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Blogged Down

By On Sep 16 2009, 4:47 am

When I realized last night that I had a blog due here at Samhain, my immediate reaction was a sinking sensation. Not again, I thought, and I can’t help wondering if readers don’t feel something similar.

Don’t get me wrong. I love interacting with my readers; it’s one of the perks of the job. But I just finished the rough draft of one novella, I’ve got another due on Wednesday of next week, a third novella due on the 30th, edits to my print book for Somebody Killed His Editor due on the 21st, and edits for another mainstream project due on the 30th. I would be lying if I didn’t admit to feeling overwhelmed. And as I calculate how to best use my limited resources, I’m wondering where blogging fits into this.

How much do readers really want to hear writers rambling on about their aching wrists and their looming deadlines and their pissy feelings about other writers? Surely I’m not the only one who feels a little jaded right about now with the whole blogosphere?

Again, this isn’t to say that I don’t enjoy interacting with my readers and colleagues — I do. Maybe too much. But is it necessarily a good thing to be so accessible? I’m not sure. Does it take away that authorial mystique? Probably. There is a trade off, of course. Readers feel like they know me better — and if they like me, that’s a good thing. If they don’t like me…not so good.

Do I care if everyone likes me? No. Obviously not, or I wouldn’t continue to shoot my mouth off. But I do worry that Josh the web personality wil eventually flavor the taste of my fiction for some readers. Because, speaking for myself as a reader, I don’t want the distraction of the author’s personality. If the author as character is too vivid, I find it’s one more obstacle in crossing that suspension-bridge of disbelief.

There are no blogs I visit on a regular basis. Friends blogs, review blogs, publishing news blogs: I check in when a pal is being interviewed or someone asks me look at something, but other than that, I don’t have time. Not even for those funny, clever blogs that make me laugh every time I pop in. Not even for the blogs that make me think — or teach me something. I just don’t have the time — even when I have the inclination. And generally I don’t even have the inclination. It’s nothing personal. After a few months, let alone a year or so, we’ve pretty much heard it all. Even from the people we like. Even from the people whose work we love.

Or am I the only one who feels like this? Is it the heat getting to me? My what-feels-like-permanent migraine? The deadlines? Lack of Vitamin B?

There is also the problem of writers getting too relaxed and being a little too honest with their reading public. Bitching about bad reviews is the least of it. I’m talking about bloggers stupid enough to badmouth their publishers (or publishers denigrating writers) — or revealing personal and damaging information about themselves and others. Do I want to know about your sex life or legal problems? Probably not. And when you’re feeling calmer, you probably don’t want me to know about those things either. You surely don’t want a prospective employer — or stalker — to know about them.

So what do you think about blogging? I think it’s here to stay, but how much is too much? What’s a good balance? What blogs to you frequent — and why?

Josh Lanyon

http://www.joshlanyon.com

Comments

13 Responses to “Blogged Down”

  1. C.C. Wiley says:

    Great questions, Josh. My blog visits are usually random flybys. And only when I’ve been reminded by a friend or I see something that looks fresh.

    I admit, I’ve fought blogging but I’ve been told It’s a necessity. Today, I began setting up my new blog and I kept wondering if anyone will ever read it. I’m doing my best to justify the time spent as a writing warm-up exercise. But how much time is too much?

  2. Clare London says:

    Hi Josh, if you get to read this :) . It’s disappointing you haven’t had more response on this so far but maybe that backs up some of your points. I wanted to reply to this all week – just haven’t had a chance to sit down and do so until now!

    I have every sympathy with the downsides of blogging. It’s a time suck – it’s using time I want to be writing – it can, indeed, backfire if your personal image begins to overshadow or mar your literary reputation. I also think it’s tough for authors who don’t like chatting – that’s no crime, after all – or whose skills are better suited to creating fiction.

    But I do disagree with you in some respects. Personally, I need some interaction. It’s what holds me back from seeking full-time writing one day. I adore writing but I need more in my life. I am refreshed and encouraged by net friends (some of ‘em!) and continue to learn and enjoy a lot from the surrounding community. And yes, I do have friends in ‘real life’ so I’m not a complete geek :) . But I gain a lot from net-life that I don’t get elsewhere. I know it feels like same old, same old sometimes. But that’s when I try to shift the balance away, to recharge the batteries.

