• Bridge Ladies

    Bridge Ladies Sometimes I think a meteor could strike the earth and wipe out mankind with the exception of my mother’s Bridge club — Roz, Bea, Bette, Rhoda, and Jackie — five Jewish octogenarians who continue to gather for lunch and Bridge on Mondays as they have for over fifty years. When I set out to learn about the women behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, and most of all the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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Well You Can Dream On Me


I started a blog in April, it’s about my son. I post weekly. What do you tell your clients about blogs? Do you ever try to convince writers to start one? Or two? Are writers ever “discovered” that way? Can blogs lead to books or is it a totally different (disposable) medium? Are they only interesting to publishers in terms of the numbers or is the content the thing? Is blogging real writing? Do you cover blogs in your new edition of Forest for the Trees?


Dear Fellow Blogger:

In answer to your questions. First, if you want to build an audience, you need to blog every day, at least this is my understanding. I tell my clients to think about a blog if it makes sense and can augment their book, build an audience as they write, find the niche markets that would be interested in their work. A lot of authors make the mistake of starting a blog when they finish the book or as the book is about come out. Even though the web makes it possible to launch a blog in seven seconds, it actually takes serious time and devotion to build an on-line presence if you are starting from scratch. Yes, Virginia, some writers have been discovered through their blogs. Most notably, perhaps, is Julie Powell of  Julie & Julia fame. And these blogs have led to books. Another great example is Stuff White People Like. Is blogging real writing? Well, it ain’t Proust. But lots of bloggers (ahem) pride themselves in what they write. Yes, I cover blogs in my new edition of Forest for the Trees. I also talk about Twatter, MyFace, etc. I’m kinda with Betty White here; it’s all a big waste of time. On the other hand, in just one year and a half, this blog has brought me more laughs, fun, a great community of writers, potential clients, invitations, people out of the woodwork etc. than I could have ever imagined. I think it’s probably a good idea to figure out what it is you want from a blog and then design one to help you fulfill those goals. Or, WTF, just open an on-line vein and let it bleed.

What do you say? What blogs do you read? What makes a blog great? Do they help or hinder your writing?

38 Responses

  1. If it weren’t for blogging, I would have probably forgotten that I liked to write.

    I’ve been reading blogs for about 5 years. Some of my favorites, I’ve been reading that whole time – Lemon Gloria. Le Belette Rouge, Phantysthat – recently, I’ve discovered some of your commenters’ blogs – Adam Purple at Writer Not, Carson Lee at Blue Collar Lit and Bethany at Expatriot Games. All very different from the other, but interesting, entertaining and even enlightening.

    I love good writing, creativity, and connection. Several of the bloggers I read are probably more open in their blogs than they are in their “real” life.

    Reading blogs is one way I procrastinate, but I can’t say that hinders my writing.

    • I certainly talk more about my obsession with Seven Brides for Seven Brothers on the blog than in real life. Wait, that’s probably not true. But on the blog I get to post pictures!

      And Lisa’s blog is pretty farking awesome, btw. 😉

  2. I love blogging, but I don’t see how it’s possible to blog every day (as you suggest) AND finish a book. I suppose it’s possible for a full-time writer, but what about those of us who have desk jobs, too? Sigh.

  3. I don’t blog every day, because I just wouldn’t be able to keep it up. But I do blog 3 days a week, to a schedule, and that works for me. I think it’s more important for people to know when your posts are going to be up – if you blog sporadically they won’t know when to check in!

    The type of blogs I visit regularly are normally the funny ones like Hyperbole and a Half, Passive Aggressive Notes and 27b/6; random ones like Botropolis; blogs by writers I admire like this one and Mick Wall; plus every 80s blog I can find and blogs by my friends.

    Hmmmm. Perhaps I read TOO many!

  4. I’ve got a silly sort of elitist notion about blogging, but only in regard to myself. I think that if I blog, since the internet is such an ephemeral medium, that I should “save” my good writing for a book. That’s kind of stressful, if not impossible.

    If I were honest with myself, however, I’d admit that the more I write, the more I will write, and that writing ephemera, if done with heart and skill, is better than writing nothing. Still, it’s hard to renounce the fantasy of literary immortality for 37 favorable comments appended to my latest post. Betsy, you seem to have the best of both worlds, but then, you’ve earned it.

