Monday, January 08, 2007

Why do I blog?

In the comment section of my last post KT asked these questions:
I am curious. Why do you choose to blog? I am not a blogger, but I am a blog reader. I love your blog. I work alone and enjoy listening in - well, and procrastinating. Hoping this question doesn't stop your blog writing - but wondering, nevertheless - why aren't you writing that book?

This was actually supposed to be addressed in a discussion over at the Blue Rose Girls blog, but we never got our act together. So, well, here's how I started blogging, and why I blog still.

I had been aware of blogs for a while, although hadn't really been a reader of them. But I recommended blogging to my older brother a few years ago when he was casting around for how to get his thoughts/opinions out there. Although I’ve always kept a personal journal, I had never really thought about blogging myself. But about two years ago I was browsing friends’ blogs on myspace, and found a list meme and decided to fill it out, and that was my first blog post on both myspace and friendster. Then I thought, hmm. I don’t even ever really tell my friends about the books I work on, but I that’s the least I can do to help spread the word about these books. So I wrote a post about Flight of the Dodo by Peter Brown and have since written about other books I’ve worked on as well (see the sidebar for links).

Also, two years ago was a transitional period for me—I was starting a new chapter of my life, and wanted an outlet for my experiences, found it somewhat therapeutic to write, and having a blog gave me more incentive to write regularly. I also traveled a bunch that year and participated in a few “events” (skydiving, bike races, etc.) and I found it easier to post about each event, and then when friends asked me “how was your trip” or “how was skydiving?” I was able to just direct them to my blog. And also, since I’m not a writer or artist myself, it was nice to delve into the process of writing an “essay” of sorts, and writing something other than business correspondences or editorial letters.

The actual process of blogging felt very natural to me, as I've been in the habit of writing in a journal consistently since I was young, but realizing that people were actually reading what I was writing was harder to get used to. I eased into it by starting to blog in friendster where only my friends read it (and therefore those posts are a little more personal). But this year I made the jump to blogger, partially because some of my friends who weren't on friendster weren't able to comment or access it as easily, and partially because I was getting more used the the idea of having a public blog, and wanted others to read the posts about the books I've worked on, in the off chance that it might appeal to them and buy the books!

As most of you know, I've been struggling about how personal to be in this blog. Some of my friends have complained that I don't really talk about the "juicy" part of my life, which I interpret as the specifics of my personal life, dating, etc. Whereas other friends have praised me for being able to be so personal in this blog. I guess the basic feeling is that I don't feel comfortable giving too many details, because I don't know how the people involved would feel, and also a lot of people I don't personally know are reading the blog, and also a lot of children's book people. But it's my instinct to be very open and honest, and it feels unnatural censoring myself.

After realizing that people, including strangers, were actually reading my blog, another attraction to keeping writing was the whole "kindness of strangers" thing that made the marathon such a pleasure. I love communities, and strangers supporting strangers, and the idea that all of these people who I've never met were reading what I was writing and being supportive and kind, really appealed to me. I love being part of the online community.

In case anyone was curious, I do want to say that I've never had any intention to use my blog to solicit new talent for work, and I don't think I'll ever accept query letters via the blog. But I do want to be more "transparent" (the buzz word in my company right now)--to show people that "editors are people, too," to answer questions, to help people understand more what the industry is about (although these posts for the most part have been moved over the the Blue Rose Girls blog now).

And why am I not writing that book that I say I want to write? I know it's something I'd like to do someday, but to be honest, I don't think I have the true talent, drive, or the time right now. I know I could do it with hard work, but it would be a big commitment. I also think that the writing might detract from my editing right now, which is what I love and feel that I am equipped with the skills for. So for me, writing a book would be something I did after I retired, perhaps. Or if my company every decided to grant their employees a sabbatical or something. Or if I were in a different stage of my life.

Anyway, I thank you all for reading my blog and being so supportive. I don't have any intention to stop blogging any time soon. So keep reading!


Anonymous said...

Hey, Stranger. I enjoy and appreciate your blog, and am cheering for you from a distance.

Here are some questions, possibly for the BRG blog, but personal, too, and inspired by your admission that you are currently better equipped to edit than to write.

What is the essential difference in skills required for writing and editing? Specifically, what are your strengths as an editor and weaknesses as a writer? As you see them, of course.

Anonymous said...


A very thoughtful, considered response. I do enjoy reading your entries - and I admire your energy.

So what books are you editing that you are currently excited about?

KT (that would be Katherine Tillotson)

alvinaling said...

I answered the first commentor's question over at the Blue Rose Girls blog this morning, and Katherine, I'll tackle your question sometime this week, or next Monday at the latest. Thanks for your interest!

Kerri. said...

Hi there. I'm new to your blog but I plan on spending some time poking around in here. I came this way via ... to be honest, I can't even remember. I've been blog hopping for the last hour or so and ended up here.

I write Six Until Me., which is a blog about living with type 1 diabetes. I am often asked that same question, "Hey, why do you blog?" and people's answers always intrigue me.

Thanks for giving me a sample of your world. It's very comfortable here. ;)


holly cupala said...

Hello, Alvina,
I have to comment on your statement, "I don't think I have the true talent" to write a book. None of us writers think we have that! It would be very daunting, I would think (heck, I know, because I read so many fabulous children's books and stagger from the talent exhibited in them - including, in the spirit of full disclosure, my friend Tina, whose wonderful books you edit!) to read nearly-finished, submission worthy manuscripts and compare oneself. I go and read Fat Kid Rules the World and think, omg, I have no business being in this business. But we get through a draft or two, and things start looking up. So don't let those worries stop you, if you really want to write.

Omar Cruz said...
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