• Bridge Ladies

    Bridge Ladies When I set out to learn about my mother's bridge club, the Jewish octogenarians behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, their gen, and the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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Waiting For My New Friends To Come

The other day, a writer asked me what I get out of blogging. Friends, for starters. Deep, abiding friendships with thousands of people I’ll never have to meet or go to their kids’ bar mitzvahs. Nothing puts me in a worse mood than a bar mitzvah. Next, I got my publisher to let me revise my book by showing them how hip, viable, and down I really am. Next, I was approached by a publisher to write a young adult novel. I’ve adapted The Good Earth, set in Beverly Hills, and it’s coming out in 2012. What else? I’ve learned a lot about blogging, social networking, e-book marketing. This is useful in my role as an agent. The biggest plus is it’s taken ten years off my life. Maybe you’ve heard: blogging is the new forty. I haven’t made any money, but I’m doing what I love so I know the money will follow. Right?

What does blogging do you for you? Can you believe blog is even a word? Remember how it sounded the first time you heard it?

104 Responses

  1. Wait, you’re not coming to my kids’ bar mitzvahs? Fuck that.

  2. I just bought a book, “Create Your Own Blog–6 easy Projects to Start a Blog”.
    Some day I’m going to l look at it.

  3. Kvetchspace, mostly. A little writing practice. A lot of blogfriends who appear to be sticking around for some reason.

    And then there’s the bright and shiny obsession over stats . . . I loves me a good stats obsession, I do.

  4. “Blogging is the new 40” It’s so true! Since I’ve been blogging, I’ve made friends all over the world who’d never speak to me if they saw me in my old-lady, real-life self.

    No, it doesn’t pay a damn thing, but it’s cheaper than a facelift and way more fun. Plus my blog is wildly valuable according to blogbiz or one of those sites. I can’t imagine anybody buying it, but it’s kind of cool to know.

  5. Blogging is the most dishonest thing I’ve ever done, which is highly desirable to someone who has both undergraduate and graduate degrees from women’s colleges, AND had an orthodox conversion to Judaism. It’s so hip to lie.

  6. Blogging has barely earned me my hosting fees. But it’s satisfying in a narcissistic, self-degrading way. I’ll never stop.

  7. A benefit I never expected? The ritual practice of staying on topic is a reminder of the details that can, and often should, be left out when writing.

    Take today — I went to a luncheon to hear Abraham Vergehese speak. He was great. I blogged about it. But I did not blog about how I couldn’t eat one bite, not one tasting, of my prepaid $40 lunch at said luncheon because I’m on a liquid diet today as I prep for my colonoscopy tomorrow and how I sat there, stomach embarrassingly rumbling, trying to quiet it by squirming, while the 160 other people gobbled down their salad and creamed soup and bread and butter and cheese and chocolate creampuff dessert, while I sipped a cup of lukewarm tea and pretended it was all I needed.


  8. My Song
    Brandi Carlile

    Everything I do surrounds these pieces of my life
    That often change or maybe I’ve changed
    And sometimes seeming happy can be self destructive
    Even when you’re sane or only insane
    But don’t bother waking me today

    Here I am, I’m so young
    I know I’ve been bitter, I’ve been jaded, I’m alone
    Every day I’ll bite my tongue
    If only you knew my mind was full of razors
    That cuts you like a word that’s only sung
    But this is my song, it is my song

  9. Blogging is that fantasy you had when you were a kid and did something really cool and envisioned other kids watching you doing that really cool thing and marveling at it.

    Actually, that describes all of writing, doesn’t it?

    Until you wake up the next morning and discover you wrote there instead of their. Or apostrophed the wrong its. Or the link you thought went to an author actually goes to a fundamental Christian website. That kinda shit.

    But with a blog, it’s not written in stone, and therefore infinitely revisionable. Groundhog’s Day, you know?

    Oh, and I think I’ll convert just in time for my son to have a bar mitzvah that I can invite Betsy to.

