The Conversation

Why do you write this blog?

I get this question a lot.  One of last week’s AWP panels tried to answer it.  They said:  You do it because readers expect it.  You keep it up because your agent tells you it’s a good idea.  You set it up before you publish your first book because you won’t have time when your book’s coming out.  You do it to “network,” so you can be “found,” to establish your “brand.”  I can’t say any of these answers are wrong — after all, who am I, me with no book out there yet — but it all sounded so …… contrived.

One panelist even advised not to blog if your heart isn’t in it because you’ll look like a phony, and I thought, You have to tell writers this??


I’m just home from AWP.  Haven’t even unpacked yet!  I have a bag full of notes and books and, when my brain decompresses a bit, I’ll post more about what I learned.  And there were so many great discoveries.  Until then, the #1 best thing was spending every day and night with our posse.  Here we are — minus Sherry who had to go home 😦 — at Laura’s book signing.

Lyra, AmyG, Teri, Suzy --- Laura sitting in front with her book.


I don’t think I had one coffee, sandwich, cocktail, or meal by myself.  What a treat, all this in-person conversation.  As much as I like to imagine I’m a luddite, I must offer a special thank you to Text Messaging, as this wouldn’t have been nearly as easy without it.  We might have been in the land of 10,000 writers, but we never had trouble connecting.

Well, okay, not never. There were those exchanges that went like this:

Are you here?

I’m in the lobby.

I’ll be right there.

Okay, I’m here.  Where are you?

Between the bar and the registration desk.

I’m here but I don’t see you.

I don’t see you either!

Shit.  I’m sorry.  I’m in the wrong hotel!



Why do I write this blog?   I created this space to connect, to be part of the conversation.  It’s the place I go when I need to abandon my manuscript for an hour or a day or a week and write about something, anything!, else.  It’s where I learn from the people who stop by.  It’s where I rage about what’s setting my hair on fire.  It’s where I share what I discover about books and writers and storytelling.  But best of all?  It’s where I connect with my people.

34 thoughts on “The Conversation

  1. Averil Dean

    Love this. The reasons we blog are as varied as we are, but I have to believe they are rarely as calculated as what the panel suggests. Without blogging I wouldn’t have kept writing. I’d have had no encouragement, no sense that what I’m struggling with is par for the course. I wouldn’t have met my tribe.

    This picture, this post, and that text exchange made my whole weekend. I can hardly wait for more.

    (As I write this, my little guy is at the other end of the couch, buried in book ten of the Cirque du Freak series. The tribe expands . . .)

    1. Teri

      Welcome to the tribe, young man.

      I started my blog the same week I opened my Facebook account. It was all very organic.

      I was stuck on a chapter in my m/s, and I went looking on-line for a childhood friend who could clear it up, a girl I hadn’t seen in 35 years. Her name popped up with a Facebook account and nowhere else. That was my sign. I needed to join the 21st century. Come to find out she’d changed her name (first and last) and there’s no way I’d have found her without Facebook.

      Within a few days of that, I got an email from someone about WordPress and how it made starting a blog easy. So I thought I’d give it a try. I’d been following a handful of blogs — not commenting — and it seemed like a good place to keep track of my thoughts on books and writing, like a journal, whether anyone read it or not. I’d have never imagined in a million years the good things that have come of this blog.

      1. Averil Dean

        I’m so glad you did. I started blogging to learn to write, but it’s become much more than a place to practice. I can’t imagine how I got along without all of you.

  2. Sarah W

    I started blogging because I wanted a place to grouse about writing while writing . . . and I found you all!

    Next year, I’m going if I have to walk—I missed you all too much when you were gone.

  3. macdougalstreetbaby

    I’m so glad you had a good time and even happier that you’re home. I felt like a worried Mama, hoping everyone would catch their right plane or train or bus. It’s so fabulous you all got to be together at this event. I can’t wait to hear more about it.

    1. Teri

      Missed planes trains and automobiles? Those would have just made more stories to tell !! Though I am glad Sherry and Laura caught the right bus, else what would have become of the Disney mugs of bloody marys?

      1. CJ

        I have yet to meet a writer that didn’t have one–an intelligent look that is–it’s something about the eyes.

  4. erikamarks

    I’m with Sherry–when I don’t blog, I’m missing you all, which is why I’m so grateful that YOU all blog too.

