Since I’ve become a published author in 2014 I have been pressured by mavens of the publishing universe and author friends to participate in blogging—a seldom-welcome avalanche of words.
Maybe my ten years at the computer, writing, have turned me into a recluse, but I have to admit that I rarely appreciate the barrage of wordy items that show up in my in-box, many of them blogs of all sorts, some of which I subscribe to and others that mysteriously appear.
To make it clear, I am not against reading per se, certainly not against literature, or poetry, but I find miscellaneous brief pieces on anything and everything quite irrelevant to my life and awfully distracting from my own writing.
With the huge changes wrought by the Internet and technology, the publishing industry has become a different animal from that of, say, a decade ago.
Today it’s not quite publish or perish, as in academia, but for authors, even those who managed to snag a small, or medium size publisher, or even a prestigious university press, it is blog, blog, blog, or have your book condemned to the dust bin.
When my hardcover book had sufficient success, my publisher reissued it in paperback in 2016 and gave the book new life. It made me happy that the story of my father’s survival and vibrant emergence from the worst the twentieth century heaped upon him, would get into more hands. I decided to plunge into worlds heretofore as unknown to me as distant galaxies—social media and, horror of horrors, blogging.
The very notion of these new endeavors gave me the heebie-jeebies. At first I wasn’t sure why, so I spent a lot of time thinking about it. Had it not been so expensive and time consuming I should have thrown myself on some therapist’s couch to figure it out. But I think that as I’ve begun to grapple with my deeply seated reservations, I have come up with some answers.
I find it very easy to express my points of view when I am speaking with my friends, but expressing my opinions on topics that can appear sensitive to some, is different.
Here, as an author I must stop and weigh the impact of my words on anonymous others. It isn’t about political correctness. It’s about thinking who might be hurt, or offended by our opinions as bloggers. Are we likely to distress someone who otherwise might have purchased our book? Ugh, now I’ve divulged the ugly truth! Aren’t blogs meant to attract readers/buyers of our books?
If we are not to deal with weighty subjects that inspire strong reactions, will we then have to restrict our blogging to subjects that are banal? Or perhaps just neutral things like food, cooking, and recipes? (Oh, forgive me food bloggers!)
Aside from the questions of WHAT to blog about, there’s a much larger issue for me as an author. Blogging takes a lot of time. No, don’t believe that short pieces take only a small bit of time.
Remember what Mark Twain said, “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” Compressing something worthy of discussion to a few hundred words is much more difficult than rambling on. It takes time, precious time.
Maybe because I am in my eighth decade I feel the pressure of time. Every minute that I devote to writing something outside my novel, I hear my characters calling, “Will you ever finish this tale and let us out to live in the world?” Every time I grope around for something worth saying in a blog entry, I feel the tug of my poetry collection that feels woefully unfinished and offended, languishing in a computer file.
Aside from the HOW to say it and where to find the TIME to say it, my biggest “problem” with blogging is the issue of EGO. Whenever a thought of a subject pops into my mind, I ask myself: do I have sufficient knowledge, authority, and experience to comment on it in a way that will add something new to the discourse, instead of simply cluttering the Internet with yet another post.
So dear readers, I have opened my heart and confessed my reservations. Will I stop my infant attempts at blogging? Probably not. But I beg your indulgence and apologize for writing things that you already know, things you don’t care about, or things that offend you.
Annette Libeskind Berkovits is an author, poet and conservationist. Her first memoir, “In the Unlikeliest of Places: How Nachman Libeskind Survived the Nazis, Gulags and Soviet Communism” was published in 2014 and reissued in 2016. Her memoir “Confessions of an Accidental Zoo Curator” was released on Earth Day, 2017. She is currently working on a novel and a poetry chapbook. Please visit her website: annetteberkovits.com for more information.
About In The Unlikeliest of Places:
Annette Libeskind Berkovits thought her attempt to have her father record his life’s story failed. But in 2004, three years after her father’s death, she was going through his things and found a box of tapes―several years’ worth―with his spectacular life, triumphs, and tragedies told one last time in his baritone voice.
Nachman Libeskind’s remarkable story is an odyssey through crucial events of the twentieth century. With an unshakable will and a few drops of luck, he survives a pre-war Polish prison; witnesses the 1939 Nazi invasion of Lodz and narrowly escapes; is imprisoned in a brutal Soviet gulag where he helps his fellow inmates survive, and upon regaining his freedom treks to the foothills of the Himalayas, where he finds and nearly loses the love of his life. Later, the crushing communist regime and a lingering postwar anti-Semitism in Poland drive Nachman and his young family to Israel, where he faces a new form of discrimination. Then, defiantly, Nachman turns a pocketful of change into a new life in New York City, where a heartbreaking promise leads to his unlikely success as a modernist painter that inspires others to pursue their dreams.
With just a box of tapes, Annette Libeskind Berkovits tells more than her father’s story: she builds an uncommon family saga and reimagines a turbulent past. In the process she uncovers a stubborn optimism that flourished in the unlikeliest of places.
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