    • That reminds me of the lyrics to Pulp’s I Spy: “It’s just like in the old days – I used to compose my own critical notices in my head.
      The crowd gasps at Cocker’s masterful control of the bicycle
      Skilfully avoiding the dog turd next to the corner shop.
      Imagining a blue plaque above the place I first ever felt a girl’s breasts.” That’s what blogging is, composing your own critical notices…and maybe that is what writing is too.

  10. “I haven’t made any money, but I’m doing what I love so I know the money will follow. Right?”

    Are you on drugs? Your statement barely makes sense, and could be construed in several ways, none of which I will waste your time or mine pursuing further. But it doesn’t matter. Nothing fucking matters. It’s all just idiotic games we play to stave off the despair of slowly suffering our ways down the long road to death.

    “What does blogging do you for you?”

    It slightly and temporarily alleviates a fraction of the desolate loneliness of being a literate and creative American in the 21st century.

    “Can you believe blog is even a word?”

    Yes. I also believed Colin Powell when he did his dog-and-pony show about WMDs for the UN. Smack me hard and call me Pollyanna, I’m a gullible moron who does more than trifle with foolishness.

    “Remember how it sounded the first time you heard it?”

    No. I strive to suppress the unpleasant. Somebody pass me the lighter and pipe. Please. Thank you.

    • I don’t think you can be a Pollyana and slowly suffer your way to death.

    • I cannot believe you fell for the Colin Powell gimmick. Oh Pollyanna. Puff puff give, and let’s lay here and look at the big yellow moon….

      • Raised to be a soldier, the son of a soldier, nephew of a soldier, and grandson of a soldier, I had no way of comprehending that General Powell would aid his government in dragging his nation into an indefensible and crippling military adventure rather than resigning beforehand and keeping his honor intact. I may as well have been an Oompa-Loompa in a tree-house, being told some bogus cacao-bean story by an evil imposter of Willy Wonka.

      • That’s a helluva good reason, really. Having been raised by a couple of arrogant atheists, I spent those months yelling, “Prove it!” at the TV.

      • Raised as the daughter of a soldier, the sister, niece, granddaughter, and great-niece , I had every way of comprehending it. Interesting perspectives. I’m guessing gender has to do with it (unfortunately).

    • Raised to be a soldier, etc. Shoulda been less gullible to begin with. The old Rudyard Kipling poem comes to mind: “Well it’s Tommy this and Tommy that and anything you please. Tommy ain’t no bloomin’ fool…you bet that Tommy sees. You must be blind?

      • it’s hardly that simple, anonymous

      • Most of my virginity was already gone, but it turned out there was still some remaining to strip away. I wanted to believe that “Duty, Honor, and Country” meant something as a conjunction of co-dependent terms. I did not want to believe that my nation’s government would lie so outrageously about something so important.

      • As the son of a career military man, myself, I fostered the same feelings. And, yeah, it is that simple. We haven’t fought a righteous war since WWII. And thank God we did. Our parents and grandparents got it right back then. We haven’t since.

      • I totally agree with you, anonymous. I just meant it’s not that simple when you not only have to choose whether to believe your political leaders but you have to factor in what your family believes. I guess I should have said it’s not that easy, instead of using simple.

  11. “Blog?Blog! Sounds to me like a bloated frog.”

    Mercy Beth Fanjoy in the novel Kiss The Joy As It Flies

    • Sheree, I remember when I first started hearing about “blogs” and “blogging,” I clearly said, “That’s ridiculous! What a waste of time. Who would want to share that much?”

      My words taste okay though, now that I’m snarfing them down.

