Tip of the Day: If you missed it, check the archives for last Wednesday's A2A Chat interview with author April Henry. We'll be announcing and posting more author interviews shortly. I can't wait to post mine!
I have a new obsession: Bloglines. If you've never checked this out, Bloglines is a way to manage your RSS feeds. I couldn't figure out the RSS feed mystery to save my life, and I had too many blogs saved to my favorites to keep up. Bloglines is easy to understand. Go to http://www.bloglines.com/ and save their "Sub with Bloglines" button to your Favorites (if you have Internet Explorer). Next time you're reading a blog you'd like to keep up with--like the fabulous Author2Author blog for instance--open your Favorites menu and click "Sub with Bloglines." Seriously, that's it.
Now every time I go to http://www.bloglines.com/, the site recognizes me and brings up a list of my favorite blogs with the number of new posts in each. I click on any blog in my list and catch up on my reading. I will never miss a funny LOL cat picture again! What a relief.
I love LiveJournal, too. It's a great way to keep up with what my writer friends are doing and congratulate people on their good news. Oh, and then there's VerlaKay's Blue Board (http://www.verlakay.com/boards/index.php). That's a great place for good news, discussions and advice. And did I mention Yahoo groups? I keep up with two of those: teenlitauthors and a Chautauqua loop. And then there's my email newsletter subscription to Children's Writer enews.
You don't think this is perhaps too much to keep up with? Writers have to read, after all. We need to keep up with the business and discuss craft. And laugh at photoshopped pictures of cats.
OK, it is a lot on online time. Writing blog posts takes time too. I'd like to think it never cuts into my writing time, but who can say? Some days taking a shower cuts into my writing time. Perhaps if I wasn't reading blogs on my lunch break, I'd be writing on my lunch break. Perhaps. The thing about being an apprentice writer is I don't have a deadline, so if I want to spend my lunch breaks trying to keep up with the breakneck plot twists in Mary Worth and Gil Thorp, I can do so relatively guilt free. (Favorite comics link: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/, where you can make a custom comics page. Discuss the comics at http://www.joshreads.com/, also available as a LiveJournal feed.)
The thing is, before I found an online community, I was writing in isolation. If I didn't find other writers, if I didn't get a reality check on what the market is like and what this career means, I think I might have gone ... like the writing equivalent of an isolated lady with 50 cats, thinking stuff like: I know, I'll write a story about the cats speaking with rlly bad grammer lik this! That's so original, I'll bet nobody's thought of that!!
Life goes back and forth, and I won't always be in a position to be so plugged in. I'm enjoying it now. The online discussions, interviews, and journals make me think about writing the best I can. It's all part of my apprenticeship--learning from others who have already been there and done that. What do you get out of blogs?
-- Kate, Miss Apprentice Writer