Sunday, December 03, 2006

The Art of Blogging and the Wisdom of Broccoli

December 3, 2006

Kathleen Shoop

For me, blogging isn't an artform although I realize it is for some. When I do a post, there's no flow, or an intense need to get my thoughts into the blogosphere. I don't stare wistfully at my creation, marveling at some unknown source that birthed the illuminating content. I know how it was formed and finished because I forced every word onto the page, almost like giving birth to an infant. Both events require work. More than I wish was necessary.

I understand the importance of seeding a web-presence which will eventually help sell stacks of my books, right? But really, the more I blog, the more fun it gets. I love to visit other sites and converse with people I’d never have otherwise met. The network of writers is inspirational and sometimes I do wonder how such relationships came to be so vital so fast and from afar.

The most important event in my blogging life occurred this week. I was contacted and temporarily booked to star on the Montel Williams Show! Okay, so maybe not STAR on the show, but I was invited to sit on a panel as the token “average” housewife and discuss politics. I was stunned that a production assistant found my website by googling a few key terms. I thought it was a joke and hesitantly emailed back waiting for someone to jump from behind the couch yelling “You’re a fool, Kathie dear!”

The email and the person behind it was legit and although the producer changed the format of the show and didn't need me, it taught me a lesson. A web-presence is important and has an impact on platform and hopefully someday, sales. The idea that I can build something from nothing and not have to “know somebody” to be asked onto a national talk show is shocking and gives me hope that I wield a modicum of control over my writing destiny.

This brings me to Broccoli and Anne Lamott. As far as I can see, the writing life Lamott prescribes—patience, intuition, wisdom--is the exact opposite of the demanding blogging life—just get something down, now! Anything, damn it!

Lamott uses an example in her book, Bird by Bird, that tells me to listen to my broccoli, that it will tell me how to eat it (Lamott borrowed the broccoli thing from a Mel Brooks routine). Lamott suggests sitting with writing dilemmas, allowing characters to guide me to the next solution, action, word. Forcing thoughts and demanding a character perform as I thought she should instead of how she wants to will result in less thrilling prose than could have been. If I'd only listened.

Lamott also states that great writers “keep writing about the cold dark place within…” Digging to those icy depths requires deliberate awareness and action in the midst of quiet. This combination should reveal the chilly place where great characters are born.

I suppose the trick is to create a fertile space that nurtures wonderful characters while simultaneously courting the product-oriented blogosphere in hopes its lush landscape will reward me in the end.

That's not so hard, right?

Happy Holidays, everyone!


Kristine said...

BIRD BY BIRD is one of my very favorite books on writing. It has wonderful advice for writers.

Great post this morning, Kathie.

kathie said...

Thanks Kristine! Strangely, the post that's published here isn't the final copy...I went to edit and thought I published the right draft (the right one is there when I click on edit) but it won't post my changes! Ugh, sorry, folks.

Tory said...

I do think that the creative act of writing and our marketing of it come from two different parts of ourselves. Hopefully, going back and forth will help to integrate the two!

Working Stiffs said...

I agree, Tory. Developing both sides is key. I do know some people love blogging and spend more time doing that. I guess it depends on your goals, too.

Cathy said...

Interesting thoughts and makes one wonder what's going on out there in blogland. Blog on, Kathie.

From stories our Sisters relate (the ones published and meeting deadlines for the next book), it seems like they have to crank out a lot of pages fast. I would love to be so much in demand (without having to work that hard).

Enjoyed your post very much.

Nancy said...

Brilliant blog, Kathie. I'm trying to find the quiet place within these days---tricky during the holidays!

If you're trying to edit your post: Make the changes in the text, then go up to the top of the box and click on "Edit html." The box may reconfigure itself, and that's when you hit "save" or "post" (I can't remember which it is) again. The changes will appear on the finished blog.

Joyce said...

Great post, Kathie! I'd much rather just work on my book than blog. I don't really like blogging but I do it anyway. I have to force myself to come up with something. I don't update my own blog very often and it's even a struggle coming up with something for this blog every two weeks. Even though I don't like to do it, I know how important it is. If nothing else, it forces me to write something, even if it's crap!

kathie said...

Okay, Nancy, I'll get the editing right next time! I agree, Cathy. I'd love to be in demand--on deadline. I think you can get in that creative quiet spot fast when you need to. I guess, blogging, at times seemed like such a waste. Like, how can I spend this kind of time when barely anyone reads it??? In, the end, we need all components, I suppose. I do love this part of blogging--the comments back and forth. And Joyce, your posts, as well as everyone's here are really good, creative and seem to possess that flow, mine don't. I just don't personally get that creative surge for posting that I do for writing.