Archive for the ‘Bloggity’ Category
What brainpower I might have for blogging, I’ve been pouring into advocacy/activism on Facebook. Scott thinks I should try to archive some of that writing here, though, which is a smart thought. I might try just messily pasting it onto a page (rather than a post) and not worrying about format or anything.
Ever since I joined Twitter in 2007 (followed by FB shortly afterward), I’ve pondered how best to archive things I share on social media. I used to periodically comb both networks for any funny kid quips I’d shared—those are the things I most especially want to keep here in my forever-place. And now there’s Instagram pulling the lion’s share of my attention, social-media-wise, another archive of my work stored on someone else’s server. I never can decide how much to pull over here.
Certainly not the most pressing issue of our time, not even close to the most pressing issue regarding my time, but it’s something I think about. Scott and I recently found ourselves laughing and awwww-ing through a bunch of Bonny Glen and Left of the Dial posts from ten years ago, and those stories are golden. We wouldn’t have remembered half of them (maybe any of them) if we hadn’t written them down.
I also note that my reading life has suffered since I dropped the habit of blogging about it.
As we roll into summer here, I’m shifting the moving parts around and pondering ways to tweak my schedule. There’s room for everything—all the important things, at least—as long as I’m clever about it. But sometimes that’s a pretty big ask. 😉
November 19, 2017 @ 8:20 pm | Filed under: Bloggity
Long, long ago, my children, when the woman was young and the blog was new, and the bees were thick in the flowering sage, and the melting of the polar ice was but a whisper in the dark, and “social media” was a lackluster intersection on a Scrabble board (even with a triple-letter square), there was in the course of each workday a blessed twenty-minute interval of transition between the homeschooling of the children and the writing of the books.
And lo, in this brief span of minutes, hundreds of posts were born.
And the blogger had Opinions and Earnestness, and sometimes Urgency, especially regarding Literary Things. For example, the blogger most fervently wished the world to read The Firelings, because no one seemed to know of it beyond the doors of her home. And the blog flourished, and the pingbacks were abundant and formed pathways to other bloglands overflowing with rich discourse.
But it is the way of the world, my children, that all things must change. In the words of the sage, oceans rise, empires fall, and homeschooling novelists get kinda busy. Or (for let us be honest, children) distracted by Twitter, by Facebook, by Instagram; lo, even by Goodreads. And thus it was that the blog suffered and grew silent.
But now and again the blogger would read a book and long to Write a Post About It Like in the Old Days.
And so it came to pass that—
Scott, walking by: What are you giggling about?
Me: Remember when I used to be able to write a post in twenty minutes? That was pretty cool.
Last night I was chatting with Jane on Slack—she had a story for me about her Victorian Lit class—and Sherlock Holmes came up. She asked if I remembered how old she was when she started reading them. I was guessing around age ten or eleven—was it before or after our move to California?—and she remembered that she first encountered Sherlock on a Jim Weiss story tape. So: Virginia probably. Then she pinged a burst of laughter—
lol lol lol i just searched bonny glen + jim weiss
“Jim’s Sherlock Holmes stories inspired Jane, at age eight, to tackle the Arthur Conan Doyle originals.“
Good old blog comes through again. Our family memory bank.
Of course this made me wince, knowing I’ve dropped the ball on daily posts yet again. I do have a lot of tidbits stashed in drafts, but those aren’t searchable.
We’ve talked so much about how our collective shift to social networks changed our blogging habits, both as blog writers and readers. One of the more subtle shifts, I think, began to happen even before we jumped on Facebook: bit by bit our blogs took on a more formal tone. On Facebook and Twitter, we’re looser, less polished. Personal blogs used to feel spontaneous, immediate, diaristic. A few of them still do, but I think on the broad spectrum of kinds of writing, a blog post is usually closer to essay than tweet. These social conventions fascinate me. These days, more people are likely to read and respond to my writing on Facebook than on Bonny Glen, yet I feel freer about slapdashing an unpolished thought over there.
I used to worry about losing things on Facebook or Twitter. I’d post funny kid quotes there and then, zip, they’d be carried along by the current and disappear. I wanted to archive all those memories here, and I worked out elaborate systems for saving things. I even had a side-blog for a while that was nothing but kid-related tweets I wanted to save. Later, I got savvier and set up IFTTT functions that automatically archive all my Twitter and FB posts in Evernote. This is both handy and dandy, but it’s a clunky substitute for the searchable family chronicle that is this blog.
