The Honest Scrap meme, blogging version

Courtney recently nominated me for the Honest Scrap award — thank you! — which asks a person to write ten things nobody knows about them. I wasn’t sure how to answer this, as I’ve done this kind of meme before and had no idea what ten new things I could come up with. But then I came across Litlove’s version of the meme, and I’m going to steal her idea. Most of her list is about blogging, and so is mine.

  1. From the beginning of my time blogging, my ideal writing scenario is that I would take a moment before writing to search my mind for whatever it is I’m most concerned about, book-wise, and write about that. I hoped that whatever it was that I had foremost on my mind would be the thing I cared about most and that I would write about it best. I don’t usually do this, though; instead I usually have a book I want to review or some other updating kind of post I want to write, and because these things feel more pressing and time-sensitive, I rarely stop to think about what else I might write about.
  2. I’ve come to find that most people I know in my real life don’t follow my blog once I’ve told them about it (there are some important exceptions though — hi!). I don’t mind this or take it personally. It just seems that people read blogs or they don’t, and if they don’t, it doesn’t matter how much they care about me or my opinions on books; they are going to want to hear about those things in conversation and not online.
  3. One of the major downsides to blogging about books is information overload. There are so many bloggers blogging about so many great books that I am feeling more and more that I have no space left in my head for everything that is out there. If I were a different sort of person this wouldn’t be a problem, and I would have more energy to take it all in, but I’m someone who’s a slow processor of information and I need time to contemplate things.
  4. Possibly the above means that I should post a bit less often and take more time to think through what I want to say and perhaps to write in more depth. But I don’t think that will happen. Giving myself more time to write in the hope that I will write longer and better things feels too much like work, and when blogging feels like work, I’ll stop.
  5. I’ve been thinking lately that I sometimes go about choosing books in the wrong way. I sometimes assume, when I pick up a new book, that this time I will read it really quickly — unlike practically every other time I’ve picked up a book in my life — so it doesn’t matter if I’m not sure the book I’ve just picked up is what I really want. I assume it will be a quick read and I’ll fly through it, and then I’ll be on to something better. But the truth is that I take a while to read things, so I need to pick books I’ll want to stay with for a while.
  6. Speaking of slow reading, I had no idea until I began blogging that some people can read as fast as they do. Hobgoblin is a faster reader than I am, but some of you bloggers out there are way faster than both of us. I have to remind myself that reading fast is not a virtue — and neither is it a failing. But damn, being a fast reader would have made grad school much easier.
  7. As tiring as it can be to write about nearly every book I read, and as crazy as it sometimes feels to have devoted so much time to this enterprise over the last 3 1/2 years, it’s enormously satisfying to be able to produce posts again and again, day after day. That’s why I wrote a blog post every day for so long when I first began — just because I could.
  8. Blogging is like cycling in the sense that I often have more energy after finishing a post or a ride than I did before I began. Writing a post and going on a ride take effort and energy, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned — and I think I learned this more so through cycling than writing — it’s that expending energy generates more energy in return. It’s all about getting started.
  9. There’s nothing that irritates me more than when somebody says “bloggers should do this” or “blogging should be about that.” A lot of the theorizing out there about book blogging bothers me because the writer often has some idea about what book bloggers should be doing differently. I think bloggers should do what they damn well please, and if you don’t like it, read some other blog.
  10. It amuses me that there are publishers out there who want to send me free books. Is it really worth while to have your book mentioned on my little blog? People who work in publishing have assured me recently that it IS worth while to send even small-time bloggers like me free books, but I find it hard to believe. I don’t want them to stop, though.
  11. I’m only supposed to list 10 things, but I’ve thought of another: I periodically write that I’m going to start posting less frequently, and when I write that I genuinely mean it, but it’s also the case that whenever I publicly make that declaration, I find myself making the time and coming up with the ideas to continue posting at the old rate. So it’s probably a good idea not to take me seriously when I talk about posting less often.

I’m tagging anybody who would like to answer this meme in any way they see fit!

17 Comments

Filed under Blogging, Books

17 responses to “The Honest Scrap meme, blogging version

  1. “I think bloggers should do what they damn well please, and if you don’t like it, read some other blog.”

    Amen, sister! I am sometimes awestruck at peoples’ capacities for feeling bad about themselves, and for bossing other people around. Blog how you feel, man. :-D

  2. #10 “I find it hard to believe. I don’t want them to stop, though.” Exactly my view! ;) But to be truthful, *you* made me buy Amanda Vickery’s book on 18C ladies, so I kind of understand the publishers.

  3. I love these answers! I completely agree that bloggers must write as they see fit – I mean, what WOULD the point be of us all doing the same thing? And I know just what you mean about the pleasing aspect of being able to write about every book. Not only is my inner librarian happy to have a record out there, but my inner grafter is content too to turn up for work at the blog and put a little something out regularly. That’s partly why I’m always rattled when I have to post less. I really liked daily posting and would do it still, if it weren’t impossible in term time.

