Thursday, April 16, 2009

Why I Blog (for lack of a more creative title)

What's Cool? and My Purpose for this Blog
A couple of weeks ago, I shared a post on how I felt that online community is a valid form of community. An anonymous commenter shared how they felt there were some blogs that were top tiered and then some that were, uh, parasitic. That sparked some interesting conversation that Bethany revived and put a new slant on in her post about Cool and Not Cool Bloggers. This also generated a lot of conversation. For those of you who don't spend much time in the book blogging community, you can probably skip this, but there's been a lot of angst lately about who is popular and who isn't.
Trish wrote about how blogging can be like high school. Becky asked, Why Keep Blogging? She said she thinks it's good to consider every once in awhile, and I agree. My reasons for blogging have changed a lot.

About My Blog

I've read that the average time a person blogs is 6 months. Then they get bored, start neglecting it, see it as a chore to continue, and give up. I remember an excellent blog I subscribed to...after six months, they said it was starting to feel like work and they just wanted it to be fun. So they quit.

Blogging is not just my hobby, it's my serious hobby. I consider blogging to be a serious hobby. Yes, sometimes it feels like work. Sometimes I don't feel like doing it. But I keep it up, because I know I can only get better if I keep working at it. Some people run marathons as a hobby (I know, sounds like torture!) I really don't think they give up when it sometimes feels like work. They persevere through.

Sometime within the last year a shift has taken place in me. Before I blogged as a casual hobby, now I feel like I blog with a purpose. I have goals for this blog. I want to encourage people to read. I want to encourage them to read to their children. I want to help them find stories that will challenge, change, inspire, and move them. I want them to celebrate the stories of our time whatever manifestation they take. I want to share what I'm reading, I want to enter into the important conversations of our world, and I think art, especially books, facilitate those conversations. Our culture of literacy is dying and this is me fighting back!

To that end, I probably spend more time on my blog than other people. It's an outlet for me to express myself, it's a place where I can hopefully accomplish some of the above, and it's my serious hobby. I do want people to read this blog, because through other blogs I have been challenged and changed, and there's a part of me that hopes I can be a positive influence on other people. I think blogs are greatly underrated as a vehicle for change, spreading the word, and influencing culture.

Are there other people who could do this better than me? Probably. No not probably, definitely. But I want to make my contribution and do the best I can at it.

I absolutely know this is a casual hobby for a lot of bloggers. And that's awesome. I had to laugh when I read Bethany and Trish's posts, because I know I'm not a cool kid. If we met in real life, I'm not the person with the natural humor or sparkling personality that people gravitate towards. I'm melancholic-phlegmatic if you're familiar with that personality measurement. I'm not cool in the casual write-hilarious-posts-and-have-everyone-read-them-without-working-at-it-way. (Raych, I'm looking at you) I'm just me. I love books. I want to reach as many people as possible to discover fantastic authors. I want to be friends with bookish people and inspire casual readers to become avid readers. I want to talk about other great pop culture arts and sometimes some other things, too.

Is my self-worth bound up in this? No. But I do check things like my stats and subscribers to see if I'm accomplishing my goals.

I hope we can still be friends. I value everyone who takes time to read this blog. I love your blogs, too. And I respect and appreciate that we all blog for different reasons, and all want to get something different out of our blogs. After all, that's our choice. Maybe we all just need to take a deep breath and mind our own blogs. ;) (I couldn't resist. I know it's lame.)



Amy

43 comments:

Natasha @ Maw Books said...

I swear that we are like mind twins. You've said what I wish I could express in all the comments I've been leaving around all the blogs lately. Great post!!

Marta said...

wonderful post!

I think this whole cool blogger thing is kinda funny...to some degree all of us are bookworms which by definition would not make us the coolest kids on the block ;)

mynovelreviews said...

Wow, this is a great post. As someone who is just starting a book blog, I really value your insights.
My primary motivation for starting a blog is to take the time to reflect on what I read (otherwise i would be right on to the next book) and to become part of the blogger and blog reader community.
I hope that six months from now my excitement stays steady and that my motivations expand, rather than contract. I want to do what I do because I love it and if people enjoy what I do, all the better.

