The Honest Scrap Meme

Tagged for this by the extremely talented Courtney.

1. “The Honest Scrap” award must be shared.
2. The recipient has to tell 10 true things about themselves that no one else knows.
3. The recipient has to pass along the award to 10 more bloggers.
4. Those 10 bloggers all have to be notified they have been given this award.
5. Those 10 bloggers should link back to the blog that awarded them.

1. I’ve had the flu! But really, just a very ordinary flu, with no swine involved. My son brought it home from school and for some reason it never occurred to me that I would catch it. Perhaps lack of anticipation was my fatal error.

2. Just before catching the flu I’d nearly made up my mind to stop blogging. Three and a half years is a pretty long time to be committed to anything creative. But I think on balance I will keep going a little longer.

3. There has been, surprisingly and for the first time in those three and a half years, a number of disappointments and personal snubs around the Reading Room over the past few months, oh none of which are worth talking about or even taking seriously in isolation. But you know how little things accumulate and become greater than the sum of their parts? I’ve felt disenchanted and distanced from the blogworld. And so I was extra thankful for some lovely comments and messages sent recently from my regular blogging friends. You keep me at the keyboard.

4. I do agree on the whole with Cyril Connolly that ‘It is better to write for yourself and have no audience than to write for your audience and have no self’. But blogging is such a community-based activity, I think that feeling part of a supportive and engaged network is important. And I also think that writing is always that bit better when it is consciously involved in engaging and enlightening readers.

5. When I first started blogging, I was very excited by the idea that here was a place where two new forms would take precedence; the very short essay, and a kind of lightweight but genuine literary criticism. In fact, neither of these has taken off, and book blogging is mostly about the brief review these days, with a small percentage of academic bloggers writing who tend to remain quite conscious of their profession (though there are a few exceptions). I don’t belong to either of these camps, and so fall between stools – too intellectual (and way too long-winded) for most general bloggers, not intellectual enough for the other academics.

6. But then again, the desire to blog does ebb and flow, and I think this is a medium that really exposes boredom and lack of motivation on the part of the writer.

7. What I do think is that it’s time to shed a snakeskin, or to reinvent what I do. For me, blogging is all about experimentation. First of all I wanted to see if I could transpose intellectual writing about books to a popular platform, then I wanted to see whether I could write more personally, then I wanted to extend the range of topics I wrote about. I’m not sure what comes next, but I need an aim to direct me. That’s what keeps me motivated.

8.  Many of you will be familiar with the novelist, Rosy Thornton, and know that she is also an academic at Cambridge. We’ve become friends in real life over the past year and she is a complete delight. When we are together we end up talking faster and faster because we have so much to say, which is very amusing. Anyhow, Rosy has been involved in organizing a literary day at her college, lots of workshops and talks, and the two of us are giving a workshop in the afternoon on internet writing: fan fiction, writing websites, blogging. Doing this with Rosy is going to be so much fun, and I’m hoping it will be invigorating. It’s also another reason to keep blogging, at least until the end of the month. 😉

9. I think seasonal transitions can be quite unsettling. If I look at my reading at the moment, I have three half-read books on the nightstand that I wonder whether I will ever finish, and four I am currently reading, none of which has me really hooked (I’m very much appreciating Mavis Gallant’s short stories, but I can’t be hooked by a collection). That’s an awful lot of books in progress for me and I’m not particularly comfortable with it. While I had the flu it was Agatha Christie and Georgette Heyer all the way, but now I need something a bit more…. a bit more… Oh I don’t know, just more but not too much of it yet.

10. The most cheerful news to impart is that I’ve just finished working with a writing coach who has been immensely helpful. She is quite brilliant at pinning down that vague nebulous feeling you have that something isn’t entirely working, and telling you what it is in a way that makes you enthused to rewrite. I’ve had some fascinating, supportive and illuminating conversations with her and feel that at least one area of my writing life has received a real boost. If you fancy working with a writing coach, I would warmly recommend her: Jacqui Lofthouse, to be found at The Writing Coach.

