Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Thoughts on blogging

On some other book-person's blog I recently read a bit (no link because I can't remember where it was) to the effect that if no one comments on your blogging efforts, or only a few people comment, then why blog at all, i.e. It's like talking aloud to yourself out in public - rather shameful, egotistical, perhaps nutty, even delusional. That really stuck with me, and bothered me, because the author's intent wasn't friendly, in fact the point of the post was ridicule, for the little guy (the rest of us, in other words). I don't want to return the favor by poking back with a sharp stick, but I do have a few thoughts in response to this, which run along these lines:

Why be exclusive when you can be inclusive? Why take someone else down when it's more peaceful to allow people to do their little thing, whatever it might be? To paraphrase Buddhist author Pema Chödrön: in interactions both small and large, in daily decisions, do you keep choosing peace or do you go to war? Take the high road? And - the thing that really gets me about this person's post - why do artists make art (not that blogs are art, but stretch with me here, for blogs are creative expression, surely)? I'll answer my own question: artists make art because they must. Whether or not anyone responds to it is completely secondary. I think about the great painters and writers who labored their whole lives in obscurity. I mean GREAT artists and TOTAL obscurity. So why begrudge anyone their bit of creative freedom in this highly accessible age, even if the only person who sees the tentative results is a friend or family member here and there.

I think all bloggers must wonder What exactly am I doing here... I blog because I have a creative streak and I've always been a compulsive chronicler of my experience. I also like the interaction with readers (this means YOU). Blogging is like keeping a journal, which I do and have done since I was a teenager, except with blogging your journal talks back to you sometimes. Of course much of what I write in my journals I don't choose to share in public, so I edit what appears here, and I try to keep it to bookish themes, because that's one of the things I love best and want to spread the word about - reading, the bookshop, the bookish life. So many folks who stop by the shop ask me about being a bookseller. And because having a bookshop is one of the great dreams of many of us booklovers, I figured people might be interested to hear what it's like on this side of the desk.

So here we are, blogging. To what end, who knows. But how about this: for fun, and for sharing our love of great books - that might just be enough. I'm feeling introspective, because this is blog post #199. Post #200 is coming up next. With pictures. Of books. LOTS AND LOTS OF BOOKS.

Happy anniversary to us, the booklovers managing to cope with the digital era.

As an artist, I do make art because I must. As a newbie blogger, I blog as a way to reach out of my solitary space to others in a new way, again, because I must. Creative expression is meant to be shared.

Susan GT
You're right, Susan, thanks. Another layer for me is that as an introvert I often have trouble conversing comfortably with people (though the shop forces me to practice, which is usually good), and blogging allows me to talk to people, without, you know, actually having to TALK to people.

At the Mary Oliver reading I went to last month (see blog post below) she said once you make a work of art (poem, painting, anything) it doesn't belong to you any more. It belongs to everyone.
I didn't know about blogs at all until a few months ago. Quite frankly, though I've been looking around, few blogs have caught my attention for any lasting period up to now... apart from yours. It's become a regular part of my day to visit you, even though I'm not too prone to comment. I even miss you when you're away! I truly feel your writing here is worthwile : your observations on the books you read (and love), on typography, on book labels, on buying and selling books, on your painting... All these topics strike a chord with me, and I feel your blog may eventually add up to a full-grown journal on bookselling & book lore — perhaps worth publishing on the long run. To me, it's a steady presence, a sharing from a like-minded person who's energy brings daily nourishment to my own passion for books. Please keep on wrtiting — you're not alone out there. Thanks, Sarah !
Oh, Sarah. I feel so guilty. I have been reading your blog without commenting EVERY day for months. I love your blog. I am a former English teacher who became a stay home mom and collected books as a hobby. Now that my youngest child has entered school, I am planning to sell books beginning Jan uary 1, 2007 (on the internet to start -- hoping for a shop as I build the business). Your blog is such an inspiration to me. It also has taught me a lot about the bookish life and the satisfaction of such a life. THANK YOU for what you do; please keep doing it. Reading your blog is the way I start my day each and every day (I live in California, so your posts are usually up by time I get up in the morning). Thanks again for your wonderful blog! Congratulations on the 200th post.

Pierre, thanks so much for your kind words. They sure made me smile - I love books and I love to write about them, and have other people tell me they also love books... To tell the truth, I have already written a book about the book business, and keeping shop, and book-collecting etc. It's sitting in a box at the moment, ripening, as it were, after a few rejections from agents. I'll go back to it this winter and take another look. I still plan to trade some tickets with you soon - I'm saving a few up here and there, but I haven't found many this fall...

Dear Chris, no guilt allowed! This is a guilt-free zone! Thanks for reading but don't feel like you have to comment, that wasn't my intent with this post. Lots of people lurk. I lurk. When you start selling online, I'd love to know how it's going for you. If you need advice, email me - I used to sell a lot online, then slacked off once the shop got going.
Hi S.

I've blogged for several years now (as you know, most recently and consistantly at I leave comments on and very occasionally have someone post a comment. It doesn't phase me at all that there are very few comments (frankly, I didn't have comments on until relatively recently). I seem to get mostly emails when someone wants to comment/chat...or poke me with a stick to point out I haven't posted in a while. I watch my traffic stats and know how many people wander through...I think some blogs just lend themselves to chat more than might be fun to experiment with...
Heeey Ian - a few people prefer to email me directly than post comments to the blog. It's just one of those things. I thought commenting was kinda creepy myself (who are these people I am interested in but don't even know??), of course until I got my own blog. It's all so public, though, that some people just aren't comfortable with the format. I will watch your blog with interest to see how your experiments go, you mad scientist you...
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