I’m laughing at myself because I’ve traveled this loop before. There’s such an obvious and simple fix: just post the kid stuff here. Because odds are that one day Rilla will ping me from college—probably via a tooth implant that will trigger my phone-necklace to display her text on the back of my hand—wanting to know when, exactly, was her heavy origami phase. So, for the record: April of 2017, right after you turned eleven, I walked into my bedroom after tucking in the boys, and you pounced on me with a square of pink paper. Which is why I had to write your sister, ten minutes later, to apologize for disappearing in the middle of our Slack conversation.
Lissa: [9:00 PM]
Sorry, Rilla came in with an urgent need to teach me how to make an origami piano
Jane: [9:00 PM]
that sounds entirely reasonable
January 20, 2017 @ 8:35 am | Filed under: Bloggity
Here’s something I can celebrate today: twelve years of chronicling my family’s reading life, homeschooling adventures, and deep-dive interests. Our high tides and low tides, our passions and problems. When I look back through these archives, I find stories I would never have remembered (and books I really want to read again).
To all of you who visit me here, reading quietly or chiming into the discussion: Thank you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for reading. It’s the absolute nicest thing you can do for a writer.
I was trying to figure out what photo to post today, and it struck me to just go into my media library and pull up a bunch of images from years past. So here’s what let’s do: give me a word in the comments and I’ll type that into my image library’s search bar. I’ll come back throughout the day to post the pictures your suggestions pull up. 🙂
First suggestion! Thank you, selvi, for suggesting: delight.
I love his quiet delight in riding the park tram
Karen E’s suggestion: Stone House. Aw, Martha’s house! 🙂 Huh—I got nuthin. I tried Glencaraid too and nope, no photos. Closest hit is for just plain “stone.” No idea why I have a picture of Stonehenge in my archives. I’ll have to track down the original post and see what the reference was. [Found it! It’s from my interview with Stephanie Spinner about her Lady of the Lake novel, Damosel.]
(But Karen, I love your prompt and got a wave of happy nostalgia. I loved writing about that house.)
Heather’s word, celebrate, brings up a photo of author Kiersten White at the San Diego Central Library grand opening celebration in 2013. She was my boothmate at the author signing. That was the day I met one of my favorite fictional heroes in real life—Miss Rumphius!
And my dear friend Sarah H. chimes in with the word joy. One of my favorite words, and a recurring theme of this blog. I’m excited to see what it pulls up. Here’s the first hit: Joyful Noise, Poems for Two Voices—a much beloved book in these parts.
Here’s another photo tagged joy—this one gives me a smile for sure. It’s my drama-program classmates from Loretto Heights College at our mini-reunion in Denver a few summers ago. We snuck into our old theater and struck poses to emotion words, just like in the old days. This was the “joy” pose.
Ellie’s word: friendship. (Back atcha, my dear.)
giraffe and friend
animal friends (by Rilla in 2012)
Quasimodo and friend, San Diego Comic Con 2008
Kmom’s word: sketch. 🙂
filling my sketchbooks, 2016
November 2014 sketchbook page (and the beginning of my fountain-pen mania)
My Jan 1, 2017 sketchbook page
Sketch of me by the amazing Fiona Staples, 2010—still makes me grin.
trio of backyard sketchers, 2009
From Susanne Barrett: peace. This photo got a chuckle out of me, because when I first posted it, it was to note that Rilla, just learning to read, thought it was a message to Santa: “Please be on this house.” 🙂
Peace be on this house, our lovely Small Meadow Press banner
Worth noting that the only other photo to pop up with the “peace” search was another Small Meadow image—the Wild Simplicity Daybook. So Lesley, there you, that’s your legacy on this sight. Peace.
Susanne also asked for a Brave Writer search. That one turns up the Brave Writer logo and the Arrow graphic I made for my sidebar. When I first started writing about BW—in the very first month of this blog!—I wasn’t using many images yet. But I raved about The Writer’s Jungle quite early on. I had met Julie Bogart on a homeschooling moms’ list some years earlier (late 90s) and then joined another yahoogroup for homeschooling moms who write. Julie is the only person I remember from that list. Her name jumped out at me when Brave Writer launched a while later and I was eager to see her materials. And promptly fell in love with them.
Finally got to meet Julie in person at the Brave Writer Retreat last summer. She’s the absolute best.
