The Welter of the Internet #1: Bloggorhea and the writer

4304452~The-Simpsons-PostersI have a confession to make: I follow very few blogs closely anymore.

I mean, I look at some occasionally. I click on links that people send me and read swell interviews, or industry news, or just look at Strange Things that make me laugh aloud. I do that. But the dedicated daily reading of the blogs in my RSS feed reader? Not so much.

I used to follow something like sixty blogs via my blog reader. I would quickly catch up on Read Roger, Maud Newton, Galleycat, Alice’s CWIM blog, Fuse #8, and other publishing focused blogs, sure, but … Do I really need to catch up on the Sartorialist? (Probably not, even though I love looking at the pictures of well-dressed people on the street.) And the Daily Howler and other political wonk blogs? Or the many awesome blogs about design? Or the hilarious Goths in Hot Weather? Or blogs by my clients and friends or about copyright theft or even just the tremendous Boing Boing or—well, you get the picture. Whenever I open my RSS reader, I end up reading much more than just the obligatory industry blogs. Because while I enjoy keeping up with book business scuttlebutt, I enjoy even more other people’s playgrounds. You learn such weird things there!

Skimming all of that takes time. Even boiling them down to a dozen or so, the reading of my blogroll still took too much time. So I’ve slacked.

But does this mean that writers out there—new or established—should share my digital anomie? Should throw up their virtual hands and head to the beach? Of course not. It may be hard to keep tabs on this modern world, but keeping yourself involved in it is another thing entirely. We don’t want to mistake one thing (who has time to read all of that?) with another (who is going to read my rantings?).

I’m not sure what, in the end, my point is here, except to say that (a) yes, the blogosphere can be exhausting; and (b) I still think we should dive right in.

Readers and editors and industry big mouths and, yes, even agents, want to be able to find you, to learn more, to ask you about that book you’ve written. Internet fatigue or no, it is where we turn first when we have a question about anything. Even if you can’t follow all the blogs you’d like to, shouldn’t you try to contribute a verse? Isn’t the idea that sooner or later, someone may want to listen? Do you all feel that without immediate rewards for blogging that it isn’t worthwhile?

  1. I agree. Keeping up with blogs and blogging can be very exhausting work. When I get in over my head, I take a break for a week or so, and then jump back in refreshed. The writing community (and the world) is a wonderful place to be. There are so many great people I have met through blogging that I wouldn’t have met otherwise.

    I think the most important thing is to maintain balance. When blogging becomes a chore, it’s time to take a step back and spend time with friends and family or other relaxing activities. Blogging and writing should never replace living, but they can be wonderful tools that enhance life.


  2. I’m fairly new to the whole blogging world (maybe 6 months or so) but of course I’m already addicted and follow way too many blogs. You’re right on the amount of time it requires, a fact I sometimes question since it’s a distraction from my actual writing time, but it’s been a huge help in meeting fellow writers, researching the industry and researching agents. People say writing is a solitary art but for me connecting with others has helped me achieve a higher level of writing and knowledge. Funny how something that started as a way to build my platform and network has become a part of my writing life I love.


  3. Balance is absolutely key — but the internet is a hard thing to have balance about. It’s like a vast cocktail party that has been going on for years and that no-one ever leaves (like that flying party in *Life, the Universe and Everything* that Ford Prefect and Arthur Dent crash into accidentally). And because no-one ever leaves, if YOU leave, say to sleep or work or maybe go out into the sunshine, the party roars on without you! Which is an odd feeling. There’s no natural end to the conversation, nobody yawning and heading home after a dinner party, nobody finishing a cup of coffee and kissing you goodbye as you head your separate ways. Going offline is always a bit like sneaking off… and when you return, you have a whole wedge of conversation to catch up on.

    I have been blogging (much less frequently recently) since 2005 and love the connections it creates. But the frequency has fallen off considerably since I realized that I am never truly going to squeeze an extra four hours into every day and an extra day into every week — and I need more time to write. I MUST have time to write. Which means that I have chosen to spend less time online.

    Now the balance has slipped too far the other way and I’m rejoining the vast, glorious cocktail party with bottle of retsina at the ready (although I’m trading it for a g&t as soon as I can find the drinks trolley).


  4. The simple but embarrassing truth is that I blog for myself. I find me delightfully entertaining.


  5. I find it much easier if I make folders in my feed reader. I’ve got a folder for agent blogs, editor blogs, book reviewer blogs, and then two for fellow writers–one for writers who I only comment on occasionally, and one for writers who I do try to comment on regularly.

