Monday, August 27, 2007

What I Learned from Blogging

by Barbara D'Amato


I’ve learned respect for columnists. Wow! Serious respect for columnists! We have seven bloggers in The Outfit, and there is a new blog every other day, which means each of us is up to bat once every two weeks. I can hardly imagine writing a column once a week, much less having a daily column. I salute all who can do it.

I’ve learned a lot about myself. Being forced to spell out how I feel about a current event or a long-term issue brings me face-to-face with myself.

Quite frequently I blog about issues I am of two minds about—pornography, or the drug laws, for example. Sometimes this helps resolve my thinking. The responses help, too, and they are always interesting. I learn a lot from them.

Before I started blogging–at Libby’s request–I’d heard both positive and negatives takes on it.

“It’ll take time from your writing.” Well, so does dinner.

“There are too many blogs.” Sure. I’ve also heard many times that there are too many books. I was a judge for the Mystery Writers of America 2006 Best Novel Award. We received approximately 550 books. Yup—five hundred and fifty. These are books published for the first time in calendar 2006, in English, not including first novels and paperback originals, which go to different committees. So there are lots of books and lots of blogs in the world. There are several blogs I dip into. To me the many offerings mean lots of richness.

“Blogs don’t sell books.” People say this to writers who participate in blogging, assuming they do it just to sell books. Well, yes, we all hope. And who knows whether blogs help? I don’t know. But I’ve gone farther for less and meanwhile this is fun.

And that’s the bottom line. The fun of it. The best part has been getting to know my blogmates. I had known Sara, Libby, and Michael for years and had read all their books, but this blog business is different. You “meet” a person by reading his or her books, of course, but a book is a specific, constructed, enclosed piece. I’ve been delighted to see their range of ideas and reactions to current events as we’ve blogged along. And Kevin, Sean, and Marcus, whom I did not know before this, have quite truly enriched my life. They are all over the lot, in the best way—always smart, surprising and always expanding my awareness of things.

If I had one piece of advice to give other bloggers, it’s don’t blog alone. This team is great. Blogging alone must be like trying to square-dance by yourself.

27 comments:

Maryann Mercer said...

If it makes any difference, I always enjoy the topics you all post, whether I reply or not. You always give me something to think about. Thanks to you I've read books I might not have otherwise picked up, and it's always a treat to see some 'current affairs'about Chicago. Thanks to all of you for the time and effort that goes into this little corner of the internet.

Barbara D'Amato said...

Thank you, Maryann. Your comments are always interesting and expand the discussion. It's kind of like having a group of friends, chatting.

Rosemary Harris said...

I just found your blog about a month or so ago, and I'm enjoying it very much (went back to read archives.) You guys get a big thumbs up from me on the level of dialogue. I check out a lot of blogs to see what other writers are doing, but there are few that are consistently interesting (I don't want to read about someone's husband or their vacuum cleaner unless it's hysterically funny which it almost never is.) BTW I blog individually and in a group. Do I expect people to come out in droves because of it? Of course not, but it can't hurt...

Marcus Sakey said...

Thanks for the kind words, guys. Barb's right, it has turned out to be more work and more fun than I woulda guessed. Hope you all keep reading!

Sara Paretsky said...

I've gotten a lot out of it, too--including book recommendations. Thanks to Libby for turning me on to Francine Prose's Reading Like a Writer. I'm reading it now; it's beautiful.

Michael Dymmoch said...

Barb, you nailed it.

And congratulations on your piece in the Trib.

Barbara D'Amato said...

Thanks, Rosemary, Marcus, Sara, and Michael.
As Marcus said, I didn't expect it to be so much work and so much fun.

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