3 posts categorized "Writing" Feed

On Getting My Blogging Groove Back

Regular readers of this blog may have noticed that my once-steady stream of book reviews has dried up of late. In fact, it dried up much earlier than was visible on the blog, because I was fortunate enough to have a backlog of 20 or so reviews. This enabled me to keep posting reviews for more than a month after ceasing to write them. But eventually, the reviews ran out, and my blog posting has been rather sparse ever since.

Most people who have been blogging for a long time (I'm coming up on 8 years in December) go through periods of blog doldrums. Blogging is something that we spend a lot of time and energy on, for which most of us don't make any appreciable amount of money. And there's the pressure implied by the steady stream of books that appear on one's doorstep, or in one's GoodReads and NetGalley queues. It sometimes requires periods of rest, or refocusing one's efforts, to recapture the energy to keep going. 

For me, my period of blog doldrums started because I was ill, and I for quite a while didn't have the energy to even think about blogging. I've been having recurring pneumonias for nearly 2 years now. This summer things got worse, and I ended up hospitalized a couple of times. But the good outcome of that was that we finally learned that I had an obscure bacterial infection that was causing the pneumonias. A month or so of very strong antibiotics (via home IV line) seem to have beaten back the infection (though they had their own less than fun side effects). And finally, I'm doing better. I still tire easily. I'm still trying not to do too much, or travel. But I'm ready to think about what I want to do with my blog going forward. 

During the time that I've been sick, I've been reading primarily adult titles, catching up on the genre that I've always most enjoyed, mysteries. This started out because I didn't want to feel guilty about reading children's or young adult books and not having the energy to review them. But as my energy levels have come back up a bit, I've found that I still don't really feel like reading things that I think that I should review. That is to say, reviewing has started to feel like a bit of a chore. Homework. Unpaid work. However you'd like to put it. It's not that I don't appreciate the books that publishers send to me, because I do. I have books that I've been really looking forward to reading. But ... the piles feel overwhelming. 

As I was coming to this realization about my reluctance to dive back into reviewing, I came across a two-post discussion launched by Sarah Stevenson at Finding Wonderland. And it turned out that Sarah and I were in the same boat. Sarah started with Rekindling My Love for Blogging, Or Is the Thrill Gone?, saying:

"Sometime over the past year or two, the whole blog thing became a chore. Posting, commenting, writing book reviews, "maintaining an online presence"--it wasn't so much fun anymore."

Sarah was mostly just telling people, explaining that she didn't expect to be blogging quite so much. But she got a lot of good suggestions in the comments, and she later posted More Monday Thoughts on Blogging and Kidlit, in which she captured some of the comments from the earlier post. I was particularly taken by these three points:

"Gail Gauthier said that starting some new features has really helped her regain momentum for blogging."

"Melissa Wiley talked about going back to the original roots of why she started blogging in the first place--something that really resonated."

 "Adrienne's feelings about the situation really paralleled my own, too: "It got so I couldn't do book reviews anymore, for a lot of the reasons you all have mentioned--feeling overwhelmed and feeling obligated." 

I took a few days to think about Sarah's post, and particularly Adrienne and Melissa's feedback. Thinking about why I started blogging, and what it is about blogging that excites me. Here's part of what I commented on the second post on Thursday:

"what motivated me at the beginning, as this person with no kids who wasn't a children's book writer or anything, was this passion that I have for encouraging kids to love books. Not sure WHY I feel so strongly about that (besides the obvious wanting other people to share in the joy that I got from books, and the opportunities that came from being a strong reader). But the blog was an effort to "do something" instead of just thinking that it was important. 

And I guess these days, I find I'm more motivated to skim other blog posts and newsletters to find the good stuff that helps with that (growing bookworms) than I am to write reviews of individual books. But a bunch of Twitter and Facebook links doesn't really make for an exciting blog..."

