Why I Write This Blog

TIme to get a little personal here at EDIWTB. Let's dim the lights a bit, shall we?

First, an explanation for the lapse in posting. I work for a crisis communications company. We help companies with communications strategies and reputation management. This week, one of my clients has been in the news a lot (understatement), and I've been busy working on social media outreach and rapid response on my client's behalf, which is my little piece of the puzzle. I've been working a lot, and haven't been able to get to this blog until now.

Second, I am finally getting caught up on Twitter and my blog reader and learning about the controversy that swirled among the book blog community after the panel at BEA. Without getting into too much of the details, there were complaints by members of the lit/book blogging community that the panelists weren't representative of the whole community; that it came across that their motivation was fueled by desire to get free books; and that some answers on the panel suggested a much cozier relationship between book bloggers and the publishing industry than some bloggers were comfortable with. (If you want to read more about the controversy, check out Stephanie's recent post.) For the record, I had heard of all of the panelists before the panel, had followed most of them before the panel, and didn't have any issues with the panel other than that I would have liked to have been on it!

Reading through some of the comments on Twitter and various blogs, I started thinking about my own motivations for writing this blog. I've been doing this for almost three years. I've gone through periods where I post more or less frequently, and periods where I have more or less time to devote to reading. But my enthusiasm for the blog has never waned. I always tell clients who are trying to understand social media that bloggers write about what they are passionate about. Reading is one of my passions, and it always has been. I am fascinated by the writing process, and I am a huge fiction fan. I've been clipping reviews for years and years, and I've been recommending books to friends for just as long. I love talking about what I'm reading, and I love hearing about what others are reading, even if it's a book that doesn't interest me. I wish I had more time to read, and that I read faster, but the reality is that I have two small kids and a basically fulltime job, so reading often takes a backseat. That's why my posts are more often about reviews of books I want to read, than about books I've read. Unfortunately, that's just how it is.

What I love about the book blog:

  • The community of readers I interact with, whether or not they are other bloggers;
  • The totally unexpected - but absolutely wonderful and rewarding - interactions I have had with authors. People who can write fiction well are like rock stars to me (and I revere rock stars too), and knowing that some of the ones I love are just an email away still boggles my mind.
  • Comments. I love 'em!
  • When people tell me that they consult the blog before buying a book or when suggesting books for a book club
  • very distant last place- and I won't lie about this – is that if there's a new book out there that I want to read, I can request a review copy of it and it will usually be sent to me. I never realized this would happen when I launched the blog back in 2006, but it has been a nice little perk. I don't run ads and I certainly don't get paid for writing this blog, so the free books are a nice little extra.

The upshot is: I don't blog for any reason other than that I love to read. When I finish a book, I love to hear what others thought about it, and I enjoy lending my voice to the chorus. Simple as that. And, as I mentioned above, I love hearing from authors who have either found my blog or whom I've been in touch with through publicists. Last night, I was reading my current book, and I read a passage that was so well-written that I put the book down, turned to my laptop, and emailed the author a one-line email telling her what a good writer I thought she was. If I hadn't launched this blog, I'd never be able to have those kind of interactions.

I was saddened to see that the book blogging community – a friendly one, I've always found – has been affected by the kind of internal tension that I've seen in other online communities. Perhaps such schisms are inevitable among expressive, passionate people with strong opinions. Personally, I don't care whether I am considered a "lit blogger" or a "book blogger" or first wave or second wave. All I know is, I enjoy doing this, and I have found a group of people who like reading what I write and sharing their own thoughts, and that's enough for me.