Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Blog Musings: How I Roll (and Ramble)

I very much enjoyed BBAW from the sidelines, celebrating great blogs getting well-deserved attention, getting to know people through interviews, and learning about different ideas and suggestions from many bloggers.  I was excited to see some of my favorites as finalists and winners.  Bravo!  

Sometimes, though, I end up getting the sense that I'm doing everything wrong!  Post often! Embrace social media! Brand yourself!  I would fail miserably on these points.  But, wait, I really don't believe there is a "wrong" way to execute a book blog.  My way is just different.  And as soon as I categorize myself as "different,"  I can almost hear others saying, "Hey, I'm like that too!"  Laid-back bloggers unite!

The diversity in the book blogging community is wonderful, both in the different niches and levels of commitment.  I enjoy them all.  You can post once a day or once a month, write answers to a meme or and in-depth review of a classic, tell me about your pets or the latest book your reading.  Pretty much if I like what I see, I'm sticking with you.  Long absence foreseen? No worries!  I'll be there when you get back, and if you never return, I hope life treats you well in your new adventures. 

Long absences notwithstanding, I have somehow managed to stick around.  But I've had to rework my blog in order to stay in this book-obsessed environment that I love.  Here's the way I do things "differently" that make it possible:

1.  Posting
In a nutshell, completely haphazard!  No regular posting for me.  This is my method:  There are several books that I'm pretty sure I would like to review someday, but every once in a while one stands out above the rest.  I pick a day to think about that book.  I read any notes I may have taken, look for things I've underlined, think about any thoughts the book generates in my head, look online for any historical context or information about author, etc.  And then just think about it.  It's my day to spend with one novel.  Like a date.  With a book.  While I'm cooking, cleaning, driving, sitting at boring school meetings, etc.  Sounds romantic, doesn't it?  I love this part!

Then comes the hard part, for me anyway.  Writing is very difficult for me!  It twists my brain and makes my eyes cross, and I feel like someone trying to rip my stomach out through my armpit.  There's no way I could go through this several times a week!   It's hard for me to take what my mind is thinking and get it down into words in exactly the way that I mean.  And if it's not exactly what I want to say, I get very frustrated.  But when the grey matter explosions actually transform into the right words?  Utter satisfaction.  Of course this doesn't happen all the time, but it's wonderful enough that I keep trying.  Sort of like gambling.  Which I don't do, so I have to get my thrills somehow.

And then, in about a week or two, I start the whole think, write, gamble process over again. When I'm done, I hit the "Post" button.  It's like taking a little happy pill.

2.  Twitter
One of the things I saw over and over again during BBAW discussions is the need to be on Twitter.  I get it, really.  I totally agree.  I'm on there.  Sort of.  The most activity I've had on there recently was when my account got hacked.  I also have automatic updates going through Goodreads and I'm pretty sure new posts on my blog show up. 

I just have never been able to make Twitter a part of my routine or my life.  Maybe it will happen someday.  I kind hope so, because I love the idea of connecting and sharing little tidbits of people's lives that you wouldn't normally discover.  But then I think I'm a little afraid of being too connected, and I have visions of being eaten a piece at a time by this cute little bird...

3. Visiting other blogs
This is where I must admit I need a little help, or a ten-step program, or something.  I'm afraid to count the number of blogs in my reader, there are so many. Here's my flawed process for reading them:  When I open Google Reader, even though I have categories and all, I hit "All Items."  And then I scroll through them all.  This is irresistible to me, because I have a completeness compulsion.  No, I don't actually read every word, but I skim, and then when something catches my eye, I read more thoroughly, and then if I actually have something to say, I open a new tab for the post, with the intent to comment.  

The problem is, at any number of time I have several tabs open and sometimes they stay up there for days.  And usually I have tabs open on two computers.  When do I actually comment on them?  Again, "haphazard" is the key.  I'm up and down at the computer here and there, and so I comment on a couple at one time, and a few another time, and some it takes so long for me to get to, I think it must be too late to comment and I close the tab in "silence."  There's got to be a better way, right?

4.  Memes
I don't do many memes.  Do I feel that I am above them?  Absolutely not!  I love reading them.  But when it comes to doing them myself, I don't.  Why?  Because I'm LAZY!  The idea of coming up with ten books that fit this theme or another and other such thing is another thing that brings on brain pain.  But I LOVE to read what others have put, so keep them coming!  When it comes to book discussions, I'm clearly and "innie" rather than an "outie." (BTW, when it comes to belly buttons, only 10% of the population have "outies.")

How did I get on the subject of belly buttons?  Needless to say, this is NOT a post that I've pondered deeply for a day or two.  I just drank a large cup of Mountain Dew Code Red (bad, bad, bad for the diet), so I think the caffeine is taking over at this point.  I'll rein things in now.

