Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Friendship and Blogging

I've been thinking about the friends I've made through blogging--virtual friends, yet real people. I feel connected to many of them, more so than just reading about them. They put their thoughts and feelings, sometimes their fears and desires, out there for the world to see. And I try to understand them and know them. But we really don't know each other, do we? I know that if I met them in person, I'd give them a warm, heartfelt hug. It would feel so good to do that, and hopefully they'd hug me back. After that, then we'd really find out if we're friends.

There are just some things that can't be experienced through the Internet, through blogging. You can't touch the person to feel their warmth. You can't hear their speech patterns, the sound of their voice (although YouTube makes that possible). It's hard to know how tall they are, how sincere they are through just the written word and a photo or two.

Some bloggers want to remain anonymous. Maybe they feel they can be more honest and genuine that way. I know that I keep a lot of things to myself, because I'd be embarrassed or I might hurt someone's feelings if I talked about them. But, if I were using a pseudonym, I could be more open. But then, would you really know me? You might know more about me, but you wouldn't know me, that is, who I am. And isn't that a part of friendship, knowing both about each other and each other the person? I think so.

I would like to meet my virtual friends. But it's also a scary prospect. What if we really didn't like each other? Then what?

What are your thoughts on this? I'm itching to know.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

"How I Write, The Secret Lives of Authors" Edited by Dan Crowe (2)

Here are more snippets from the book How I Write.

Alain de Botton: relies on a large desk (five meters long) on which to place books, articles, whatever, to anchor him down to work.

Luis J. Rodriquez: has a statue of the Hindu Lord of success--Ganesha--on his desk. It reminds him of the spiritual nature of his work.

Gina Ochsner: has a picture she got in Prague of a musician playing a violin. She looks at it every morning to remind her of the kind of writer she wants to be--one in tune with something larger than herself.

Melissa Bank: writing originates in her subconscious mind. She doesn't control the process. She lets it arise from within.

David Baddiel: has a signed photograph of Simon Wiesenthal on one wall beside his desk and a montage of the Simpsons cartoons on the opposite wall, reminding him of the full range of his work.

Anthony Bourdain: can write only while continuously smoking cigarettes. Smoking aids his concentration.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Page Views, by the numbers

I'm the first to admit that I really don't know exactly what Page Views are but, because they're recorded by Blogger, I assume they are good. I suppose they are unique visitors to my blog (first-time visitors, perhaps); I really don't know. If anyone wants to explain it to me, please do so. I'd like to know.

I went through my list of blog posts and found the ones that have the highest number of Page Views. It's quite surprising. Here are the top five:

1) Mind Mapping a Book: 211 see it here
2) Kathan's drawings: are they art?: 144 see it here
3) Mind mapping and fiction: 98 see it here
4) First Campaigner Challenge: 72 see it here
5) How engrossed do you get in a book?: 63 see it here

From this list, it appears that the topic of writing does not draw nearly the Page Views as other topics do. Most of my posts about writing seem to get in the 30-50 range.

How should I interpret this? Should I aim for more posts about non-writing topics? I'm beginning to think so. There are writing blogs I've seen that have 2000-3000 followers, but not very many. There are non-writing blogs I've seen that have much higher numbers of followers: 20,000, 30,000, and higher. I guess it depends on what you want your blog to do. Do you want to stay in a narrow range of topics, or do you want to expand them? Is it important to you how many followers and/or Page Views you have? Are you happy having a small group of followers, or do you want to reach the whole world?

I think this is an important topic, one you should take seriously. I'm taking it seriously from now on.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

My blog turned two in November. How did I miss it?

Somehow, I missed noting my blog's second anniversary. How did that happen? I was so excited when my blog turned one year old that I wrote a post on it. This past November, I didn't even think about it.
What does that mean? I really don't know. I'm not even sure what I was doing in November that was so important.

Reading over the post I did for my first anniversary, not much has changed about me or my blog. I'm still a bit eclectic, writing whatever seems interesting to me at the time. I think I've not reviewed as many people's writings this second year as I did the first year. I'm not sure how many novels or stories I will review in the future: a few, probably, but not many more.

Writing fiction has been difficult for me this past year. I've done some, finishing one novel I'd been working on, but decided to shelve it after a Beta reader read it. The suggestions for change she made are not difficult in and of themselves, just difficult from a psychological point of view. I've grown tired of reading and re-reading the story. I need to put it away for a while. I'll come back to it later. Actually, that's the case with two novels Beta readers read. I'll look at them again sometime in the future.

I've followed a more diverse range of blogs, not just writing blogs. I follow various photography blogs, movie-review blogs, arts-and-crafts blogs, book-review blogs, baby-boomer-aimed blogs, and some blogs written by men primarily for men. I hoped to pick up a more diverse group of followers. That really hasn't happened. But I enjoy the blogs, so I'll continue to do so, branching out even more.

One thing I've noticed is that it seems like some of the bloggers I've been following since the beginning are not posting as much as they did two years ago, some not at all, which is OK, because I can hardly keep up with the ones who are posting regularly.

As for this third year, I have no particular blogging goals. I'm happy doing what I've been doing. My goals are more fiction-writing goals. I want to get two or three more books self-pubbed. Hopefully, I'll do that. If it doesn't happen, I don't think I'll agonize over it much. I'm not that stressed about it. I'm now more content with my writing life than I was two years ago. Maybe that's a good thing.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

"How I Write, The Secret Lives of Authors" edited by Dan Crowe

I've been reading snippets from How I Write, trying to glean any pearls of wisdom that might lie therein. Some of the offerings do tell us something about how these writers write. I'll briefly summarize some of them.

Jonathan Franzen: he's hoarse at the end of the day from reading his dialogue out loud.

Will Self: puts millions of post-it notes on his walls with random bits of dialogue, scenes, ideas for stories, etc., etc. Then they get organized into notebooks, then into books. Sounds pretty organic, doesn't it?

Benjamin Markovits: relies on a warm cup of tea to keep him occupied while staring at the blank screen.

Tom Robbins: keeps a poster on his wall with two sayings, one by Stanley Elkin reminding him to go as far out, to be as original, as he can be; the second saying is from Nelson Algren that decries, apparently, those who plan out their work (plotter) before doing the writing.

Janine Di Giovanni (a journalist): you have to be there to get the story. You have to take chances.

Eric Chase Anderson: has a cork board on his wall with pictures of famous writers; also, photos of actors he used as models for his characters.

There are many others. I'll share them with you as time goes along.