I’m not tagging as I’m a long way behind in blog reading and don’t know who has done this and who hasn’t. Consider yourself tagged if you’re in the mood for disembowelling your private emotions or if you have hidden secrets you long to share.

27 thoughts on “The Honest Scrap Meme

  1. Oh no please don’t go! Please, please. My personal blogging world would be barren without you – I rely on you for ideas, inspiration, reviews and high standards of excellent writing. Reinvent yourself if you must but please don’t depart. I’d be too sad.

    Otherwise, glad to hear you have made an excellent friend. And thanks for the writing coach tip. I may need her.

  2. oh! Oh, I don’t know where to start in expressing my thoughts upon reading this post. First, I read your wonderful post about Banned Books and yet could think of nothing to comment. It seems wrong just to leave a ‘hey I read this and I’m always impressed’ kind of comment; these seem so weak, limp, wimpy.
    (I just finished Lolita. I have no idea how or what to write in a post on this novel but I hope to attempt something in this week sometime.) Pardon my ramblings, but I hope you continue to blog. I love your words and thoughts and sharing about most everything! I’m the gushing fan here. I never feel like you dismiss my non-intellectualness, so thank you. Thank you.

  3. I also read this with horror. Blogging without LL? It would be a much less fun thing to do. But I also hear what you say about blogging having a certain ebb-and-flow energy to it. When I started individual blogging I was hoping to make friends with like-minded bloggers here in Cape Town. But it turns out that my blogging ‘friends’ are on the other side of the world. I’m not sure that all the energy is worth it some of the time. But it does keep me reading and challenges my thinking (and keeps me connected with people I would not normally be connected with).

  4. Dear blogging friends! Oh my goodness, you are so kind!

    Charlotte – I didn’t put it in the post but I should have: there’s the circle of women, you, Bloglily, Dorothy, Stefanie, Danielle, Emily, that I got to know when I first started blogging and who have been dear friends ever since, not to mention inspirational writers. I’ve been suffering from a combination of blogging burnout and dissatisfaction with what I do, and I struggle all the time against being super-sensitive. But it doesn’t matter what I put in the scales on the other side of my blogging friends – you always rise higher. I need to have a think about what I do and come up with a plan. Always helps to have a plan! And oh Jacqui is a star. I have unreserved praise for that woman.

    Care – it was one of your comments that so touched my heart and encouraged me last week! I got into a phase of fretting that I feel so different to a lot of book bloggers. But I should put that to one side as, believe you me, I really do appreciate the friends I’ve made in the virtual world like yourself. And you should know that you are doing better than me – I’ve had Lolita on my shelf for years and can never quite muster the courage to pick it up. I think it’s such a difficult book! I’ll be looking forward very much to what you have to say about it, as you always write so honestly and I feel I’d know your voice anywhere! 🙂

    Pete – Once before I almost gave up, and then found a way to carry on and indeed carried on enthusiastically for another 18 months or so. It does go up and down, and the downs usually tell me it’s time for a rethink. I can’t do anything without being fully engaged in it and convinced I’ve got a good reason for my choices. But my virtual friends do matter a great deal to me, and I agree completely with what you say about the way blogging keeps your reading and thinking sharp. I, too, seem to click with people on the far side of the world! There’s a story there, for an anecdote one day – I’ll email you. 😉

  5. I know I don’t comment often, but I find your posts such a joy to read exactly because they are long and detailed (not to mention incredibly intelligent). I think brevity is sadly overrated in the blogging world. So even though I understand feeling burned out and wanting to stop, I’ll join my voice to those who really really hope you’ll continue to blog.

  6. Litlove I hope you don’t stop blogging! You mustn’t (unless it’s for your health). Yours is one of the blogs that I always read no matter what: sick, tired, overwhelmed, I always read it. I come away knowing something more than I did before I read it; it makes me think. You don’t know how rare that is. And how needed.