Heh—I figured I’d start the ball rolling with the word “thanks.” It seems I’ve only got one image with that word in the title or caption. It’s from the author panel at the Deep Valley Homecoming (a Betsy-Tacy event, obviously) in June 2015, in which I am apparently crushing someone’s tiny little head. Hit me with some better keywords so I can push this image down the page!
Discussing our writing processes at Deep Valley Homecoming. Photo swiped from Nancy Piccone, with thanks!
P.S. Happy Birthday to The Wine-Dark Sea, which shares this twelve-year mark with Bonny Glen. 🙂
In addition to the household Fresh Start cleaning spree, the New Year always means an overhaul of my sidebar here on the blog. It begins with the year’s reading log, which must be transferred from sidebar to its own page. (In 2016 I got smart and started the page early—but then Cybils overtook my reading life and the page remains, as my sidebar note says, about thirty books behind. Perhaps more like 27 today. I’m getting there, book by book.) The empty space under the current year’s heading always drives me crazy until I’ve finished a book. Lots of years, I find time on January 1st to read a short children’s novel—last year it was Miss Happiness and Miss Flower—just so I can remove the placeholder text and enter an actual book title. I roll my eyes at myself while doing it, but I do it all the same.
Except I haven’t done it this year. Too busy sparking joy with every book in the house. I’m reading Cat’s Cradle, because I never have and Scott asked me to. 🙂 We often slide each other reading requests, wanting our frames of reference to be shared as much as possible. When Jane was a newborn, Scott would read aloud to me while I nursed her. We started with some childhood favorites the other had missed—The Great Brain (his); Harriet the Spy (mine). (You haven’t lived until you’ve heard Scott’s Ole Golly, let me tell you.)
Cat’s Cradle isn’t a long book, but this week’s pattern of cleaning frenzy in the morning and brain-work in the afternoon has left me too tired to make it through more than a few pages when I hit the pillow at night. So the gap remains.
The reading log is my sidebar equivalent of Flylady’s shiny sink. Once it’s been updated for the year, I have to start moving other things around. As the year’s book log grows longer, it throws columns off balance. I rearrange things and in January have to arrange them back. Which leads to a reassessment of what else is occupying space there. I’ve nixed some bits this year, tried to make the informational bits up top more compact so you get to the part that contains actual content—the recent comment widget and the “Caught My Eye” links—more quickly. I let the links section slide a bit during Cybils season, but I’m planning to use it more actively now, entering short remarks on the shared links so that section is more like a mini-blog within the blog. I know from your comments in the past that some of you do click through to see if I’ve added new links, which makes me so happy. 🙂 I’m glad you find them useful or interesting.
I’ve found a way to add links to this section directly from Feedly—very convenient! But I have to go in manually to add commentary.
At the bottom of my sidebar you’ll find a new addition: a “Blogging Like It’s 2005” blogroll. Yes, a blogroll—seriously old-school! This is the fruit of a conversation on my Facebook page. I asked my FB friends questions whether they still read blogs, and if so, do they use a feed reader like Feedly or Bloglovin, or do they rely on social media for notifications of new posts. I was surprised to discover that almost everyone who answered said they pretty much just click through on links from Facebook or Twitter.
It gives me the shivers to think of relying on the caprices of Facebook to find out if blogs I love have new content up. I will forever mourn Google Reader, but Feedly does the job pretty well for me—and has some nifty post-sharing functionality that comes in quite handy, as I mentioned above.
But I seem to be in the minority. Now, until this conversation I was posting my own blog links on FB only sporadically, because 1) I hesitate to spam my friends’ feeds with my own content; and 2) Facebook’s tricksy algorithms have a way of downgrading your updates if they too frequently contain links to the same website. Which means there’s no guarantee your friends will see your new post links, even if you do put ’em on FB.
But that’s fine, now that I know people prefer to see blog updates in their newsfeed, I’m happy to comply. And I have to say I’ve been thrilled by all the discussion happening in the comment box this week—thank you all for taking the time! 🙂
Well, as I said, this FB conversation led to a burst of wistful reminiscing about the lively blog community of old. A few of us decided to try to revive the spirit of those days by posting more often, more chattily, and by making an effort to comment on one another’s blogs. Thus the new blogroll. Let me know if you’d like to be included.
Today’s picture book: well, so far we’ve only read Hedgie’s Surprise again. (“Because I love it so much!” Huck pleaded.) But I found Jan Brett’s The Wild Christmas Reindeer mixed in with non-Christmas books (so we missed it), and I think since we’re on a Brett kick, it’s what I’ll read tonight. I did begin The Firelings last night, by the way. Huck had played outside all day and fell asleep two pages in. And today I happened upon The Minstrel in the Tower, which is a nice short readaloud that I haven’t done with this set. I’m contemplating holding off on Firelings for now.