SuziQoregon said...

as one of the casual bloggers (who has been blogging for nearly 3 years now), I enjoy reading both the serious bloggers and the casual bloggers. Over the years, I've developed a network of friends and fellow readers. Some are both some aren't. That's me. Take it or leave it. I like reading all kinds of blogs. I wasn't one of the cool kids in high school and I don't care if I'm not one of the cool kids now. I just enjoy my blogs and reading your blog as well as many others.

Bella Foxx said...

Thank you for writing this. I have three blogs, my personal one that I post to every day (I made a promise to myself), my book blog that I review books and keep track of what I am reading and other book news I come across, my design blog, sadly neglected since I am not doing any crafts right now.

Keep on blogging! I couldn't resist either.

trish said...

I agree with everything you said. Obviously, I couldn't have said it better. :-)

I *do* have to correct you on one thing, though: you are the cool kid! You might not be in real life, but blogging is much different. You're articulate, you have a great sense of humor, you're compassionate...and frankly, everyone likes you. If you weren't so nice, I'd have to hate you. But I can't, gosh darn it! ;-)

That's what my whole post was about today: how we perceive ourselves and how other people perceive us are usually two very different things. And I'm here to tell you that everyone things you're way cool. Like totally.

Anyone else need a reality check? I'm happy to go around and tell people that they're good enough, they're smart enough, and doggonit, people like them.

Eva said...

I'm definitely more of a casual blogger, but I'm impressed that you have such important goals for your blog. :D

As I said on Trish's post, I'm pretty lucky in that I don't really think in comparison terms, so I'm just happy with where my blog is and don't worry about the blogs that are funnier/smarter/more popular! :) I think blogging is all about finding your circle, and then you can expand that circle if you work hard, but even when you take a break or go through a slump, your circle's there for you.

Stephanie said...

What a great post, Amy!! And Trish is right. You ARE cool!! When I think about all the great blogs out there, yours is definitely at the top of the list!!

I consider myself a serious "casual" blogger!! Ok. I know that doesn't make much sense. But I am serious about my blog and it's content. I just don't have the time to do it full-time! I can't post 2 or 3 times a day and comment on all of my comments.

I think it's great that you have such high expectations for your blog. I'm very impressed!!

Teddy Rose said...

I've been forced to take a break from blogging this week becasuse of tennis elbow from spending too much time on the computer. LOL! I just started checking out a few of the blogs I subscribe to and hadn't known about this whole "Cool and Not Cool Bloggers" it does sound very high school to me. People blog for different reasons but I kind of doubt many book bloggers are in it to win a popularity contest. There is too much time involved to do it just for that. IMO.

There are always a few people in every profession, hobby, club, community that like to gossip and ruin stuff for others. I choose to ignore them and not give it to their negativity. We can let people who haven't grow in maturity past high school what we as a community have built and continue to build.

Amy, you are way cool!

Amy said...

Natasha...we are!

Marta..it is funny, but probably inevitable when it comes to any group of people. :)

mynovelreviews...great attitude!!!

SuziQoregon..I love your blog, too, and also read a mix.

Bella...three blogs is a lot!! And yours all have different goals, which makes it more difficult. Good for you!

Trish...thanks, you're too nice! :)

Eva...I hope I didn't sound too self-important! You don't have to work too seriously on your blog...you have such a great natural style that draws people to you! I always feel like I'm hearing from a friend on your blog!

Stephanie...that makes TOTAL sense. Everything you put up is of the highest quality. I'm not great about responding to comments to either, unless I get in there early, like right now! :)

Amy said...

Teddy Rose, what a fantastic and spot-on comment!!!!!!! We have missed you and I hope you're feeling a better. :)

Sheri said...

People should mind their own blogs. I agree.

Amy said...

Sheri, :)

Nymeth said...

I love your goals, Amy. And I think you're doing an excellent job achieving them!

"Mind our own blogs" might be lame, but it made me laugh :P

Meghan said...

This is a great post, Amy. I would have to say I'm a casual blogger, but I so admire your goals. They are worthy ones and I'm really impressed!

I just want to talk about books and if my enthusiasm encourages people to read, I love it even more. One of my dad's colleagues has a 14 yo daughter who reads my blog and she's thrilled by it, wants her own, and wants to own as many books as I do. I can't express how pleased I was when he told me what she'd said. You're right - it's not about popularity, is it?

Also, I have to agree with Trish, you're definitely cool. ;)

(My dad's hobby is running marathons, and it is WAY more tortuous than blogging, that's for sure!)

