That China Girl

{May 9, 2011}   On breaking the rules

A few days after this blogathon-thing I’m doing started (blogging for 31 days in May, yikes!), Michelle Rafter, the writer who runs it,  came out with  a list of DON’TS for beginning bloggers.

So yeah, of course I was doing almost every one of them, particularly #1 and #2.  Writing about myself and writing about anything. Check.  I also slipped in #6 –Writing really long posts. 

( A couple of days later, Michelle wrote another post  that I can’t find, saying, no rules are set in stone, writing is about self expression, etc.  She was simply making suggestions for people who were looking to bring traffic to their blogs, monetize and that kind of thing.)  

That said, I  felt it still might be worthwhile to explain why I’m doing what I’m doing.  Except I don’t feel like it, so I’m going to turn this chore over to my alter ego, the journalist:

Hi, Kathy here!   Thanks for the real extensive intro, Taya.  Last year, I  participated in the blogathon with a reporting-oriented blog called Out and Employed.  It  provided career and job advice for ex-offenders.  At the time, I was teaching an employability skills class to inmates at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center and also counseling individual offenders.  The blogathon was hugely helpful to the development of that blog and also to my writing in general. I came away fired up, and  — at least initially — continued to post regularly.

But life changes.  In setting  goals for my writing this year, I realized I wanted to focus a little more on the neglected stepchild that is my fiction.  I still need my paid work to support myself, so that couldn’t go.  That left my teaching at the jail and the blog.  I wasn’t sure I wanted to give up either.  My students loved the class.   Readers said the blog  helped them.  Editors liked it.  I even got a major book ghostwriting assignment because of it.   

Still, I knew something had to give.  So I really listened to my heart — and what my heart told me was that I was being pulled in too many different directions.  In January, after some soul-searching and some helpful discussions with my wonderful writing coach, Marla Beck, I decided to take a break from teaching. 

I continued writing the blog, but found myself posting less and less.  When this year’s blogathon rolled around, I decided it was time to cut the ties and phase it out.   I really want any nonpaid writing I do to feed my fiction, not take time away from it.  So I created ThatChinaGirl, with the idea that it be written in the voice of my teenage protagonist for  a novel set in China. 

Like most teens, Taya H.’s world revolves primarily around herself.  That’s true  whether she’s in  China or back in Chicago where she’s from.  So there goes rule # 1.  She’s going to bop around and write about different things depending on her mood, so you can forget Rule #2, as well.  Finally, it’s her nature to  go on and on, AND ON (like when her parents told her about Bin Laden’s death and she remembered back to 911.)  That means Rule #6 is pretty much shot as well.

She hopes she doesn’t offend.  But she doesn’t really care.  She checked out the blogroll initially and is  interested in some blogs — particularly those written by other fiction writers like Tia or Rashida, anything about overseas life or travel (Nisha) or those written by commenters who have lived in China like Katy Manck  .  But given that she’s starting school this week and trying to adjust to a new country, she’s not going to be doing the rounds much.

In the meantime, she wishes all the participants in Blogathon 2011 the best of luck.  We both  hope it’s everything you want it to be for your writing —  and more. 

P.S.   Three cheers and a firecracker salute to you if you made it to the end of this overly long post!


Katy M says:

Oh. my. gosh! Well, I was certainly replying to a teen suddenly swept away to yet-another weird place by dad’s business! And to think that I was trying to find her email so I could send her a private note about NOT using people’s full names in posts, so they don’t get mad about it…

Well, I think I’ll just keep commenting to Taya – after all, even if I was only a part-timer in Beijing, every little insight helps, right?? And can we please subscribe to That China Girl posts by RSS?

Taya says:

Absolutely, Katy. Hope you understand that any “deception” is all for the greater purpose of what I’m trying to do with my writing. Would love for you to continue writing to Taya, as I won’t be here after today.


P.S. I apologize about the RSS feed. I have to figure out how to do the RSS thing, but have been swamped. Do you know how?

Katy M says:

Taya –
I use Blogger, but I’ll bet there’s a similar way to do it in WordPress. When I’m in the Design section, I can add/remove/move around elements on my blog, and it has a widget called RSS feed – so I chose it, then moved it so it’s midway down the right-side column on my blog. See it here:

Here’s more info on Feeds (RSS is one) in WordPress:

Hope this helps! We’re all learning the blogging game here.

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