Never Say Never

             How many people blog?

            When I put that question as a Google search, I got over two billion results, none of which seemed to have an answer.  I do know this: up until now, I was never one of them.

            A while back, when a lot of my writer friends began blogging, I saw no particular reason to join them.  Blogging was presented and regarded as another method of self-promotion, the aspect of writing and publishing I found least appealing, and while I admired their determination, none of these people could show that blogging did anything to improve their book sales.  I added a section to my own writer website called “Not a Blog” in which I posted some essays I’d written over the years and let the matter drop.

            One thing about the blogs of my writer friends that struck me as particularly counterproductive was that they were toiling on them when I wanted them to be working on more books.  Also, I noticed them reading and commenting on one another’s blogs, which was nicely supportive but also took time.

            But my writer friends carried on, and so did millions of other people.

            Folks blogged about animal care and gardening and sports and weddings and divorce and cooking and health issues and power tools and How They Felt About Things. Tortured teens and angst-ridden college students poured their hearts out in what would have been diary entries in a more private era.  Many of these people seemed utterly oblivious to the fact that the Internet is forever, that the casual comments of today’s unguarded moments might well come back to bite them on the ass later.

            And that didn’t even touch on the political bloggers, that countless army of unshaven dudes in their underpants, hunched over keyboards in dank basements setting the rest of us dimwitted fools straight on what’s wrong with everybody and everything they don’t like.  A few of these, I noticed, actually rose to positions in the blogosphere where they were paid for their labors, got book deals, and appeared on TV news programs, for which they had to get dressed.

            Time passed and I started a professional organizing business, where I discovered that I also was expected to be blogging relentlessly, sharing secrets on how to wrestle your life and stuff into submission.  I didn’t do that, either, though at one point I contributed a piece to The Lipstick Chronicles on organizing book collections, which seemed a tidy two-fer.

            At the same time, I laughed out loud when I saw a T-shirt advertised online that read: “More people have read this shirt than your blog.”

            It wasn’t that I didn’t have things to say.  Anyone who knows me will confirm that I have ideas and opinions and attitudes and am happy to share them with anyone willing to listen.  It was more that blogging seemed a senseless exercise in self-expression, crafting essays to toss into a universe already too overloaded with information.

            It was also a difficult step for an essentially private person to make.

            The matter came to a head recently when two opportunities to participate in group blogs arose almost simultaneously.  Perseverance Press, which has published five of my novels and which has—in every respect, alas, but the money—provided the most positive and enjoyable publishing experiences of my life, was taking over the Get It Write blog.  And I was asked to become part of the Thalia Press Authors Co-Op, a terrific opportunity to join with other writers I really admire and the kick in the pants I needed to start digitizing my backlist and make it available for e-readers.

            There was no reason to say no to either venture, and so I signed on.

            I never made any kind of public anti-blogging declaration, so there’s no need to emulate atheist  H.L. Mencken’s proposed response should he find himself in an afterlife when he died: “Gentlemen, I was mistaken.”  In any case, I’m not entirely certain that I was wrong.

            But I’m willing to give it a shot.  And for the record, I am always fully dressed when seated at my keyboard.

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6 Responses

  1. Hi, Taffy:

    I’m sure you don’t remember but I snapped your picture in the hospitality room at Left Coast Crime-Monterey, and have wondered ever since what you are doing. Are you writing mysteries? I lost track of you after you did such a great job of finishing Rebecca Rothenberg’s last book. (Hope I spelled her name right. I don’t want to leave this space to look it up.)

    Your fan, Pat Browning

  2. Thanks, Pat. I have a mystery short story “Instant Karma” in the San Diego Noir anthology, but have been mostly writing nonfiction recently. I had three more crime novels published by Perseverance after I finished the Rothenberg book, and a quartet of travel mysteries published by Berkley under the pseudonym Emily Toll.

  3. A good soul searching blog, Taffy! I was in your anti-blog camp for years until I was invited to do a guest blog. And then thought guest blogging would be the extent of my blog career until the Perseverance group blog came along and now I’m hooked. Blogs do take time, yes, but they’re fun to read and fun to write and fun to comment on (as time allows)–and surprisingly, I’ve discovered, they expand one’s horizons–and are a great way to meet new people.

  4. Taffy, I envision two boxes: one labeled “what would ever want this for?” and the other labeled “how did I ever get by without this.” It’s amazing how things keep hopping from the first box into the second. Things like email, fax, the Internet, even computers once upon a time, call waiting, and on and on. Including blogging. For me, blogging is in both boxes, one foot in each. I could do without it, but I’m starting to like it…
    Anyway, I enjoyed your thoughts on this subject, and wish I had one of those tee shirts!

    • John, I believe you can still get one of those shirts from despair.com, a website that specializes in what they call de-motivators. A longtime favorite, which hangs as a poster in the back of the Friends Bookstore I manage, has a photo of the running of the bulls at Pamplona, with this text: “Tradition: Just because you’ve always done it that way doesn’t mean it’s not incredibly stupid.”

  5. Taffy, you’re not the only one who said, Never! But I’m used to eating my words by now. I thought my kids would think I’m finally hip, or cool, or whatever–but they seem to think blogs old-fashioned, like email…

    i want a T-shirt AND that poster!

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