I always hated the saying “A writer writes . . . always.” No one does anything “always” except maybe breathe. And anyway, the very fact of having written five books and getting them published makes me a writer, even if I write . . . whenever.
But it turns out the joke is on me. I do write always, or as nearly always as possible. I’m either writing an article for this blog, or trying to think of a topic, either planning what I am going to say when I do think of a topic, or experiencing things which I will later write about. I don’t know why I tend to think that “writing” means fiction writing, perhaps because fiction comes hard for me and blogging easy, but the truth is, blogging is writing, too.
On September 25, 2011, I accepted a challenge to blog for 100 days. (I found out about it two days late — the challenge was actually to blog the last 100 days of the year, and it started on the 23, but I figured I’d add the missing two days on the back end.) I hadn’t been writing much, just an occasional blog post, and I was drifting, not doing much of anything except struggling with an upsurge of grief (still don’t know why 18 months after a grievous death is so hard, but it’s part of the grief pattern). So much I had counted on had disappeared — my life mate/soul mate, our way of life, some of the friends I made after his death— that I felt as if I were disappearing too.
I thought writing every day would give me something to hang on to, and it must have worked, because after the challenge ended, I didn’t quit. I never actually made the decision to stick with daily blogging — I just did it — and to my surprise, I find myself less than a month away from completing an entire year of daily posts.
I’ve come a long way in the past 341 days, turned several corners, came to many realizations, but most of all, I found peace. Or rather, I made peace. I made peace with the death of my mate, with my place in the universe, and with my place in the world of books. Even without the daily blogging, I might have come to the same realizations at the same time, but writing gave focus to my thoughts, and daily writing gave focus to my life. I’d planned to stop the daily posts after my one-year anniversary, but now . . . who knows. I might keep going. (Though one person suggested — facetiously, I hope — that I should give my poor blog readers a break.)
August 29, 2012 at 3:47 pm
Hi, Pat. I write from a sort of narrow perspective, doing mostly literary posts about books I’ve read, poems that have inspired me, short stories, etc. At first (I started back on July 4 with the blogging) I had plenty of material, and plenty of energy, and a lot to say. The problem now is that though I still have lots of material in the way of books and literature I’ve already read, I find that I need more time to refresh my memory with what I’ve read in order to write what I feel is a responsible post on it. Plus, I’m trying to read other things in order to keep going on from there. And, not least, I’m keeping up with about 20 other great blogsites and that takes some time too. So, I’m getting a bit burned out. Luckily, after writing two other sorts of things in the early part of this week (two non-literary posts), I finally got back to writing literary posts today. But one thing I’ve found–if I wait one day in between posts, it gives my readers a chance to catch up. If I wait two days, I find my stats going down. I hate even to be concerned with stats, because I’m more concerned with turning out a quality product. Nevertheless, there it is–I worry.
August 29, 2012 at 7:59 pm
Yep, those stats can be worrisome. I’d forgotten, but one reason I continued blogging when the 100 days were up is that I ended up with an incredibly high rating on Alexa.com, and I hated to see it fall. After a few months, it did fall, but oddly, my views were up, so it wasn’t too painful.
August 29, 2012 at 6:02 pm
I do most of my writing on the train and, since i do travel a lot on the train with work, its no hardship. It saves me getting bored. there’s letter writing, short story writing, and work on a novel. Transferring it to computer is the only hassle. But as I transfer it I make improvements. I write because I want to write. No one has a gun to my head.
August 29, 2012 at 8:03 pm
I’ve been having a crisis of faith over the whole writing thing, mostly because I’ve been having to rethink everything during this period of grief, but normally, I either write or not. The way writers talk on Facebook, telling about their word counts or lack of word counts, their great days and days when the muse deserts them, it seems as if they are in constant pain over their manuscripts or if someone is holding a gun to their heaads. I don’t get it.
August 29, 2012 at 10:14 pm
Neither do I. It could go back to the old cliche that artists are supposed to suffer for their art. Me?
Well, if I’m gonna suffer I’m
sure to take the reader with
me. This I am not keen on
September 1, 2012 at 3:23 am
Rod, like you I’ve always been a train commuter. I’ve written all my first drafts, in longhand, on train trips. Rewrites, revisions, all those “r’ things I’ve done at home on the computer, of course, though in future I may try my hand at working directly on laptop on those trips. (I once read that Scott Turow wrote ‘Presumed Innocent,’ while train commuting.
September 3, 2012 at 5:54 pm
Glad to meet a fellow writer/commuter, Iain.
August 29, 2012 at 7:56 pm
blogging can get very addictive. when i started out, i blogged every 2-3 weeks. now i blog every 2-3 days. it’s crazy how you can get into it.
August 29, 2012 at 8:08 pm
It’s definitely addictive. It’s like a combination of a journal and a newspaper column. It was addictive before I had any readers or commenters, and it’s even more addictive now that I have followers.
August 29, 2012 at 8:13 pm
oh tell me about it. i love writing the blogs, and these days i’m getting so many likes and comments. i actually just wrote a post saying that i got my 200th comment. It made me so happy, especially since the comment was from my dad.
August 29, 2012 at 8:25 pm
Way cool that your dad reads and comments on your blog!!!
August 29, 2012 at 9:01 pm
when he has the time. he’s busy a lot, but he makes time.
