Armchair BEA today.
The real BEA is forever out of reach, at least as long as I'm a teacher. This week we had final exams for seniors, and we are in our last days of instruction. Our underclassmen will begin their exams next Friday. I've been reading the Armchair BEA posts with pleasure and interest, so at the last hour, I'm in. The topic today is "Relationships." This really gets me where I live, because--even though I'm an introvert at heart--I really believe in the power of relationships. That doesn't mean I'm good at them (more on that later) but I see relationships as the most powerful, important aspect of my work and my life. In my teaching career, I think teaching and learning begin and end with a relationship of trust and sincere admiration. No matter how difficult a student is, I always try to find something to like in that person, and I believe that building relationships with my students is essential to being a good teacher.
It's true in book blogging too. Even though for the first few months of blogging, I was basically just talking to myself, I slowly realized how important relationships are to building an audience for the blog, and developing the kind of conversation that makes a blog interesting.
An aside: I'm not doing a very good job of tending to the relationships right now. I'm going to blame the job that ate my life, and my own kind of obliviousness. I'm working on it (and I'm definitely a work in progress).
I love, love, love getting comments on my blog. And leaving comments is equally engaging and fun, when I make the time for it. There are a few folks who have been incredibly kind and generous with their time and their comments. I feel funny about naming names, but I hope you know who you are.
One thing that really surprised me as a neophyte blogger was that writers would talk to me about their work, read my reviews, and leave gracious and grateful comments. That has been so nice. This is one of the interesting things about book blogging--the way it is a real conversation between all kinds of people in the book world: readers, writers, publicists, and other publishing professionals. It seems so democratic and egalitarian, and book bloggers (who are readers with enormous passion and dedication) are having a profound effect on the way books are marketed and sold.
One of the earliest relationships I developed with a writer was with novelist Priya Parmar. Her novel Exit the Actress was not yet published when I started following Priya's blog The Plum Bean Project. Priya's warm personality comes through in all of her writing, and by reading and commenting on her blog, as she read and commented on mine, I came to know a great deal about the process of writing and publishing a novel. Exit the Actress was more than just another ARC by the time I received my copy. My interview with Priya was the first (well, only) author interview on my blog, and my questions were not just boilerplate questions because I already knew so much about Priya and her book.
The authors I've interacted with through blogging have been so generous (to book bloggers, and to each other). This is one of the aspects of book blogging that surprised me, and also enriched my experience as a reader.
It's kind of funny-bookworms and writers tend to be introverted (unlike the extroverted majority). But through book blogs and social media, we can develop networks of friends, have intense conversations about our most passionate interests, and find kindred spirits.
I'd love to hear from you, readers. Tell me about a friendship or reader-to-writer relationship you've formed because of a book blog....