Redheaded Neanderlady

Redheaded Neanderlady
This is a photoshopped version of something I found in National Geographic about the time I started researching

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

More thoughts on blogging

As I mentioned yesterday, the John Hawks Weblog has a long post about blogging for professiona reasons. And I've had further thoughts about this. Like Hawks, I think it's a good idea, for anybody who wants to have a "presence" somewhere that people will notice. As any reader of blogs knows well, there are lots of blogs out there. Most of them fall either into the category of opinion about current affairs or politics of all kinds, or else they're personal observations about whatever the person wants to blog about. Often, it's just personal observations about their own lives. Which is fine, I guess. Some people just need a place to rant.

I started blogging after some writers on a writer's e-mail list suggested this was a good way to begin getting a "presence" that agents or editors or publishers might notice --- eventually. They also suggested starting a website. But I'm not ready for that. Yet. I will only be ready for that when my book(s) get into something approaching publishable form. One of them may be approaching that point, but I haven't finished a complete revision yet, let alone cast around to inquire if anyone would be willing to try to sell it.

While Hawks has a somewhat different purpose from mine(he was angling for tenure at the University of Wisconsin), what I call the conceptual nature of his blog is similar to mine. Hawks is a biological anthropologist. He writes about human evolution, genetics, populations, fossil humans. Not only that, he's funny! At least, he puts humorous posts into his blogs from time to time. And, from time to time, he comments on the connection between "popular culture" and representation of prehistoric humans. One would not normally expect a "scholar" to do this. But he does. And it works, for he has been mentioned on other, similar blogs, as well as been noted some print media. He definitely has a "presence". It took a while.

I've only been blogging for about a year. I get visitors and comments from time to time, and I have a growing list of links to blogs that are relevant, one way or another, to my Great Medieval Science Fiction Masterpiece(s) With Neandertals(hint: some things I have "on the shelf" have Neandertals, but they're set in the near future, not in medieval times). So I post what seems to be a mixture of things: if I see something interesting about medieval life or medieval England, I post that. I have lots of stuff about Neandertals, obviously, since they play a very important part in my work(s). My work is fiction, but I've tried to keep up with the more recent developments re Neandertals, "modern" humans, evolution, and genetics, so that my fictional story has a bedrock of some scientific plausibilty, though the scenario is obviously "fantastic". And there are times when I just have ideas about good writing.

None of this relates directly to what I'm writing about. For one thing, I don't feel entirely ready to share. For another, I think it's more important for me at this stage, to blog my opinions about things and ideas that relate to some of these subjects. It's even more important for me right now, to explore various aspects of the writing process, either from the work of other oauthors or from the point of view of my own struggles. So sometimes I write about such subjects as how "historically accurate" can a historical novel(set in any period) actually be? This stems from discussions I've had with readers of historical fiction, some of whom demand a lot of "accuracy", and others who would rather have "just a good story". Oddly enough, this helps me in my own writing process, though not directly.

The bottom line for me is this: While I'm a writer, not a professional paleoanthropologist, I find much to admire in the Hawks blog, and have tried to structure my blog in a similar manner. The only thing I haven't done, is put in much humor. I guess I'm not "good at" humor. Or maybe I just haven't tried very hard. I don't know. But, like the Hawks blog, there is a "core" from shich subjects to blog about, spring. Most writers' blogs(and this is not a criticism) don't do this, as far as I can tell. The "promote", and they tend to write reviews. And they don't blog very often. I assume they're too busy writing, which is as it should be For myself, I'm going to try to do both ---that is, write and blog about whatever is of interest to me, in the "core" around which I've structured this blog.

Happy reading,
Anne G


Bee said...

Hi Anne

I think you have found a good approach to obtaining that 'presence' that achieves notice. I don't have a blog, but I read (far too) many of them, being particularly addicted to ScienceBlogs and their blogroll 'children'. Like many readers, I 'mine' blogrolls at sites I enjoy, and am always fascinated by where that kind of spider-webbing effect may lead me.

As a reader, I might add that commenting on other people's blogs is a good way to get your own noticed - that's how I find many interesting blogs, and is how I found yours.

I suspect writers who have blogs but seldom write in them are missing the point - no one comes back to a blog that doesn't get updated regularly, even if it is a two-liner only once a month.

I see often very prolific bloggers burn out for a while - it's hard for most people to commit to frequent posts for extended periods of time. It is a creative effort, and I think very few people are able to sustain creativity over time without taking a few extended breaks. As a visual artist, this has certainly been my experience.

I'm looking forward to your being ready to share a little more about your writing projects than the little teasers you inject in posts now and then.


Anne Gilbert said...


I didn't start out commenting on other people's blogs. I just collected them. But I read some blogs quite frequently, and I tend to comment on those. Others, I look into from time to time. You never can tell what will turn up there. As far as being a "prolific" blogger is concerned, I try to blog often enough so that I will continue to have a "presence", but if I don't have anything to say at the moment, why blog? I've got plenty of writing to do, and I like to keep to a fairly strict schedule with that!

As for the little teasers, I'll probably be posting more about these things, when I feel a little more comfortable sharing them, or when I feel it's relevant for some reason.
Stay tuned,
Anne G