Thursday, December 15, 2005

WHY YOU BLOG, and a new question

Flying, originally uploaded by Pumpkin Chief.

This painting by a third grader pretty much sums up the joy of blogging. Like the child with a paintbrush, we blog primarily
because self-expression is a satisfying and necessary human activity. Or as Debra said, we blog "because it's fun."

More fun than shopping or watching TV or cleaning the house or any number of other things we might otherwise be doing.

And sometimes, dangerously more fun than communicating with the person in the room with us--or (gasp!) reading a book.

As the painting also depicts, we blog to soar over the planet and pick up a few friends along the way. For many of us, the joy of feedback and blog relationships are benefits we didn't expect, but soon learn to relish.

One amazing thing that was repeated several times in your comments was that your reasons for blogging have evolved over time. Like marriage or choosing a profession, you jump onto the blogging train by instinct, then learn your true reason for being there as you zip through the countryside.

Like the question of what makes you return to a blog, you rarely pursue this fledgling art for only one reason. The rewards, like the demands, are complex.

I scored with a rating system similar to the one I used last week, assigning a descending value to each of your choices in the order in which you named them. The results were as follows:

You blog clearly and primarily for creative expression, which got a score of 85.

Next came feedback and friendship in the blogosphere: 67

Your own unique and highly interesting reasons took third place: 26F

And running close behind it, you use your blog as a platform for a cause you care about, be it politics or poetry: 25 (I suspect that this finding applies more to readers of this blog than to the blogosphere at large.)

Few of you blog primarily to advance a career, sell a product or promote yourself in any way. However, you recognize that it could be a powerful tool at some point.

All of the comments were thoughtful and worth reading, including some that ventured into the "other" category. Kerstin says that for her blogging is cheap therapy, and provides a link to a more expansive answer. And dilys blogs as a means of more efficient communication.

As anyone who's ever visited her site or been the recipient of one of her supportive links can attest, Myfanwy blogs to support the work of others. Her generosity to fellow writers is truly inspiring. And finally, Amy King's response was only one that reflected the tangled possibilities the medium offers:

I blog, therefore I am.

No, I blog for community.

Also, I blog to hear myself (my ego-driven community) work out ideas and to take advantage of this here new-fangled technology and meet new people, read what makes them go, what makes them stop, and find out what art and words are turning them on."

Now for this week's question. You've entered the wonderful world of a bookstore. What are you looking for:

a) fiction

b) poetry

c) non-fiction that helps me understand a changing world

d) spiritual inspiration

e) practical how-to stuff

f) other

I was going to add a g) for non-readers, but all bloggers are readers, right?


rdl said...

a,b,c, & f

Stephanie said...

How about books by friends of any category? :)

Fence said...

I could be smart and sarky and say books :) But while I'll generally take a look through every section in a bookshop (if I have the time) primarily I'll go for a, c & f. Mainly a.

Perfect Virgo said...

"Dangerously more fun than communicating with the person in the room with us." Good heavens Patry that is probably too true. We are really saying - 'your company is not very interesting but rather than admit so and go out, I will stay in the same room and find other people to talk to.'

Looking for (a) for inspiration and (e) for knowledge.

Mary said...

Re: the bookstore, I would almost say any or all of them depending on the day, but if I have to choose then a) d) and e). If I buy poetry it is often a specific work that I know beforehand I want - I tend not to browse in the poetry section. My loss perhaps?

And what interesting results to the blog questionnaire. I'm really enjoying these surveys, Patry.

Quillhill said...

First I look for The Liar's Diary. Then I look for the authors of fiction who I collect. Then I look for the historical non-fiction I collect. At last I look around to find books I didn't know I wanted.

Tom.... said...

stuff marked down at least can find some good stuff in the "toss out" bin

Anonymous said...

Most of the books I buy are published by small presses, and sadly unavailable in chain bookstores.

Sharon Hurlbut said...

It depends on the bookstore. If I'm just stepping into Barnes & Noble, I'm likely going there for something specific.

But I'm lucky to live near one of the biggest and best bookstores in the world - Powell's City of Books. And when I go to Powell's, all bets are off. You don't go to Powell's just to buy a book. You go to browse, wandering through room after room, up and down stairs, winding along aisles of shelves that hold gently used books, old worn musty books, and shiny, virgin-new books all mingled together.

I go there to explore and discover books I never even dreamed existed - books on playing Go, ethnographies of Southwestern Pueblos, 1000 uses for humanure (no kidding - just saw that one a couple of weeks ago), lit mags by the score, and enough fiction to make my bookcases cry.

When I step into a real bookstore like Powell's, I'm looking for a piece of myself that I didn't know was missing.

Carol said...

Hi Patry,
Fiction or other (self help)
I like your blog even though I only show up rarely. I really liked your post about the firemen and waitresses.
(I have you bookmarked on my lesser used laptop only for some reason)

Myfanwy Collins said...

Hey Patry,

I love the image with this post. It made me smile. Thanks for your polls. I'm enjoying them. And thanks for your kind words. :)

As for this week's question:

Whrn I go to a bookstore I look for fiction or poetry for myself. Sometimes I will go to the children or young adult's sections just to see what new things are being written there (I love kids and YA books--almost more than fiction for adults). If I'm buying a present for my husband, I'll look in biography or science fiction (or literary fiction that is weird--e.g. he loves Jasper Fforde).

ShaanCho said...

I'll take (a) for myself, (b) for my wife and (d) to decorate the Drawing Room. :-)

robin andrea said...

