Out of Hibernation

I’m doing this a little backwards: instead of getting ready to hibernate for the winter, I’m rousing myself from a dormant period that’s lasted for a couple of years. It’s not that I haven’t been writing; on the contrary, I now have two blogs that I write for regularly (2-3-times a week): I, Muslimah, which is about my experiences as an American convert to Islam, and Femagination, which I call my “feminist imagination blog.” I, Muslimah is only a few months old, but I have over 480 posts now on Femagination and get nearly 200 visitors a day. I also write essays, such as this one for This Great Society, and reviews, such as this one for Elevate Difference.

But I’ve been so absorbed in writing, I haven’t been writing about writing, which is partly what this blog is for. And I love to write about writing, almost as much as I like to write about anything.

So bear with me (no pun intended); I’m coming out of hibernation and getting ready to go out into the world again. I hope to not only communicate what I think writing is and why it’s important, but also initiate discussions about the four “Ws” of writing: what, when , where, and why. I don’t know that I can tell you much about how to write, but I’ll try to do that, too, either from my own vast knowledge and experience (you know I’m kidding, right?) or through the words of more experienced writers.

And along the way, I hope to have fun, and I hope you will, too.

Following Blogs

I have a friend who just recently decided to get on the Internet with a blog of her own. She started it toward the end of January and has written every day since. Her blog is called “Erasing the Bored,” and that’s exactly what she attempts to do with every one of her posts. She could have written about a multitude of topics but she zeroed in on Change and Creativity and her post is all the stronger for it.

I’ve been reading her post almost every day (and I always catch up if I’ve missed any). I enjoy reading her thoughts and gleaning bits of knowledge from her posts. I am officially a follower of her blog–she has 18 official followers already–but I would follow her blog even if I wasn’t. She has a voice that I love to “hear.” And she makes me think.

This got me to thinking about all the blog followers out there. Unless you have analytical tools that keep track of your visitors and what they view (see Google Analytics, for one), you would never know that they’d been there unless they leave comments or link to your post from their own. I have a blog on Word Press, too and it keeps track of your visits automatically. From that I found out that one of my posts, “The Future of Newspapers” drew 13 “hits,” but only one of them left a comment.

These ghosts that pass through our lives are our audience and we don’t even know them. That’s not so different from writing a book and not knowing who is buying it (hopefully) and reading it. But the Internet is so transitory and so secretive. People who followed mailing list conversations used to be called “lurkers” and that’s a little bit how it feels when people visit your blog without leaving a trace.

I do the same of course. We’re too busy to leave comments everywhere we go, not to mention that sometimes we just can’t think of anything to say. But now that I’ve become a blogger, especially one who hopes to be read, I can see that I’ve been remiss with the blogs I follow. I need to let the posters that I’m out here and that I care. That might sound sappy, but I’d hate for someone to stop blogging just because they think no one is reading the words they’ve thrown to the universe.

I have my blogs listed in my profile, except for my newest (and most personal) one: miteypen.wordpress.com. If you do happen to pay me a visit, leave a sign. It will encourage me to keep on blogging. (Although to tell you the truth, I’d probably keep on doing it anyway.)

Bookshelf

I just ran across a thought-provoking post on Bookpuddle about not finishing books. It’s called “What’s Your Abandonment Rate?” and it contains many jewels about the relationship between reader and books, like, “Regarding consummation, how many boring and uninteresting pages or chapters will you endure before you annul your vows and open the covers of another?”

The avid reader can relate to the concept of taking a vow every time you open a new book. That’s why it’s so hard to give up on it: you feel like you’re asking for a divorce–and you’re the one who is at fault. I know that I do. I don’t give up on a lot of books. But when I do, I agonize over my decision. I generally will hold onto the book as long as the library allows me to. (I rarely buy books: I can’t afford to and haven’t the room for them if I could. I will often buy a book after reading it from the library if I just have to have it.) And if I haven’t finished it by then, I let it go. There are so many books in the world, I rationalize, I just can’t afford to waste time on a book that I’m not enjoying. But still I feel guilty.

I do three kinds of reading: books that are good for me (Literature with a capital ‘L’), “junk” books, and books that give me information. I always have to have a junk book on hand for quick reading–I can go through two or three while I’m perusing one non-fiction or literary book. My junk books of choice are mysteries and thrillers. Sometimes horror or science fiction. I don’t care for chick lit or romances, although I’ve read them from time to time.

I’m terrible about reading Literature. I tend to rebel against authority and if someone tells me that reading a certain book is mandatory if I want to be well-read, I instantly take a dislike to it. In all fairness to myself, however, the literary novels I do read rarely satisfy me. They tend to be about nothing, in my humble opinion, and therefore make for slow reading. I’m an extremely fast reader, but only because I skim like mad, and it’s hard to get anything out of a literary work if you skim it. Basically, I’m just impatient.

One of my resolutions for this year is to read more meaningfully. That means, I guess, that I’ll give Literature a fairer shake than I have in the past. I’ve been looking at book lists for suggestions and tuning in at Good Reads and Library Thing. I’ve also found a couple of really good book blogs besides Bookpuddle: So Many Books and Semicolon.

The books I read for information depend on what I’m delving into at the time. I periodically gather up several writing books, I’ve gotten books on motherhood, feminism, biographies and memoirs, how the brain works, travel, spirituality and religion–and the list goes on and on. I’m sure my librarian thinks I’m schizo, my reading list is so eclectic.

I spent four months in Germany a few years ago and was appalled to learn that their libraries are not free. You have to pay a fee for so many books, sort of like a subscription. Since I regularly have 50 books out of the library at a time, I’d be broke in no time. Or terribly frustrated. I have to have a lot of books around me for fear that I will run out of things I want to read. (As if.)

I know I’m not exactly an oddity–unless all bibliophiles are oddities. But I suspect I’m in the minority. Except for readers of this post: if you’re a writer, you’re probably an avid reader; the two seem to go hand in hand. What and why do you read?