    Next year, yup, it’s a date. By train, by plane, by boat. You all have way too much fun (well, there is no such thing as “too much fun”) and I’m so glad to hear (even though I didn’t doubt for a minute) that it was every bit as wonderful as you’d hoped.

    I love that there was a panel on this subject of why we blog–it’s a biggie. Looking forward to your notes, my dear–and bet those pups were some kind of ecstatic to see you home again…

    1. Teri

      Somehow, some way, we must all find a way to get together. We missed every one of you who couldn’t be there.

      I’m looking forward to hearing how things go with your new manuscript, the one you just submitted. I’m so proud of you! Can you share what the story is about, or is it too soon and you don’t want to jinx it?? I hope all is well in your house, Erika, and you know my husband was the happiest person to see me when I got home! The pups, too, of course, but what a nice guy I have to manage puppy-teenage-dom while I’m off with my tribe. I am so lucky.

      P.S. I swear JoJo gained girth and height in the 5 days I was gone — her head is huge! (hmmm… that’s telling)

      1. erikamarks

        Of course, your husband was the happiest! Oh, we really are so fortunate, aren’t we, to have their support. And I love that JoJo grew while you were away. Oh, that wonderful puppy metabolism! Would that I had some…

        You are such a good friend to ask about book two. I’d be flattered to spill some beans: It’s called THE MERMAID COLLECTOR and it’s a blend of historical and contemporary fiction. It’s set in a coastal village with a 100+ year-old mermaid legend that has impacted the residents of the town–in particular, a free-spirited woodcarver looking to move on from her own heartbreak. I got to do a great deal of research on lighthouses which was great fun. (I’m ashamed to say I knew atrociously little about them, all my years in Maine. For shame, indeed.)

      2. Teri

        Research is one of the great joys of writing. I’m excited for your new book. Fingers crossed!!

        Um, JoJo is HUGE. hahahaahaaaa.

      3. erikamarks

        Thank you both!

        And yes, research is both such a joy and such a rabbit hole. I suspect there are disciplined writers out there who can click on the link they need, get in and get out. Me? I’m lost for an hour. Blasted internet!

  5. lisahgolden

    I’m so tickled to see you all together! I’m sorry Sherry had to leave early. I started to blog to feel less lonely in this red, red state.

    I haven’t been lonely in a long time and you all are such a big part of why I’m not.

  6. Lyra

    Fantastic. I miss you all already. Don’t you feel like you’re in a fog? I can’t even grasp my thoughts completely. I have too many ideas stored at the moment, crowded and smushed in my mind which is currently like an attic in the summertime.
    The little bit of clarity I have comes from the pure joy of seeing you all. Love.

    1. Teri

      I have to admit, this AWP was exponentially better than others in that we were all there together. It was a wholly different experience. I never want to go by myself again!!!!

  7. amyg

    i am obviously going to need some kind of cheat sheet at the next conference so that can better determine hotel locations.

    (i swear, every person that walked through that lounge area was carrying the white and red AWP conference bags.)

    sometimes i feel like you write this blog just for me. (i’m still going to pretend that true.)

      1. Teri

        I finished the Nick Flynn book. Crazy good, my god. The story itself starts out unbelievable, and ends up even crazier than it started. And there’s really nothing quite like a poet writing a memoir — I wanted to cry about 15 times reading his prose.

  8. LauraMaylene

    In several AWP sessions I attended, the panelists said variations of: “In the end, the only thing that matters is if you wrote a good book. Not your twitter followers or your blog or your connections, but if you have a damn good book. So work on it and make it the best it can be.” Very true, obviously, and we already know this. But last week was a perfect example of all the good that can come from the “extras,” like blogging and meeting like-minded writers.

    Also, when I first got to AWP, I felt kind of freaked out, suspected it probably wasn’t for me, and thought that I probably wouldn’t return again in the future. But by the end, I had hit my stride. It definitely would not have been the same if I hadn’t met all of you!

  9. Catherine

    How lovely to spend time together with such warmth. I am quite envious, the Italian country bumpkin here. And being able to discuss these oh-so-relevant things with someone who is not a distracted teen or a patient non-writing listener. Lovely to read all of this. This is what writing is all about – community and communing. Thank you!

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