I ran across an interesting posting over at Small Review's blog entitled, Busting the Newbie Blues. She has developed a set of questionnaires associated with what we are all doing--i.e., book blogging. I chose her questionnaire for "Established Bloggers" (I guess that's what I am). Her questions kind of made me stop and think for a few minutes about why I am maintaining my blog and what purpose it serves. Personally, I think a periodic assessment and reassessment of my blog is a pretty healthy thing to do. I am thinking it may actually help me improve on what I am doing here. So, without further ado, here are the questions and my responses.
1. When did you start your blog? I started seriously book blogging in August 2009.
2. Why did you start your blog? Honestly, I started this blog solely to create an on-line journal for my own creative writing as well as recording my thoughts about the books I was reading and some of my thoughts about my landscape photography hobby. At the time, I truly never imagined that one other person could be the least bit interested in my scribblings or thoughts.
3. What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far? Did you make any mistakes new bloggers can learn from? I suppose the biggest challenge for me has been in maintaining my discipline, and coming up with new and creative postings associated with the literature that I am reading. Also, another challenge is to ensure that I do take the time to periodically check in with some of the wonderful new friends and their blogs that I have found over the past year and a half. It has truly been inspirational to encounter so many great book and literature blogs here. Regarding any mistakes that I made early on--I think it comes back to the discipline thing. You just have to take the time to sit down and do some writing. It really does keep the creative juices flowing. If I don't talk about the particular book that I am reading, I am famous for digging into my extensive poetry collection and finding a poem to share on ProSe.
4. What did you find most discouraging about being a new blogger? How did you deal with this? Trying to figure out how to do things (e.g., formatting, etc.), posting images, and just generally spiffing up my blog to make it look like something bordering on sophisticated (trust me, it ain't ever gonna be elegant ;-). And practice makes perfect. I just keep trying new things as I go along too. Seeing what others have done has been extraordinarily helpful as well.
5. What do you find most encouraging? Without a doubt it has been the positive response I have received from all of those who've read and commented on my various postings. I simply could not have imagined the response I've received to this blog of mine. Simply amazing!
6. What do you like best about the blogs you read? Have you tried to replicate this in your blog? I love reading about all of the books that other folks are reading, and the reactions they've had via the excellent reviews that everyone is writing. Reading these reviews has definitely made me a more discerning reader and a much better writer. I most certainly do try to replicate the high quality of the writing and the book reviews that I've encountered in and among my own efforts here on ProSe.
7. What do you dislike about blogs you’ve read? Do you try to avoid this? I'm not particularly big on religiously participating in a bazillion memes. I do like to participate in some memes periodically, because it really does make you get outside of your box or routine. But I kind of do it as the spirit moves me. I also am not a fan of adding buttons, badges, or other gizmos to my blog. I figure that this blog is about the books I'm reading, the poetry I like, and some of my landscape photography.
8. Do you have any advice for new bloggers? Just make it a practice to visit your own blog a couple of times a week and write down your thoughts. Even if no other person sees it, you'll have the overwhelming personal satisfaction of having accomplished something meaningful. Your thoughts are very important--they are important to you! Find and develop your own creative niche, and don't worry about whether anyone else will see it, read it, or comment on it. My advice: Write your blog just for you. Nothing more, and nothing less. If you've done your best and you're satisfied; well, there's not much more that you can do. Now, have at it!
9. How did you bring your blog to the attention of so many people? I didn't do anything other than visit other peoples' blogs. I didn't feel compelled to visit other folks' blogs in order to solicit reciprocity; I visited these blogs because I was genuinely interested in reading what they had to say. I have thoroughly enjoyed finding a blog and a writer who has read a book that I've read (or want to read), and then reading their review and discovering what made that particular book or poem meaningful to them. It is simple as that.
10. Is there anything else you’d like to share about your experience? Most of all I'd like to make the point that blogging about books (or anything) should be part fun and part intellectually challenging. I have found that blogging about the books and poetry that I am reading has made me a much better reader. I am looking at things a little differently now. In other words, I have become a more serious reader versus just a casual reader. I now tend to make notes in the margins of the books I read, or on the fly-leafs that later help me frame my thoughts in developing a review or recommendation. I also keep a reading journal where I record important quotes or observations associated with the literature that I am reading. Book blogging has added ever so much to my overall reading and comprehension experience, and I am sure that it can for you as well.