I suppose the bottom line with blogging is to figure out your purpose, and then do what you need to in order to fulfill that purpose.  If you need a large audience to make that happen, there are certain strategies you need to embrace.  But if you're like me, and are just looking for some personal fulfillment and book discussion, you can pretty much do whatever you want!  Nicely, of course.   And many, many thanks to those of you who come to visit me.  Simply put, it makes me happy!

How about you?  Do you operate in a way that makes you feel different from the mainstream bloggers out there?  Do you have any deep-seated fears of Twitter?  Is your Google Reader out of control?

(And here I will pat myself on the back for following a great blogging technique--asking your readers a question.  Do you know why I avoid this many times?  It's because I'm afraid no one will answer.  That would make me so sad.  Something like that happened once when I first started, but it resulted in a subsequent post with a picture of Aragorn from LOtR.  No harm done then, right?)



43 comments:

  1. I'm with you. There is no rhyme or reason to my posting. I do it when I feel like it :) I handle memes the same way. I do them, but only when the mood arises. As for visiting blogs, I'm addicted to that too. :)

    PS Thanks so much for stopping by the other day :) Jenna is a great name.

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  2. OMG I'm the same way! I sometimes think I enjoy visiting other blogs more than blogging itself. And I really love blogging.

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  3. I really enjoy the laid back approach to blogging and find that I enjoy it more when I post this way. This was a fun post to read as it made me think about the way I blog :)

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  4. Love the way you blog, and definitely love your ramblings.
    Definitely don't tweet, don't even have facebook, and oh how I wish I can spend more time blogging too, sigh.

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  5. I get irritated with memes too. I do a few but I guess I'm rather lazy myself. As for Twitter...nope, I'm still holding out on joining.

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  6. I don't like any sort of marketing my blog, all that branding and niche stuff. I post when I want and how I want, and feel comfortable with that, much more comfortable than I used to feel back at my last blog. I wanted to go back to the way it was when I first started, and I'm glad to do that!

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  7. I am all for doing your blog in the way you want to do it! Why pander to the masses. It's your blog do what you like :) I enjoy reading memes too but only contribute to 1 regularly. I started with about 3-4 and it just got too hard to manage so I cut down to 1 and I'm happy. I'm not on Twitter either. I have always struggled with twitter. All the references and @ and # stuff means half the 'tweets' I don't even understand so I find it a little pointless. Maybe if I was a follower and read every tweet by a person they might start to make sense as I'd have more context but who has the time for that?! I struggle enough trying to get through my Reader which seems to be constantly full!

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  8. I am much like you. I post when I can, and watch all the big doings from the sidelines. I don't think I've even ever visited Twitter, much less had an interest in participating in that. It's just one more thing to keep track of! I hardly do memes anymore, although they are fun sometimes. Really, I'm just here to keep track of the books I read and get inspired by other bloggers to read yet more and more and more and more...!

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  9. I have a Twitter and Facebook account for the blog, but I don't take anything uber-seriously. I just have fun with it all and occasionally post something on Twitter, such as a question and such, or I butt into a conversation, but for the most part, it's all for the hoo-hah fun of it. I know this is stated frequently, but I do believe this: The day I start taking my blog so seriously that it becomes a second job, then I will reevaluate things. For the time, I tweet away to have fun, blog whenever I want, occasionally participate in a meme and yes, my Google Reader is out of control. But, I have enough brain pain at work and traveling for it all the time, that the blog world is one that I enjoy fully, as completely as I can, through all its different levels of social media.

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  10. Thanks for your great post Shelley. I would say: please do it the way YOU like it, and most of all, have fun doing it, that is, whenever, and how you want to. From time to time, I also weed my Google Reader, for instance if a blogger keeps posting on a genre I really don't like. I only do the Wordless Wednesday meme, because I figured that's a way of advertising my hand-painted rocks, but if I'm too busy, like today, I don't post. I also do the Friday finds books, because I was giving book suggestions for the week-end, so I link it to that meme, and I just started my own meme: books, movies, recipes, related to France, because I'm actually French and keep running into great books or posts on France. Emma @ Words And Peace

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  11. If this makes you happy then all that other stuff like memes, Twitter etc are all superfluous! Personally, Twitter works for me, much to my surprise, so I go with it for now. Who knows. That make change!

    As for visiting other blogs... when I was struggling with commenting (mainly because I had gotten out of the habit!) I ended up setting up mind games for myself. For example, if I was blog hopping for half an hour I would say that I need to comment 5 times in that half an hour. Eventually I got back into the habit of commenting a bit more.

