Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Book Blogging, Sharing Writing, and Other Scary Things

This post has been sitting in my drafts for a couple months now... thought I'd finally post it.
Summer just whizzed by, and all of a sudden it's almost October [it's November!! ] and I've gone three weeks without writing a blog post (sorry!) In case you missed it, I spent most of August doing reviews for Women in Translation Month, and I also did a review of Anahareo's incredible autobiography Devil in Deerskins: My Life with Grey Owl, which includes pictures of my family's annual trip to Riding Mountain National Park.

Since then, I've started my final year of university, got yet another job, opened a new bank account, read and thought way too much about media and the way it manipulates our brains, biked a bunch of places, hung out with friends, and somewhere in there the scariest thing of all, writing.

I also have not been blogging, obviously. I have been thinking a lot about what I should blog about, though.

I've wanted to talk about book reviewing, in response to this post, and the bizarre concept that there are book bloggers who review every book they read?? I often feel like a fake book blogger, that I kind of stumbled into book reviewing after goofing off as a teenager for a number of years. I don't really know how this thing is really supposed to work. The type of book blogger world that you review every book you read is so distant and strange to me. I think so differently about the books I review, if I did that with every book I read it would ruin my reading experience and make me want to read even less than I do. (I have been stuck on Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit by Nahoko Ueashi for about two weeks now. Although I did read Tash Hearts Tolstoy somewhere in there, and that was pretty cute.)

I also have very specific reasons for publishing reviews on my blog - usually because I think it's a book that people may not have heard of and I want to make them aware of something new, not reinforce or go against ideas they have about a book they already read. Something I don't get is when there are a million reviews of the same book and people think they still need to put their voice out there. I know it's the nature of the beast that is a book blog, that you get more views if you post about more popular books, but it's a stupid system that lets a lot of really good books fall through the cracks.

The other thing I've been thinking about is sharing work. I finished the rewrite of the draft I finished last November this summer, and sent it off to a few people, with the knowledge that some of these people wouldn't have time to read it, and wouldn't necessarily critique it because that's not the kind of readers they are. Did I do that purposefully? Yes, probably. (Okay, definitely.) Sharing work is scary. I get so panicky every time I hit send on a document. It is weird how writing can involve both being entirely solitary and opening your thoughts and ideas up to the whole world. There are these "one line Wednesday" things on Twitter where you share a line of your Work in Progress on Twitter, and even that terrifies me. I don't know how people are constantly sharing their work on Twitter and elsewhere. I know it's my own fault that it scares me so much, that I really just need to practice.

And that's another thing - why is writing so hard? Why haven't I figured out how to do this? I've been doing this for over fifteen years. You would think I would know things by now. I mean, I've figured some stuff out, like telling myself to just write 500 words is a good way to trick myself into getting started and end up writing a lot more than that. But I still agonize over that actually starting part, I don't have a regular writing routine, and I still don't really know how to share my work with people and invite real critique.

I mean, this is the point where I should say, hey, want to read a terrible second draft about friendship, family and scary transitions? But I don't even want to do that, because it's too scary. There are too many things that could happen after that. I'll just keep my MS to myself, thanks, rereading it every so often as a nice reminder that I can spit words semi-coherently on a page. But then there's also the deep desire in me to share this with another human, to have someone read what I wrote and get it, get what I'm trying to say and in that connect our human experiences on earth.

And now I'm going to share this, I guess? In the hopes that someone might comment and assure me that I'm not the only one who thinks these things? 


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