Thursday, January 08, 2009

Miriam Goderich blogs on blogs

I’m not much for New Year’s resolutions but I think I need to address a problem that has started to get out of hand. I’ve been in denial about it but I think it’s time to face the issue head on. I’m addicted to blogs and they’re taking over all of my reading time.

It all started innocently enough. My friend Jim Donahue’s The Velvet Blog was as wryly funny as he himself is and I started checking in on his random musings regularly. He started TVB in June of 2004 before the blogging craze became the internet equivalent of Chia pets and rubber bracelets, but something about the seeming spontaneity of the format and the feeling that you’re privy to someone’s intimate thought process hooked me – after all, doesn’t the best fiction (and some narrative nonfiction) achieve that same effect?

Soon, however, the bug had spread and exhibitionist writers everywhere took to the Internet in droves. Agents and publishers got clued in and all of a sudden there were big book deals for everything from Stuff White People Like to our own Daily Coyote (based on the eponymous blog) and A Homemade Life. It was quickly obvious that blogging was not only here to stay but potentially a great source of untapped writing talent.

But then, the whole thing started to become institutionalized and fun sites like Daily Candy and Boing Boing became part of the media establishment. So now, aside from my print magazine habit, I started collecting blog bookmarks by the dozen justifying my addiction by telling myself that it was my business to be “ in the know.” There was PerezHilton (no, I’m not proud of it), Politico, The Onion, Gawker and all its spawn, Slate, Salon, etc. During the feverish election season, there was 23/6 (for comic relief), The Huffington Post, and Tina Brown’s heavy on flash, low on substance The Daily Beast, and, well, too many to list. Problem is that one link leads you to another and, well, a person could spend all day going from one site to another, down endless, exhausting pathways.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not giving up my blogs. We’ve found too many great authors by sending a fan letter in response to a particularly strong post or neat concept. But, I do have to rein it in before I find myself in a 12-step program for blog abusers. Otherwise, my reading piles will get dusty and yellow while I follow the saga of the lady who lost all her money to Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme or lose myself in the possible designs of Michelle Obama’s inaugural gown on Mrs. O. Losing weight? No problem. Cutting back on the cocktails? Okay. Giving up the blogs? This could take willpower.

What are your favorite blogs and are they taking over your life too?

(And, btw, what’s the correct usage for blog titles, do you italicize as you do titles of full-length publications?)


  1. I love blogs -- Google Reader is my lifeline to the outside world. I try to only open it at specified break-times, otherwise I find I'm constantly twitching to get on the Internet.

    I tend to read a mix of publishing and life-style blogs. Some of my favourites on the publishing side are Moonrat's 'Editorial Ass' and 'Nathan Bransford, plus 'Janet Reid'. I also find the 'Blood-Red Pencil' incredibly useful when it comes to editing.

    I love 'Londonist' for great news about my city, and 'Wife in the North' for interesting life observations.

    Twitter, for me, is the real obsession! Micro-blogging is the future, I think.

  2. With regards to the correct formatting for a blog's title, I believe the correct styling is the link. If not hyperlinking, to the work itself, the underline does provides a fair representation.
    And, to answer the next logical question, no, I can't back that up with anything which would resemble research.

    Like you, I read a lot of blogs. But, to manage the addiction I've pushed them all into Google Reader (seconding Marsha on this) and skim them like a Twitter feed keying in on what interests me. The really good things, I click through and comment on. I've gone from reading a handful of my friends and coworkers to the other side of forty blogs a day.

    Most of the blogs that I read are industry related, and largely consist of the usual suspects. But Google Reader has a fantastic blog suggestion feature that finds related blogs and makes subscribing to their RSS feed a snap.

  3. Yesterday, I spent all day on Maud Newton's blog (a great new discovery), which led me to free Oxford podcasts and an NPR piece with audio of Virginia Woolf and Arthur Conan Doyle. At the same time, I had tabs open for Google reader, literary agencies, Facebook, research on Highgate Cemetery, and a London street map. Oh, and my WIP word file.
    Some of my other favorite blogs are Moonrat, Janet Reid, and J.A. Konrath's, A Newbie's Guide to Publishing.

  4. Pffff, please do not get me started. I won't even pretend to cut back on my blog reading this year...such a set-up for New Year's resolution failure.

    What's really terrible is that my favorite blogs are baking blogs which undermine the no-sugar resolution with every click! Joy the Baker, Zoebakes, Cakespy...Ughhhh, it will be sad when I'm diagnosed with diabetes, but I won't blame the bloggers;-)

  5. Dear blog abuser,
    Congratulations! admitting your addiction is the first step of our program. Please join us at bloggers anonymous where we blog 24/7 about the abuses and codependancies of bloggers. :)

  6. I regularly lurk on Nathan Bransford, Janet Reid, PubRants and YA Fresh.
    Like you I've found that I'm using more and more of my time finding great blogs to read about topics I really find interesting and then run out of time for my own writing. I need to cut back.

  7. I love blogging, but realize that it's a writing form of its own and takes as much care as when I'm editing through my manuscript.

    A well-written blog can give you an idea of how a person thinks, which is always an intriguing thing.

    I like blogs on current events, and also ones that give me a glimpse into the life of someone quite different than myself. I've been able to find commonalities, hence widening my own perspective (while also gaining new readers).

