The blog thing

What Michelle Sagara and Scalzi said.

Lately I’ve been getting a bunch of people writing me wanting advice on how to blog. They’ve been told that it’s a great way to promote their books but they don’t know how or they want some magic recipe for attracting lots of traffic.

I haven’t answered any of those letters yet. (Hey, I owe my mother emails! No one’s ahead of Jan in the email queue.) But mostly I haven’t answered because I really don’t know what to say. For starters, I don’t get lots of traffic. I average around a thousand hits a day,1 which ain’t bad, but it’s no where near the numbers of the truly popular blogs. Also blogging just to promote yourself? Meh.

For me the least interesting part of having a blog is talking about myself and my books. The most fun is ranting and opinionating about stuff I care about like writing, fashion, politics, cricket, Elvis and quokkas. I have a lot of opinions and I likes to share them. More than that I likes to hear other peoples respsonses to my rants. When I first started pontificating online back in 2003, I didn’t allow comments. Mostly I didn’t like the idea of flame wars or dealing with spam. When I switched to proper blogging in 2005 I quickly realised that the comments were the best part.

Blogging’s a dialogue, that’s one of the many reasons I love it. Part of what’s so awesome about Scalzi’s Whatever and the Nielsen Hayden’s Making Light is that they’re communities. They’re smart, argumentative, witty communities and they’re that way because of the high quality posts and comments they’re responding to. You’re never going to wind up with a community like that if all you can talk about are your books. BORING!!

I always have several posts I’m working on at once. Right now I have one about my friend Lisa Herb’s incredibly inspiring non-profit organisation, Alliance for International Women’s Rights, another about torture inspired by this incredible book, which I read because of Scalzi. Then there’s the long-overdue insomnia post, more stuff on fashion, DNA and race, and answers to reader questions about agents, how to give public readings, and world-building.

But most of my posts are an immediate response to something I saw or read or tripped over that day. It’s occasional writing—as in, inspired by a particular occasion. I see a stupid list of rules for writing so I write my own and so on and so forth.

Keeping a blog has changed how I view the world. Mostly for the good, but sometimes for the bad (ish). You know you might have a problem when your friends ask you, “Are you going to blog this argument?” “Er, no,” you tell them as you mentally erase the post you have just composed in your head. “How could you think such a thing?” Or worse when they ask if you’re going to blog the fabulous evening you’ve just had when that was the last thing on your mind because you was just having fun. That’s one of the many reasons I don’t blog about my life directly.

My advice to would-be bloggers is the same as Michelle Sagara’s and Scalzi’s if it’s not fun, don’t do it.

There are many extremely successful writers who don’t blog. There are some wonderful bloggers whose books don’t sell that well. A successful blog is neither here nor there when it come to a successful writing career.

  1. When I first started pontificating online in 2003 I had barely a hundred hits a day []

Yes, there are CAPS

Some of you have expressed surprise and dismay that I abandoned my archy and mehitabel policy. They wants to know why and if it’s merely a bout of temporary insanity.

The why is easy: I was bored. It was get rid of the no-caps or find a new template. The one takes seconds, the other days. Not a difficult choice.

The no-caps rule lasted quite a long time. To be precise: from 25 May 2005 up till 8 Jan 2008. More than two and a half years. That’s AGES.

I don’t think the no-caps will return. Been there, done that. By all means continue to eschew them in your comments as homage to the way Things Used to Be. I’m all for stubborn nostalgia. I like it almost as much as I like change.

Web stuff

So I finally got Scott’s new look blog up and running. What a hassle that was! I always think it will be just an hour or two. Hah! Try several days of hassles. Especially as there was a migration of his site to a new server. Why is it always so hard?

Anyways . . . It’s up and I think it looks great. Go take a squiz and tell me what you think. Though if you have any complaints tell Scott, not me!

All praise to Sadish Balasubramanian who designed the very nifty and flexible SeaShore template.

I was planning a redesign here to go with the new book but the very thought of going through that again makes my head explode. Plus deadline is not yet met.

Right then, back to work.