  7. I’ll be interested to see how you reinvent yourself. I nearly deleted my blog yesterday. I’ve been going (in the make tea not war incarnation) for six years and it’s feeling incredibly stale and lacking in focus. The main thing that’s stopping me is I want the ability to maintain casual but still important to me contact with the people that I feel I’ve developed friendships with over the years (like yourself). Blogging as a medium for doing so is frustrating though. New Zealand is a very small country and I really don’t feel comfortable ranting about my job which consumes my nearly every waking hour. I don’t feel like I can talk about my political views because I don’t want to deal with the trolling that kind of discussion invariably seems to attract. I don’t want to tell stories about my family history or various important life experiences in a public forum that just anybody can read- not only for my privacy but also, more importantly, because of the need to protect the privacy of others. So really I am restricted from interacting with the people that I want to interact with in a genuine way that is true to who I am because of all the things I don’t want to say in public. I think, if I could work out a satisfactory way of doing so, I would restrict my blog to a few selected readers so I felt I could write about what I felt like and maintain the interactions that I value. And if I had a public blog I’d make it a single issue blog just focused on one interest whether it be reading or cooking or whatever.

    It also feels to me, even though some people continue to write very well and interestingly, that the personal blog form may have gone as far as it can go.

    Gosh, I wasn’t expecting to write such a long comment! You hit a nerve.

  8. Oh litlove, the Internet would be a much poorer place if you weren’t part of it. One of the things I love most about your writing is how it has more depth than the shorter reviews and other pieces that tend to dominate the blogosphere but it isn’t so academic that I feel like I’m reading a textbook. I know that sort of “between two stools” writing isn’t common on the Internet, but it’s what I enjoy reading the most. And the conversations that result are maddeningly difficult for me to find in real life.

  9. Add me to the echo chorus: please, please don’t stop blogging! I so enjoy reading you for your thoughtful reviews; for introducing me to writers hitherto unknown to me; for the glimpses of your academic life; for the glimpses of your personal life; for the high intelligence (and wicked sense of humor)that shapes your writing. Yours is an elegant, intellectual and also down-to-earth style that is essential. It should be read in the “real” world. It must be read in blogworld

  10. Oh my! I barely made it past #2. The blogosphere with out Litlove???!!! NEVER!!! I’d have to quit myself, if you did (maybe not such a bad idea, but really, it WOULD be a bad idea for you to quit). But then, of course, because you are Litlove, and I must compulsively read whatever you have to say, I made it past #2 and can comment on a few others, like #6. I must be a weird blogger. My enthusiasm for it never ebbs and flows. It’s just that time spent on other things gets in the way. I am always writing blog posts in my head, and I actually probably have about ten full posts that have been written out in “first draft” form that are just waiting their turn. Sometimes, I wish I’d lose interest in it, so I wouldn’t feel guilty when I ignore it, or feel so driven by it at other times. #8: I wish I could get together and talk too fast with both you and Rosy Thornton. And #9 (you know, the librarian in me can never get away from reader’s advisory). I’ve got just the book for you if you haven’t read it: The Village by Marghanita Laski (published by Persephone, of course. Who else would it be?).

  11. I know it’s no democracy, but put me down on the side of those who are voting for you to carry on blogging. You would be sorely missed. Another book too, please! 😀

  12. I hope you’ll carry on blogging too. I love the variety in your posts the long,as well as the not so long. So carry on experimenting please.I know what you mean about being dissatified with what you’re doing – I feel the same – it’s the perfection gene no doubt. Even in comments I write and re-write and often feel I’ve not expressed myself very well.

    Glad to know you and Rosy are friends, I read her book Hearts and Minds and wondered if you knew each other.

