The blogosphere rocks.
Anyone who says that virtual communities are by nature inferior to real life communities probably never got involved in one — or took full advantage of it.
The back story
A little less than two weeks ago, I complained here that I couldn’t get motivated to write my next book because I’ve opted to self publish it. Without the advance and deadlines that come with traditional publishing contracts, I’ve had a tough time getting my butt in gear. I was blown away by the responses, which were not just sympathetic, but also pragmatic. In particular, Leo (better known as Kenzo the Hovawart, the name of his blog, Twitter and Facebook accounts, and of one of his dogs, the one that is not Viva) gave me several suggestions. Some were humorous — “promise to write a pro-Cesar Millan blog for every deadline you miss” — but one was eminently sensible: “Get a ‘board’ of fellow bloggers to provide feedback on chapters,” he wrote.
Yes! I jumped on that last idea and immediately elected Leo chairman of the board.
In inverse order of the strong arm tactics required to get them involved, the board members are:
Leo: If Leo hadn’t suggested an accountability board — which I interpreted as a desire to be on it — I would have somehow found a way to enlist him. Soon after he started commenting on my blog, a little more than a year ago, I came to look forward to his take on any given subject because his remarks were thoughtful, smart and sympathetic. I also found him a kindred spirit — guilt ridden and tormented, but able to laugh at these qualities. Leo is also very tech savvy and set up a secure but easy way for board members to communicate.
Clare: My oft-blogged about best friend — here are just a couple of links to stories about our adventures with Frankie and Archie, The Dog Days of Summer and Doggie Chic, Doggie Chakras — read every chapter of AM I BORING MY DOG before I sent it to the publisher. She was at once a booster and an astute critic. I guilted her into volunteering when I mentioned these facts and lauded her supreme intelligence on the aforementioned plea-for-help post.
Pamela: On the principle of no good deed goes unpunished, I conscripted Pamela, whose Something Wagging This Way Comes blog I admire for both its sense and sensibility, because she has always expressed support for this book and because I value her opinion (how could I not, given our shared interest in literature and puns?). Her support did not extend to volunteering to read my manuscript, but I loosely interpreted her promise to buy multiple copies of it when it was finished as desire to get an advance look at it. At every stage.
At one point in the discussion surrounding the formation of the board, Leo mentioned the term “co-creation” and I bristled. I noted there was a difference between editorial board members and co-authors, and I wasn’t looking for any of the latter, thank you very much.
But that was just a bit of writer’s ego getting in the way. I realized afterward that I’ve come to rely on all the readers of this blog as co-creators of my book, whether I use that term or not. You all provide me with invaluable feedback and reality checks. To cite just one example: In a recent post, Do Our Pets Really Want to Travel with Us?, I mentioned animals having to be X-rayed in order to sneak them aboard airplanes and was promptly set straight about how precisely such sneaking might be done sans X-rays. That made me feel better about pet owners, who were only avoiding exorbitant carry-on fees — not that I’m advocating it or anything — not subjecting animals to stealth TSA body scans.
So keep those comments coming. I take them very seriously and will incorporate many of them into my book. Just buy a copy. You’ll see.
I considered procrastinating for a while by sending out a list of proposed procedures for the board — maybe instituting Robert’s Rules of Order? — but I bit the bullet and revised my chapter outline and sent it to the group on Sunday, giving them a week to comment and me an entire week to procrastinate. After all, how can I write the first chapter if I don’t know if it the concept works?