    My faves? Some of them are on my sidebar

  8. I found I was reading too many blogs...especially whenever I got stuck in whatever WIP I was working on. I had the added incentive to quit in that reading online makes me dizzy...and not just while I'm reading, but when I'm in bed! So I deleted all my bookmarks. Now what I do is every once in a while I'll think, "Oh, so and so has a cool blog that I haven't been to in a while" and I'll do a google search and get to it that way. There are only four that I read regularly. One is a dear friend. One is Meg Cabot. Another is The Longstockings (great group of writers, great blog), and the other is Janet Reid because you can't beat her hilarious, yet deadly serious, take on publishing. Plus I've found a lot of good books via her blog. This one I drop in on occasionally, which is perfect because that's when it's updated. Of course, I'm still expecting everyone to read my writing blog and book recommendation blog every day! No excuses! Haha.

  9. I started my blog six years ago, as a way to tell tales and have people read them, but also to have a sort of 'deadline' to write under. Did you know that when you're a blogger with a following and you don't post for a while your emailbox fills with hollering and worrying and expressions of dissatisfaction?

    i'm a bit of a recluse, and what little social i do is usually via the net, and the blogs i love the best are these amazing, intimate windows in other people's living. The gorgeous writing at, Jason Mraz's blog at, and her endless chat about ranch life with her kids and ridiculously good looking cowboy husband.

    and on twitter, dipping down into one another’s day-to-day living, 140 characters at a time, a small taste of ambient intimacy from The Now. Such as:
    · woke up at 2am last nite, opened curtains to let moonlite wash over me while i went back to sleep til 5am. moon tans r luscious.

    blogs are layers of living that you'd never ever be able to see otherwise . . . and google reader makes it all so dang organized. which is how i keep up with your own blog :)

  10. Like Katherine (above) I started a blog to give myself a more disciplined way to procrastinate and peek into the lives of others. Blogging makes rewriting less onerous, and it makes a writer's life less lonely; it's like having pen-pals or ham radio buddies, but you don't have to wait so long for the letters back -- and you don't need to fiddle with knobs in your garage.

    Blogging provides so much diversion: in an hour, I can connect with a Navy wife in Nagasaki, a housewife in Scotland, a medical student in Malaysia, a pretend gorilla at Oxford -- even an agent in New York. The only problem is that blogging does become addictive, and sometimes you have to force yourself to get up and walk away from the computer -- to go out and live a life that isn't sedentary and vicarious. And blog addicts can't get after their kids for spending all their time on Facebook and YouTube.

  11. Your own Sara Zarr's blog is excellent; she's smart and funny and real.

  12. Definitely you need to use an RSS feed reader. Google Reader or Bloglines are both good choices. That way all your blogs are in one place. HUGE time saver.

    Twitter. Yes.

  13. No, but I do find myself putting allot of work and time in building mine up.

  14. It's too easy to add blogs to the new Blogger feature "Blogs I'm Following". All of them right there in one little window and sorted by post date. I saw it on my Blogger Dashboard after I read this post and I think I've added at least 2 or 3 new ones each day. Thanks a lot, Miriam! (did the sarcasm come through?)

  15. Hello,

    My name is Michelle, and I too am powerless over blogging. Writing mine, and reading the blogs of others.

    One of my favorites blogs is The Pioneer Woman,found at:

    Reading it makes you feel good.

  16. I am obsessed with The Bachelor - and started my own blog on it. Today, after doing my regular job search (I'm an ex Lehman employee) - I launched the first ever podcast on The Bachelor.

    Take it out. I so agree w/ you that Blogging is addicting -

  17. Miriam:

    It's kind of serendipitous that I would come along to read this today of all days. Today happens to be the fourth anniversary of the day I put my novel writing on hold by taking up political blogging. Four years ago today, I started by writing a screed identifying the differences in rules between Bush and Kerry in the just-ended presidential campaign. (The point I'd made is that, as the "incumbent", Bush knew the media would spin, ignore and whitewash for him whereas Kerry had to factor the media into his campaign strategy.)

    Since then, I've started two other blogs and political/social blogging has taken over virtually all my spare time. I put on hold a novel I'd started just over 10 years ago and got obsessed with politics.

    I estimate that in the four years I've been blogging, I've produced enough words to fill roughly 4 full-length novels. The learning curve is high especially if you're a newbie as I was and I've educated myself in the legislative process, constitutional law, US history, presidential lore and the ins and outs and dos and don'ts of blogging. I don't apologize for educating myself.

    But, still, I have to ask myself what is it all for. I've gotten maybe a handful of people to sign petitions and donate money and doubt seriously if I've ever influenced a single vote. Sometimes it's like beating my head against a brick wall or shouting down an empty well because I'm so passionate about our democracy, gay rights (especially gay marriage) and the direction our nation had taken these past 8 years.

    But still, I had to ask myself about my priorities many, many times. I entertain and perhaps edify people whom I'll likely never meet. I'm still amazed that I was able to write and revise my novel American Zen (any word as to the status on that, Miriam?) while working a fulltime job and spending some days over eight hours a day reading, researching and blogging. After four years in the good fight, my third and current blog has never once cracked 2000 hits and some days I get 200 or less.

    Hell, look where I am now.

    Perez Hilton? Oh, Miriam, how could you? What's so addictive about a guy who badly photoshops jizz on the faces of actual celebrities who have actual talent and outs gay people for the hell of it? I'm reasonably certain that God did not create silicon so we could make Kato Kalen-type celebrities out of organ donors like Perez Hilton.