I’ve been following this fascinating conversation about blogging in the comments thread of a post on my fabulous friend Gwenda Bond’s blog, Shaken and Stirred. It particularly has to do with authors blogging. Some authors have dipped into the conversation, and it seems different people blog for different reasons, which is obvious, of course. Some authors, too, are suspicious of blogging, and see it simply as self-promotion. There are all sorts of ideas about authors and blogging in this conversation, and some of these ideas are really interesting. It does seem that many publishers these days encourage authors to keep a blog. It’s certainly one way to promote one’s work.
Me? I started my blog (not this one, but one of those on my sidebar links) some years ago. Back in 2002, I think. I did it to keep in touch with my writing friends, none of which live anywhere near me (especially back then). So it was very personal. And I wasn’t very good at it, to be completely honest (and I don’t think I’m good at blogging now, either, to be completely honest). But there was a point in my life when blogging became very important: when I lived in Japan. In that period of my life, it was something I did regularly, and it served both as a typical “journal” would serve anyone–to capture a part of one’s life while they’re living it, because for some reason it feels extremely important to do so–and also it was a way for me to stay in touch with many of my family and friends, rather than to write individual e-mails to every single person I loved.
About three or four months into writing about my life in Japan, a friend suggested I put a little visitor’s counter on my blog, to see how many people read it each day, and for how long, and where they are located, etc. I thought this was very silly, because I figured it would show a total of twenty to thirty people as visitors daily. But I was surprised to learn that in fact, at that time, around 150 people were reading my blog each day. Sometimes 200. Every now and then it would spike to 300 visitors in a day. I was a little taken aback, to be honest. Who were all these people? And why did they care about my little blog about living in Japan?
They were from all over the world, actually. From a variety of countries. And that, too, was a real surprise for me.
But to be honest, yet again, once I came home from Japan, I didn’t feel as much of a need to blog. For me, it really had been about keeping in touch with loved ones and friends who lived a world away from me. And once I returned home, even though many of my friends still lived far enough away to continue that purpose, I didn’t feel my life in America was anything to write about in particular, and that need to communicate all that I’d been experiencing in Japan began to evaporate.
I still blog, but I don’t think I’m very interesting. My life is busy. I teach fiction writing full time at the local university. I’m also taking classes part time to earn another graduate degree. I’m writing my third novel. I’m gearing up to throw a party for the release of my second novel, and to go around the region and do readings and signings. I’m busy. But my life? Generally nothing spectacular, at least in my opinion. I have a lot of good friends, many of which I don’t get to hang out with as much as I’d like to since I started working full time and going to school for another degree full time. I have a large, loving family, many of which I don’t get to see as often as I like for the same reasons. Certainly, I could blog about my personal life in detail if I truly wanted to, and I sometimes do, but generally I don’t feel compelled to do so. I think partially it’s because I’m so busy. But also I think it’s because I like to keep some things for myself, you know?
In any case, you should read the conversation thread I linked to above. And if you want to read me blogging at my best, you should click here, and start reading through the two years when I lived in Japan. That was bloggy me at my best, really. That was when it felt like an absolutely essential aspect of living for me.
Chris, I think you write amazing blogs. Your writing could make reading the dictionary fun. In other words, it’s not so much about what you write, but how you write it that catches everyone’s attention.
I still remember the first day you gave your critique in class about a classmates short story. I was in awe and so was everyone else! And that was just a critique!!
Looking forward to checking out your blogs on Japan. 🙂
Aww, Wendy, that was a great class. I miss it. A bunch of the others are signing up for the advanced workshop next semester. I wish you were still around to be in it!