Once upon a time I was a voracious book reader. I was a bookworm before bookworms were cool (What? They’ve never been cool? Not on my planet.).
I once thought I would be able to read every book in the library — that being my elementary school’s wee library. But the libraries I frequented got bigger and then the Internet hit and I was devastated to realize that I would never in a million years read everything there is to read.
In recent years I have moved away from books. I now read blogs. And Twitter and Facebook. Well, one doesn’t exactly read Twitter and Facebook, but one can get endlessly lost following links of interesting things to read via Twitter and Facebook.
Plus, I now have children. Time-sucking children who always need one thing or another. Like they need an after-school snack NOW, while I’m busy checking out a link @BlogHer tweeted about on its site, which led to the Huffington Post, which led to a controversial mommyblog article about our broken attention spans, which led to me wondering about a certain term, which took me to Wikipedia, which reminded me of a YouTube video I’d meant to look for, and wasn’t that guy in a Paul Thomas Anderson movie? I’d better check IMDB.com to see which one that was. Because heaven forbid if I don’t scratch this itch right now and find out. And WHY CAN’T YOU GET YOUR OWN DAMN DINNER, my cherubs?!
Bottom line is, whereas I once read a book a week, now I’m lucky to read one in 6 weeks. So when I pick The Book To Read, it better be good. No longer do I finish a book just because I begin it. I ditch a blah book the way I’d skip out on a halitosis-reeking blind date.
I was really really hoping that I would genuinely like the first novel published by my friend, Melissa Ford. For one reason, that friend thing I mentioned: I owe Melissa both truth and loyalty, which, as any husband knows, can be mutually exclusive when asked something like “Does this dress make my butt look big?”
For another reason, I had offered to lead this book tour, and I wanted to be able to do it enthusiastically.
How bad would it suck for me if I didn’t like her book??
That, thankfully, can remain a theoretical question. Melissa’s book is as engaging and witty and insightful and wise as her blog is, which I have read faithfully and loved for 4 years. The characters are multi-dimensional and I found myself wondering about them as I went to sleep at night, the way I wonder about actual friends. The plot is not predictable and the ending surprised me. And I loved the image of this guy in my mind’s eye whenever the book mentioned Gael.
Life from Scratch ends with hints of a sequel, so I hope to be in this same predicament in another year or so.
Here are my three questions and answers for the Life From Scratch book tour.
Blogging plays a key role for Rachel in the growth she experiences throughout the novel. How has blogging affected who you are and/or how you see the world?
Before I began blogging I felt as if I had to strain to be noticed whenever I was with a group of people — in high school, at a work place, at a conference gathering or cocktail party. It was as if I had a voice but was afraid to use it. The act of blogging has made me:
- clearer — I am very deliberate with the words I choose and the ideas I put out there. Knowing that my posts could be read by virtually anyone makes me try to see my statements from various viewpoints and be very clear with what I say and how I say it.
- braver — let’s face it: blogging is brave. We put ourselves out there and open ourselves up to both praise and criticism, and, worst of all, to being ignored.
- more compassionate — blogging is really two things: reading and writing. The reading part brings me in contact with people who have a wide assortment of experiences and challenges and perspectives. I’ve learned about life after cancer, parenting an autistic or special needs child, coming to terms with childfree living, and surviving all sorts of loss. How could I not be changed, my heart embiggened? (A lesser-known perk of blogging is that you get to make up words.)
- sane — we all know that blogging is cheaper and more effective than therapy.
I think Rachel Goldman also became clearer and braver and saner as the plot unfolded. Like it did for Rachel, blogging helped me find my voice.
Rachel’s blog gets very popular when she wins a blogging award and she starts averaging about one hundred thousand hits per day. Would you want your blog to become that popular or would you prefer to stay smaller?
I am so glad to have the chance to ponder this. Prior to this question being asked, I thought, simply, “of course bigger is better.”
But I just read a NYT article on Dooce and Pioneer Woman and cannot fathom having the numbers and level of exposure they have. I cannot imagine the kind of readership enjoyed by either the fictional Rachel or the very real Stirrup Queens.
One thing that I so admire about Melissa Ford, author (which I do not call her to her face) is that with her blog size she has not compromised her authenticity. She remains real, writing for herself first and her audience second.
One of my fears about hitting the big time would be that the locus of my focus would move outside me. If I had 100,000 readers, most of whom I did not interact with or “know” in any sense, would the numbers start to mean more to me than the people they represent? Would I write what the readers want/expect rather than because there’s something inside me that wants to be expressed?
It would be quite a challenge to remain true and centered. But bring it on. It would be an adventure to try.
If you had a year to do what you wanted, what would you do? Would you learn to cook or something different?
That’s an easy-peasy answer for me. I’d travel.
I’d spend a month or two in each of 6 or 9 places, with no set itinerary or schedule. I’d start in South America — Argentina and Uruguay, and wind through New Zealand and Australia (hi, Eden!) and Japan and China and Cambodia and Nepal and India and Thailand. Off the top of my head.
Problem is, I’m not a solo traveler. So Roger or one of my sisters would need to come with me. Maybe my children, if the free year happened when they were young adults.
To continue to the next leg of this book tour, please visit the main list at Write Mind Open Heart.