Reading Isn’t Believing

As a blog omnivore, I read a lot of advice, thoughts, and beliefs of other writers and artists. It’s a big world, populated by writers of every emotional and spiritual stripe (and rant).

Smart-is-when-you-believe-half-of-what-you-hearThe last two days, I’ve been reading about other people’s success stories about blogging and book promoting. (I have a tendency to read about what’s on my plate). Interesting what happens in my brain (maybe yours, too) when we read something new that we don’t agree with. The other person must be smarter. Particularly if we don’t know them. Because no matter what our experience is, surely the other person is smarter, richer, wiser, and a better all-around human being. (Inner critic alert).

I’m amazed at my own gullibility. “Content is no longer king,” says one blogger, and I gobble up his article, afraid that one of my basic truths has vanished. “The reader is king!” he proudly proclaims, “content doesn’t really matter.” Oh. And what is King Reader reading? Content. And why will King Reader read the content? Because it is interesting to King Reader. So, finish the circle, content is still king.

“If you are still doing book signings, you are over 60 and a dinosaur,” says another blogger. Her idea is that everything is virtual, and social networking is the only action that sells books.

I don’t think so. I’m pretty sure people buy books for lots of reasons, and a good reason is to meet the person who wrote it and talk to them if they are available. And that means I want to make myself available. Because people who are satisfied tell others. (Not as many as people who are unsatisfied, which is motivation enough.) But can’t I do both? The Inner Hero book had two launches (one in California and one locally in Phoenix) and is having a fun run on several people’s blogs.

Before you believe everything you read (I call this “the last person I talked to is an expert” syndrome) run it through your value-meter. I’ve been writing for a long time, and content matters. If an article is cheap starchy filler, I leave faster than a barefoot pedestrian crosses a freshly-tarred street.

imagesMy value-meter knows that meeting people face to face and hearing their stories is what made me write my book in the first place. I heard so many people say, “I’m not really good at anything” while hungering to make meaning in life,  it was impossible for me not to write the book.

Of course, I also learn a lot from reading blogs.  I’m happy to explore new ideas, and I’m a big fan of change. But change for change’s sake rarely sticks. Change is fueled by current failure, pain, or general misery.  What makes change possible is that the current plan isn’t working.

What works for someone else might not work for me. And if it doesn’t match what I know to be true from my own life, it’s probably not true for me. My life is a big circle, and I invite a lot of people in. But it doesn’t mean I have to follow them around in circles.

Quinn McDonald is a writer, life- and creativity coach whose coaching practice is based on working with deeply-held values and, well, change.

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21 responses to “Reading Isn’t Believing

  1. Those are great quotes! I enjoy reading things I don’t agree with because it challenges me and makes me think. I still love holding real books and turning the pages and marking them up but, hey I’m over 60! I love the circle analogy Quinn.

  2. Loved (as usual) this article. Just a wee reminder that it’s face-to-face. Need those hyphens! :-)

    • I have a tendency to hyphenate compound adjectives and not to use them when the words read well without it. As I teach grammar, and spend way too much time picking through such things, I’ll add that the Chicago Manual of Style and Gregg Reference Manual seem to agree with me. I will also race to add that I make plenty of mistakes both in my blog and speaking.

  3. I think youare right on. I enjoy books so much. To meet the person that writes them is wonderful It gives such a wonderful perspective. All kinds of results come from that special few minutes of personal contact

  4. I am not a blog reader. I read yours because of the content. I also love my copies of your books not just for the content, but because I have met you, you signed them, and I feel like we are friends.

  5. “But it doesn’t mean I have to follow them around in circles.” Unless you are dancing.
    Of course Barbie made me Google it, just in case I was totally misconstrued (which she also made me look up and now is chastening me because she knows you don´t like parenthesis). I learnt that “Dancing in a circle is an ancient tradition common to many cultures for marking special occasions, strengthening community and encouraging togetherness. ” with which I went totally on a tangent. Again.

  6. Traci Johnson

    It’s so important for me to meet authors and artists in person. I buy almost all of my big artwork purchases from art fairs/festivals. I enjoy meeting the artist, getting to know a little bit about them and what’s behind their work. If an artist isn’t friendly or open then I honestly don’t want their artwork. It’s a package deal for me.

    Books are certainly different because I have many more books than I have artwork but I ALWAYS feel a connection to a book if I’ve met the author. Your local book signing was such a hit and you were so fun and engaging that I can’t imagine you not doing it. Keep doing what works for you and what’s right for you!

    • The book signing was amazing because you and Roz were there. And that DID make it amazing. No one who bought the book ran off–they all chatted and stayed. OK, they ate the home-made cookies, too.

  7. I think the content of your last book is positively heroic . . . otherwise I would have given up at page 10 instead if continuing to work my way through it . . . still challenged and loving it!

  8. dancinghairwoman

    :standing ovation:
    You can take your bow now.

  9. I don’t know how you manage to do it but you are always writing something about where I happen to be. Thank you for so eloquently saying things I wish I had said :-)

  10. spot on as usual… I love” My life is a big circle, and I invite a lot of people in. But it doesn’t mean I have to follow them around in circles.” and the blog omnivore. Sharing on my blog…

  11. Being called a dinosaur is a compliment! Dinosaurs remained at the evolutionary peak of the time about 5,000,000 times longer than we have.

  12. Hits a spot for me – I like ‘run it through your value meter’ and some great quotes too!

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