  12. I write an environmental blog–helps me vent about stuff I’m upset about…like the USDA poisoning starlings etc etc. It gets about 300 or 400 visitors a day so that makes me feel good. I took down my writing blog because I couldn’t quite find the right balance between being personal and yet relevant to anyone but me…and I had about one visitor every 2 weeks…

    I love to read blogs…I’m sorta addicted to them…like this one…

  13. Okay, I’ll bite. The Good Earth? Really? It actually seems like it would work.

  14. The very word “blog” conjures up what happens after eating a breakfast burrito.

  15. @Sarah W – God, if only I’d never discovered stats. I’d recoup about an hour and a half of my day, every day. I can only imagine the madness that published authors must endure watching their Google Rankings…

    @Jody – Now I’m going to be reading your blog posts with even more attention and scrutiny. Your posts have such a ring of verisimilitude to them…

    I blog because I can’t write novels all the time, but still have that urge to put words to… page? Screen?

  16. Because I was reading your blog and Downith said “I’ll create my own damn community.”
    And I’m impressionable.
    I’m a transplant in the midwest, and thought it was time to reach out in the only way I have time for to meet people who want more out of life, who can’t see straight for the lists in front of them, yet still reach out. Because we are all lonely and want someone to hear us and say, Yes! That’s it. That’s it exactly.
    Because it clears the clutter so I can get down to the story.
    Because you can write the nasty bits, or pretend they don’t exist.
    Because I need to stop watching reality TV, and one addiction is as good as another.
    Because it’s not about getting an agent, or kissing someone’s ass, but about getting it right, getting something right.
    Because I was born too late to hang out at Gertrude Stein’s Salon.
    Hell, I don’t know.

  17. It’s my chance to practice, that’s all. It’s hard to do and so I know it’s worthwhile. I’d like to be able to write up one side and down the other, all the way to the moon and back. Not just the pleasurable detail I love to linger over, but all the bits it takes to get there.

    For me, the explicit self-gaze won’t do it. I’ve got to Have a Thing To Talk About. Since story is what I’m learning, story seems like the best topic to gnaw away at. Nom.

  18. I started blogging because I spend over 3 hours a day attached to a machine that helps me expel mucus from my lungs.
    I spend those 3 hours staring at the computer, reading blogs, trying to be witty and brilliant on other people’s blogs.
    Might as well use that creative juice to try to be witty and brilliant on my own blog, and have something to show for those 3 hours besides wadded tissues.
    And oh the irony: here I am, still commenting away, still unable to master the wit or the brilliance.

    • I’ve read your blog Lizi. The whole blog. In one sitting. You’ve mastered it.

    • Now I have to subscribe to both your blogs.

    • And just like that, YOU have another reader. I’m going to have to start getting up earlier if I am to get all these blogs read!

    • We’d better end the love fest, guys. Betsy will have our heads off for all this positivity. (Betsy, do you read the comments, or just put the questions out there, and let the answers fly?).

      Compliments make me nervous. Feeling the love, and my cheeks are burning. (thank you thank you thank you, said in a grateful whisper)

      • I’ve heard that Betsy sometimes sends emails to her commenters. All my buddies have one. I cherish the idea that I might get an email of my own one day, one magical day, when I finally say something interesting. If you get an email before I do, Lizi, I’ll storm over there and stab you in the eye with a very sharp pen.

      • glasseye, this is so junior high

      • That was crappy of me. I apologize. If Betsy would delete it, I’d appreciate but I doubt that can happen. I gave up coming here weeks ago and should have stayed away. The comments trigger stuff. I’m sorry.

      • Poor Betsy, mama bird choosing which open-mouthed baby bird gets a few crumbs. It’s too reminiscent of Sophie’s choice.

        Glasseye, your comment made me laugh. I’d love for you to come over, even if you DO want to stab me in the eye.

      • Oh, and glasseye, your ineptitude comment above made me pee myself laughing.

      • Of course it is, Cathryn. Just another socially inept joke. Sorry.

      • @Cathryn: comments trigger almost everyone. The interwebs just makes it worse. Don’t stress about it. An apology is nearly always accepted, the offense (if indeed there is one) quickly forgotten by most of us.

      • @glasseye: speaking only for myself, I suspect it’s out of pity. I’ll take whatever I can get, though.

      • Swear to god, it was just a lame-ass joke at the end of a crappy day, meant to illustrate how we covet those little scribbles next to the A+ at the top of the paper. Cathryn was right the first time, and no need to apologize.

