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.

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.

The Shareholders

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.

Status report

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?


16 thoughts on “My Kick Butt Writing Board”

  1. My first peek at your concept definitely has me excited and I will have my comments to you soon. I’m really looking forward to seeing these chapters fleshed out.

    Of course, this initial outline is still pretty vague. Will I learn from your book just how to take a (human) potty break when I’m traveling alone with a large dog in a hot car? If you can provide the answer to that one, I’ll nominate you for an award!

    1. Thank you, Pamela — for your support and your independent verification that the outline was indeed sent.

      Theoretically, the potty break issue for single travelers should be size dependent, i.e., you’d think you could bring a small dog into a convenience store in a carrier without getting hassled, but that’s not been my experience. So yes, I do have answers — not necessarily award-worthy ones, but it’s an issue that’s near and dear to my heart.

  2. With a team like that on your side, how could your book be anything but a huge success?

    I am so excited for you! Now get to work already! 😉

    1. You, who blog every day and with a lot of thought behind it, are an inspiration — bet you didn’t know that! So you have the right to give me a humorous kick in the butt.

      And of course your support is greatly appreciated.

    1. I’m a little nervous — now I really have to do it! — but excited too. And of course I agree that my group of readers is awesome.

      Thanks for your good wishes.

  3. I absolutely LOVE that you’re doing this. I have a memoir in me that has yet to be written regardless of the copious notes, photos and videos I’ve gathered for reference. With no driving force behind me, writing gets shoved to the back seat as each new life-task pops up. You are certainly on to something here!

    I miss college (I got a 2nd degree at 38) for the deadlines, constructive and critical feedback and the free-flowing sharing of ideas. Your writing board sounds like it has all the benefits of on-campus carousing without the drama of 20-somethings worried about which boots to wear to Friday’s kegger. (That I don’t miss.)

    Congrats and best wishes!

    1. Thanks, Kim. You made me laugh out loud with your description of college and I always enjoy your posts, so when you’re ready to commit to the memoir I’ll happy to be on your accountability board. That’ll be a way for me to pay it forward!

      1. What a brilliant idea! I’m with Kim – sounds like some of the best parts of college, especially the critical feedback and intellectual back & forth. (Though I suppose you could always throw a kegger into the mix anyway…)

        1. Can it still be called a kegger if you do it on your own? I’m all over drinking vast quantities of beer at frustrating intervals in the writing process.

  4. Congratulations on your advisory “kick butt” board. I missed commenting on Frankie’s camo photo yesterday where he so blended into his bed – what a hoot. Could you somehow put that in the book? I have always enjoyed writing, words and languages. Now, in my late middle age, this passion is coming to fruition. I look forward to reading progress reports from time to time. Write on!

    1. Thanks for your kind wishes, Roberta. I don’t think my book will be illustrated and I can’t find an excuse for including the Frankie camo photo — unless it was travel avoidance 😉 — but I’m glad you enjoyed the pic. I agree that it was fun!

      Good for you for ‘following your bliss’ — I didn’t start writing until later in life either and can attest that waiting made doing what I’d long wanted to do all the more satisfactory.

  5. Co-creation can be scary. It can feel liking giving a way control. But in the end, it is still your project, and you decide. And as you say, it is all about the valuable input you get through commenters on your blog that enable you to write an even better book. And give your readers an “experience”. Input you otherwise would miss. Your Friday Focus series was also an excellent example of co-creation, where you even went so far to let your readers determine the subject itself. Scary or not, you are already practicing co-creation. Actually, you are pretty good at it.

    Enjoy your last days of procrastination 🙂

    1. See, it’s comments like these that explain why you’re integral to my accountability board.

      Speaking of which, how do you make an accountability board accountable? No one has yet sent in their comments… 😉

  6. You say this to Kenzo and claim that this is a guilt free zone??? Oh, don’t worry, I have comments. I think it’s time your board took the gloves off! Actually, my gloves are off and I still can’t come up with anything negative to say. I’m honored to be a part of your board, and I’m going to bash you with a board if you don’t start writing NOW!

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