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  12. Michelle @ 1morechapterNovember 18, 2012 at 7:48 PM

    I agree with you on everything! I follow some advice, but when I start to feel guilted into doing something, I know to just go back to whatever I really wanted to do with my blog in the first place.

    I can't really get into Twitter, and my google reader is INSANE!! I have no problems clicking 'mark all read.' I mostly use it to look for reviews of certain books anyway.

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  13. I'm absolutely haphazard. twitter overwhelms me and I skim through my google reader too. I try to post twice a week but its a hit and miss thing. I think I can only do things at this pace. Heavy duty networking was never one of my strengths. I comment on posts that I find interesting. Like this one :)

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  14. Wait what? Not a good writer? Hello? I have often OFTEN thought how wonderful all your words sound on these posts. Maybe you stress over every word Markus Zusak style? Hmmmm... you should just throw them out there and I bet it would all still sound wonderful to us! (This makes me nervous for my dumb reviews where I DO just that. Gah.)

    Love this post. I totally agree with it all. Do what you want! I hear you on the Google Reader thing, we need a system, let me know when you figure it out. As for Twitter, yes it's a strange thing, but I'm loving it usually. I talk to myself a lot there, so you should really come over there and say hi sometime so I don't feel so stupid talking to myself! (Actually, I'm sure we've talked a few times already, haven't we?)

    As for doing things differently... hmmm... do I? I'll have to ponder. I do think I do just what I want... even if my blog says it's all about books, ha to that. It's really not, so oh, well. :)

    I really need to come visit you more often. You make me smile.

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  15. I take part in memes when I feel I can give it some time. Once I have linked to my post I feel I have committed myself to visiting as many other bloggers on that list as I can. i wouldn't say not joining in is lazy, these memes are time consuming.

    I use twitter, it is a good way to share and catch up quickly, but can be overwhelming at times.

    My blogging has evolved over the last year. I interact with the book blogging community a lot but only when time allows as I have a busy family life too.

    carol

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  16. Yay! A blogger just like me. I really don't care how many people read my blog. I don't make a great effort to increase my numbers. I just love getting my thoughts out there and seeing what others have to say. I get maybe 10 comments or so on my posts and I'm totally fine with that. I'm very haphazard about posting as well and I hate writing too. I think we're long lost twins.

    I laughed when I read your part about the tabs. I have about five open on this computer right now and I'm sure the same number on my laptop. I do eventually mean to comment on them, but sometimes I just don't get around to it.

    I'm so glad you posted this. It made my day! Oh, and I'm one of the 10% with an outie. Haha!

    Laid-back bloggers unite!

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  17. Glad I'm not the only lazy one! I've joined Twitter, quit Twitter, and then joined again only to be pretty inactive. I stay on there because I do like joining in a bit during readathons.

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  18. I'm glad you found something that worked well! Even when Zen Leaf was huge, your blog was always very authentic and I never felt that you were just fishing for a bigger audience. I do miss the old days, even if it meant I only had one or two comments. I liked knowing I could visit most everyone who had a book blog. It's so different now!

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  19. "It's your blog do what you like"--that's pretty much my motto. I'm pretty lost about some things on Twitter too, and I don't think I know much about the etiquette on there so I'm also afraid of offending anyone. Like you, my Reader is my priority, and then there's no time left!

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  20. I think for a lot of people, Twitter just "clicks", and for me it just hasn't. I'm good with FB, but I'm only on there for personal/family stuff, not for my blog. (Most people I know IRL dont' even know I have a book blog!). When I go on Twitter, I want to do FB things, like "like" lol! We should never take ourselves too seriously in anything, should we? And, like you said, a blog should be fun, not work. But I think some bloggers like it to feel like work, and that's okay too, if that's what they find fulfilling.

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  21. Memes are fun sometimes, and I've done my share. They are often very creative. But I still just like reading others instead of writing my own. Like you, I mostly just want to keep track of what I read, and hope to remember what I read more by writing about it. I have hundreds of books I want to read thanks to blogger recommendations!

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  22. A lot of the advice is great, but some of it just doesn't apply. I've really got to work on my "mark all as read" issues. Practice, practice, practice, right?

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  23. I love Wordless Wednesday, and it does seem like it wouldn't be too difficult, maybe I should try that one sometime. Especially on a book blog, it's refreshing to see a beautiful photograph. Your rocks are BEAUTIFUL! I also love the idea for the France meme. I'm going to try to participate at least once or twice, fingers crossed!

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  24. I'm definitely of the mindset that if it works and it's fun, go for it! I think Twitter is such a cool idea. I like your mind games idea for commenting. I should at least make some kind of goal, like to make sure my tabs are all clear every night before dinner or something. Of course, then maybe I would never get to dinner...