Beth Kephart said...

When someone blogs as faithfully and intelligently at you, it's not a hobby. It's a calling.

Trish said...

I think in the end we all can just do the best that we can do. And for some of us that takes a little more work than others. I know that I can try to do better--especially as recently I've only been posting reviews, which are few and far between. You've got some great insight in this post.

Lezlie said...

Great goals, Amy! Your dedication is wonderful! I may not be out here commenting all the time, but I am here reading!

Lezlie

bermudaonion said...

You said it, sister! I've never been cool a day in my life. (If you don't believe me, just ask my son.) Blogging is a creative outlet for me - well, it's an outlet, it's probably not that creative.

Kacie said...

Yeah, I would say most of us bookworms are not used to be the "cool kids". Still, as someone that doesn't have an active book blog (though I do have an active blog in which I sometimes review books) I appreciate people like you, and I DO learn from your reviews and add your recommended books to my "to read" list.

Red lady-Bonnie said...

I have been following the posts on this topic and as a "newer" blogger do have to share that there are so many wonderful bloggers in this community. I think that the cool thing is just a "perception" guys, and what we make out it. I have found so many bloggers very welcoming and others not as much so. I understand now, why some may not be as welcoming to newer bloggers if there are so many of us and many may not stick with blogging. I had no idea when I started out that stats and subscribers where so important. I wanted to write about books because I love reading and it's my passion. My blog is changing as I go along and I like discussions like this as it makes me think about where I want my blog to go and how everyones blog is their own to manage and run as they choose.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

Amy, what comes through most, to me anyway, on your blog, is heart - that is to say, passion and caring. So for whatever reason you blog, that comes out and rings true through all your posts, and I think it is what makes people keep coming back. "Coolness" can work for awhile, but it can't hold a candle to inner qualities that shine through when popular patinas fade away.

Beth F said...

I'm a bit late to the ball, but great post and beautifully said.

Bluestocking said...

I didn't realize there were cool blogs and not cool blogs. I think everyone needs to find their own voice. I'd rather have people visit my blog because they really enjoy what I write then just be the high school popularity queen. That's me. By the way, you haven't visited in a while :(

Jen - devourer of books said...

Fantastic post, Amy. I definitely agree with what you're saying. That 6 mo. figure is interesting too, because that is right when I burned out last year and had to step back a bit. It didn't help I was in my first trimester of pregnancy and didn't feel good, not even like reading, though.

TexasRed said...

This is a great idea.

I'm too new to the book blogging world to be caught up in the cool kid / not cool popularity chase yet (I'm still metaphorically trying to figure out where the gym and lunchroom are).

Definitely good to be encouraged to be working on developing an individual voice rather than pursuing popularity. (Is this a reminder to keep my eyes on my own paper?)

Marie Burton said...

Well I am just going to put a post up on my blog since the comment was embarrassingly long.

Marie Burton said...

And so here's the link..
:)

Amee said...

As an on again off again blogger, I don't really see it as giving up or quitting. Sure, I quit several blogs, but I don't really like being called a quitter. It has such a negative connotation. It's one thing to quit without reason or because you feel above it, another entirely to quit because it's become more work than play, especially when it was begun as play. Okay, so I'm going to stop because this just isn't coming out right. But seriously, things like this "cool and not cool bloggers" and the "free books bloggers" stuff makes it kind of obvious why some of us bloggers have trouble keeping blogs within such a volatile community.

bethany said...

Such a great post, I love how your heart really shines through and how you share why you do what you do. Great post!

I think it is so funny though, I have yet to see the post that you are talking about with the top tiered bloggers or whatever. So no, my post was not reviving anything, nor was it a slant on anything at all since I hadn't heard about it until I just read your post now.

Florinda said...

Well said! As I'll be mentioning in this week's Saturday Review - which will include a link to this post - it's certainly been an introspective week for book bloggers, and there's been some great discussion!

I do think you're one of the "cool kid" bloggers, Amy - but what really makes the "cool kids" in this segment of the blogiverse extra-cool is that they're not all wrapped up in themselves (like in real life sometimes). To me, it's the way that they help foster community that makes them cool.

I'd call blogging a "serious hobby" for me too, but not as goal-oriented as yours is - or not as focused, at any rate. I do try to create thoughtful, well-written content at least five days a week - and sometimes it does feel like work, but in the best way.

