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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