I’d like to start sharing thoughts on some of the Cybils nominees I read this fall. To begin with, here’s the blurb I wrote for one of our finalists, a beautiful historical novel called Salt to the Sea.
As the Nazi Reich collapses and the Soviet army sweeps across the East Prussian countryside in the winter of 1945, three young refugees find themselves thrown together among the crowds of desperate, uprooted travellers. The distinctive voices and histories of Joana (“the nurse”), Florian (“the knight”), and Emilia (“the Polish girl”)—each guarding painful secrets—create a harrowing picture of the lives thrown into tumult by the war. A fourth narrative voice, the self-aggrandizing declarations of a young Nazi soldier named Alfred, adds an unsettling counterpoint to the narrative. The fates of the four narrators will converge at the doomed MV Wilhelm Gustloff, a German ship targeted by Russian submarines. Ruta Sepetys brings authenticity and heart to this moving, gorgeously realized work of historical fiction.
It’s hard to pull off good historical fiction, and even harder (in my opinion) to manage multiple narrative voices gracefully. Sepetys excels at both endeavors. Her characters have lodged in my heart—particularly the old shoemaker, whom you’ll meet on the road. Highly, highly recommended.
I’ve been so busy this week, I haven’t had time to explore the other Cybils categories. We always try to read as many finalists as we can, especially the picture books! Time to fill up my library cart…
December 2, 2016 @ 11:45 am | Filed under: Bloggity
Y’all, I miss posting here SO MUCH! It’s not that I don’t have anything to say. It’s that I’m crunched for time. I keep starting posts that I can’t finish. My drafts folder is comical.
That’s right, FOUR HUNDRED AND NINETY-THREE posts in drafts. That’s just silly. I start posts and never get back to finish them. This is when blog becomes more like scratchpad.
That “family album” was a solid idea: I had a plan to collect all my Instagram pics and funny kid comments into one big roundup post each month. Guess I didn’t finish the September roundup and never got back to it.
A lot of drafts languish for want of links and images (like the skincare/sunscreen one in that list, which I do hope to finish soon and will probably publish on Glittersquid). Other, like the Weird School post, are waiting for a reasonable chunk of time so I can put some brain into the writing. (Huck loves those books, is the summary. Subplot: when I asked him what was weird about the school, he said, “Actually, I’m not sure, since I’ve never been to school.” At the time, he had the book open to a page featuring a flying teacher in a superhero cape.)
I know I have a repeated theme here where I talk about how I’m getting hampered by the process of polishing up my posts, adding nice images, etc etc etc. I’ll vow to blog freehand but then when I sit down to write, I’ll think: this would be so much more useful for people if I added links…and that, friends, is how you wind up with a drafts pile nearly 500 posts deep. I mean, I’m even doing it here! Took the extra two minutes to look up and link to that old post—which contains a resolution to “blog lightly, without the sense of pressure and polish that rules the rest of my writing life.” I wrote that in 2014. Some lessons come dropping slow.
Well, I know better than to make resolutions. But I do mean to try to finish up some of those drafts. And the advice I gave myself in 2014—blog first, blog fresh, blog lightly—is really quite sound. One of these days I should start listening to me. 😉
Several of you have written to ask how to subscribe to my Paper.li newsletter (my curated links, similar to the ones I share in the “Caught My Eye” part of the sidebar here). I had mentioned you could receive it via email, but it turns out that option is no longer available for free Paper.li accounts like mine. Sorry for the misinformation! Best way to follow it is, I guess, to look for the link on my Twitter each Monday. Or just pop over here to peruse the sidebar.
Also in the sidebar, as you know, is my running booklist. This year I’ve broken it into sections: what I’m reading myself; what I’m reading to the kids (well, sort of—I’m only listing the novels because tracking all the picture book and nonfiction readalouds would be a full-time job); and audiobooks.
Every January, I move all the year’s books out of the sidebar onto their own dedicated Booklog page. This year I’m ahead of the game and have set up the page already. If you prefer a more visual approach to booklists (cover photos), here’s that link.
But it, too, is missing the picture books, comics, folk and fairy tale collections, nonfiction, and poetry that make up such a large segment of our literary diet. I’ve been inconsistent at logging those books in a format that others can view. This fall I’m making another stab at tracking our picture-book readalouds via Goodreads. Takes a lot less time than putting together a post! If I can stick with the practice long enough to make it a habit, I’ll think about adding our nonfiction and poetry picks as well.
