Saturday, February 25, 2012

An existential blogging crisis: Or, Is it a blog or a blah blah blah-g

I feel like I'm having an existential blogging crisis (can you tell I've been reading too much John Green?)

I can't exactly put my finger on what is bothering me about blogging lately. I've tried to puzzle it out repeatedly. If I could divide it into three subcategories it would be:

  1. Finding time to read blogs.
  2. Finding time to write blogs.
  3. Deciding what is the true purpose of blogging. 

Let me address them one-by-one. I'm an academic, it's kind of our thing.

1. Time for Reading Blogs. I'm busy, and some days I truly despise seeing that blog reader with hundreds and hundreds of listings I know I'll never get to. It seems to compound the stress I'm already feeling.

I tried to address the overwhelming nature of it-- I divided all the blogs I follow into one group of between 40-60 blogs (primarily people who comment on my blog, or whom I feel I "know" on some level). Then I subdivided that group into four sections, putting between 10-15 blogs in each group. My intention was to then check in on those blogs  over the course of four weeks (one section for each week of the month).

---it seemed like a good idea, but the weeks-long process of organizing all those blogs made me so exhausted that I haven't even implemented my system yet. Lookin' at you, March, for SUPER PLANNED BLOG SYSTEM ROLL OUT 2012.

I'll let you know how it goes.

2. Time for Writing Blogs. The more I blog, the more I feel like less blogging is more, for me at least.

It's like Stella McCartney's line for H&M. The idea was that she would bring down the prices of her products substantially (from Haute Couture levels to H&M levels), but to maintain the mystique she produced very few numbers of each piece. Those clothes were, therefore, not special in that they were extraordinarily expensive (as they often are) but because there was a limited number.

Clearly I am not Stella McCartney, and I am also not really considering myself as a marketing project.

That being said, I think there is something in the idea that in a blog-riddled world, one way to stand out is to post less, and make the posts better/more interesting/more painstakingly created. This is not to say that I believe I've created some kind of superior product at all, in fact, I'd say I've changed nothing except that I'm posting less.

Or maybe I only want to legitimize my lack of time. When I look at my multi-page to-do list, I just want to mark things off of it. I have so little time outside of work, family, and sleep-- I want to spend that time making art and writing.

This brings me to question three:

3. What is the true purpose of blogging?
When I started blogging, it was a way to hear about books, learn about craft, get scoop on querying and agents. More than all of that, it led me to my "writer friends" (who my husband still calls my "pretend friends")-- though they are real and true and have already helped me through some major crises. And by that I mean as recently as THIS WEEK. :0)

And I continue to love to meet new writer friends, and hear about the books they love and maybe those they didn't love so much.

But if I'm supposed to be writing, and they're supposed to be writing, and my circle keeps getting a little larger and a little larger with each passing year (which I consider a GOOD thing)... then how are we going to keep at our writing in a way that will lead to success?

A lovely writer friend gave me a real A-ha moment recently when she referenced the movie Julie and Julia. She said, Julie sits down every day at her blog to watch all the comments rolling in-- but you never see her bothering to check out or comment on someone else's blog.

It really made me question what the point of blogging is.

I'll be the first to admit this is a first world problem.

I've started and stopped this post at least four times since January, because I didn't want it to sound whiny.

Truly, I am not complaining. I simply want to know if there is a better way.

What say you,  fellow bloggers?

How do you balance writing your own blog, with reading and commenting on the blogs of others?

How do you balance blogging and writing?

How do you define the purpose of blogging to you and your writing?

Friday, February 24, 2012

YA Book club: The Fault in our stars

I am officially the LAMEST member of the book club, yet again.

I have been overrun with work and art and writing and kids.

I'm just at the halfway point of the lovely The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, and will have it read by the weekend, but I am not in time for the post.


I'm afraid to read the other posts because I don't want to find out any spoilers-- but I will check them out next week (and put together a post of my own).

Monday, February 13, 2012

Long Overdue Awards Post

Thank the person who nominated you. Tell 7 things about yourself so that your readers may learn more about you and nominate 15 other newly discovered bloggers and let them know you nominated them.
Here are seven things about me:
  1. I don't stop to smell the roses enough. I need to put it on my to do list. 
  2. My to do list is probably why I don't stop to smell the roses enough. It's about seven single-spaced pages long right now... divided into categories, and always waiting for me. 
  3. I lived for a while in a caravan park in the Netherlands (oh, the stories I could write).
  4. I am SUCH a morning person.
  5. I am terribly impatient, but I think being a writer is helping me with this. It's at least giving me LOADS of practice at waiting. 
  6. I was known as "bug girl" in college (it could be worse, right?... right?)
  7. The cool thing about being the bug girl is that people bring you amazing insects that they find. If you find a unique (dead) bug, I'd love it if you sent it to me. Seriously. 
As Ann Elise pointed out, this one has been around for a while, and many have gotten it (some multiple times). So, I'll let YOU be in charge of distribution. 
If you'd like the versatile blogger award, leave me a comment and I'll link to your post!

One Smart Cookie Award
I swear that The Blogger Girlz (who are participating in the I Dig Reading Challenge) gave me the One Smart Cookie award... but now I can't find that post, and I'm wondering if I dreamed this? 
It is on my to-do list, (see above list)... which lends it some legitimacy. :0)
Well, regardless, thanks for the award, and a HUGE thanks for participating in I Dig Reading 2012!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

What I read in January: an I DIG READING update

What I read in January

Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
39 clues: One False Note by Gordon Korman
Finding Antigone (BETA) by Sue Winegartner
Swamplandia! by Karen Russell
The Moving Finger, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, AND Murder on the Links by Agatha Christie
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexi
Fairy Tale Fail by Mina V. Esguerra
Bad Taste in Boys by Carrie Harris
I am a genius of unspeakable evil and I want to be your class president by Josh Lieb

That's eleven books! 

For the I Dig Reading Challenge I'll be donating again to the North End Action Team, which makes my neighborhood fantastic!

Monday, February 6, 2012

The 3/50 Project. LOVE. THIS. NOW.

As writers and consumers of books we're reminded constantly that brick and mortar bookstores are on the decline. Of course this trend isn't only impacting bookstores. Local shops of all kinds are struggling to compete with the large, omnipresent box stores in our communities. I won't name names, but these stores bring the goods to us cheap and that's what we (apparently) like. I shop in those stores too-- I think it's a necessary part of modern life.

But I wish I had the budget to shop other places.

This generally makes me feel helpless.

If I were to shop locally all the time, it would take so much time that I'd never have a chance to work (which would end the shopping pretty quickly). I'd also lose out on spending time with my family, and writing. Not to mention that it costs more.

You might argue that shopping locally or with independently run stores costs the ACTUAL price, and that the prices at a box store are absorbed all along the path of production (by the children making the items in a third world country, all the way to the person working the register without healthcare). For a better argument, see The Story of Stuff.

I saw this project referenced on one of my favorite podcasts How Stuff Works.

The brainchild of Cinda Baxter, The 30/50 project is simple. Pick three independently owned stores you think are important, and patronize them.

For every $100 spent locally, $68 returns to the community (versus $43 in a national chain).

$50 per month IS in my budget right now, and I am going to make a conscious effort to spend more money with independently owned stores, both locally and on places like etsy.

Since I put my own things on etsy, I have a big interest in supporting and enjoying the other artists there. And as I browse the site, I find myself LOVING the gorgeous hand-made items. They have something that mass produced items will never have.

What about you-- do you feel guilty about supporting the stores that are devastating local economies?

Do you think I'm nuts?

Where do you shop and why?