I started blogging in September 2009. By then I’d been writing for over eleven years, and though I had no publishing leads, I decided to jump in feet first: I quit my teaching job and started writing full time.
Though opinions have since changed, anyone who was trying to get published “back then” was supposed to blog.* I’ve often been thankful I started writing long before the blogosphere was born. While it was sometimes lonely writing on my own, it was also simpler, too — fewer distractions, no one else’s writing regimen or sales to compare to my own experiences. I sometimes wonder if I’d started writing then how far I would have gotten. How easy it would have been to try and keep up with everyone else on-line and altogether forget about the actual writing thing.
I remember checking out a book about blogging, and though I didn’t understand a lot of it, one thing stuck with me: with so many voices out there, a blogger needed a unique angle. I decided my blog would be called Caroline by line, a name I hoped would be catchy, would be a play on “by line,” and would help people learn I was a CaroLINE and not a CaroLYN (Five years later, I still get LYN-ed as much as before). I opened a free account on Blogger and committed to talking about writing and reading, but also the publication process as I was learning about it. I also threw in some bits and pieces on teaching. These were the things I knew and loved.
Using a weekly planner I got through Writer’s Digest, I kept record of my blog posts. I posted five days a week until I sold May B. (roughly seven months in), then switched to three times a week. In 2010, I took off the weeks of Thanksgiving and Christmas. In 2012 I gave myself a whole month of sabbath in July. It’s a schedule that I’ve stuck to since.
Though many who started blogging around the time I did have since hung up their fiddles**, I’ve continued on. Not because I’m so great, but because I’ve really fallen in love with it all. After sending manuscripts into the void, sometimes never to be seen again, having immediate feedback from readers was and is the most amazing thing. Some of my most popular posts have been my Running a Book Club for Kids series, this Third-Grade Reading List I created for the said book club, a post on sod houses, and my interview series with author/teacher Donalyn Miller discussing her title, THE BOOK WHISPERER.
I’ve tried regular features. Some have succeeded, some have fizzled, some I’d like to revive: Classroom Connections, a series meant to introduce teachers to new books; Fast Five, an up-close look at five books that share something in common; On Writing and Why We Read, which are simply quotes on the reading and writing life; Navigating a Debut Year for those new to publication; and most recently, Straight from the Source, a series of interviews with authors of historical fiction. Then there was Carpool Conversations, little nuggets I overheard while driving the neighborhood kids to and from school.
Some of you are new around here, and some of you have stuck around since the very beginning. I’m so grateful for all of you and this journey we’ve been on together, from those first days I stepped into the world as an unemployed, unrepresented author to the present, with one book in the world and four more under contract.
If you haven’t before, I’d love for you to introduce yourself in the comments below, perhaps sharing how long you’ve read in these here parts. If there are any topics you’d like me to blog about in the future, I’d love for you to let me know.
Thanks, friends! This blog wouldn’t exist without you.
*Now it seems those of us who write fiction have been cut some slack. It’s you non-fiction folk who are absolutely required / no excuses / get to it / must blog. Or not. Whatever works for you.
**Sometimes only frontier slang will do.
Margaret Simon says
I started blogging three years ago and find that it sustains me and connects me. I connect with Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Tuesdays and Poetry Friday. I’ve even tried to create my own meme with DigiLit Sunday. I like how blogging has connected me with authors like you. I always thought authors were like movie stars, somewhat removed and surreal. But you are real. I love that. I think you should continue to blog about whatever moves you. The personal touch is what I love most.
I love, Margaret, how we’ve connected through poetry, how I’ve “visited” your classroom, and how I’ve now got your book on my shelf!
Thank you for reading here.
Sarah M says
Sarah M in Washington….I’ve been reading your blog for maybe 9 months or so? I don’t think quite a year. 🙂 I love the writing quotes you share, and I also really enjoy the author interviews. I like the idea of the “Fast Five”. I’m just an avid book reader who is beginning to write for children. I like following your blog because it’s something I’m interested in, and it’s “quiet”, instead of loud, pushy, and into SEOs like so many other writing blogs. I appreciate the space.
I didn’t know you were writing for children, Sarah! Love learning these sorts of things. As for SEO, don’t get it and never will. 🙂
Dawn Malone says
Congratulations on your blogging success! I stop by on occasion, and like Sarah said, enjoy your site for its useful, low-key content. Your blog has a very personal feel; I enjoy that. I’ve been blogging since 2011, and like having a ‘home’, where I can post freely and as often as I like.
Thank you, Dawn! I love that the blog feels personal and low-key. I’m not always sure what tone others are reading when they visit, but those are two that feel just right.
Anna Staniszewski says
I seriously could have written this post (with a few slightly different details). I keep at it for the same reason you do; it’s nice to have a place to share your thoughts and connect with like-minded folks.
Well, hey you! Exactly right. After all those years of writing on my own, it’s so fun to connected with like-minded people.
I don’t think I’ve congratulated you yet on your new book deal — a series, right? You’re on fire, girl!
Valerie Geary says
It’s funny…didn’t we start blogging around the same time? I have definitely hung up my fiddle. Blogging is just not my cup of tea. But I’m glad I did it for a little while. Otherwise we would have never started up this wonderful conversation that’s lasted almost five years! (I looked it up! I interviewed you in 2009!) 😀
You know what’s funny, Val? A few months ago I looked up something on Moonrat’s blog (remember her?). It was a few months before we “met”, and there we were, both commenting on the same post!
I just started following your blog and love the tone and content. I’m new to blogging and enjoy the freedom. I would love to have had your blog as a resource when I was homeschooling several years ago, but will enjoy it now as a grandmother who cherishes books and wants to nurture that in my grandchildren.
Julie, this is lovely! Thank you for sharing this.
Kimberley Griffiths Little says
I’m a horrible blogger myself (mostly because I’m self-conscious and feel like everyone else says it so much better than I can) but the blogger world of writers/writing has helped me enormously over the last 7-8 years. I’ve learned so much about the publishing world, agents, editors, authors – it brings it all so much more personal and real and possible – and I’ve made a ton of friends. I still read MANY blogs every single day.
I’ve learned so much, too. Glad you’re a “real life” friend as well as one out in the blogopshere.
Augusta Scattergood says
Were your ears buzzing this past weekend? My writer retreat buddies may have mentioned how attractive your blog and website are, how the two are so beautifully connected, full of great tidbits.
Also, we talked about sending “fan letters” to the writers whose books have inspired us.
And that’s what you were just blogging about also.
I’ve felt it all along- since the moment we realized our “twin”-titled books would appear at the same time- we are connected!
Augusta Scattergood says
and by “may have mentioned,” I meant we did of course mention…
We are definitely connected. I love how our journeys (and our titles!) share so many connections. I also love that authors take the time to write fan mail to other authors. This is exactly as it should be.
Is Kirby in your group? We’ve talked websites a few times, and I can’t wait to see what she cooks up!