the courage to blog

  “Writing, when properly managed, (as you may
   be sure I think mine is) is but a different name
   for conversation.” ~
Laurence Sterne

I love blogging.

But seven months ago, I lacked the courage to even try it.

As I searched for information about children’s publishing on the web, I stumbled across one blog, then another.

I was impressed, inspired, and intimidated all at the same time.

I found Cynsations, Fuse #8, Blue Rose Girls, MotherReader, Lisa Yee, Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast — and instantly felt connected to a community. I had never met any of these people in person, but I was intrigued by their voices. There were book reviews, accounts of book signings and school visits, interviews with authors and illustrators, and the inside scoop on publishers, agents, and editors. 

And I thought, what a grand conversation!

I lurked for months, until one day I finally screwed up enough courage to post my first comment on bloomabilities, the personal blog of Little, Brown, editor, Alvina Ling. My hands shook as I typed. The thought of saying something to a stranger, with a vast, unknown public reading, and no way of ever taking it back, was terrifying. But she had posted about an unpleasant incident in a karaoke bar, where she and her friend were the targets of racist remarks by one of the employees. I was incensed, and couldn’t remain silent. So I forced myself to offer what little sympathy and support I could.

Soon, I was commenting more and more on blogs that I simply couldn’t live without. I grew more confident, but something was missing. The conversation felt one-sided, because no one could visit my blog, and with true blogger courtesy, return the favor of commenting back. I hesitated for a long time. What would I blog about? I didn’t have a new book to promote. I’m a very private person, living a very quiet life. The last thing I’d want to do is bore people to death. And then it hit me — why was I assuming anyone would be reading what I posted in the first place? Who would find me amongst 112 million other blogs? 

So on August 4, 2007, I wrote my first public post, and four days later, I received my very first comment, from Kris Bordessa of Paradise Found. Now, a day hasn’t passed that I haven’t learned something new, or been excited about what I’m going to post about next.

Blogging has helped me write faster and focus better. It has prompted me to research, reflect, and ruminate on topics I truly love, and most important, it has enabled me to meet other bloggers and hear their stories and opinions. I think back to when I published my picture books, before blogs existed. I had written them in isolation, and when they were sold, there was no online community to share the good news with, no message boards or personal blogs to promote them, no soft place to fall when a negative review came out. 

Blogging is an exciting, new art form. Everyone has the opportunity to create whatever kind of blog they wish, experiment at will, and use the blogging platform to whatever end they desire. There is no right or wrong way to blog. 

When I first started, I agonized over what to say. But gradually I realized what a gift I had been given. For much of my writing career, the word I kept hearing from editors was “no.” It was like I needed their permission to speak, for them to say, yes, what you’re saying in this story is worth telling, is worth sharing with a larger audience. They judged everything I wrote. I knew all about not taking anything personally, about persisting despite rejection. But still, there was that deep-seated feeling that unless they said it was okay, I should remain silent.

Until now. I don’t need anyone’s permission to blog. I decide what to say, and how to say it, and take full responsibility for what I post. This is a kind of empowerment I have never experienced before, and it’s heady and addicting. My blog is a place to take a subject or a feeling and run with it, to fully stretch my writing muscle without the pesky editor that plagues my other projects. I am happy to promote other authors and their books, old or new, whenever I can. And I am thrilled to be in the company of so many talented, generous, and supportive people in the kidlit blogging community. 

I’m so glad I found my voice.

**For more insight on the blogging experience, be sure to check out “The Beauty of Blogging,” in SisterDivas Magazine, with Live Journal’s Melodye Shore (

), Susan Winning (

), and Tori Winning




48 thoughts on “the courage to blog

  1. I’m glad you found your voice, too, and I’m very glad that I discovered your blog. Your ideas are delicious, attractively and graciously served. ๐Ÿ™‚
    (Thanks so much for referencing our SisterDivas article! I wonder…did you notice that Susan linked to one of your entries?)


  2. Wonderful post! I lurked for a long time before my first post and then… the beast was released!
    Thank you so much for commenting on my first post on our nonfiction blog yesterday. I was rather intimidated by our list of great nf writers. Yay, I got a comment and it was YOU!
    BTW I still owe you a picture of my bear line. Any bear lover is a friend of mine!


  3. blogging
    I’m still mostly a lurker, and I usually don’t comment, but I do enjoy reading blogs including yours. I do wish you would use a slightly larger font to make it more comfortable to read, but aside from that, great job.


  4. Thanks, Melodye. I just realized I forgot to put in the link to the article. And yes, I did notice Susan’s link to my post, and wanted to comment at your tea party, but that week there was a duck in my kitchen quacking very loudly. Ever since I read the SD piece and the ensuing discussion, I’ve been wanting to post about blogging — only getting around to it now.


  5. They’ll be on the next flight! ๐Ÿ™‚ (I need a vacation! Mr. Cattingham has decided the cursor on my iMac is the next best thing to a real mouse – Help!)


  6. I can very much relate to this… I spent way too many years saying NOTHING because I didn’t think anyone would care what I had to say… well who cares?? It’s very liberating. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for posting this.


  7. Jama, with your heart and humor and wisdom all out there I would have thought you’d been blogging forever, not seven months. There is hope for us all. So so glad you spoke up.


  8. Thanks Vivian. I was so so impressed with how you handled those first graders! It’s pretty astounding when you consider that the hour or so you spent with them may well have changed their attitudes towards books for the rest of their lives!


  9. Oh, certainly a duck quacking loudly in the kitchen simply “must” take precedence. Don’t worry, we’ll have another tea party and you’ll be at the top of the list. And Tori says, Please feel free to bring the duck ๐Ÿ™‚
    p.s. we’re so glad to have found your blog and look forward to reading it on a daily basis, as we drink our morning coffee


  10. Hi there, Susan! So glad you’re having another tea party (I’m having one in April, too, and you’re all invited)!
    Tell Tori the duck has gone home (he belonged to Jackie Urbanovic). But I’m writing about one myself, and he might start acting up soon. Don’t know if he’ll be “civil” enough for a tea party.


  11. We could have the Feather Table set up for him by the window. It’s a prime spot, and might just distract him long enough for the rest of us to down our tea! I’m sure he’d have great fun playing Duck, Duck, Goose.


  12. Your reasons for blogging are very similar to mine. Now I don’t have to try to express my experience–you’ve done it so eloquently!
    But I don’t have the yummy recipes that you do. One of the many reasons I enjoy your blog. . .


  13. The first?
    Jama, I had no idea that I was the first commenter on your blog! I know how you feel though, about that hesitancy to comment on blogs – some of these bloggers are so amazing; it feels as though surely, a comment from me is insignificant. I’m glad you’re here blogging, and that you kept track of that “first” – I’m really bad at remembering anniversaries! ๐Ÿ˜‰


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