Not all book bloggers identify themselves as writers, per se. For many blogging is a fun pastime, a creative outlet and a great way to spend time sharing the love of books with others similarly afflicted. It's the same reason I play around with painting and the collage arts, "zentangles" and the paper arts. It's an expression of creativity in an area off the path of normal life, a freeing of the mind to explore artistic endeavors without the expectation of taking it anywhere beyond what it is: a mind-clearing, yet still challenging, exercise of the artsy side of the brain. Hard to imagine life without it and I feel sorry for those who haven't found their own mental recreation. They have no idea what they're missing. I find that unutterably sad.
While I blog for the same reasons, I also make money and boost my professional librarian career via reviewing, writing columns and such in the field of librarianship, and do a bit of dabbling in fiction, as well. Writing posts for Bluestalking has helped discipline me, sparking the desire to post as often as I'm able to keep the blog up and running, sharing and interacting with other readers for the love of it. The lack of pressure to produce a certain level of quality - working with an editor to hone my work, sending a piece back and forth until we're both happy with it - on a deadline, leaves me with all the pleasure of writing without the stress of answering to anyone but myself. Every first draft is pure genius, every bit of misused punctuation an expression of creativity. Any "mistake" is artistic license, a declaration of individuality. I haven't fired myself yet. I haven't even received a bad review. I may give myself a raise.
A couple days ago I bought a PDF copy of the first year of posts I wrote for Bluestalking, to see how it reads compared with what I've written since. It's definitely me, and my voice, but there's so much fat I could have cut and didn't, a lot of repetition of words and phrases and a criminal over-use of exclamation points. And unnecessary adjectives. And, well, too many words entirely when less would have been more effective.
I once left a writing gig because my editor felt I "wrote like a blogger," creating an abrasive relationship that became so toxic I quit of my own volition. Looking back, I now see we were both wrong. Or both right, I mean. I was writing too flippantly but she accepted my first few pieces without qualm, "giving me my head," as they say about horses. What could I assume but that she felt satisfied with my output? Instead, seemingly out of the blue she started sniping at me, to the point even I - who tend to give people the benefit of the doubt and don't always know when I should feel offended - couldn't take it anymore. So I left, but not without considering her criticisms, which still haunt me every now and then, nipping at my confidence when things are going badly.
My intention in paying to have part of my blog converted to a book-formatted PDF is to look over older posts, removing the glaring errors while leaving the meaning of each piece intact. I want to weed through the stuff, throwing out the unnecessary, uninformative short posts, leaving only the best. Once I've done that (and this will take quite a long time) for all six or so years of Bluestalking, I'm going to self-publish the whole, one volume per blog year, just to have on hand when I feel like paging back through it. From here on out I'll self-publish each year as I finish it, providing myself with a hard copy my grandchildren can read (or, more likely, put on their shelves to gather dust). Electronic editions are fine but there's just something about holding a book in your hands I know will give me a feeling of accomplishment, no matter how minor. Important or not, it's work I've done, thoughts I've thought and places I've been. To me, if no one else, it will be a treasure.
Because I am obviously so fond of writing and can use every kick in the arse I can get to encourage me to practice the craft, I'm planning to participate in NaNoWriMo 2012. I've taken part three times before; maybe the fourth's the charm? The first time I finished (or "won," as they call it) and the other two I got decent starts on pieces I haven't touched since. Come to think of it, I never looked back through my "winning" piece, either. I'm sort of afraid it might psych me out realizing how truly horrific I am at fiction. Maybe I'll break down and look through them after this current NaNoWriMo session. Yes, that's it.
This year I don't expect to finish. I'm preoccupied due to really rough life events involving the end of life experience of a close family member and all that's involved in that awful roller coaster ride. That will be enough to deal with and going after NaNoWriMo full steam would be an exercise in futility, netting me nothing but frustration. Instead, I'm going to take the time to encourage myself to write something creative, not necessarily making the 50,000 word goal, or even the daily 1,666. Because it isn't about beating yourself to death; it's to show yourself how much you can accomplish in a short period of time when you make writing a priority. That's the healthy way to see it and the way I intend to approach it.
Saying that, I have to admit I didn't start today, on the official kick-off. I'm registered but my file sits empty. And that's okay, because life didn't afford me the opportunity to work on it, so I didn't. Tomorrow hopefully things will be better. I'll take it day by day.
In the meantime, for anyone who is participating and has started, here are two very helpful links you may find of interest:
They may be virtually the same material. I grabbed the links after only a cursory glance. I only know they looked useful and what I read was brilliant. Use it if you'd like, abandon if you don't.
Good luck if you're participating this year and I'll let you know how my experience goes.
On your mark...