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  25. You sounds just like me! I think it's fine to be hit and miss, and that there's no need to feel guilty about it.

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  26. I'm glad you brought up visiting people for memes. That's one of the things that keeps me from doing them. If I can't visit everyone, I feel like I'm missing out, and some of them have so many people participating.
    Blogging is ever evolving, and time is always going to be an issue. I'm glad no matter what, it's still fun!

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  27. I'm pretty jazzed if I get at least 3 comments. The only thing I really can't handle is zero. I need to know that at least one person is out there! So glad I'm not the only one with out-of-control tabs. I'm so glad to have cheered up your day, and congrats on being an outie, lol!

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  28. You're so sweet, Suey! I guess I'm glad Zusak stresses, because my favorite thing about his writing is his word choices. They're like kind of off-center, but at the same time right-on. The guy's a genius! Your reviews are so not dumb!
    Maybe the thing about Twitter is that I just feel like I'm talking to myself. You never know if anybody is listening. And if I want to comment on someone's tweet, I always wonder if they're going to think, "Who is this random person?" Too many insecurities, I guess!

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  29. Oh yes, I am like you. I post whenever, no twitter, and no memes. I think the world is so over saturated with social media right now. I get burnt out on it. I don't want to become obsessed with getting people to my blog and distracted from the real purpose of it, the books!

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  30. I like how you roll! I roll pretty much the same way, although maybe with a bit more angst about how unevenly I'm rolling.

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  31. I pretty much post when I get around to it. I often have good intentions (and I would like to post more frequently, but in part that means I need to finish books more frequently), but I don't always have the time to go with those intentions. Regarding comments, I've found that if I'm not in the mood to leave comments, I should stay away from blogs I might be inclined to comment on. And when I have something to say I need to say it right away, otherwise I'll never get to it. (Sometimes I completely lose my thread of thought if I don't comment right away.)

    As for Twitter--I'm not on it, but I'm considering joining. Maybe. I'm not really a "social" person, but I might not mind following certain people. Time is the issue....as always!

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  32. I love this post! This is a hobby for me, so sometimes life gets ahead of my posting. I really admire the people that get a post out everyday, but I could never commit to that. I love to read others blogs and comment when I have time -- but that's not as often as I'd like during the semester. I just keep reminding myself it's all for fun!

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  33. Just be yourself, I think that's what matters in blogs that stick around. If you try to be someone you're not, then it will get old fast. I like thinking of my place in the blogosphere and I love comparing stats with my first month of blogging, but I'm not all about that and I don't think a blogger needs to care in order to enjoy blogging. My interest waxes and wanes too.

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  34. Just wanted to let you know that Macmillan Audio is offering 3 audio books to participants in the War Through the Generations Civil War Challenge. Go here to enter!

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  35. Shannon, social media makes me feel so ... unsocial ;). And, yes, the books are what it's all about anyway.

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  36. Softdrink, LOL! I feel a bit of that angst sometimes too.

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  37. Amanda, I should just comment right away because I also sometimes lose my train of thought and can't remember what I was thinking I was going to say! Time is always such a constraint. I wish I could survive on three hours of sleep for extra reading/blogging time!

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  38. Darlyn, that's pretty much how I am with Twitter too. I'm sure I'll do a meme again someday, but it will probably have to be an easy one!

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  39. Colleen, it's a hobby for me too, something relaxing and fun. Even though writing is hard for me, it is still a pretty effective diversion from anything I might be stressing about.

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  40. Rebecca, I think that's the best blogging advice of all. It would be a lot of work to somehow make my blog represent something I'm not.
    My big problem with stats is that I don't understand what half of them mean. Blogger just came out in the last year with all this different stat information and it just boggles my mind sometimes. I do think it's kind of funny that my most popular post seems to be one about The Iliad. I think students are looking for help with papers and stuff, and my post on the Iliad is severely unacademic, lol!

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  41. I like the way you think! Have a Twitter account but am not on there
    I try to visit other blogs
    I post when I can but some weeks go by and I just can't, unless it's schedule
    I do the best I can and that's how I roll, so I can totally relate.

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  42. I like this post! I'm not a fan of being told what to do on my blog or how to do. I respect that people share suggestions and that's all I would ever look at them as. What I love about book blogs is the wide variety of them available, and I would hate to see everyone doing pretty much the same thing. When I do something on my blog, I imagine myself as its main audience - that makes it easy for me. You have a really good blog here!!

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  43. Great post! You discussed a lot of topics I've been wondering about lately. I'm on Twitter too, but my account is barely alive. Once in a while, I remember that, oops, I have a Twitter account, and resuscitate it. I haven't participated in a meme in a very, very long time too.

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