Book Review: Lady in the Lake by Laura Lippman

What I Learned from My Blog Challenge

Back in March, I stumbled across Effy Wild's  blog challenge. The goal was to blog once a day in April. There is also a Facebook group where you can post links to your blog, as well as find and read other people's blogs. The rule was to post a comment on three blogs every time you added a link to your blog, but I confess: I often went to more than three!
I knew going into this challenge that I wouldn't blog every day. Sometimes life gets in the way. Sometimes I don't have a clear emotional space, for many different reasons. Not that I require blissful silence and a happy heart to write, but some days things happen that put me in a state where writing is difficult. But since I knew that I wouldn't blog every day, I didn't get discouraged on days I missed. I just picked it up the next day (or the day after that).
My goal was to reestablish my habit of writing. I know that blogging is a thing that's far past its heyday, but I never totally stopped. Mostly, before this challenge, I've blogged only about books, with occasional political, religious, or social rants thrown in. I wanted to go deeper than that, to have the experience again of sitting down with the goal to write something, to shape it and edit it and give it some breathing space. To work with words on a regular basis.
I feel like I began to accomplish my goal (which is really about reconnecting to my writerly self, in an attempt to figure out who I want to be as I get closer to the empty-nest phase of life), and that I learned some things, so I thought I'd share them here, mostly so I can remember, but also so I can use what I learned to keep moving forward in my writing journey.
1. I like having an audience. I understand it was part of the challenge, but holy cow: getting comments consistently on my posts was awesome. It made the world feel smaller, in a friendly way. Being heard is pretty amazing.
How I can use that: I have been thinking for awhile now that I need to find a writing group. Honestly, I have no idea how to do that, and probably it will continue to be unlikely until COVID is more under control, but I am putting this out into the Universe: I want to find some like-minded people to share my writing with.
2.  Blogging takes time. Many mornings I started the day with a warm cuppa and writing my blog post. I'd look up and the beverage was gone (or gone cold) and an hour had passed.
Often this would make me feel a bit anxious. One of my current struggles is feeling like I have worth and that I contribute. This comes from the huge imbalance between what I make working as a librarian and what my husband makes working in tech world. Let's face it: librarian is not a high-paying career. I can only work at my job because my husband's job supports us. Logically I know that I contribute, but emotionally? Emotionally, lately, I cannot feel that. Which is tied up in being at this place where I only have one teenager, and while of course I still take care of him, there is far less active mothering to be done. If I'm not contributing much to the family finances, and if I'm not, you know, housewifing or mothering, feels like I'm adding nothing. So often, after writing and posting, I'd clean the bathrooms or do some laundry or start planning dinner, just so I could feel like I had done something measurable.
How I can use that: In reality, this is a new iteration of the same feeling. I've always understood that being financially successful as a writer is even more elusive than being critically successful. It doesn't help that I'm married to a person who sees money as a huge proof of a person's value. I have always wanted to be a writer but I haven't ever, really, had the confidence to pursue it with my whole heart. I mean, if I don't feel like I am a person of value within my family, how can I feel like my writing work would be embraced by anyone who isn't required, by marriage or genetics, to love it?
I just...I just want to find the mental courage to say "fuck it." (sorry for the language.) To not care about what other people think of me, and to pursue my dream without guilt.
Guilt is holding me back. Perhaps exploring that will help me to cast it off.
3.  Blogging and writing are different. I mean, clearly: blogging is a form of writing. But it is easy satisfaction. You write your blog post, you polish it up a bit, you try to find a photo that works. You click "POST" and voila: your words are out into the world. No one but me determines what is "publishable." 
This blog post is the 1682nd one I've written since fall of 2005. With varying degrees of success, I try to keep my blog posts around 1000-1200 words. If an average-length novel has 100,000 words, I've written roughly 15 novels. 1.5 million words.
But only on my blog.
Early on in my blogging journey, a commenter told me that a writing professor she was taking a class from told her that blogging can become an excuse for not actually writing. I thought blogging would be a stepping stone to other writing opportunities, and I know for some people it is. For me, it hasn't.
How I can use that: do the work. Do the work, which is hard. Face rejection. Find places to submit. Sit with the discomfort of whatever story I want to tell—the goddess locked in the mountain, the baby in the cave, the three-voice story about motherhood, the LDS vampire, the zombie story that is really about fire—rather than giving up and never finishing.
Do the work.
Does that mean I will stop blogging? I don't think so. However, I do think when I have an idea for something to write about, I need to pause and ask myself: what do I want to do with this idea? Do I want to share it right now in a social media setting? Or do I want to be more ambitious? I think there is room for both. 



This is a great post. You found some really good insights here. I really like the format of problem--> how can I use that? I should try this!


Yes, librarians are inexcusably underpaid (welcome to the pink ghetto!). BUT I'd ask you to at least consider this: Librarians, like teachers, touch minds in ways that are hard (impossible?) to quantify. Librarians know the mysterious, the labyrinthine, the seemingly encoded ways to connect us to information and stories and resources that we'd flail around for years trying to find on our own. (Nope, Google is no substitute for a sharp, well-informed librarian.)

