This is where I have to step in and say that I’m worse. My voice went on strike. Of course, Kevin’s thrilled about that, but I seem to get groggier every day. I last about an hour and then it’s back to bed. I read and fall asleep. And since I’ve been away for a few weeks without internet something like 1100 emails stacked up. I’m so far behind, there’s no way I’ll be climbing out of this until next week.
So what exactly am I doing on my blog? Yes, I’ve posted here. I’ve read a few other blogs. And I’ve posted to DL and 4MA. How is it I’m doing that and not churning through the correspondence?
It leads into one of the points raised on a Saturday afternoon panel about technology and fandom. One of the concerns raised was the wonder at how authors blogged and still managed to produce books – when were they writing?
It’s a fair enough question, but was raised by the panel and not answered. It * seemed * to be a shared opinion amongst the panelists.
So, what do I say to this?
Now, can blogging get in the way of writing? Absolutely. But to assume this is true for all bloggers is to assume all bloggers are created equally. And it also assumes all writers work the same way.
How do I find the time to go around to blogs and read them on a regular basis? Well, sometimes I don’t. I’ve been rather hit and miss the last few months. That’s okay. Life gets that way.
But how do I find the time, in general?
How many of you watch TV every night? I know a lot of people who have their programs for every day of the week. I don’t. There is not one night of the week, save when The Wire or The Shield is running, that I regularly watch TV. I used to spend more time relaxing in the evenings. However, I don’t live in New York. Or London. Or even Toronto. Way over here in my corner of the world I can’t hobnob with industry insiders and learn how things work.
I can learn this off of blogs, to at least some extent.
As far as I’m concerned (although at times I groan about it) you have to do some networking. You have to start knowing names. You should know a bit about what’s going on in the business, who’s getting buzz, who’s getting award nominations, what the trends in the business are.
I find most of my info these days on The Rap Sheet. Reading it isn’t much different than reading a magazine when it comes in, except I get it in pieces. It’s like my daily devotional. When I’m away from the blogs and only able to skim stuff on occasion I always – always always always – end up having someone mention something to me that I felt I should have known.
It is different for me. I wear a few hats. One is my Spinetingler hat, and the longer we run that the more important it is that I keep my eye open for what’s happening in the business.
Blogs might eat up writing time for some, but in my case I can honestly say that I average 10-12 hours a day in my office, and spending 1-2 on blogs is the equivalent of more than reasonable breaks. I have no real social life locally, so it’s mainly times like the last few weeks that I’ve been away that I’m hanging out with people. This is partly because of moving back from Vancouver (and many of my friends being there) and because of our crazy schedules. Between my writing, Spinetingler and the fire department, we don’t have time for much of a life.
Beyond that, I write an average post in 15 minutes. I don’t typically edit them, unless I’ve written something very stupid. Of course, when I write posts at 5 or 6 am, what can you expect? It’s whatever’s on my mind at the time and then I’m done unless there’s a discussion in the comments.
So, how is it I have all these emails to sort through and I’m commenting on lists? It’s easy. The emails become layered, interconnected, one thing leading to another. Having been away for a few weeks, in some cases I have to go through everything related to get to where things are at now and respond.
It’s, like, work.
And I don’t have the prolonged brain juice for it at the moment. It’s very easy for me to write one-offs. In handling those emails I’ve whittled down a considerable chunk.
One of the real problems with blogging and email is the sense of immediacy it gives to our lives. We email someone and expect instant answers. What a surprise to discover we aren’t the centre of everyone’s universe.
And blogging exposes people in ways that aren’t always good.
Now, I’ve always maintained that anyone who’s going to take offense to my opinions/personality and therefore not buy my book is just as likely to see ‘the real me’ in an interview or at a convention some day and I may as well do them the favour of putting them off now.
I blog now mainly to keep in touch with friends. Okay, it is a bit one-sided. Many of you read and don’t comment. Some of you read and email me. A few regulars do comment.
This is what I have to say for writers about blogging. If it’s getting in the way of the writing, stop. But only you know your schedule, how stretched you are. It’s up to you. One thing I do is list all blogs under categories in my bookmarks bar. Some I only check once a week, on average. Some, occasional. Some daily. It’s either cut out a lot of blogs I enjoy dropping by, or make my visits sporadic. I opted for the latter.
And for heaven’s sakes, if you don’t enjoy it, don’t do it.
For readers worried about authors blogging… Well, you’ve got to give the authors a bit of a break here. I’ve been on forums and listservs for a few years now, and I’ve seen everything complained about at some point. I know someone who emails authors persistently and expects prompt answers to every email. I got thinking about this recently, when someone posted on Inspector Rebus asking for an email address to ask Rankin questions because they didn’t want to have to write via post to his publisher – it most certainly is not true of everyone, but there are a lot of people who expect to have direct access to authors now. I have also seen people gripe on forums about authors who don’t give out their email addresses. And I’ve seen the remarks about authors who don’t post on DorothyL – they only show up for BSP, or they think they’re better than the readers. Don’t specify – this isn’t true of everyone on the list or everyone out there. Probably not even true of 10% of the avid readers. But you know what they say about squeaky wheels. The gripes stand out.
The reality is, it’s far easier for me to ‘keep in touch’ and ‘be accessible’ via a blog than to deal with emails one by one. And it takes far less time. I know some authors opt for newsletters instead. I understand that as well. For now, blogging is the road I’ve chosen.
Each one of us is just trying to sort things out, find what works for us, or doesn’t. There are no absolute perfect choices. But one thing is certain. The more technology progresses, the more pressure authors are under to choose how to utilize it. Book trailers, podcasts, live chat, forums, blogs, newsletters, emails, ezines…
I think a lot of authors jumped on the blogging bandwagon because they felt they had no choice. It’s too soon to know if blogging will sell books (I remain skeptical that it sells enough to warrant the time invested IF that’s the only reason you’re blogging) but if the proof comes in that blogging authors are seeing higher sales than non-bloggers, it will be too late for those who stayed on the sidelines to get ahead of the curve.
As far as I’m concerned, the blog tide is ebbing.
I think there’s also a real risk that it’s all been said before, and usually so much better by someone else, that it’s a bit pointless to keep hashing over the same old, same old. This is why I don’t blog all about the book or my author life. Plus, it would bore me to tears.
But when we’re hashing out the topics repeatedly here, what’s the point in going to conventions? Are we going to hear/say/see/think anything new? Not often. The more cons I attend the more panels I leave feeling I haven’t heard much new. The more people blog on the business side/author life the less necessary to read an interview with them or see them on a panel, because it’s more likely that you’ve already heard all they have to say on it.
Now, I have my little addictions, and am unlikely to fully give up the blog any time soon. Really, for me, it’s therapy. I have my little rants and then feel so much better.
And I don’t know if I’ve wrapped this up, but I’ve got to go back to bed. Thoughts, as always, most welcome.
|You May Be a Bit Obsessive Compulsive...|
Meticulous and detailed oriented, you have some irrational obsessions.
Maybe it's your super neat closet or washing your hands a gazillion times.
You probably know it's weird, but you just can't stop thinking about it.
In fact, the more you think about your quirks, the more you have to do them.