why I blog

I’ve been neglecting this blog – with a great many writing projects all coming due, and other blogs that I contribute to clamoring more loudly, I’ve simply had no time – but Kerrie pointed me to this meme, started at State of Denmark (not a Scandinavian crime fiction reference, well unless you count all those murders in Hamlet) and it seems a chance to catch up and reflect a bit. Besides, it reminds me of the why I teach meme (inspired by the brilliant Dr. Crazy’s Why I Teach Literature) which was a nice chance for a lot of people to step back and reflect.

1.  How long have you been blogging?

Since before I started using proper blog software. I created a blog-like page for my library’s website years ago. The html was criminally bad. It’s much easier now to share information with the community. In fact, I’m reminded that a student showed me Blogger many years ago; he’s now a seasoned faculty member at another academic library. He’s still teaching me things.

2.  Why did you start blogging?

The first foray was to replace an irregular library newsletter with a nimbler, more responsive means of providing information (and avoiding the huge headache of layout and creating content for a newsletter that was, frankly, one newsletter too many for most of its potential audience). Later I started  my personal blog for a similar reason: to replace another static web page that was tricky to update, one containing book reviews. THEN LibraryThing came along, so I started posting most of my reviews there, except for ones that I write for Mystery Scene and Reviewing the Evidence, so the blog morphed, as they do. (I had to look this up, because I couldn’t actually remember why I started my blog.)

3.  What have you found to be the benefits of blogging?

Since using it for quick easily-illustrated news from the library, I started blogging for ACRLog and began my own blog, then went slightly blog-mad. I now use blogs for all of my courses, very occasionally contribute to Free Exchange on Campus, try to contribute to a blog I started for students interested in the field of librarianship, and am using a blog to supplement a  faculty development program on my campus. Oh, and I have a fairly active Scandinavian Crime Fiction blog, a way of updating a website on the topic that was a summer research project last year.  My own blog has evolved into a place where I can integrate the various strands of my life – librarian, academic, novelist, citizen. Another thing about blogging: since discovering FriendFeed I am finding it a wonderfully communal activity. (They also have a kicking widget that I just added to my professional CV. It so much less busy and frantic than most widgets.)

4.  How many times a week do you post an entry?

In my various blogs, probably two or three times.

5.  How many different blogs do you read on a regular basis?

Probably 20 or so daily. Maybe more. I know, it’s an addiction.

6.  Do you comment on other people’s blogs?

Just try and stop me.

7.  Do you keep track of how many visitors you have?  Is so, are you satisfied with your numbers?

No, I try not to pay attention. At my personal blog I’m mainly working things out that are bugging me. I’m not doing it for marketing purposes. The conflation of self-reflection and self-fashioning-as-self-promotion is one thing that I find both fascinating and disturbing abut blogs. Just because we can count visitors doesn’t mean we should. It’s a bit like equating your real social capital by how many “friends” you have at Facebook.

8.  Do you ever regret a post that you wrote?

Not so far.

9.  Do you think your audience has a true sense of who you are based on your blog?

Usually as a writer, I’m very concerned about audience, but in my personal blog, I mostly say what’s on my mind, for me as much as for anyone else. It’s a space for me to nibble away at things that I’m thinking about. That probably does give people a good idea of who I am – someone with strong political beliefs, a visceral aversion to mingling marketing with identity, a person who loves books and reading and is curious about the publishing world, a librarian with an anarchist streak – but I’m not doing it to tell the world who I am. I’m just putzing around.

10.  Do you blog under your real name?

Yes.  And under my real self, as well.

11.  Are there topics that you would never blog about?

I doubt I’d ever say anything personal about my family. If they have things they want to share with the world, that’s their option, but it’s not something I feel is my option. (This is why I would never write a memoir – too intrusive into the lives of people close to me. Also incredibly boring.) I also don’t blog about how to write or my path to publication or how to market books. There are plenty of other people who blog about that, and I have really nothing useful to say. My path to publication was sheer luck; I don’t really get marketing, and I’ve never taken a course on how to write fiction and wouldn’t presume that I know anything useful about it.

12.  What is the theme/topic of your blog?

My personal blog is, for me, a place to work out things that I’m thinking about. There’s something about the medium that is nicely informal and immediate, which is a change from the more academic or polished writing that I do elsewhere. I like the bracing logic of an academic argument, and I like writing fiction in someone else’s first person voice, but blogging is like having a conversation with a friend.

13.  Do you have more than one blog?  If so, why?

Mine are all for different purposes. Students seem to like the course blogs, at least being able to find the readings and syllabus in one place and not having to find that packet of paper handed out on the first day – and it’s kind of  neat way to create an open course. That’s why mine are licensed under Creative Commons. Sharing is good.

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