Admittedly, I came of age about 15 minutes after dear Mr. Gutenberg invented movable type, so my memories won't quite match with those of present-day young adults, but I will NEVER FORGET two librarians who unlocked multitudes for me. Mrs. Jones and Mrs. Rahm, God rest their souls, engaged me in conversations that pushed me to explore things on a deeper and more systematic level. Mrs. Jones, on checking out "Little Women" to me for the fourth or fifth time, said "Have you read Miss Alcott's other works? What about 'Little Men' or 'Jo's Boys?' Are you familiar with Bronson Alcott? What do you know about the American Romatics?" And that started a love story. Mrs. Rahm was similarly heroic in my development, zeroing in on my attraction toward a certain type of imagery, and offering Keats' great odes as a place to explore it. To this day, I wish those worthy women had been paid what they were worth, but my personal debt to them is unpayable.

Given your intellectual rigor and passion, I'd be willing to bet you've touched a few library patrons in ways similar to the way Mrs. Jones and Mrs. Rahm touched me all those years ago.

Yeah, you can't spend it. I understand that. But its worth is, well, it's priceless.


I wish I had librarians such as Mrs Jones and Mrs Rahm!
I'm not as good expressing my thoughts in words, but ... Your point two got me when you said Guilt is holding you back. I'm nodding and sighing because I know it shouldn't but I am under it's influence too. But now that we are somewhat empty nesters I think we should really explore our loves, talents, and dreams! It may or may not get anywhere significant, but it is important for us to have lived! TO live!


I have loved being a part of the blog-along and finding so many interesting people to chat with. Yours has been one I have enjoyed a lot.
I am aware of a website called I don't know it or use it but a family member has used it for 20 years and has built up an amazing community of friends.
Oh I get the disparity between what I do and what my worth is. I am a stay at home mum, for 5 years, so my "job" is homemaker whilst hubby brings in the cash. I love being at home but I hate having to "spend" money because I didn't "earn" it.
I have loved the blog along and will be continuing at a pace I can manage!


I would love to have been a librarian! I do understand what you wrote though. I didn’t pursue writing like I could have because I didn’t work for money and thought my duty was to do all the housework stuff and be there instead of playing with my writing. I did the wifely thing to the detriment of my creative self. I hope you say fu** it and write. You still have time and you ARE worth it.


There’s definitely room for both. This was an incredibly helpful post, and I liked the format!


I wish I had thought earlier in my life to become a librarian. It's something I think I would have loved, especially since I love(d) going to the library and I love books.
Blogging right now I think is getting me back into the habit of writing. I hope from here I will dive back into my fiction writing.


I'm guessing from your "do the work" comment that you have read Steven Pressfield's book called Do The Work? If not, then I think you would find it helpful in your journey to be a writer. Also I used to be in a writing group, and I found that it took a lot of energy. They can be beneficial, it just depends on the group, but it can also be a lot of work. You could also try NaNoWriMo or writing competitions, submitting to magazines etc


Loved this introspective post. I remember feeling just as you do when I was married and not contributing as much financially. I had to continuously remind myself that there are all sorts of ways to contribute. Now that I live alone, I see all the labour I did for free in that relationship, and whoa. I was *definitely contributing*. Heh. :)

I like to think of blogging as a kind of warm up for all the other creative things I do. It keeps the pump primed, so to speak.

Cindy deRosier

I've really enjoyed the frequent posts from you in April. I hope you keep blogging!

Blogging has been a stepping stone for me to paid freelance work. But, with only a few exceptions, I've had to go after it versus stuff just landing in my lap.

Janeal Smith

I've loved reading your April posts! Please continue blogging! I relate with these words, "if I don't feel like I am a person of value within my family, how can I feel like my writing work would be embraced by anyone who isn't required, by marriage or genetics, to love it?" I can assure you that many of us have embraced your words through your blog and would love to read anything you write. Please pursue this dream.

Samm Starrs

Love this post. I, too, have enjoyed the audience. When I do a post and it's silent sometimes I think to myself, well why bother? Why put in all that effort if no one is going to read it. I post blogs for people to read so when there is no views or no comments I find my enthusiasm wanes, which is part of why the blog-along has been great in that it kept my embers burning and the more I write the more I love it. It's my aim to keep reading everyone's blogs and keep writing my own even if no one reads them. At least they are out there, my words, my thoughts, my ideas, they are all out there and that's sometimes better than staying silent, y'know. I've kept myself silent for a very long time but this blog-along may have broken the seal on the dam :D I hope you keep blogging. I enjoy your writing.

Francine Clouden

So here's another way to look at your blogging in relation to writing. At a meet the author last night with Ingrid Persaud (whose book, Love After Love I highly recommend), she recounted that she got her start after winning the Commonwealth Short story prize in 2017. She says the media refers to her as though this was the start of her writing career, and how amazing it was that she won with her first short story. But she says that for years before she wrote a blog post every week of at least 900 words, and she considers that in fact that writing was also in a way writing short stories. So don't discount what you do here. She also said that the most important thing about writing stories is finding your voice, and you do that by writing,

Also my sister has been part of a writing program for several months now, that a friend is also in and recommended. It's a paid program, but if you're interested I can send you the info.


Your way of writing about things we have in common has always spoken to me. Introvert. Quilting. Scrapbooking. Books. Changing stages of motherhood. Your words have made me feel less alone in the world. I hope your writing here has helped you hone your craft and has given you the confidence to share your unique voice with a larger audience. Thank you, Amy.


Your writing is valid and valuable because it is good. It resonates with me and validates me. That is enough for you to keep the leap into writing. Hope that makes sense!

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