02 June 2006

How is my blog changing my life?

The BlogHer question of the year is: "How is your blog changing your life?"

This is my attempt to answer that question.

Blogging is what I have always wanted. I didnt know it until I started doing it, but it was the precise thing I always craved.

It started like this: I learned to read early. I clearly remember getting my first library card at age 6 after we moved into town from out in the sticks. I asked my mom how to spell my name and was embarrassed when she told me the letters - I already knew that - what I wanted was to write it in cursive, because I knew that a cursive signature meant something was Serious and Important, and this was as important a thing as I could imagine at age six.

Getting the library card was my first step toward being someone grown up. I could be trusted with books.

The library was only about 25 feet square but to me it was an endless magical wonderland where I wanted to be all the time. I made my mom drive me there every day they were open - three days a week.

I read constantly and I fell in love with authors. I had deep, intense relationships with books and authors. I was in love like a teenager, mooney and obsessive.

Laura Ingalls Wilder, Louise Fitzhugh, Walter Farley and his endless Black Stallion series. I loved them and dozens of other authors and read my favorite books over and over until the words were a bigger part of my life than what was right there in front of me. In my head, the authors were my friends, my family. I held inner conversations with characters and with the authors who created them.

I always wanted meet the authors, too. We lived in a tiny town where author appearances and book signings weren't common. The closest person to a real author I met was Danny Rife's mom, Joanne, who wrote for the local paper, which was published once a week.

When I was 12, I wrote a gushing letter to Ray Bradbury and was thrilled when he wrote me back a one-word answer "Thanks." That letter was more precious than a sheet of pure gold to me. I carried it around in my school binder and showed it to all my friends. It had come folded in half lengthwise and I kept it that way, until it almost tore in half from all the folding and unfolding, the crease growing soft and furry.

At 16, William Goldman possessed me with his book The Princess Bride. I loved the story, but the parts where he spoke directly to the audience were what intoxicated me.

An author, revealing his life and the story behind the story - breaking the fourth wall and speaking directly to the reader - that was a new one on me, and I fell hard, reading that book dozens of times in the next five years. It took me longer than that to realize that the "author" who was speaking was just another character in the book, that his dad was NOT from Florin, that there was no wife named"Helen" or fat kid called Jason.

Looking back, I seem so frightfully immature. At 19, my mom was having her first baby. I was carrying around a tattered paperback copy of The Princess Bride and quoting it to my friends. Oh well. I have always been a little slow.

But Goldman had given me a taste of what I wanted. I wanted to read an author and not just absorb their words. I wanted to be able to ask them questions and have them answer. I wanted them to know me and how they had affected me. I wanted them to...blog.

I remember reading Anne Lamott's Operating Instructions and being struck by her absolute honesty and her wonderful humor. I thought "There is no one else out there doing this." I thought she was amazing.

Now a dozen years later, I know that thinking Anne Lamott was unique was sort of like what a friend told me about the singer Marian Anderson - it wasn't that she was so uniquely talented. It was just she got to use her talent at a time when so many others were prohibited from doing so.

There are plenty of people out there as talented as Anne Lamott. Funnier, too. Its just that something in their lives kept them from getting an agent and publisher and a book deal. Now if they have a blog, they can hop on the internet and write a post and two minutes later I can be reading their words and nodding my head and laughing or crying. Then I can write them a comment and eagerly await a comment back.

Blogging has made writing and reading so much more rich and satisfying for me. I read new content from my favorite authors every day. (Some of them are over there in my sidebar.) I know about their real lives. They know about me. This is what I have always been searching for, and I feel like I am a teenager in love all over again - in love a hundred times over.

Check out my new linky blog, Linkateria


supa said...

I was the same way about books as a girl.

Just last year I wrote a gushing e-mail to an author and was thrilled -- thuh-RILLED -- to get a real reply.

There's definitely something to be said for the interconnectivity of writer and reader in blogging.

super des said...

interactive reading. fun.

I agree with everything you just said.

Mommy off the Record said...

Did you really get a note back from Ray Bradbury? That is really cool.

I feel the same about blogging. And I like reading your blog a lot. Keep it up!

gandhi rules said...

I agree with you Sue, very much. It's changed my life as well. Thank you for getting me into it.

spotted elephant said...

What a great post! I had the same relationship with books and the library as a girl. I still have my Black Stallion books in a box in my closet.

I hadn't thought about blogging this way-you're right-it's about the access to so many voices.

your sister, Lo said...

Hey! I'm supposed to be the inspirational one. Great post.

Moobs said...

That really spoke to me. Very nice writing.

lildb said...

I didn't mean to, but I sorta copied you on this post with the one I put up today at my place. I had it all ready to go in my head this morning (eeeearrly this morning, I was wide awake and staring at the ceiling, with a fussy baby in my arms, so why not prepare a blog post?), and then I read this. I posted mine anyway, but I felt a bit silly.

I hope you don't feel like I'm a dork for copying you, sorta.


p.s. I love that you feel the way you do about connecting with other lovers/creators of literature via la blog. And I also *totally* dig your dry humor in comments I've read on random blogs. You're hilarious.

mommy on the verge said...

Amen sister! I was always at the library too, it was my home away from home. And how awesome Anne Lamont? Love her book Operating Instructions and give it to every expectant Mom I know. Blogs let us be creative in a short period of time. But, I think I'm going to blog about all these 'best of' contests tomorrow, cause even though I don't vote for any but appreciate them, I see a big downside to them.

Shannon said...

I'm with Moobs...really nice reading...and gave me a new way to look at this whole thing! Thank you!

cameo said...

i don't 'know' you, but you're someone i look forward to reading/knowing more about everyday. actually, you're the first on my favorites list - the first one i check daily. you make me happy - you know that? i'm glad this blogging thing exists.

SUEB0B said...

Wow, everytone, I am blushing. Cameo, thanks. You made me feel so good.

Kentucky Girl said...

Oh! You could have written parts of this post about me! I couldn't WAIT to learn cursive writing because I wanted to be Important, too. We had a fairly nice sized home library as well as the bookmobile. I got to pick out books and keep them for a week and love them until she came back the next week and I could get NEW ones!

My mom was the editor-in-chief for our local newspaper and she made sure I knew how to read and read well. When I was 10 or 11, she used to take me to the office in the summers and I'd get to proofread, cut the stories and tape lines. HAH! Remember those tape lines?

I haven't been in a newspaper office in 15 years or so, but I know they all moved to computers that had spellcheck bleh. After that, she let me sit out front and take classifieds.

So, to the point (because I went off on a long tangent there), I blog because I love the neatness and the orderliness of the blog. I used to keep a paper journal, but it often limited me because I didn't want to look at the mess that it was. A blog has structure. It has categories and dates and everything is nice and neat and tidy. (and and and, could I POSSIBLY use that word more?) So there you have it, I blog because it is orderly and neat like the newspaper work that I enjoyed as a kid. All wrapped up in a neat, pretty wrapper is JUST what I always wanted and needed.

mamalujo1 said...

I related to this post too. Here's my question: you mention writing, and not just reading. Obviously you love books, blogging, reading. And I absolutely get your drift on really reading a good book. So. What's your thinking on being the writer, on doing it yourself? Talk to me about that. (Cause that's what I'm about, or wishin' I was about)

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