It really depends on the mood I'm in. Sometimes I'm looking for fiction and sometimes for poetry. We have a wonderful 2nd-hand bookstore in town, like a mini Powells. It's got comfy chairs and nooks and crannies full of surprises.
I love the days when I have no express reason to go into the bookstore, except to be open to whatever catches my eye.

Stephanie said...

That painting is AWESOME.

DTclarinet said...

The problem with me and bookstores is that I go blank in them. I think there's a hidden brainwashwer ray gun in the rafters. It happens in libraries, too. Usually I walk blankley toward a, b and d.

How are you, Patry? We haven't seen much of each other. I've been pretty scarce, blogged out. I'm returning slowly.

take care,

Dale said...

I might go looking for any of those, but primarily, rather like Sharon, I go looking for windows into worlds that I didn't even know were there. (Possibly not coincidentally, I also live close to Powell's :->)

Matthew May said...

Thats a very good painting, by a 3rd grader. :)

Nice post.

J. Andrew Lockhart said...

I enjoyed your blog -- I also loved the child's painting! I'm an elementary music teacher, so I'm always attracted to work by children.
Thanks again

Mark Gamon said...

Any of them. That's the whole point of a bookstore. You never know.

Matthew said...

oh, goodness. as my wife will attest, she does her best to keep me away from bookstores because i'd break our bank buying books of every possible variety.

still, i should be good, and give a straight answer, so...

F (philosophy) usually comes in first, with B, A, C, D, and E following just behind.

too, i'll give another value to F: feel. i'm a tactile person, like my mother, so a big part of my love of books comes from just touching them. when i look for books, i look for subject matter, yes, but also for a book that can excite me just with its skin. blurbs be damned, a book with cover that feels good will sell itself to me a lot faster!

B.S. said...

To answer your question, lately my answer has been D. I love your blog and was especially taken by the Yellow House story. And about using blogs for self expression, the only problem for me is the fear of no readers or comments. Expression requires a recipient, and with a blog, mine at least, you never know.

MB said...

Great painting.

The next piece of fiction I want to read isn't out yet. :-)

When I go to a bookstore, I usually browse. Looking for some jewel to catch my eye. If I am looking for something specific, it's likely to be a, b, d, f (art, nature, foreign languages, YA children's books). Unless it's something for someone I love, in which case it could be anything!

Sue hardy-Dawson said...

All of them, I've aways wanted to accidently get locked in a book store, my children and my mum all try and negosiate a route round town that avoids my slipping into one, I'm a terrible book aholic

Anonymous said...

Books are my cocaine. I go into a book store without any aim, I walk out with a book that could be one of fiction, poetry, history,...etc. A book is all I'm after. I HEART BOOKS!

Lorna said...

everything, and a vanilla latte

Anonymous said...

I go to a bookstore once a year. I get on a fat rusty bicycle with paperboy bike tires and end up at The Island Bookstore just north of the Corolla Lighthouse near where my mother rents a beach cottage for my father and their grandchildren one week each summer. (We get to stay, too.)

I look at poetry, cooking, Jewish inspiration, and Southern literature. The bookstore is good at picking out that stuff.

I generally buy used books that are recommended to me, usually by bloggers. Sometimes I find good books in footnotes to other books I like. I buy these books on Alibris or Amazon. I make sure that the shipping is at least three times the cost of the book and that the book is well-marked but has a good spine. A week after the book arrives, in response to a prompt, I give the bookseller five stars.

I used to ask my parents for gift certificates to Amazon for Christmas. I stopped doing that after I found that I have not read many of the books that I ordered during those years. The books came too fast, too easy. They look very nice on the shelf, though.

Anne Bauer said...

A, B, E. You got everything if you gots a book, man.

Anonymous said...

I favor memoir and other types of non-fiction. I save fiction for the library, or happily take it as a gift, but I tend not to buy fiction. Spiritual inspiration and poetry also get my attention. So if pressed to name an order, it's memoir, non-fiction of other types, spiritual, poetry, fiction.

I heard about a cool site on public radio today: Paperback Swap.

andrea said...

Thought-provoking post and something that's ben on my mind for a couple of days, too. Glad I found it via Andy.

Kerstin said...

Great survey summary, you are so good at this! :)

Books: It's been too long that I browsed a good bookstore. When younger I loved going to the library and used to read a lot of fiction (A). However, now in my middle age I am much more absorbed by "real" life, if that makes sense? So I tend to read a lot of self-help literature non-fiction for that spiritual inspiration (D) and trying to make sense of it all (is that C?).

Blogging has replaced my love of magazines, although I still devour those on home decoration and interior design.

andy said...

Thanks for leaving the comment that led me here, Patry. Thinking back over recent book purchases, there have been representatives in each of those categories (for f I'm thinking of autobiography), but they have one particular thing in common - they all came personally recommended. Maybe I'm just not adventurous enough, but I find that way I'm rarely disappointed.

Anna Piutti said...

a) fiction

b) poetry

c) non-fiction that helps me understand a changing world (or the world in general, and that includes ,well...everything, I guess? lol)

d) spiritual inspiration

e) Other (textbooks)

In no particular order...

Dave said...

b & f

Anonymous said...

Poetry racks or books or magazines.

Secondly c) to see in person what I've read reviews of and excerpts of at Amazon.

girish said...

I think nonfiction to begin with: essays about the arts like film, music, lit, etc. (Currently on a huge Martin Amis essay-collection kick.)
And then, fiction.

Love your blog; just discovered it via Jeannette.

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Patry Francis said...

signing in to erase spam

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Patry Francis said...

another spam attack