  4. Re. 3. “There are so many bloggers blogging about so many great books that I am feeling more and more that I have no space left in my head for everything that is out there.”

    Yes, Dorothy, you should be ashamed of yourself, working so hard to make us all feel so inadequate!

    Re. 4. “Possibly the above means that I should post a bit less often and take more time to think through what I want to say and perhaps to write in more depth. But I don’t think that will happen.”

    Good. I love the way you write about what you read.

    I don’t mind people writing a lot and often about what they read when they have the gift of being able to inspire, stimulate and inform. You are very good at analysing the experience and taking from it something of lasting value.

    Re. 6. “I have to remind myself that reading fast is not a virtue — and neither is it a failing.”

    I quite agree. I am a very slow reader. I know many people who not only read faster than me but also remember the story better. But I also find that some books have to be read slowly while others pull you along and make you read faster and faster. In the end it’s the experience that matters, not how fast you go. The other day I was reading a very slim book called Cakes and Ale by Somerset Maugham. I was determined to spend an hour and get through about 30 pages but to my horror I only managed 5. When I looked back over the hour I realised I’d done a lot of thinking about Thomas Hardy, my parents and grandparents, my childhood and many other things, all inspired by Maugham’s observations and language.

    • Oh the fast readers – I am so jealous of them, especially during read-a-thon. I clocked my speed at a sad 25 pages per hour the last time I checked. We slow readers should band together.

  5. Oh Dorothy, I loved your answers! In many ways I could have written the same thing. I hear you about the information overload. It can be overwhelming at times especially when I feel like I have to somehow keep up with all of it even though logically I know it is simply impossible. And I am a slow reader too. The end of year lists people post that have 70+ books on them and sometimes over 100 books amaze me. It’s very hard not to be envious of fast readers or think I should push myself to read faster and I have to constantly remind myself that it isn’t the final number of books I’ve read that will matter when I die but how much I have enjoyed and learned from the books that I have read.

  6. I so enjoyed reading this. Most of my friends don’t read my blog either (though my husband does; but he also reads other blogs and many other things). I’m a slow reader, and a slow writer, and what you said about your expectations on picking up a book I could have said about every time I’ve started writing my next book, even each draft!

  7. I loved reading your ten honest things. I did this meme some days ago, ’cause I received the award, so I’m happy to find a partner honest blog here! Congratulations for the award and for your interesting blog!

  8. Very interesting answers–I like this approach to this meme. I especially resonated with the energizing aspect of writing a post. This is one of the reasons I love writing–I’m not sure whether I get the same endorphin rush that athletes get, though I trust your insight as a cyclist and a writer. Interesting thought about how one’s reading pace means either a long-term or short-term commitment. I tend to read medium fast (at least it feels that way to me) but have very little time in which to read, so I generally end up spending more time on a book than I anticipate.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts in this way.

  9. I’m a slow reader as well. I’m the sort of reader that has to say each and every word in my head and then sometimes I feel the need to reread paragraphs. Sometimes I’m envious of fast readers when I look at how many books I have, but I like taking my time with a book. I agree with you that if blogging feels like work it’s not any fun, but the few times I’ve thought I should post less I’ve ended up taking all of a day off and then going back to posting on a regular schedule. It’s addicting really. I loved reading your answers–thanks for sharing them.

  10. What is that whole thing about real-life friends shying away from blogs (and, in my case, this even includes my best friend, my husband)? Maybe, one day, someone will explain it to me in a way that makes sense, because, seriously, the minute a real-life friend tells me he/she has a blog, I am ALL OVER IT (here’s another odd phenomenon: I’m pretty sure I can count on less than the fingers of one hand how many real life friends have shared blog URLs with me).

    Please don’t become a speed reader. I am so glad to know someone else who reads slowly (and who makes the mistake of thinking any book — well, other than a graphic novel or children’s picture book, that is — will be a “quick read.” Really, what ARE we thinking?). Meanwhile, when it comes to #10, publishers have always been intrigued by the old “word of mouth” phenomenon. The blogosphere has turned that “mouth” into one that is much, much bigger than it ever has been (and, adopting my non-publishing persona, the person who occasionally posts about books, I say, “keep offering me the free books, please”).

  11. I’m another slow reader, so glad to be part of this club! I think that’s why lately I’ve been reading easy books (mysteries!), because I can finish them faster (and therefore, read more). I really want to read some more fiction, but I’m scared it will take me forever to finish, and then I’ll find myself in deadlock, making no progress at all.

    It is so hard for me to settle on a next book, even when it is a mystery!