  13. LL, I feel SICK!!!!!!!!! Sick with panic and horror and anxiety that I have neglected you or disappointed you or am one of those low, foul creatures you mention around about point #3 – snubbed? You? I find that so hard to believe. But I can feel this crushing breathlessness that I have inadvertently DONE SOMETHING – I can’t think what or when or how, it’s more a general rush to try and stop whatever madness is this. I agree with what you and others have said about motivation and blogs ebbing, flowing and changing direction, but please don’t stop. And please don’t worry about people who aren’t worth worrying about (as much as possible, and as long as that list doesn’t include me!). Having a hideous week but I am so glad I dropped in – please get well if you’re still a bit flu-flat. xxx

  14. Blogging friends, there can be NO question of my stopping when you are all around! I’m incredibly touched by your support – thank you so very much!

    Nymeth – I SO appreciate you stopping by – thank you! The length of my posts has been worrying me a lot, as I can’t seem to be concise no matter how I try! 🙂 It helps a lot to think that some bloggers like them that way, though.

    Lilian – oh thank you! Sometimes I feel like a Victorian governess, banging on with my lessons! 🙂 I am hugely grateful if you can derive any benefit from them. I’ve been so glad to find and befriend you this year, and it’s meant a lot to me.

    Ms Make Tea – six years is a long, long time in the blogging world. I really do sympathise, because I feel like I’ve run through lots of things I wanted to do and can quite understand you feeling like you’re cut off from all sorts of things you’d like to say. It is very possible to have a private blog, however, or indeed to have a public blog that you restrict to one subject. I was very interested in your comment as I felt that you thought through quite a lot while writing it, as I felt my way through several things in this post. I know that my interest has been in finding ways to talk about my family without disembowelling them, and to talk about work without breaching confidence (although I am remarkably invisible in Cambridge, which is a very hectic and self-obsessed sort of place), and for me that’s meant exploring little things on the whole. I’m also wondering whether it’s the fragment that will take my attention now – to get as much out of a detail as possible. That’s something I find intriguing. Bon courage, my friend. I wholeheartedly hope you also find a way to keep writing, as I love the witty, vivid way you write.

    Teresa – your blog has been a real find in recent months because I do so enjoy a detailed, well-written book review. I do still wish I could make mine the same sort of length as yours! But thank you so much for your kind words – they do mean a lot and are very encouraging to me.

    ds – now all I can respond to that comment is to send big hugs {{{{ds}}}}. Thank you!! You’ve become a dear blog friend and I appreciate your words so very much.

    Emily – ah you’re one of my original women (including the wondrous Charlotte, etc). We’re blog sisters, right? I can see I shall have to keep going so that you do too. Nothing else for it! It may be that life getting in the way saves you from blog burnout, or it may just be your natural and infectious enthusiasm. You would love Rosy, and I’m only sorry you can’t meet her. And Margarita Lanski is on my wish list – I have one by her ‘Little Boy Lost’ but have seen mention of The Village. I will seek it out!

    Andrew – I might have written this post a few weeks back if it hadn’t been for your encouraging words then! Which I took to heart, and which I will continue to appreciate. Thank you. It is for people like you that I write.

    Booksplease – oh, the perfectionist gene!! You are quite right, it is my besetting sin. I loved blogging to begin with because I felt I could be less caught up by it, but there it is: it sneaks in when you are not looking. Thank you so much for your kind words – I do so appreciate them. And Rosy is just a dear heart and a lot of fun – I wish I could see more of her (despite the fact that we work in the same town, and live only a village apart – that’s life for you!).

    Doctordi – oh my friend no! Not you! Never! I always think it’s my fault too (just whatever – tears, stomach aches, global warming) but I can assure you not so. I think a lot of different things landed at once, and I just felt completely fed up. But with blogging friends like you and the wonderful commenters here, how could I possibly go away? I am SO sorry to hear you are in a hideous week! Bon courage and many hugs – I’ll catch up on your posts shortly and lend proper sympathy.