Oh and have a new poll.

comment deletion

Okay, I’m not quite sure how I did this but I just accidentally deleted some of your comments. So, if you notice a comment you made has gone AWOL that would be me. Sorry! Feel free to re-comment. The technologies they mess with my mind!

Are your comments being eaten? (updated)

I’m getting reports that my blog is eating some people’s comments. Could you let me know if this is happening to you and exactly what it was my blog would not let you post. Preferably by way of the comments. But if that’s not working:


To make the address work substitute @ for AT and . for DOT

So far it seems to have something to do with posting HTML and URLS.


And if any wordpress users have had this happen to them and have solutions—fire away! I have nothing blacklisted.

Update: I’ve been trawling through the spam filters and found quite a few comments which I’ve now marked as non-spam. Please let me know if my spam filters eat your comments and I will set them free!

Off on tour (updated)

Not my tour but Scott’s tour for his latest book Extras. It pubs on the 2nd of October and is deeply awesome. In fact, it’s my favouritest of the Uglies series. Aya is my new hero.

I’ll be along at most of the public events. If you’re around come and say hello.

I plan to keep blogging everyday. You know, on account of I’m addicted. I managed it every day we were away at Dragoncon so I don’t see how a little tour will stop me.

Hey, does anyone who’s been on a book tour before have any survival tips? (Other than bring lots of shoes?)

Update: I’d be delighted to sign books. I may have to skip a few of the events to get some work done but I plan to be at most of them.

What won’t you blog about?

A friend of mine, who doesn’t blog or read blogs, asked me why I blog. “Don’t you feel weird sharing your personal life with total strangers?”

Their question surprised me because I don’t blog about my personal life. This isn’t that kind of a blog. I explained that to my friend. They didn’t believe me. “You talk about your writing, don’t you? That’s personal.”

Um, no. Writing is my job.

“But what about when your writing’s not going well? Aren’t the bad times personal?”

First of all, I don’t blog about when the writing’s going really badly.

Second, when I blog about the harder aspects of writing I do so to let people know that the writing life is not as glamorous as people think.1 And to demonstrate that, yes, even people who make a living writing have days that are not so productive. It would be the same if I was an accountant blogging about a bad accounting day.2

My friend continues to see blogging as a weird self-revelatory public display that only exhibitionists would engage in. I was bummed that I couldn’t persuade them about the goodness of blogging, but our conversation did leave me thinking about all the stuff I and my blogging friends don’t blog about.

I never blog about

    when I’m unwell or depressed (though I do occasionally talk about homesickness)

    the state of my relationships with family and friends

    my family and friends (unless it’s to boast about their achievements)

    politics (except indirectly)

    religion (though I will argue about it on other people’s blogs)

    personal or family crises of any kind

    books by living people that I hated

    publishing gossip


So basically I don’t talk about stuff that is personal or that I think will start flame wars. I hate flame wars. I also avoid writing word counts (too boring), talking too much about works-in-progress (I’m superstitious), and whingeing when the writing’s going crappily (not only boring but irritating3). And bloggging about blogging is deeply lame. Ooops!

What about my fellow bloggers? What are your no-go areas?

  1. I cannot remember the last time I had a pina colada. And I’ve never had one served to me by a cabana boy or girl. []
  2. Are there accounting blogs? And if not why not? []
  3. Strangely, though, I really enjoy some other writers whingeing about their writing. Though they’re such fabulous writers they could write about accounting and make it riveting. Not that there’s anything wrong with accounting. Some of my best friends love accounting. Or they would if they did. []


Maureen Johnson ones again reveals the truth of what it is to be a writer:

Sitting plays a bigger role in writing than you would think. I mean, a lot of people say, “Oh yeah, I want to write a book one day.” And I smile and nod. Some of them will—but a lot of them can’t sit still for more than fifteen minutes if the TV isn’t on.

You have to sit like a champion when you write. Oh, you’re laughing. You think you can sit like a pro. But when it starts to all go rocky, when your characters don’t behave, when the wolf is at the door and the plot is starting to quake like a jello mold on a trampoline . . . . I defy you to keep sitting.