        I’ll be in the dean’s office, trying to persuade him to break out the paddle.

      • Oh hell. That sharp pen comment was damned funny. Based on the senses of humor in this bunch, I’m betting most of us wish we’d thought of it. And I know Lizi laughed.

  19. My dad likes my blog. He doesn’t really ‘get’ fiction but he’s very supportive of my writing so it gives him a window into my world. That’s something.

    It also gives me something I can do and put right out there to share with literally DOZENS of readers (ha) rather than my fiction which I stay alone with for so long hoping it will ever find its way to ANY readers.

    I think it’s progress that spellcheck finally recognizes blog as a word.

  20. When I’ve bothered to blog, I like what I write better. I say what’s really on my mind rather that just reacting to people’s stupid comments on Facebook. Facebook has destroyed any attention span I may have had. The immediacy is addictive, so much so that blogging seems insufferably slow. I demand an instant and instantly responsive audience. Bad news for writing a book, although I’ve probably written a book’s worth of material on FB, maybe a quarter of a book’s worth on Betsy’s blog. Cut-and-paste may be the way.

  21. I started blogging to keep a diary of the one extraordinary thing I have ever done in my little life. A record that would show that I was indeed sane once, a history that would prove useful to the former colleague signing the papers committing me to the asylum of her choice.

    Now it has morphed into full blown bloggessive compulsive disorder or BCD as we shrinks like to call it (I’m well over 70,000 words). I now have a perverse need to entertain the 200 people who grace my blogstep each day.

    The good news is I’ve met people who are actually extraordinary and when you are in the process of doing something crazy it’s nice to have cyberbuddies to share the madness for a while.


  22. It gives me an outlet. And a posse.

  23. The best thing about blogging is that it’s taken ten years off my life? Is that in the same neighborhood as deciding to go to work on any given day because you never know when the psychotic that sits next to you will bring in a trench coat full of guns and you wouldnt want to miss the opportunity to be his first victim? Shit, look at the time, today may be the day!

  24. The voice I write in my nonfiction is conversational, to a particular person, a friend I think of as my ideal reader, someone who won’t stand for laziness and makes me a funnier storyteller. I know he reads my blog, so it makes for an immediacy I would not get if the words lived only in my computer’s memory.

    As an added bonus, I control the art. The photos and illustrations that have ended up accompanying my writing in magazines often makes me want to vomit.

  25. Now that I don’t work in a cubicle farm, my blog is the copyediting rants I used to save for my coworkers. Also, I like to see my words in black, white, and orange.

  26. I first heard the word blog in 1996, about the same time I first heard of the interweb. I thought it was a fabulous idea and I couldn’t wait to see what one looked like. So I went to an internet cafe and had a bored, pierced, condescending waiter show me how to type in the long line of letters you needed to find a site. It had pictures! On the computer!

    The last time I’d been so thrilled with a computer was when I watched my boyfriend stay up all night at the computer lab at Tufts (in 1975) to code a Star Trek game.

    And now I blog. Because I’m the spokewoman for my generation and I have to do something to keep myself busy while I’m waiting for the martinis to kick in.

  27. @Phil: I lie in my comments, too.

    Blogging, for me, is all about what I don’t say (as Betsy lamented a while back). The Not Saying is a lie to me, and it kinda kills me.

  28. After moving from Chicago to rural Georgia, I started blogging to feel less isolated. I had no idea that would lead to the connections it has. It also gave me back my passion for writing which had become buried under writing newsletter copy and corporate emails about real estate deals.

  29. It’s in the ether. Attended my first blog hop yesterday and felt like a bell of the ball instead of a wallflower. I know I’m sharing with the big league bloggers, but it was exciting to have more than a hundred visitors to my site in one day and the dance goes on, until Saturday on She Writes.
    What I get, since I am literally in the backcountry, is contact with you all here and around the world.
    Unfortunately my attempts at humor often come off as snarky, but I love reading it, especially the bittersweet variety on Betsy’s blog.

