A Blogging Shift

Life is short. I would rather sing one song, than interpret a thousand. ~Jack London

Two interesting things happened this week, and it’s only Wednesday. One, is that a post about my hair got more attention than my posts about books. The other is that while I was having coffee with a friend I greatly respect and admire, she said, “You should write more about life.”

I often have trouble finding just the right niche. When the group is doing one thing, I most frequently am doing another. Being out of tandem with everyone else is a common experience for me; finding myself rather alone has become so normal that I used to joke at school, “Smith, party of one.” I’m not saying this as pity, in fact, it’s rather a point of pride. When are the masses ever right?

That does, however, leave a question about my purpose here. I started a blog twelve years ago with a name which doesn’t even relate to books because I didn’t really intend to write a book blog. Dolce Bellezza was supposed to refer to “Gentle Beauty” as in “the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit.” (1 Peter 3:4). I was always going to write about life as I know it (faith, teaching, reading, everyday thoughts). And then I met Lesley, and we started to talk about books we’ve read, and before you know it I had veered into a book blog because it was so much fun.

Blogging about books has greatly enriched my life. I have discovered authors that I’d never heard of let, let alone read, even though I consider myself a fairly well read person. I have received such a plethora of books to review that I will never, ever be able to read them all. I have hosted eleven Japanese Literature Challenges, and I have had the utter joy to be a part of the IFFP Shadow Jury, the Man Booker International Prize Shadow Jury, and the Booker Shadow Jury. I would trade none of those experiences. Nor do I intend to lay them all down.

But, now that I’m retired I’m wondering if blogging mostly about books suits my purpose. I think I’m more interested in exploring the world outside of the classroom. I think I’m more interested in expanding my blog to something other than the narrow confines of merely reviewing literature, which is only an interest of mine, and never an area of expertise.

In an effort to “sing only about one song, rather than interpret a thousand”, I am planning to blog more about life and less about the thousand books which are lying in wait for me to read. I will still be reading. I will still write about what I’ve read. But, only when I want to. Only when a book has called to me in a loud, clear voice. Other than that, let’s journey onward to broader roads which beckon and call. Let’s explore more thoughts outside of the pages. Are you with me?

Thanks for your help; here’s what I bought:

I am sitting at my desk with an iPad Pro, in rose gold (if that matters) and a Logitech keyboard which is excellent! It’s backlit, it’s sturdy, and I have all the perks of an iPad and a laptop in one. I couldn’t be happier.

Reading all of your ideas was helpful. But, it’s rather like helping someone choose a lipstick. Revlon makes a great one, and so does Chanel; it really is up to the individual user to determine what will suit her needs.

There is a most annoying thing which I keep on forgetting: nothing is perfect.

I look for perfection wherever I go. The perfect size and weight (for myself). The perfect shade for my mouth. The perfect job, career, occupation. It isn’t possible. The best thing to do is to make the wisest choice possible, and be content with what you have.

That is the lesson from my searching for a device; it’s a lesson I’m learning over and over again. And in the meantime, I surely do love this tablet/laptop combination.

Even though I keep reaching for a mouse which isn’t there.

Quick Question: On which device do you prefer to blog?

I am considering whether I should buy an Apple laptop as an early retirement present for myself. At first, I was thinking of the MacBook Air, but now I see that the iPad Pro, which has an attachable full-size keyboard, would be comparable in price with more power and portability…

I’ve used a Dell laptop, an iPad Mini, and my phone (of all crazy things to blog on), but I would truly value your opinion.

So speak to me, friends. What do you use? And, are you happy with it?

I Seem to Have Lost My Place, Temporarily

When I began blogging in 2006 it was enough to have a voice. A voice that went beyond my journal’s pages or my husband’s ear. And not only did I have a voice, I had something viable to talk about: books.

You can’t imagine the pleasure there was in simply writing my thoughts about the literature I was reading, only to find someone responding with their thoughts. It was like a book club without having to dust, or prepare a dessert, or even agree on the same book to which everyone was obligated to read.

When I began the Japanese Literature Challenge eight years ago, over one hundred people signed up, and suddenly my reading world opened even wider. I was reading authors whose names had previously looked like a string of consonants all strung together, names which I now type without even needing to double check. Names which were gifts from fellow participants.

My evenings consisted of blogging. Writing posts. Redesigning my template. (Remember?!) Visiting old friends and making new. Finding a new comment on a post I’d written was thrilling, finding new friends with which to converse was better than talking to many of the friends I had in real life; they never seem to read much of anything but current best sellers.

The years passed…

I bought an iPad mini which gradually replaced my laptop. Only it doesn’t work as efficiently as a laptop, in terms of affording me ease with which to word process. I am fast with my thumbs, but not as fast as with all ten of my fingers. Leaving comments became arduous. Reading posts took time from reading books. Some of my favorite bloggers ceased blogging. New to me bloggers were so erudite I became intimidated. And slowly, I found myself withdrawing from a world which had become important to me.

Now I hardly know where I am. I tiptoe in and out of the blogging world, sometimes leaving a comment, most times not, and often feeling that I’ve lost my place. It’s been so very tempting, for the past six months, to give up blogging altogether.

But today I went through my blog list, reading posts and leaving many comments as I used to do, and in so doing I realized that I don’t want to abandon blogging about books. Not yet, anyway. I’d rather renew my place amidst this world, commenting with my laptop, carving out an hour each night from my reading time.

In fact, if there’s anything I’ll easily abandon, it’s my iPad.