  12. Emily — “people’s capacities for feeling bad about themselves” — oh, yeah. Way too much of that in my life. It would be good to be more self-righteously self-assured sometimes, I think.

    Smithereens — well, considering how many books I’ve bought myself because of what other bloggers have written, I guess I can see that sending books to bloggers does make sense, at least if generating just a few sales makes a difference. Good point!

    Litlove — oh, stupid term time. It gets in the way of so much! It’s very good to know there are other diligent, hard-working souls out there who take pleasure in showing up for (purely voluntary) work regularly. Why is the voluntary sort of work so much more fun than the kind I do for money?

    Joseph — thank you for your kind comment! I’m very glad to hear you like how I write, believe me. I love your description of that hour you spent reading 5 pages. That sounds like a very worthwhile hour! It’s wonderful to let the mind wander while reading and to see where it goes. You also make me want to read Cakes and Ale.

    Jodie — it’s wonderful to hear from other slow readers! Not only do I read slowly, but I don’t spent that many hours a day reading, and so the books accumulate slowly. But I’m not alone, which is very good to know!

    Stefanie — why is it so hard to remember what you say about the total number not mattering as much as the quality of the experience? I know it’s true, but it’s still so easy to get caught up in the numbers game. Must continue to work on that… there’s no point in trying to read fast if I’m not going to benefit from the experience.

    Lilian — thank you! It’s good to know we’re not alone when it comes to friends and blog reading. I can see that if a person doesn’t have a regular blog-reading habit already, it would be hard to remember to check a friend’s blog out. It’s just awkward sometimes, because I’m not always sure if someone has read a post or not, and then I ask to find out, and I have to deal with their embarrassment when they say no — an odd dynamic!

    Thank you, Maria, and thanks for stopping by!

    JaneGS — I suspect the nature of the endorphin rush is different, but still the experience of focus and intensity and accomplishment is similar, and both can certainly change my mood. I think it would be an interesting exercise to ask myself before I pick up every book whether I’m really willing to spend a week or two reading it. I wonder if my reading habits would change at all.

    Danielle — I do a lot of rereading as well. I don’t want to miss anything important! And yes, blogging is addictive, I think you are right. It’s the response I get — I’m used to a certain number of readers and comments, and I like the continual feedback and reinforcement, and now I’m used to the whole process and don’t want to give it up.

    Emily — I know. I’m all over it too when I find out someone has a blog, and I don’t understand those who aren’t. I mean, I’m putting a big part of my life online, and you aren’t curious about it? Okay, that sounds self-absorbed, but I’m curious about it when other people I know put their lives online. And Bob is a really wonderful guy, he really is, but I’m all ready to lecture him again about his attitude toward blogs. I mean, really.

    Debby — welcome to the club! :) I can see why you’d be drawn to mysteries, given the situation. I don’t like getting bogged down in a book either, and I can see why you’d read books you can finish quickly. That’s certainly the reason I read more longer books in the summer than during the school year.

  13. Good! I’m glad you’re just thinking about blogging less, and not actually do it… so we can continue reading your posts often. You see, even when you’re mulling over things, you can still share your thoughts. I feel it’s the thinking process that’s makes blogging meaningful… I always think I need to finish a book before writing about it, but you’ve shown me that blogging WHILE reading can be even more interesting!

  14. Cam

    I’m always amazed that so many bloggers get offers of freee books. Even when I was posting regularly, it was a rare occurrence when I received something that wasn’t some crappy, self-published book with an offer written in bad grammar. Guess my blog wasn’t that interesting to publishers. Oh well. I still have plenty of books to read. :)

    I too could be part of the slow-reader club. I read at a glacial pace, and, since I don’t have much time for reading, it takes me forever to finish a book. I think that is one of my challenges with blogging regularly right now — I don’t feel that I can write very cogently about something that I am reading. I have to have finished the book. Maybe it would be a good exercise to force myself to do that!

    I think you’re right about the energy. It can be difficult to start up again when you’ve been away for awhile – whether it’s biking, or writing, or some other endeavor.

  15. So much here worth comments, but I’ll just focus on number 9. A very healthy attitude indeed: the great thing about blogs is that the readers can hunt for the one that fits them. Unlike the local newspaper, where you just have the one or two choices.

  16. Arti — thank you! I so agree that it’s the thinking process that makes blogging so interesting. The bloggers I like best show where their conclusions come from, not just what they are.

    Cam — most of the review copy offers I get are for books I’m not interested in at all, and so I ignore most of them. And they have only started coming with regularity recently. It seems like publishers are turning to bloggers more and more these days. I’m glad to have you join the slow-reading group we’ve got going on here :) And the point about energy you make is the reason I get nervous about slowing down the blogging pace — what happens if I stop for a while? Will I lose the desire entirely?

    Bikkuri — thank God for lots of choices, right?

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