  30. You absolutely do not need to come to my son’s bar mitzvah. Although you’ve got some time for that.

    Do I have to go to my son’s bar mitzvah?

    Blog is no weirder than BASICA (Advanced Basic) was, being my first geek word. No weirder than Orcs, either. Definitely not weirder than Orcs.

    The coolest family video I’ve seen is black and white silent footage of my father and his friend’s sneaking smokes at his bar mitzvah, mid-sixties, looking very much like that picture you have up there.

  31. Oh happy day! Just finished a rant, I mean open letter, to agents (it won’t see the light of day) about how, even though they are just “doing their job,” they are an integral part of an uber-flawed system that doesn’t work for authors, books or readers. But now I found your site and I feel a little better already 🙂
    As for blogs, I found my voice, my purpose and sort of even my best friend and my boyfriend through my blog.
    ~ Alli

  32. He is so cute!!

    I started my blog for an assignment, but kept on going after I got my grade. It’s helped me find my voice and cut my writing teeth. And like Betsy, I’ve learned a bit and also made friends that I’ll never meet …

    On the downside it sends me online so I’m scaling back…. honest.

  33. I’m just screwing around because I’m afraid of commitment. For now, it’s enough to wonder why the @ is supposed to be put in front of a name. Damn cyber sins.

  34. It’s focused my energy that I know I’m putting something that somebody will read. Keeps the doldrums off.

  35. I started blogging a little over a year ago. Now I’ve got a plane ticket to Spain. These things are directly connected.

  36. I started blogging to capture the stories of my dominican ancestors – stories that only existed for those who knew what it meant to grow up on an island in ramshackle homes with no running water or electricity. Those stories stay with me while the blog is more for personal reflections on food, culture, and life…i’m still new to the experience to know yet what will come of it…

  37. I read the comments and I weep.

  38. I do not blog.

  39. Blogging is an exercise in discipline and courage – a regular fuck you to the fading whispers of my internal critics.

  40. If I died, maybe in a few weeks of not being on FB or my blog, people would notice my blog. That’s why I blog and status. Seriously.

  41. Is it considered blogging if you read and write comments on others blogs? Anyway, first impressions are not always correct because blogging sounded like a terrible idea to me at first–who wants to read someone else’s rants. But it’s not like that–some are wonderful, like this one. So many strands to explore, ah so little time.

    • I think commenting counts as blogging. What’s a blog without comments? Sure, you can do it, but then it seems to be less a blog, and more like a website that’s updated more frequently.

  42. I wish it was called something other than blogging. Blogging just carries connotations of irrelevance.

    I blog to meet people, mostly writers. I feel like it might be the best way to network within the writing community.

    But there are drawbacks, too, like having to post. 🙂

  43. Blogs are what we make them.

    Friend of mine started blogging in ’94 or ’95 (first on Traffic, then on Soundbitten). So it doesn’t seem all that novel to me. However blogging has certainly evolved–and there are some really engaging and interesting sites out there, if you care to seek them out.

    Excellent piece from Andrew Sullivan about blogging:

  44. I’ve been thinking about this a lot this weekend. Why on earth do I blog? It takes up an inordinate amount of time that could be spent polishing manuscripts, grading papers, planning lessons….

    Because it’s immediate. Because the voice I blog with is my best voice. Because it applies the spurs.

    Because when I don’t blog, my father says, “WHO are you writing for? You sound weird…”

    • That’s it, Jess! The immediacy. The informality (for me) and the voice that is me writing how I talk. It’s writing where I feel secure not insecure and full of self doubt. I can blog, but write a book? I’m not so sure about that.

  45. As a suburban mother trapped in a small town where everyone knows everyone, and and you can’t say an unpleasant word, and your cheeks ache from smiling, and you find yourself putting makeup on to go to the fucking grocery store — I started blogging for revenge.

    Of course, I never got it, but I did make some cool friends in other. Now I can breathe.

    So, I guess I blog to breathe the fresh air of other places.

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