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My stop on the Life from Scratch book tour

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 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.

Lori Holden, mom of a young adult daughter and a young adult son, writes from Denver. She was honored as an Angel in Adoption® by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute.

Find Lori’s books on her Amazon Author page, and catch episodes of Adoption: The Long View wherever you get your podcasts.

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18 Responses

  1. I too couldn’t imagine having the readership of Mel, the Pioneer Woman, or even Julie from A Little Pregnant. I’m a very small blog and most days I’m amazed anyone even reads what I have to say.

    I would love to travel, but I’d want it to be for more than a year. Or at least I think I’d want more than a year. But then again, I’m sure living out of a suitcase would get very old after a while.

  2. I can NOT wait to read this book! I’m going to order my copy as soon as finals are over. I have hear so much good things about it.

    Oooohhh a free year?! I think I would want to break it up into “alone” sections and spending time with other people. Traveling sounds nice but I would want to go to warm beaches where my glass is never empty 😉

    As far as the blog popularity goes, I don’t think I would want huge numbers. I think I would be too pressured to write rather than wanting to write. Great review!

  3. Yay! It’s Thursday and I finally got to your read post about Life from Scratch (and post mine)! I really liked your intro to the book (as much or more than your review on and about your relationship with Mel (so well said).

    I appreciate how in thoughtful you were with your answer about how blogging has affected you and how you see the world. I admire your ability to be clear (and concise). That is a craft that I am still learning. I agree that blogging is brave and I too have become more compassionate and sane through my writing and reading related to blogging.

    I loved your honesty for the question about if your blog were to become even more popular than it already is. 😉 It seems most of the participants in this book tour said that they would rather stay smaller and thus I found your answer especially interesting. I also would not mind if my blog go “very popular,” but I do think it could be overwhelming and I hope that I would be able to stay true to myself, my voice and my intentions in writing and reading blogs.

    Your year or more of travel sounds wonderful! I love that you have so many awesome locations that you would visit in mind already. Having already read answers to this question for 2 days now, I thought it was interesting that most of the participants who chose to answer this one said something about travel (and some linked it to photography as well).

    Anyway, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR HOSTING THIS BOOK TOUR!!! I am very aware of how much time and effort was involved for you (since I am planning one myself for later this month). I am grateful that Mel wrote this book and that you were willing to do this for her and for all of us. Being only the second book tour I have participated in, I remember now why I enjoyed the first one so much. It is so cool to be able to discuss with others at times that are convienent for all of us. I definitely gained a lot of new perspectives on Life from Scratch the book, as well as the experience of blogging, among other things.

    Lastly, I am also so glad that this book tour gave me the opportunity to be formally introduced to you and your blog, after years of lurking now and then. I am very inspired with all the ways you use your blog, other than just writing about yourself and your life (which is great too): from the Limerick Contest, to Perfect Moment Mondays and things like hosting this Book Tour.

    Thanks again and I will see you soon! 🙂

  4. I loved your point on whether or not your ‘voice’ would change should the number of followers change. That’s something that I think all of us need to keep in check, should we want to remain authentic. I’ve always maintained the mentality that if you don’t like it, don’t read it…it’s that simple. I guess the big question to keep on asking ourselves is ‘why’ are we writing?

    Great post! Great job on the book tour. Thanks for ‘dragging’ me along. Unlike you, I was the girl in high school who rented the movie instead of reading the novel. It wasn’t until university that I came to the revelation, oh damn, there’s actually some good shit out there!


    PS…still lovin your blog! Your voice suits me just fine!!!

  5. HI !!!!!
    well well well, just the introduction to the the questions was wonderful. The paragraph about how Twitter and blog all fold into one another and you can get lost in the maze of it, easily distracted was WONDERFUL. Seriously, TWEET’s not only funny but it’s TRUE.

    You know I think you have hit the big time…I consider you a “FAMOUS” blogger, but I know what you are saying, that when you are “under that spotlight” like that, your life changes.

    I also love your answer to how blogging has changed /enhanced your life. it’s so true, that once you start writing, you start to “THINK” in terms of writing that experience down. It’s a valuable tool, a handy reminder that you may indeed need/want to share that experience with a “few” people.

    thanks for doing the book tour, it was AWESOME 🙂
    and so are you!!!!!!! xo

  6. I, also, thought it was possible to read every book in the library. One summer vacation (middle school I think) I started with A in the Fiction section figuring I would work my way through the alphabet by the time the summer was out. Umm, yeah, it didn’t happen. Never even made it to B. Any room on your planet for one more?

    Love your four points in the act of blogging. I need to be more mindful to them.

    Thank you for organizing this book tour. I’ve loved the whole process from obtaining and reading the book to thinking up my questions and then my answers to reading all of the other tourists’ answers. It was quite an amazing experience.

  7. Lovely post, and what a delicious picture you had in your mind when you read about Gael (drool).

    Your travel itinerary sounds fabulous. Maybe I’ll sneak into your bags. 😉

  8. I loved this, especially your story about how you used to read books voraciously and now you read blogs, instead. Me too! I was worried that even Mel’s book wouldn’t hold my attention. Luckily it was awesome 🙂

    I consider you to be one of the biggest bloggers out there (and one of my all-time favorites!) so it was interesting to hear your perspective on the “big blogger” question. I think about Dooce and Pioneer Woman, too, and how weird it would be to have millions of people reading everything you blog or tweet about. (And making all sorts of judgements about you.)

    Thank you SO much for hosting this club. I’m really enjoying reading everyone’s different thoughts on the book. So much fun!

  9. Awesome book review, I can’t wait to read the book now! It is next on my list…I’m in the middle of another right now.

    I love your candidness and honesty when you write…thank you for sharing yourself and your thoughts about Mel’s book with us. 🙂

  10. I loved your answers, but I especially loved your opening, about how you used to read books & now you read blogs. Me too (& the last few weeks, I sadly haven’t even had much time for that). My younger self would never have believed how few books I read these days. (Of course, that hasn’t stopped me from BUYING them… but I digress…!)

    Anyway, I wanted to echo Kathy — thank you for hosting! Taking part in a book club or tour means knowing I’ll get at least one book read for the month!

  11. Yes, I echo the thank you sentiments!

    Also, I love how you describe popping into more and more things to read as you peruse the internet. I so get lost doing the same thing.

    And Luc…oooh. That’s not how I pictured Gael, but dearie me is he lovely. I loved him on DWTS. (wasn’t that him?)

    I firmly agree with you on Mel too. The mind boggles that she manages the intimate connection that she does with her readers. Wow.

  12. And you’d take me with you if you got to travel, right?

    Thank you isn’t enough so I’m not even going to try because I’ll start crying. And then you’ll start crying. And then I’ll slobber all over your blog and mess it up. But I love you. Thank you.

  13. Silly Lori, you didn’t make up embiggen. It’s from The Simpsons. (“A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man.”)

    Funny that you should say that being ignored is worse than criticism. I’d rather get zero comments than negative comments. You must have thicker skin than I do (or maybe more aversion to loneliness?).

    Thank you for being our book tour guide!

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