I've asked a dozen or so bloggers who are also writers and who I read daily - or as often as they succumb to the pressure and post - to answer those questions. If you are a writer/blogger and want to weigh in write me at mjroseAuthor@aol.com
Part 2 in "The Blogging Thing" series: Wendi Kaufman
The Happy Booker
I write this on my thirtieth day of blogging. I know this because Typepad has just notified me that my free trial period is up and that my overburdened credit card will now be billed $4.95 per month to support my habit.
After my first month, I am still wet behind the ears and viewing the world through rose-colored bloggles, happy for the new bully pulpit and appreciative of cadre of litbloggers who have so warmly welcomed me.
Important first month discoveries include experiencing the true generosity of other bloggers— with special thanks here to M.J. for inviting me over to write this—learning what the heck an < a href is, and finding the joy in "making a list of lists" (I thank the New York Times for that one).
For many years, long before the blog was even a twinkle in my eye, I had the inappropriate habit of pushing books on people—friends, family members, strangers on the R train, it didn’t matter, I was an equal opportunity pusher. In many ways, The Happy Booker grew out of that lifelong compulsion to share the BOOKS I LOVE—just a few days ago I did an online happy dance about a new James Salter collection coming out this spring, and then openly shared my obsession with his novel "Light Years." Blogging is the perfect forum for that, and it makes my compulsion seem a little more socially acceptable—or less likely to have me removed from public transportation.
When I am not blogging, I spend a good part of my day writing short fiction. I am also a regular freelancer for The Washington Post, an itinerant university adjunct, busy parent, and obsessive reader. So you can see why I thought blogging seemed like the natural thing to add to my day. (In early and idealistic thoughts, I envisioned blogging as a way to keep in touch with my far-flung and literary minded friends, a way to cut down on the time I spent on email— okay, you can stop laughing now!)
Blogger Scott Mclemee recently described The Happy Booker as "a DC litblog is an idea whose time has come."
I'd never thought about my blog as DC-centric. But that’s the area where I live, it’s the writing scene that I experience, so that’s become part of the fabric of what I write about. Politics is name of the game around here, but what often gets lost is that DC is also a town of writers and folks who appreciate good writing—it's home to PEN/Faulkner, NPR, Library of Congress, and several nationally ranked MFA programs with incredible and award-winning writing faculties.
I often joke that my neighborhood is an enchanted place called the suburban land of writers. It’s a pretty Perrotta-esque landscape replete with carpools, soccer, and T-ball, but the truth is that many of my friends who live nearby are also writers. (Do I lose cool points here if I mentioned that several of us drive station wagons built in the last century, and spend much of our days toting our offspring hither and yon? Yeah, I probably would.)
Yet somehow between microwaving the chicken nuggets and picking Legos off the floor, my friends and I are in the unique position of either finishing or just publishing our first books, and I would like to think that blogging—"home-grown marketing you can do in your pajamas," as my friend Caroline Kettlewell says— in some small way helps to get the word out. Which is why on the right-hand side of the screen, I list my friends’ books. (And yes, I’ve read them, they’re all good. I wouldn’t put them up there if they weren’t.)
I recently invited NPR book critic Alan Cheuse over for a backyard barbeque, blog-style. We flipped a few burgers and I let him write about what he’s reading these days. It was great fun and the response was so overwhelming that I have invited Alan to come back again. I also started a series where authors stop by to "guest drive my iPod"— giving them a chance to write about a few songs they like, which, in some ways, I think is far more revealing than a straight author interview. So my blog is also becoming a cool neighborhood hang out, a nice respite from the soft-hued glow of suburban life.
Aside from talking about books and writing, shamelessly flogging my friends’ books, covering DC lit events and happenings, I guess what my blog has given me is a place to profess my love of books, my very own mountaintop (at a mere $4.95 a month), to shout it loud and proud: I am here, I blog, get used to it!
Wendi's fiction has appeared in various literary journals and magazines, including The New Yorker, Fiction, New York Stories and Other Voices. Her stories have also been anthologized in "Scribner's Best of the Fiction Workshops '98" (guest editor, Carol Shields), "Elements of Literature" (Holt, Rinehart and Winston) and most recently, "Faultlines: Stories of Divorce" (Penguin/Putnam).