May 4, 2016 @ 9:03 am | Filed under: Bloggity
Guys, I need you to help me get back in the groove. 🙂 Where did my daily blogging mojo go? How about you hit me with some topic suggestions in the comments. Doesn’t have to be kidlit or homeschooling related. Any old thing you’d like to hear me yap about. Sort of like one of those Instagram daily drawing challenges. What’ll it be?
(As I write this, I’m reminded of five or six advice-seeking emails that have been awaiting replies from me for way too long. Embarrassingly long. A lot of the questions in those emails would make good post topics, but a thoughtful response takes time, and time is what I’m short on. But some quick off-the-cuff remarks on subjects you suggest here—surely I can swing that.)
My last post was February SECOND? For real? I don’t think I’ve gone three weeks without blogging since the summer of 2005 when Wonderboy had an unexpected surgery. Even when we moved cross-country and I spent weeks on the road alone with four little kids and an infant, I found time to toss up some short updates. It’s not that I’m busier, really—although I am seriously busy. But I was busy then too. It’s about daily rhythm and habit. I used to start the writing part of my day with a 20-minute blog entry. For years and years, that was my transition from homeschooling mom to working writer. It worked beeyootifully for nearly eleven years: spend the day with the kids, then write about the kids for a bit, and I’d be in writing mode and ready to work.
We rearranged our schedule last…summer? spring? Instead of one big six-hour block of work (writing) time, I now have a four-hour block in the afternoon, then an hour or two off for dinner and whatnot, then back at work from 7:30-9:30. When we made this shift, which has worked out well in many respects, I started reserving the evening block for blogging and various busywork tasks—paying bills, updating the website, answering emails, and so forth. I tried to save the last 30 minutes for sketching, and for the most part I’ve been successful with that. But the reality is that I need more than four hours a day for writing-work. So after dinner instead of blogging, I’ve been doing the other kinds of writing and editing that make up my workday. I’ll blog at the end, I think, and then…don’t. I’ve filled up three and a half sketchbooks, though, which feels good. I understand that I needed to take this time, need to keep taking it, to develop a sketchbook practice. I spent way too many years wishing I could draw instead of learning to draw, and I’m glad I’ve put in the effort these past 18 months. A year from now, ten years from now, I know I’ll be grateful I cultivated the habit.
Ah, but I miss Bonny Glen. The chronicle, the discussions, the community. I miss blogging and reading blogs (because that too has slipped to an occasional activity). I miss you guys!
Okay, now I’m laughing because I’m making it sound like I haven’t blogged in YEARS instead of a few weeks. When you’ve done something on a near-daily basis for over a decade, it’s reasonable to take a little vacation. 🙂 It just wasn’t planned, is all. This morning I was thinking about how quickly one habit (blogging daily) can be replaced by another (not blogging). I didn’t even think about writing a post yesterday, and today that fact startled me. My habits have shifted when I wasn’t paying attention. Sneaky little things, habits.
I’ve tried a few strategies for rebuilding the blog habit, this past year, like the weekly roundups of our reading. But those cross over into work territory, and I can’t have that. This blog must be the antithesis of work: no pressure, no obligation, just chronicle and fun. I’m greedy for that chronicle, though! I don’t want three weeks to become three months, three years. In three years, Huck will be ten, Rilla twelve, Wonderboy FIFTEEN, for Pete’s sake. (I just gave myself a heart attack. And holy cats does that boy need a new blog name.)
Well, the timing is good for me to revisit my approach, since I need to dig into my archives here anyway…I’m mining our past for good stuff I did with my older set when they were little. Today was a vintage Bonny Glen morning: first Rilla gave Huck an impromptu piano lesson and played chords to his melody (“I’m learning how to sight-see, Mom”); then a quick Michael’s run for 2-for-1 sketchbooks plus another 20% off—jackpot! Then home where we messed around on Google Maps for a while (they “drove” via street view all the way from our house to piano class); then a geocaching excursion and another two finds logged. Home again, where they made scrambled eggs for lunch. Now she’s reading Warriors and he’s reading Calvin & Hobbes. A lovely low-tide day for my littles. Beanie is off on an all-day field to the Gem Institute in Carlsbad. I have a full deck this afternoon (boy, do I ever) and I ought to get started. But this was good. Let’s do this again.