  15. Litlove- you are so sweet! I was just feeling guilty about self indulgently going on about my blogging woes when what I should have been doing was encouraging you to keep going but you made it seem all ok. Apart from all the other goodness you bring to the blogging world, which others have mentioned, I think your always meticulous, thoughtful, sensitive approach to comments is awe inspiring. (ps this is make tea not war- your post prompted me to think quite seriously about a refocusing of my blog. I think I see a way forward, at least for now, and I hope you do soon as well)

  16. I’ll add my voice to the chorus- please keep blogging! I can empaathise with wanting to take a break from blogging, but hope in your case it is only temporary.

  17. Oh dear Litlove, that gasp you heard bouncing across the ocean just now while you were eating your dinner was me as I got to number 2 in your post. I hope my gasp didn’t startle you and make you choke on your salad or you didn’t scold your son for making rude noises at the table. I can’t remember what my blog day was like before you came along and added your kindness, excellent writing and perceptive insights. You really are dear to me and I got warm fuzzies that I’m among the “originals.”

    My brain has already been turning over trying something different when it comes to blogging and you have chruned it up a bit more. When it manages to coalesce I will certainly be posting about it.

    I think it is delightful that you and Rosy have become friends and you are going to give a workshop on internet writing. I wish I could be there to hear it! Will you be recording it in some way so that we may all enjoy it?

    I hope you are recovering from the flu. I am slowly recovering from my vertigo. Why is it we can never get well as fast as we get sick?

  18. Several beloved blogfriends of mine have retooled/reinvented a blog that started to feel flat or “been there, done that” — it seems to work very well to restore the missing zip for the blogger.

    Incidentally, I highly recommend disembowelling your family. Lord knows, it’s done me a world of good. 🙂

  19. Gah you must keep going – just look at what you’ve done with that meme above, you’ve turned a simple list of ten things about you into a miniature personal essay that follows on. You’re reinventing the blogosphere even if you don’t realise it!

    Also I would very much miss reading your blog. I’ve been reading on and off for a few years even though I only just started commenting and you have some of the best posts going, on such a diverse range of authors and books. You read Twilight for this year for and disected it with a brilliantly different argument than that offered up by any other blog and some good common sense. That’s something you won’t see on any other blog that focuses on literay fiction.

    Oh and you know Rosy Thornton, wonderful, I can see you two having a great time together.

  20. Dear Litlove, I’m joining in late with the wish that you keep writing, and at whatever length you like. I appreciate your breadth and depth, and your writing style, and that you’re out there. Obviously, only keep going if you want to – but please give a good warning so we can savor the last posts.

  21. I’m glad to read in the comments that it looks like you will continue blogging, at least for now — I’ll add my voice to the chorus telling you that we really don’t want you to stop! One of the interesting things about blogging is the way it’s possible to make friends in a genuine way with people I’ve never met before, and I’ve had such a wonderful time getting to know you. Has it really been over three years? It feels much shorter in a way. But I know what you mean about blog burn-out; I haven’t had serious thoughts about quitting, but I have wanted to slow down the pace and devote myself to other things now and then. Of course, if you ever do decide you need to stop because it’s the best thing for you, then that’s okay, but if that happens, we must find another way to keep in touch! One of the potentially bad things about blogging is that someone could fade away or disappear, and there’s not much a blog reader can do about it. I’m sorry about the blogging disappointments that have happened lately, and I hope these comments do make you feel better about the whole enterprise.

  22. Pingback: The Honest Scrap meme, blogging version « Of Books and Bicycles

  23. ‘m afraid I’m a bit of a lurker – but I thought I’d break the habit to post in support of what I think is a really excellent blog. I’ve just started a blog of my own and god knows I’m already finding upkeep difficult, so I suppose any malaise is very understandable. All thIe same, keep going. 😉

  24. Well, that IS a relief – all of it! I’m glad I’m not alone in the instant-assumption-I’ve-done-something-wrong-and-it’s-all-my-fault-and-no-one-likes me-no-none-no-not-ever syndrome.