    I allot myself a half hour to read blogs–even though I typically have over a hundred posts to read. I click on each folder, skim the titles, and only open the blogs that look interesting. I go in order: agents and editors first, because I’m more interested in and value more their information. When the half hour is up, whatever I didn’t read gets marked as read, and I’m done.


  6. The sea of writers who blog is vast and I am but plankton. Why do I do it? I’ve asked myself this many times as I try to balance social networking, building the elusive “platform” and you know, the actual craft of writing. One particularly frenzied day (that I believe was capped off by a rejection) I really began to question the value of maintaining an online presence in such murky waters. But then something wonderful happened. Someone friended me on FB because he had found my blog and thought my book sounded really interesting and wanted to be my first fan. Now I realize one fan would not impress a marketing department, but it’s enough for me. If we’re serious about writing then we have to be serious about getting it out there, even if our audience for the moment is microscopic.

    Great post, thank you!


  7. I’m a writer, I’m used to doing things without instant reward. 🙂


  8. I love blogging because it does offer instant reward. People write to me all the time to tell me that my posts have helped them. (That’s on my personal blog, not my writing blogs.) It doesn’t matter if the audience is huge. It’s fun to connect with people without waiting six month to a year for feedback.

    For a couple of years, I blogged every day. But I didn’t get any books written because blogging satisfied my need to create and my need to connect with an audience.

    Now, I don’t blog every day. But with so many ways for people to subscribe, you don’t need to blog every day to keep an audience.

    I do read blogs every day. (It’s especially helpful when blogs I love offer an email subscription option, hint, hint) I read about five publishing related blogs daily, and on weekends I go to several more, and I skim the titles to see if there’s anything interesting.


  9. LOL @ Paul. You do seem delightfully entertaining, indeed. 🙂

    Beth- great advice about the folders!

    I think blogging is important to lots of writers not just for networking purposes, but because it allows us- whether through our own blogs or by leaving comments on others- to connect to people in what can be a very lonely profession.

    And that Simpsons pic made my day.


  10. I was slow to come into the whole blogging thing. Several of my friends and critique group members had been doing it for years, but I was looking at it in terms of procrastination rather than self-promotion. I figured if I had time to write, it should be my novels, not a blog. I finally jumped in about a year ago when I realized it can be a great way to build an audience before you get published.

    I am not a daily blogger, barely a biweekly one, and that goes for my reading of blogs too. I don’t read them on a regular basis, maybe once a week (or more when I’m procrastinating!) but I do try to read my friends’ blogs since they are loyal readers of my dribble.

    I did want to point out, however, that as important as it is for writers to “dive right in” to the blogosphere, it can also be a career killer if you aren’t careful. At the SCBWI LA conference a few weeks ago, a well-known editor talked about the things that can cause a rejection of a manuscript. She said that the first thing she does when she likes a project is to google that author, read his blog, website, etc. If she sees someone whining about being rejected constantly, or bad-mouthing agents/editors/authors, or slamming a book that she edited, she’ll reject the project.

    Several people hurried to their rooms after this speech to erase material they’d posted in past blogs.
    I am careful not to bad-mouth or drop names in my blogs, but this did give me pause because I do write my opinion about books on Goodreads without thinking about who may read them. Does this mean I will censor my opinions in the future? Not sure, still on the fence about that – but my point is, it is easy to forget that others can and will read what you are writing in your blogs, so save any negative stuff for your journal!


  11. Michael,

    After reading this post several times, I came to the conclusion that I was not utilizing my blog to it’s full potential. I used to post short stories for my readers, but after hearing about some controversy over whether posted stories were considered published, I stopped. (I can’t seem to write anything that doesn’t want to be a novel.)

    Instead of posting updates, I wrote about the writing/editing/revising/agent finding process and what it entails. This morning, fifty of my 137 readers had sent messages or comments about wanting to hear more. I am floored. I really didn’t think anyone would care much about that. Thanks for the tip. I already thought you were smart, now I think you’re a genius!


  12. Not really a comment. Just to say that Munch would be screaming with laughter if he saw this avatar.


  13. One of the best benefits of blogging/reading blogs for me has been the encouragement – both getting it from and giving it to the community of writers I’ve met.

    And I also find Paul Michael Murphy delightfully entertaining.



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