    What I think blogging does is force detachment and accountability on a writer. You become obliged to your readers (especially if they love you), but you can’t rest on your latest bon mot. And sometimes the mot is not bon at all, but still you must show up and deliver. You can’t hold back a post until your editor has gone over it, can’t tweak for weeks until it’s perfect. Time flickers through a blog like the frames of a movie; eternity (or at least history) is embodied by a book. Most writers want to leave a legacy, I would think.

    Blogging fosters the most immediate and reciprocal relationship you can have between writer and reader that is still at a remove from face-to-face contact. Maybe I’m little intimidated by that.

    And lastly, a blog—or rather, the blog’s comment box—allows a would-be writer to join the sanga, association, of writers without the stress and sacrifice of cranking out the pages, of committing to a single work. We can bask in the blogger’s glow, risking nothing.

    Sorry this is so long, Betsy, but this is the second-most writing I’ve done all day.

  5. I’ve kept online journals since high school. They’re not themed blogs aimed at gaining an audience – just vacuous rambling nonsense. I read a few lit blogs. I journal mostly for myself. I like keeping a record. Weirdly, I like keeping it before others. I don’t consider my blog serious or good writing – but the knowledge of readers puts some pressure on the prose.

    INTERVIEWER: How extensive are the journals you have kept and do you hope to publish them?

    WHITE (E.B.): The journals date from about 1917 to about 1930 … They occupy two-thirds of a whiskey carton. … The journals are callow, sententious, moralistic, and full of rubbish. They are also hard to ignore. … Extensive is the word for them. I do not hope to publish them, but I would like to get a little mileage out of them. … In most respects they are disappointing. Where I would like to discover facts, I find fancy. Where I would like to learn what I did, I learn only what I was thinking. They are loaded with opinion, moral thoughts, quick evaluations, youthful hopes and cares and sorrows. Occasionally, they manage to report something in exquisite honesty and accuracy. This is why I have refrained from burning them. But usually, after reading a couple of pages, I put them aside in disgust …

  6. Blog!!! if you get responses and following just make ure you put on your hairshirt….people are mean, mean mean…blog prove Sartre’s dictum: Hell is other people.
    It’s like your book, when published it either succeeds or the jackals are after you.
    chain….chain….chain….doo woop….

  7. i started a blog on january 15 2008 and committed to posting every day for 365 days straight. during that year, i ended up pregnant, was given a weekly op-ed column in our local daily, and started my third novel (so far the only one that I have ever finished a full first draft of).

    my goal was to write every day so that i could get closer to write what i want, when i want, and get paid handsomely for it. so far i’ve achieved two of those three intents. i’m optimistic that the handsome pay will eventually come.

    some of the pub blogs i follow regularly:
    here, of course
    nathan b.
    saturday morning memoir
    rachel g.

  8. amyg—you mean if I blog I’ll get pregnant?

  9. I have only recently committed to writing my blog as frequently as possible, and now I find I am quite enjoying it. Though I am trying not to overdo it, of course, as I then have only a limited amount of time left over for writing my novels and articles.

  10. This is the only blog I read daily…actually the only blog I read at all (other than my writer friend’s Susan Woodring’s…. she doesn’t blog daily but when she does post she has substantive and original things to say about writing). I think it takes writing talent, a preternatural wit, and perhaps most importantly, a well-honed auto-editor to develop a blog of this caliber.

    • What Karen said. (well apart from the bit about her friend Susan’s blog which I have never read . . . )

      Betsy, your blog is a tonic and the only one I read daily. I love it. And not just because of the posts – which often make me laugh out loud and sometimes make me sad or nostalgic or grateful or . . . but always make my day.

      It’s the whole package – titles, graphics (who knew Barbie blogged?) and the often just as funny or thought provoking comments of your followers. Okay, I’ll stop gushing now . . .

      I started a blog in March as a course assignment on my M.A. . Followers are few as are those who leave comments (but I like to pretend I have a million lurkers). I like the immediacy of blogging , but in many ways I feel like it takes away from my “real” writing. That said, I’ve learned a lot and it’s been fun. Will I keep it up? Not sure.

