why mr. interpolations blogs at all

The highly gifted mirabile dictu posed a series of questions to me and others to source material for a feature on blogging. Because my blog has languished lately, I thought I’d share my answers here. Happy New Years, everyone!

When and why did you decide to start a blog?

I started blogging in July, 2009 at Between the Lines, where I interviewed readers and documented some of their readerly tics and quirks. Bookish people love reading about other bookish people. It’s good fun, you see. But bookish people like me often tire of depending on others for content. So I shuttered Between the Lines about a year later and started blogging at Interpolations, mainly for selfish reasons. When I read a novel, especially a good one, I suffer it like an illness and have to retch up a few observations before returning to health. That, and I hope one or two readers find something useful in my writing.

How often do you blog?

Not nearly as much as I’d like. I’m busy with work, two kids, and other interests like hiking, vegetable gardening, and photography. In the long ago, I blogged twice a week, and if it were at all possible, I’d happily return to that cadence. But that’s not likely for some time. Fingers crossed for the future.

Do you consider your blog at all “political”?

No, my blog isn’t political despite the fact that I’ve called the Second Amendment tosh. In my opinion, the main political issue of our time is the rampant dysfunction in Washington and the massive disconnect between U.S. policies and public opinion. I spend zero time diagnosing this problem or advancing solutions to fix it. Nor do I present a point of view on other issues related to equality, justice and sustainability, even though I have very strong opinions in these areas. No, my blog isn’t political.

Are you also on Twitter, Facebook, or other social media sites?

In addition to WordPress, I haunt Twitter (here and here), Facebook, LinkedIn, Vine, and Instagram. I also blog at HopeLab in a professional capacity as a Curator of Creative Communications and help manage the foundation’s social channels, among other things.

What are the pros and cons of blogging?

Blogging helps me retch so I feel better. Relief is good that way. It’s also helped me meet other people who are passionate about books, from the U.S., Canada and the Philippines, to England, Australia and Iran. It’s helped refine my appreciation for works I didn’t like at first blush, as was the case with Foe and Vanity Fair. It’s uncovered some gems I wouldn’t have otherwise read like Embers and The Leopard. It provides a record of my thoughts and observations, and even a petty crime (1 and 2). And it’s encouraged me to experiment with different forms of writing. As for the cons, I can only think of one right now, and hopefully it’s particular to me. Good blog writing and reading/engagement has wrecked my appetite for long-form articles. I’m reluctant to touch them even though they’re very important for public discourse.

Do your family and friends support your blogging, or are you writing for a different audience?

Only a few of my friends and some of my family know I blog. I don’t write for them, and I don’t readily speak about my blogging unless prompted, and even then I might dissemble a bit. Again, I write mainly for myself and in the hope that someone finds it useful or entertaining, or challenges my observations or point of view.

Does the courtship of marketers affect you or not? Do you accept products (books for most of you) from PR people? Does it influence your reviews?

I receive lots of requests but always politely decline free books and ebooks. I’m just not interested in them. David Mitchell once kindly sent me an ARC of The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, for which I was enormously grateful. It didn’t influence my review at all. I panned it.

Are you concerned when critics belittle blogs?

No, not at all. Their criticisms are either valid or not. If valid, they help improve the form. If not, they help improve our thinking as we defend and evolve the form. So it’s really a win-win and hence a non issue.

Are you more influenced by blogs or book review publications in your choice of reading? 

In general, my reading appetite is dictated by some mysterious source in my head. I submit to it when it tells me what to read next. But I suppose I’m slightly more influenced by blogs than by book reviews in newspaper or magazine pubs, when I’m influenced at all.

What blogs do you recommend?

Whenever I have a chance, I visit the sites on my blogroll. Each blogger does something different, unique, and interesting, so it’s easy to recommend them.

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13 Responses to why mr. interpolations blogs at all

  1. Miguel says:

    Thanks for writing this, I always find it interesting to know why bloggers do what they do. One day I have to write one of these posts where I lay my soul bare 🙂

    • Hi Miguel, you should ping Kathy. I’m sure she’d like your answers, too. Happy to make an intro if you don’t already know her writerly voice from mirabile dictu.

  2. Bellezza says:

    I listen to that mysterious voice in my head, too, above all else. But input from a good, trusted blogger is always more reliable than those sillies at “official” book review sources. So honored to be listed in your blogroll among what I consider some of the finest.

    Happy New Year!

  3. Rohan says:

    I enjoyed this – and I especially admire (because I can’t seem to emulate) your equanimity about critics vs. bloggers. You are quite right to point out that the debate helps us all think more about how to do whatever we do well. I get almost no come-ons from marketers, which is probably just as well as I am overwhelmed with books I want to read as it is!

    • I always like it when you drop by, Rohan. You might be surprised to learn that I’ve been thinking about you all day! Well, at least your argument and reflections in Against the Wind. I’m screwing up the nerve to express a disagreement with you. More on that later. Many cheers!

  4. Matt Rowan says:

    Well said, sir. Great stuff here. Long time no comment, though I’ve been watching from afar.

    • Holy smokes! Very pleased to see you again, Matt. How are you? How’s your writing? Best!

      • Matt Rowan says:

        I’m well! Hope you are, too! As I say, always nice to see you blogging, Kevin. Always plenty said over here on interpolations that’s plenty worth reading. As for me, I’ve been writing less in the way of responses to books and more in the way of my own fiction. Published a short story collection through a small press in Chicago last summer. Been having tons of fun writing these days.

  5. What a good interview. What a good launch to the series.

    I hope your blogroll leads mirabile dictu to someday revise this post. Some of those book blogs are single-handed justifications for the activity.

    • Hi Tom, hope you’re doing well. I think Kathy was just venting. Why not? It feels good, and even when venting is partial, it can still be partially true at least. Anyhow, I agree that my blogroll points to great quality stuff. Enjoy your January! Cheers.

      • Pykk says:

        It’s interesting to see these behind-the-scenes questions directed at someone you read.

        Going through that post on mirabile dictu, I’m pleased to be able to say that no publisher has ever threatened to make me happier by sending me free books.

  6. Kat says:

    Hi, Kevin. I LOVED my “Happy Junta” post! Am shocked that some don’t.:)

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