So I've been thinking about that, particular the bit about going back to why I started the blog in the first place. And suddenly, yesterday, I found myself coming up with ideas for blog posts. Posts that I wanted to write, rather than posts that I felt like I should write. I wrote about Roald Dahl day, and my two favorite Dahl books. I drafted a post about the five series that I'm most looking forward to reading with my daughter, and started sketching out thoughts for a post on bedtime reading vs. other types of reading. And I can feel other ideas percolating behind the scenes.

In terms of the books, I'm thinking of doing some mini-reviews or themed lists of picture books, rather than putting pressure on myself to review all 30+ titles that are in "worth talking about" stack. And I think ... that I'm going to just start reading children's and young adult books again, and trust that my desire to talk about them will come. 

My thanks to Sarah, Gail, Melissa, and Adrienne, all of whom have helped me, I think, to get my blogging groove back. Only time will tell! Thanks for listening. 

© 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate. 

Writing Contest for TOKYOPOP

I received the following announcement from Jackie (fellow readergirlz postergirl and blogger at Interactive Reader). She in turn received it from Mandy Willingham, Author and Artist Relations Associate for TOKYOPOP. I'm posting it here because it seems like something that young adults who like to write would be interested in. You have to be at least 13 years of age to enter. Here's the announcement:

As the country's leading manga publisher, TOKYOPOP is committed to encouraging children and young adults to read. Now, we're pleased to announce our Alex CosmoGIRL! Alex Unlimited Writing Competition, featuring a grand prize of a trip for two to New York City.

Alex Unlimited is Dan Jolley's story about Alexandra Benno, a young woman with a unique talent: she can instantly summon parallel-dimension versions of herself. But these duplicates are always super-idealized: smart, fast, tough, and often the most beautiful girls in their world--while Alex herself is clumsy, frizzy-haired, and has the body of a twelve-year-old boy! So when the government recruits Alex for top-secret espionage work, it's always her idealized version who gets the action and, consequently, receives all the credit. Sick of being her own sidekick, will Alex be able to crack the Vosarak Code and complete her latest mission . . . or is she destined to live in her own shadow?

Participants have until October 31 to write short story based on Dan Jolley's Alex Unlimited universe, and WIN a TRIP for TWO to NEW YORK CITY and the chance to be immortalized in Dan Jolley's next volume of Alex Unlimited! In order to be eligible, the story must follow the following criteria:

  • is based on the Alex Unlimited world and includes Alex as the main character
  • is entirely fictional (Submissions containing reference to real-life individuals will not be accepted.)
  • is no less than 3,000 words nor longer than 5,000 words in length
  • is an original work! (Plagiarism or use of copyrighted material is strictly prohibited. Entries with profanity will not be accepted.)

The Grand Prize-winning entry gets:   

  • Published in Volume 3 of the Alex Unlimited series
  • Round-trip airfare and hotel accommodations to New York for two
  • NY Comic Con 2008 passes for two
  • Paid tour for two to see top landmarks around New York City
  • A visit to the CosmoGIRL! offices to meet the editors
  • 250 Macy's gift certificate

A complete list of rules can be found at: http://www.tokyopop.com/Robofish/insidetp/688431.html

If you happen to know any aspiring manga writers, especially among teens, this could be a good opportunity for them. 

A Small Thought About Writing

I learned something about writing from my 12-year-old friend C this weekend. Her mother showed me a short story that C had written, about a page and a half long. I found the whole story well-written, but what especially struck me was that four or five sentences were purely C. I could hear her saying the words. Meaning that at 12, she's already found her voice, or at least glimpses of it.

I thought: that's what you have to do when you write, isn't it? You have to put a piece of yourself there on the page. I'm not talking about writing about one's own experiences (though clearly there are places for that, too), but about writing in the voice that is uniquely your own. We've talked about this in the Kidlitosphere before, about how we can recognize the words of the bloggers that we follow closely by the words themselves, even before seeing a name attached to them. I guess I've just never noticed this before with someone I know from the real world. It's really neat.

© 2009 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.