September 09, 2013

More Monday Thoughts on Blogging and Kidlit

We had such a fantastic conversation in the comments after my post entitled "Rekindling My Love for Blogging" that I wanted to reproduce some of those comments here, in the hopes of sparking more discussion--because I really think it's an important subject to think about, the whole "why we blog" question. It's informative, for me anyway, to read what others think, and inspiring to find out more about why others gravitated toward blogging and why they are still doing it, and whether their motivations for doing so have changed over the years. Here in the kidlit world, things do tend to change quickly--genres, cover design trends, and so forth. And of course things change in the technology world faster than you can say "Google owns my soul." But as readers and writers ourselves, not to mention being a sort of buffer between the content-creators and the content-consumers, what is our role and how is it changing? How can we keep our enthusiasm going?

I don't have any answers (if you know me, this is no surprise. I am much better at asking questions than answering them) but the responses to my prior post generated some intriguing food for thought, not to mention sparking some new blogging-related ideas. Here are some of those responses:

  • Gail Gauthier said that starting some new features has really helped her regain momentum for blogging. Also, she said: "I have come to think of blogging as short-term nonfiction or flash nonfiction. I'm interested in essay writing, so I feel blogging enhances that aspect of my writing." At the same time, though, she's not sure many of the writers she knows have much interest in blogging--I find that intriguing, since it is such a direct way of connecting with people through informal writing.
  • Melissa Wiley talked about going back to the original roots of why she started blogging in the first place--something that really resonated. Another thing she said that resonated: "One light bulb that went off for me is that I'm most interested in talking about a book WHILE I'M READING IT. Once I'm finished, writing about it can feel like homework, and anyway, I'm already on to the next book. But in the middle of a book, I'm dying for conversation. I realized I'm kind of a social reader in that I long for discussion with other people who are reading or have read the same book." So now I'm thinking about how I can channel my "while I'm reading" enthusiasm to this blog.
  • Adrienne's feelings about the situation really paralleled my own, too: "It got so I couldn't do book reviews anymore, for a lot of the reasons you all have mentioned--feeling overwhelmed and feeling obligated. I also found that publishing a book my own self made it impossible for me to be as critical as I perhaps should be." She also echoed my sentiments about finding it hard sometimes to keep up with all the activity in the kidlitosphere. "I wish I could keep up with everything I want to...but I can't. I've been making an effort to sit a little easier with that knowledge."
That's a really important point, to me--of course, it entails figuring out what I think is a realistic goal for participation and activity in the first place, but also forgiving myself when I deviate from that.

So, back to you: what WERE your original motivations for blogging? Do you think they've changed? Are your feelings about it different now? Let's continue the discussion!


Chris Desson said...

I agree with Melissa Wiley's comment about books reviews. It's more fun to discuss a book you're reading than one you've already read.

About my blog's origins, in the beginning, I started it to connect with other writers and book lovers like myself. Over time, it began to feel more like homework and although I gained a community I wasn't happy.

Now, I'm writing for my readers and myself. I lost a few followers along the way, but I'm okay with this. Blogging has become fun again.

Sarah Stevenson said...

Christine, thanks for coming by and commenting! It's great to hear others say they've reconnected with the enjoyment of blogging.

I do think I need to seriously think about what it is that I want to do in writing for myself and readers--what I can offer, I suppose, that is different and unique. Not in a marketing sense, but in more of a personal way.

Anonymous said...

I started my blog (almost nine years ago now!) because I thought it sounded like a fun idea. I wasn't terribly serious about it. I was thinking that I could write short pieces about the types of things I might not seek to publish anywhere, but I had no expectation that anyone would read them. I approached blogging like a daily writing assignment, and I enjoyed it. It was a HUGE surprise to me when people started reading, and then I got connected with the Kidlitosphere through Jen Robinson, who emailed me out of the blue one day, and I learned that there were other people who were blogging about children's books (which I was doing along with topics like What I Had for Lunch) and found some great community there. Any time I ever thought about blogging as anything besides fun, it really stressed me out.

I've been taking a blog break the last couple months, partly because I started asking myself a lot of the WHY questions. I decided that I wanted to focus some energy on writing longer things for a while and also reading more and doing stuff out in life. I think I'll circle back around to blogging, but I imagine I might approach it in a new way. TBD.

I find that one of my biggest struggles is being realistic about what I can accomplish and about letting go of what I can't do so I can enjoy what I am doing. It's a gift to have so many interests and options, I know, but sometimes I have a difficult time keeping that perspective. If you figure out any tricks for that, let me know.

Jen Robinson said...

I don't remember emailing you, Adrienne, but I do remember that yours was one of the very first blogs I read. And Finding Wonderland, too, for that matter, and Original Content.

Anyway, what motivated me at the beginning, as this person with no kids who wasn't a children's book writer or anything, was this passion that I have for encouraging kids to love books. Not sure WHY I feel so strongly about that (besides the obvious wanting other people to share in the joy that I got from books, and the opportunities that came from being a strong reader). But the blog was an effort to "do something" instead of just thinking that it was important.

And I guess these days, I find I'm more motivated to skim other blog posts and newsletters to find the good stuff that helps with that (growing bookworms) than I am to write reviews of individual books. But a bunch of Twitter and Facebook links doesn't really make for an exciting blog...

I need to get back to writing book reviews, but it is starting to feel like an unpaid job (I mean, I appreciate the books, but they don't pay the rent). And the reviews only help indirectly with the goal of helping to grow bookworms. So I'm at a little bit of a standstill. I've been reading mostly adult books lately, because I don't feel guilty about not reviewing them.

Ah, Sarah, we should get together. Sorry for the long comment!