  11. We’re potential clients? OMG!!!!!

  12. This is a daily read and I love it. I also have to give a shout out for Vivian Swift’s blog. She has an artist’s gift of observation that makes me feel like I have a kindred spirit out there.

  13. I write a snarky editorial blog for about three readers, two of whom are robots selling penis enlargement pills. I have no idea who the third one is.

    I think all writing is good for you. While following blogs and writing a ton might get in the way of your writing career, or whatever you do to support your writing habit (guilty as charged), the blog gives me a place to warm up, to rant and rave and not worry about line breaks or a thesis. It makes me write more.

  14. Riverbend’s blog was made into two books: “Baghdad Burning” and “Baghdad Burning II.” Of course, she had a hell of a platform. Her country had been invaded and was being torn to pieces.

    This blog and a political blog are the only two I spend time on. There are too many more important things to do. If my agent or editor were to advise me to set up a blog, I would certainly follow that advice. Blogging is a different form of writing, much more akin to the pamphleteering of two or three centuries ago than to any other form of writing I’ve engaged in.

  15. I read this blog every day, not only for Betsy but for August and Tetman and Vivian and SpringChicken and Lyn and the rest you. I read every single comment as avidly as the original post. Not on other blogs, only this one.

    My last click before this page was to my own blog, to disable it. I’m going to start a new one under another name. With anonymity comes freedom, sometimes.

    • I’m with you on the anonymity thing. The rat bastards found my blog and I am ever mindful of their presence. If I didn’t have to keep the peace my writing would be my own. As is, the internet makes me a bit uncomfortable. Anal me is wondering why there’s been a rash of Google searches for me lately. The blog just isn’t that worthy. I’m wasting time wondering whose interest I sparked and at which boring function with my big mouth. And negative me knows it can’t be a good thing…

    • “With anonymity comes freedom, sometimes.”

      Can do. The political blog I post on, I am a pseudonymously-named avatar with a persona slightly askew from my main day-to-day emanation. I find I have there a freedom to say things and take chances I would never take and say were I speaking from my core identity and using my real name. And I am careful there never to reveal the connection between my avatar and my actual self. The persona I show there is not the one I show here.

    • I’ve never had a problem with comments on my blog (other than those written by my ex and his wife, who never lose an opportunity to bend me over – I got your rat bastards, Deb) but after a couple of years I disabled the comment function. Not because I don’t care to hear other opinions, but because I don’t want to edit myself out of writing something interesting. The new name is one more step out of my own way.

      • Keep your exit only sign in place. I tried it and I mean for real. He definitely got the better part of the bargain. I won’t be trying that again.

      • Oh good lord. You poor woman. Just the thought of my husband’s size 13 feet are enough to deter me.

      • Okay, that last comment was me. I was confounded by the iphone/son’s kung fu practice combo. But I wanted to tell you how much I’m enjoying your blog, Lisa. I feel I’ve found the mother lode. If you ever need a beta reader, I’m all yours.

      • Size 13 feet? Yes, remain true to your initial stance. Clenched. And thank you! I hope to need beta readers in the near future.

      • Clenched. Oh yeah. (And I just wrote ‘the thought are’ so you’re taking your chances with my beta skills. I still blame it on kung fu.)

  16. Thank you Betsy for the answer to my question! And to everybody else for their thoughts on blogging. One more thing: Why do you think a serious blogger has to post everyday? If I posted my thoughts on motherhood everyday I would sound (to myself mostly) like a total schizo…

    • Hi Ella. I bought a book called ProBlogger to help me understand the blogging world. It’s informative, to the point and written in terms anyone can understand. I highly recommend it. The author also has a blog of the same name you can check out.

  17. Hello, Betsy! I was excited to see this post as I am currently taking a course called “Into Print.” As students in this course we were required to start a blog. Our professor is focused on the merits of attempting to join the writing community. She also believes a blog is an effective way to develop you’re own voice.
    I have a worn copy of your book on publishing that I pass around to friends, and I can’t wait to get my hands on the new edition. Thanks for you’re insight!

  18. […] I posted on Betsy Lerner’s blog today! She raised some interesting questions about blogging. Check her […]

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