The sitting thing is why I rarely join my writer compadres in coffee shops. I’m only there if I absolutely have to get out of the house.1 My back is so destroyed by the whole sitting thing that I need an entirely ergonomic set up. I’ve got my ergie chair, my ergie desk, my ergie keyboard. All of it the right amount of heights and distances and blah blah blah. Even with all of that the end of every book I’ve ever written has seen me spending considerable time and money at the chiropractor’s. Oh joy.

Except this last book. I started going to the gym four times a week with a trainer—oh, yes, I’m now one of those wankers—and working mostly on my back and tummy muscles. Result: I finished a book without having to go into traction. I could achieve the same thing by swimming every day but there’s not a 50 metre pool within coo-ee. Buggered if I’ll swim in one of those annoying short course pools. Aargh. Yoga’s good too. But I’ve never found a yoga teacher as good as the one I had back in Sydney. Le sigh.

Anyways, writing = sitting. And sitting can get very bloody ouchy. I’ll never understand why people think being a writer is glamorous. Hah!

  1. So I don’t wind up climbing the walls and rending my hair with writerly frustration and madness. []

Email bankruptcy, or, attempting to cope

I am in crunch time. I am in crunchy crunch time. The busyness I have been complaining about has rebounded on itself and leapt to a whole new level of busy. In a word: Aaaarggghh!!!!

I’m going to keep blogging. I made a little bet with myself to see if I could blog every day of July and so far so good. I hate to lose bets with myself. Especially fun ones. Also blogging kind of clears my head. Dunno why but when I’m deep in writing, blogging really helps me to unwind—that and a glass of wine.

However, I’ll no longer be replying to comments as much as I have been (which I know has been down on what it used to be)—Sorry! The UFB has to be rewritten and that’s my top priority.

Then there’s the email problem. A while back John Green declared email bankruptcy. I think I may have to do the same. I have more than five hundred unanswered emails, which I know is nothing compared to Cory Doctorow who gets, like, two thousand a day, but, well, I ain’t coping. Important emails are getting lost in the shuffle. So I’m going to put them all in a folder to be dealt with after crunch time. I hope that if it was important folks will resend.

I’m very sorry for not replying. I suck.

So from now until I’ve finished the rewrites and made solid inroads into the new novel, I’ll be very bad about answering email and your comments here. And if I am responding to comments here in the next few months—that means I’m being an evil procrastinator and you have my full permission to hassle me about it.

Now I return to the UFB.

Yes, I’m blogging. Real blogging . . .

So apparently it’s de rigeur for the first entry of a brand new blog to feature the cover of the blogger’s latest book. I mean, if the blogger in question happens to be a writer with a brand new cover to display to the masses, which this particular blogger does. To wit the cover for the second book in the Magic or Madness trilogy:

Colour me very happy indeed. Aside from anything else, that photo of the tree there? I took it! It’s a moreton bay fig. In fact it’s the fig tree just past the front gates of Camperdown Cemetery in Sydney, which cemetery makes an appearance in both Magic or Madness and Magic Lessons. The photo on the back cover was also taken in the cemetery by Scott. And the fabulous mjcdesign turned those images into a cover of genius. Thank you, Marc J Cohen.

Hope you all like. Hope you also enjoy this my brand spanking new blog. Welcome!

As some of you know I’ve already had a blog of sorts for the last two years. Some people have dubbed it my not-blog blog. Given the classificatory problems of my musings, I decided to be done with it and start an actual blog blog. Here’s how you’ll be able to distinguish it from my musings:

the entries will be completely free of capital letters. That’s right, this is solidly e e cummingsland. even in the comments. and ha ha! nothing you can do about it. I may even do away with full stops and commas (irritating things anyways).

there’ll be discusssion of books, cricket, movies, elvis, basketball, tv and such. opinions will be expressed, but rarely substantiated. there will be no lit crit. i was once an academic and my days of lit critting and footnotes are far behind me (anyways i was always more of an historian). this is a blog damn it! my blog! if I say so then it is so!

There’ll be comments, but disagreement will not be brooked, unless, you know, it’s funny, or well written, or in some other way cool and interesting. Hmm, come to think of it the same rules apply to agreement.

Enjoy! I plan to.