    I also feel the e-publishing world asks a little more of me than the book. I do some interaction that wearies me, that distracts me. But it’s rare for me not to get some pleasant feedback or enjoyment from it. Dammit, I’m sounding like some loony Pollyanna. But the important thing for me is to find my personal best balance. It’s something between duty, job and joy. And yes, it gets distorted.

    I’ve just had a month where I was harangued by a ‘fan’ who was disappointed in one of my books, and also harrassed by an unpleasant person in the writing world through a social network. It’s shaken me and made me want to crawl away. After all, I’m only here to write, right? But I’m not sure I am. I can still write, wherever and whenever I choose. But once I started publishing, it opened another channel back out to the world. I believe I invested part of ME in something more than my work, and I have to live with that or rethink the whole package.

    It’s taken me a year to start getting the measure of what I can do and what I can’t – what stimulates me and what depresses me. And I’m still working on it. We all have choice and free will. We have to choose how much of ourself we want to expose or invest in net life. And maybe that will have little or no effect on how our writing career proceeds, anyway. We’ll probably never know because there’s little available correlation between promo and sales, as far as I can see.

    Dear me, I’ve rambled. Must have touched a chord :) . Good to talk to you.

  3. Josh Lanyon says:

    “I admit, I’ve fought blogging but I’ve been told It’s a necessity. Today, I began setting up my new blog and I kept wondering if anyone will ever read it. I’m doing my best to justify the time spent as a writing warm-up exercise. But how much time is too much?”

    CC, I think blogging is here to stay, and to some extent it’s a necessity for writers — some kind of interaction with readers is a necessity these days — and there are times when I have scads more to say than will even fit in a single blog post, but I worry more and more that we’re putting too much focus on the personalities of the writers versus their work.

    Most writers aren’t “star” personalities. We don’t roll that way. We’re often observers and introverts, and trying to force that into another shape can have some unpleasant side effects for all involved.

  4. Sharon says:

    Josh,
    I enjoy reading blogs, but I have to admit that if time is short I don’t read them. I do check in here at Samhain a few times a week. I love reading what authors I follow are doing and check on new releases. There are a few author’s blogs I frequent as well. However, I personally found it hard to keep up with my blog and because of time I let it go. Sometimes, things just have to give.
    PS-looking forward to your next release!

  5. Kate Kindle says:

    I am very happy I found this site. I agree wholeheartedly and I have settled for putting out a blog post when friends who are authors or publishers need my promotional work; or when I have a book coming out, or I do a review. It’s time consuming, to say the least. I do flyby’s myself and find that plenty to do. It’s getting so I haven’t any time to promote my own work, or to write anything.

  6. Great post, Josh! I’ve been blogging for years, mostly as an outlet for my own thoughts, interspersed with the obligatory promotion of my own books. I read a few blogs daily, most have nothing to do with writing fiction, and I visit others periodically. I tend to think a lot of things we’re told are necessities for a successful writing career are not at all necessary, but designed to keep us feeling like we’re constantly doing something to help our sales along. I think the best self-promo is writing a good book, and then another and another.

    Interacting with readers is a joy, but I agree there’s a limit to how much is fun and helpful. The TMI threshhold can be easily reached and readers can be turned off by hearing too much, even about their favorite authors.

  7. [...] I’m talking about your personality and opinions. Author/blogger Josh Lanyon had this to say about what he shares: “Do I care if everyone likes me? No. Obviously not, or I wouldn’t continue to shoot my [...]

  8. I agree that the idea that publishing blogs that focus on the writer’s personality or personal life can be a dicey proposition….most of us are modest enough to wonder what’s interesting about OUR lives, or have a sense of privacy that doesn’t cotton to “putting it all out there.”

    For me, as a reader, I’d be much more interested in the author’s take on the process of writing….the eternal question, “How do you come up with ideas?”; the research, character development, plotting, etc. You don’t talk to a film maker about who does the dishes at his or her house, you talk to them about how they make films. The same for an artist, a musician, etc.

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  12. Josh, I rarely read blogs and only check out the Samhain blog when I’m scheduled to blog on it. Like you, who’s got the time? I used to guest blog a lot more on other authors’ sites, but it’s definitely a time suck and the results are questionable. I write my own personal/author blog because I want to have a forum and share my thoughts, world view, opinions, etc., with anyone who cares to read it. But otherwise, what I want to spend the majority of my time doing is writing fiction. I agree you don’t want to be too exposed as an author. There are actors I can no longer watch because I know too much about them, their personal lives and political views. It’s a major turnoff!

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