Thomas said...

Great post, Amy.

Thomas

Elizabeth said...

Thanks for this post, especially the last paragraph. You are one of the people I respect in the blogging world, and it's because of things like this - you make people feel welcomed, no matter what their "coolness" status.

MizB said...

I'm Phlegmatic-Melancholy, so I totally understand what you're saying! I've never been the "cool kid", either. ;)

And, my blogging has become more "serious" to me in the last little bit, because I've dedicated myself to playing in daily events... it keeps me faithful to my blog, so that I don't wander off after 6 months and say 'it's too much to keep up'. I have TONS of blogs (one for every different idea, LOL), so I don't keep them all up, as I should. But, I try to keep the main 4 up to date. ;P

MizB

MizB said...

PS... I agree with the other commenters in that blogging -at least for me- is a "creative outlet". I don't usually find the time to scrapbook or crochet or draw, like I want to. But, I always seem to find the time to blog. ;)

And, too, they're right in that blogs shouldn't be classified as "this one's cool, that one's not", as each person is an individual, so they each have something unique to bring to their blog. Not every topic is going to interest every person. I have a TON of book blogs I visit, but I don't swoon over all of them! Some I find more interesting than others, sure, but that doesn't mean I would think of them as "cool" and "uncool". Just different. ;)

MizB said...

Thanks for sharing the link to that post, Amy... very interesting reading. ;)

My response is written here, because the comments on Bethany's blog got me thinking about how I blog, and why.

Jennifer, Snapshot said...

Very interesting thoughts. Well said. My reasons are probably very similar to yours.

Wendy said...

Thanks for this great post, Amy. I consider myself serious about blogging too because I spend a lot of time doing it and thinking about it and it meets my own personal need to write often. I love sharing thoughts with other bloggers. I have to admit some of the recent talk about cool/uncool etc... has dismayed me a bit. I never thought about it as who was more popular. I just visit a ton of blogs and have fun leaving (and getting comments). I love all the community events and challenges and have met some of the nicest people - people who share my love of reading. I was never in the "popular" crowd in high school; I have only a few close face to face friends because I'm a bit of an introvert. I think we should all be doing what makes us happy with our blogs and not worry so much about who is "in" or "out" or who gets more review books.

Just my 2 cents!!!

P.S. I ADORE your blog - and I love how you seem to touch others with your words :)

Jenny Girl said...

I go away for a few days and all heck breaks loose!
I book blog because I love books and meeting new people. End of story. I have always been very friendly and outgoing so for me to go around and leave comments is normal. I would like people to comment back on my blog, but if they don't...oh well.
there are always going to be some "in" blogs but so what? What each of us has to say in our space is important to us. Our thoughts, our feelings, to discuss books! That's what it is all about.
I guess stats are nice, I'm not that in to them. But what I have found is a core group of bloggers that I like and correspond with. And to me that is all that matters.

Dawn - She is Too Fond of Books said...

I love what you've written about your reasons for blogging - clearly you're passionate about what you do!

I'm happy I can call you "my friend Amy" and have it be more than the name of your blog!!

Dar said...

Well said Amy. Your blog is fantastic and your love for it shows. My blogging has turned into a serious hobby for me too. I like seeing it grow and I love reading books and sharing them. I look forward to reading yours for years to come.

Jenners said...

I loved this ... and was curious to see the info about the 6 month "burn out." Some of my fave bloggers (not books bloggers though) seem to have flamed out like that. I think the key is to write about what you feel passionate about, write for yourself and not for "the glory" (whatever that means) and not to write too often or you might get burnt out. Love this post.

blacklin said...

This is a really great post. I stop (rather frequently) and remind myself why I blog. I blog because I want to share stuff about what I read. I love blabbing about books and I do like writing. And (oddly enough) I love fiddling with blog layout design. I too, am not (in real life) the life of the party: 45 minutes at a social event is often enough for me.

I also like surfing and discovering cool sites related to my interests in history, literature, etc. Blogging for me is fun. It's what I do when after I've spent 8 hours at a job that (for me) is highly stressful. My blog is where I relax. In the past few years, I've had many "major life stressors" and blogging helps remind me that there are still fun things to do in this world.

I enjoy your blog, Amy (and many others as well). And thank you for posting my site in your sidebar.

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