing over their keyboard every day, forlornly scanning their inbox and toying with ending it all, I can only apologise, and beg you to get: (A) help, (B) laid, (C) out of the house a bit more.

Sheesh! And I feel guilty for not blogging for a day?!

But I can’t quit now, because the ‘hey there’s a dead guy’ blog is too funny, too tell it like it is…

Too good to pass up. Damn. Some day, I want to be part of a cool group blog like that. Sigh.

So, do you guys ever find it hard to keep up? Meanwhile, there are places to win free books, in case you decide to take that quit reading blogs suggestion seriously.

Lesa’s giving books away. So are the folk over at Reviewing The Evidence.


anne frasier said...

sandra, as you mentioned i'm going through the same thing. guilt. that's the big one. and also the fear of losing contact with people. i don't mean people who might buy my books, but people i've come to think of as friends.

JamesO said...

Sixteen hours? Damn, it takes me sixteen days to read a novel.

Sandra Ruttan said...

I hope I didn't misrepresent it, Anne. I also stay on here for the friends more than anything. If it wasn't for the camraderie, I'd be gone, no matter how many were buying my book.

James, spread those 16 hours over the amount of time per day I have for reading and we're comparable...

And you have to bear in mind. I can't put Rebus books down. Not like it's a rule or anything. It's a physical thing. Kevin has to pry them out of my hands at night. I have this really addictive personality...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link to my post, Sandra.

Too many books & the time to read them. I have a fulltime job. I love books, and reviewing them. My husband told me just yesterday there's going to come a day when I don't have time to read all the books I promise people I'll read.

I want to know why.

Sandra Ruttan said...

I think you're an amazing reader Lesa. Really, you just seem to move from book to book with such zest. I think it boils down to, as long as we keep trying, well, we're on the right path... Right? I try not to make promises anymore so I don't disappoint anyone, but genuinely, I want to read so many more books than I'm getting to.

It's hard for me to read when I'm writing, though. I'm getting better at it. It used to be when I was doing a ms I couldn't read a book in my "off hours" at all.

Christa M. Miller said...

I'm a faithful reader of many blogs, but I rarely have a chance to formulate an intelligent comment unless it's something I feel qualified to discuss. I guess I should get with it, though, if I start blogging professionally!

S. W. Vaughn said...

Too right, Sandra (and Anne). I've been finding less and less time to blog and visit, and I feel so awful about it, because I've made so many friends. And I feel I'm neglecting them. *sniffle*

Maybe we should all cut down... blog once a week and go around visiting on that day to catch up with everyone. I claim Tuesdays, because there are never any deadlines on Tuesday. :-)

angie said...

Blogging is fun. It can also be time consuming. Sometimes I think I'll never find the balance. I would HATE not keeping up with blogs - I learn tons & have met a lot of cool people.

I can't post on my blog every day. Frankly, my life isn't that damn interesting. Still, I can't see giving it up any time soon. Even if I don't post (or check in on everyone else's blogs) every day, I really like cruising by when I have the time.

One of these days I'll figure out how to do that balance thing. In the meantime I guess I'll wobble along and hope the blogs I really enjoy don't get too overwhelmed & call it quits.

As for the reading issue...I'm a fast reader, but honestly I'm easily bored. If the writing & the story aren't really kick ass, the book ends up in the "picking at it" pile. Y'know, the one where I'll read a page or two at a time before I put it down again. Unless it's just a crap book & then it goes to Salvo or the used book store, 'cause there's only so much bookshelf space in my damn house.

Eileen said...

I do find it harder and harder to find the time for everything. I'm hoping there are points for effort.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Christa, money is always an incentive!

SW, I seriously wish I was doing a group blog thing, but one that eliminated the personal blog. Not in addition to the personal blog.

Angie, boy oh boy, do I know what you mean about crummy books. I've abandoned more books in the last year than ever before. But I've also read more great books than ever before. I think being willing to shelve a read that's not working for me helps with that.

Ah Eileen, here's hoping!

John Gooley said...

Ruttan says her name rhymes with Sue fan
And shoe man and blue tan and toucan
It don't go with nuttin
Or cuttin or struttin
It's French, that's what gives you the clue man.

anne frasier said...

s.w., i like your idea of picking a day, and it led me to another idea -- what if we all picked the same day? that would probaby be too hard to pull off with all the different schedules. i find the idea interesting though. kind of a blog crawl. blog crawl fridays or something like that.

too massive, because there would be too many subjects going on at one time. hmm. should i delete this? nah.

John Gooley said...

Having shoved that limerick into the middle of a discussion, I thought I should say something on topic.

I've been reading blogs for a year now, and in that time I've read about half as many books as I generally would. Hmmm! I have to go away and think about this.

Anonymous said...

I think a lot of people get blog fatigue. I go in spurts, hoping people will understand that I can't read everyone all the time; and I can't post on my own blog all the time. Sure, there is guilt involved, but like everyone in the real world, people understand that you can't be in contact every day.

Anonymous said...

BTW - I think you should rename one of your groups on the side to the RUE-TAN CLAN.

Anonymous said...


I've only been doing the weekly blog thing for a couple of months now, mainly to chart my progress as an artist and record the problems that arise as you move into a more professional arena - or just the day-to-day problems. I like to document the journey I am taking and because it might be useful to other artists, see no reason why it shouldn't be accessible through my artist's website. I have had to write negatives as well as positives but am aware all the time that if I am writing about other people, I have to think about what they would or would not want 'out there'.

Inevitably, it has not remained purely about art and I have found myself writing about the novel too - but it's all about creativity and that is the main thing!

And despite only doing this for two months, I have been late twice...

But it doesn't matter because I have no readers!

Maybe you should set aside one blog evening a week where you read all your friend's blogs, catch up and then write your own.

Sarah H

Sandra Ruttan said...

I just want to say for the record, I think a day to do a blog crawl would be fantastic.

Sarah, I wish I could catch up in a night. I can't. Too many blogs. I have the blogs divvied out into days of the week I visit them, some come up more than once, some are daily. See, I know SW blogs on Tuesdays normally, so I normally check out her blog on Tuesdays. But if I spent one night a week catching up, it would actually be an entire day, most likely.


Steve, do you want to be in my RUE-TAN Clan?

anne frasier said...

haha! love the rue-tan clan.

John G: a friend of mine got a computer 6 months ago and is now blogging, myspacing, everything. she used to be a huge reader -- hasn't picked up a book since she got the computer. and i don't see that changing.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Maybe this is really something to think about. I'm surprised there isn't more discussion about it elsewhere.

anne frasier said...

yeah, i've been meaning to post about my friend's internet experience. just need to light a fire under my own ass.

about the name... i'm thinking i'll pronounce it with a rolled R. and tan with an ahhh sound rather than fan. ;)

RRRoo - taun