September 1, 2012 at 6:35 am
When I worked with my website designer (Monkey C Media of San Diego), Jeniffer Thompson encouraged me to start a blog to keep the content fresh at the site. I groaned. What? Me blog? I immediately had this image of talking about whether I would shave that morning or other trivia no one is interested in. Jeniffer (not mispelled by the way) told me to just write what I felt like writing. My blog became an eclectic mix of op-ed, reviews, interviews, and book publishing news with the number of readers growing all the time. I know there are many blogs out there that have more visitors, but I’m satisfied with mine. I post an article every Tuesday and Thursday.
My posts are generally long. They also are slanted toward the progressive view, but anyone can comment, as long as they keep the language clean and they say more than “atta boy!” or “this stinks!” I grew up in a family of Eisenhower Republicans (Kansas) and Truman Democrats (Missouri), so I can appreciate an exchange of ideas.
There are other posts that are not op-ed. I have to get back to my character interviews, for example. Maybe there’s something for everyone.
What I’ve found is that blogging is just another form of writing and, as another reader pointed out, I’m addicted to it. I’ll always be thankful to Jeniffer for encouraging me to do it. Sometimes I wonder what the next topic is going to be but one usually falls into my lap. Like the short shory, a blog post teaches a writer to be a minimalist writer. I’ve found that this helps when writing a novel too.
All the best,
September 1, 2012 at 7:28 am
Steve, you make some very interesting points. Since my blogsite is mainly about literature, I was always a little nervous about having to depart from the tried and true method of always putting up a post about literature–but I’ve come to find that a lot of readers just enjoy a good gossip about what I’m planning to do next, what I think of some other blogs I’ve read, etc. I’ve been feeling very frustrated in the last week because my site views are down even though my follow number is the highest it’s ever been, and I couldn’t figure this out at first. But a little dose of reality led me to hope that maybe the drop just marks the week everyone is returning to work and school from the last August vacation, and things will look up again when the school and work year is back in full swing, after people have had a chance to accustom themselves to their new schedules. I guess it never does to be too self-centered and to think that everything has to do with something that I myself have done.
September 1, 2012 at 7:47 am
Yeah, I’ve noticed that decline too. On your other point, I just never seem to have enough to say about the business of writing, except for reviews and interviews. I relegate that to the sporadic posting of “News and Notices from the Writing Trenches,” which appears sometimes on Friday.
Even with my reduced emphasis on the writing trade, some of my posts on writing have been well received and have appeared as guest posts elsewhere (e.g. AME’s newsletter and site). A future re-posting will be a revisit to a post I wrote four years ago about female characters. As a male who admires smart women, I’ve struggled to faithfully portray them with some of my female protagonists. Both the old post and the new ones lists my ideas for male writers to do this fairly and realistically. I’d love feedback from female readers on whether I’m still out in left field on this (there, I used a typical macho male expression…please, forgive me).
September 1, 2012 at 10:53 am
Hey, Steve, I once played softball for a season or two on a co-ed team–“left field” isn’t just an expression for men anymore, so don’t feel bad!
September 1, 2012 at 12:40 pm
Steve, you were responding to shadowoperator, not me. My blog is not about literature. It’s about grief, life, being me, and some posts about the current state of the publishing industry.
It always fascinates me how different people approach writing, whether blogging, fiction, or any other sort of writing.
September 1, 2012 at 12:50 pm
Sorry, Pat, I didn’t mean to hi-jack your site, I was just conversing with Stephen a bit since he’d said something that interested me from my own viewpoint. Again, sorry if I inconvenienced you.
September 1, 2012 at 1:03 pm
Shadowoperator, I’m glad you highjacked my site — I like when people find things to talk about here. I just wanted to make sure you got proper credit.
September 2, 2012 at 6:26 am
OK, this is something new. Or, am I reading too much into “shadowoperator.” Remember, I write about conspiracies. LOL. So the softball player was shadowoperator. I too was on a co-ed softball team. I played third base because I was the only one that could throw from around third base to first with enough zing to beat the runner (the batter was also a catcher, my usual position). We had a perfect season: 0 wins!
As Pat says, it’s fascinating how different people approach writing. It’s probably more fascinating how people approach reading. What and why they read is so varied that it makes marketing and PR challenging. I’m speaking about fiction, of course–a how-to book has a very defined group of readers.
All the best to both Pat and ShadowOperator,
September 1, 2012 at 1:09 pm
Shadowoperator, so true — that not everything has to do with things we have done. Sometimes when the views are way down, the ranking is up. And sometimes when the ranking is way down, the views are up. I guess people have more fun things to do this weekend. (Or else they are contending with the backlash of storms.)
September 1, 2012 at 6:55 am
“Blogging is thinking in front of others.” Unlike, say, completing a novel, I think we all have the ability to blog. Feedback can be instantaneous, unlike fiction, and you don’t have to keep the idea, “does this serve my plot” in mind. And blogging can be lighthearted and fun.
September 1, 2012 at 10:52 pm
Great job on meeting and exceeding your goal. May you continue to find comfort in your writing as you grieve your love one.
September 11, 2012 at 4:38 pm
Beautiful and thank you for sharing. Blogging certainly is writing with all that pretense and editing and worry involved. It’s freedom writing, with the twist of having others read and enjoy it, healing from it at the same time.
September 11, 2012 at 8:19 pm
I feel privileged to have a forum to talk about whatever I want, and especially privileged that people actually stop by to read what I write and sometimes comment. Thank you for stopping by, Sarah.