Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Why Do I Have to Blog? And Blogs I Read.

I have to admit, I've got a love-hate relationship with blogging.

One problem is I'm continually plagued by the suspicion I've got nothing unique or interesting to say.  Really, the only thing interesting about me are the stories I write - and who knows how interesting those are - and that's it. In fact, if Abby (my wife) hadn't encouraged me that a blog mixing our family experiences with Autism Spectrum Disorders and my writing journey would be interesting to some, I wouldn't have restarted my blog (almost a year ago, now) at all.

Second - and I'll admit to being a little old before my time, here - I still chafe at the idea that an author should be blogging all the time.  Seems like an author should be working on their craft, and that's it. Yeah, I've heard the arguments before - blogging is writing, helps keep you in the groove, yadda-yadda.  But.

It's not writing fiction.  I don't want to be doing anything that's not writing fiction as it is, even if I'm not blogging a lot.  I have this block in my head that says any writing that isn't writing fiction - or at least writing for publication (print, yes) - isn't high on the priority list.

Probably a lot of it has to do with my life right now.  I have a 6 and 4 year old, and get up every morning at 3 AM just to fit my allotted reading and writing time in.  A lot of times, I'm faced with a choice: blog or write fiction?  Obviously, I'm going to choose the latter, and probably always will...until maybe my schedule gets free enough to allow both (this does happen over summer, as usually I stay home and watch Madi).

Plus...have there really been ANY reliable statistics compiled linking active author bloggers to book sales/writer popularity/word of mouth marketing? (I'm not being snarky; seriously, I want to know).  Because again...I wonder.   Yeah, you have to be visible and people have to see you, and maybe if you have a neat blogging angle folks will become interested in you as a person, then maybe become interested in your fiction.....

But does that really work?  I've a sneaky suspicion over half my blog readers who love my posts about our family have little or no interest in my fiction at all, especially the horror/weird stuff.  Besides - and admittedly, I may be a relic in this regard - I don't find a blog, become interested in that writer, then buy their fiction.  I become a fan of their FICTION first, then end up noticing they have a blog.  And even then I don't always follow it.  I'm still stuck on this notion that if the writing is great and so is the story, readers will come, blog or not.

For me, I've worked out a nice compromise: this blog is two-fold.  I post publishing news here (for my four or five readers and relatives and peeps in the publishing industry)  and I use it as a diary, basically, for when I need to "blog off"  steam (see what I did there?) about writing, publishing, our family experiences, whatever.  Or when I find some really sweet prose I want to share (again, with my four or five readers).  Or to share anything that tickles my whimsy.

But the craft must come first.  At least for me.  Even today, I'm only blogging because I'm taking the day off for some appointments, and can also spend the morning writing. 

Anyway.  I've got very few author blogs I follow.  SO, without further ado:

Brian Keene - I check it literally every day.  First of all, for horror writers, it's the best source of industry news around.  Some folks have taken Brian to task for being too negative, critical, whatever.  THIS newbie, however, is imminently thankful for all the news and blunt, straightforward advice Brian gives.   Plus, I spend half the time snorting my energy drink out my nose from all the funnies...

Mike Duran - Not only is he a fine, fine writer (you really should go get his first novel), he is a dedicated, PROLIFIC blogger.  I've seen some of his entries sky-rocket over 100 comments.  He's not afraid to tackle any topic, and he's one of those "I've got something planned for my blog every day" type of bloggers.  I don't know where he gets the energy to blog like that, write so well, and still work a full time job.  Of course, his kids are grown and moved out, so maybe.....someday....

Nate Southard - Nate's a perfect example of a guy whose blog I follow because of his WRITING and his developing career; I didn't start buying his work because of his blog.  I check Nate's blog a lot, because I sense he's about five years ahead of me on his career path (that's making the grand assumption I'll ever be as good as he is), and I'm interested in watching his moves, checking out his choices and plans.

Tomoview - Okay, this one might seem mean spirited, but it highlights a point that I'm unwilling to back down from, even if I put it into practice in a much....ahem, GENTLER fashion.   

Bad writing is bad writing.   That's all.  

There's a lot of bad writing out there.  And Tomo ain't afraid to go there.  Again, might seem mean, but first: if you want to be a writer, either grow a thick skin or check out, and second: I read his....ah....CRITIQUES... and instantly think: "Omigod.  Did I just write that?"

Every writer and writer-wanna be should live in fear of a Tomoview.  Note:  not for the sensitive or faint of heart.

Norman Partridge: At the risk of carrying my Partridge-love to ridiculous extremes, Norm's blog is one of my favorites because I sense he blogs about what he loves: the genre, music, sports, memories of the movies and TV he loved as a kid.  He doesn't seem to have that same "angle" so many other authors desperately scramble for in their "daily questions" or interviews or whatever.  He offers straightforward advice and an idea of what it's like to be inside his head, why he writes what he does.  Gotta love that.

And finally, another one of my favorite author blogs, T. L. Hines. And then you say - "Wait.  His last blog entry is dated November 2010.  Doesn't seem to blog at all.  How can this be one of your favorites?"


Because he's too busy writing his next, awesome novel, which plenty of people will buy not because of his blogging, but because of his craft. 

'Nuff said.