  25. Ms Make Tea – oh not at all! I felt you were empathising with me from a similar position, and that’s more than acceptable! I’m also really impressed by your new look approach to blogging and determined to do the same. 🙂

    Sarah – thank you for your most welcome support! I tend to be an all or nothing blogger, and don’t deal well with intermittent posting, but once term has started, I just don’t have the time to do everything. I will get used to it again, and I will find a way to redefine my goals. Thank you for the lovely comment.

    Stefanie – oh lol!! Although I’m sorry to make you choke! I’m sending over big hugs to you – you know you are one of my dear hearts, one of my lay-deez 😉 It would seem SO odd if I didn’t exchange comments with you every day, like the temperature had dropped or a treat had been taken away. But you know what I mean, when you’ve had a long-running blog. Something’s got to get refreshed every so often or the spark goes. I will be most interested to hear what you have up your sleeve, and I am certainly thinking hard over here as to how best to move forward. I will write all about the afternoon spent with Rosy – I hadn’t thought of recording it, which would be fun but might possibly sound like feeding time at the zoo! And my heart goes out to you with vertigo, which is horrible. You’re SO right – this whole convalescence thing could speed itself up a bit!

    David – something’s got to give every so often, I think. And reinvention is good. I had to laugh at your comment – I’ll warn my menfolk that the gloves are off! 🙂

    Jodie – it was a comment on your site that gave me great heart when I was feeling most low about blogging a week ago, so thank you, thank you for that and for your lovely words here. I appreciate them SO much. I’m so happy to have found your blog and so glad that you have begun to comment here and I’m looking forward to getting to know you much better. I remember your post on evil female villains and feeling quite excited to find another blogger who was really keen to deal in ideas and to think beyond the bounds of the story – I just love that. And Rosy is just a delight. I’ll write all about our workshop here, that’s for certain!

    JB – ah my friend, I won’t ring the bell for last orders just yet. I appreciate your support immensely – in blogging and in everything else. Hope you know that.

    Dorothy – oh be assured, if ever I stopped blogging altogether, I would continue to haunt your site! I know just what you mean about making real friends through virtual contact and no way would I be able to let go of the people I’ve come to know and value and trust here – and you are a very important part of that particular group! Everyone’s support on this post has been just.. amazing, really. I feel quite humbled by it. And like I’d like to have a group hug, if only that WERE possible! 🙂

    The dervish – oh thank you so much for coming out of lurkerdom to add your comment, which I appreciate hugely. And I’ve just come to visit your blog and wow – love what you are doing there. That was just some of the best critical writing I’ve read in a while. I’ll be back.

    Doctordi – lol! By no means are you alone there! I am the kind of person who apologises when someone treads on my foot, so you may imagine my general level of paranoia! 🙂

  26. Dear Litlove, I’ve fallen off the commenting thing this past week due to (crazy) work and then exercise (which I’ve kept up this week, but who knows?)
    I have to say I enjoyed the honesty in this blog and flinched with several of your comments – they are (like) mine. What to do? why write the blog? how to keep it fresh? what difference? Perhaps time for a fresh start.
    So, that’s all well and good for me, I’m always trying to re-invent, can’t even stick to “one” thing in my blog.
    You however, if you can keep at it, should.
    Your voice, the info, the weaving of life and academia, well, we all love it.
    The thing, above all, is to keep writing.
    You have readers! Sporadic though I am, count me among them! (sorry about all the exclamation points – must be the coffee.)

  27. I am coming to this discussion a tad late but just wanted to add my voice to the chorus of support – I enjoy your posts immensely, Litlove, and enjoy your blogging style, in particular for its wonderful hybrid of intellectual and accessible. I understand if other projects take you in new directions, but “reading” through your eyes has been a wonderfully fulfilling experience these last few years.

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