Why is this blog so quiet?

Image shows a motivational poster style quote which reads: "If I can write now, I can write always. -- me, Shala Howell, talking myself into writing on a daily basis."
Yes, I make my own motivational posters to hang above my desk. Why? Don’t you? (Art: Shala Howell. Poster Template via Canva.)

Good morning. It’s been more than a year since my last post, and yet, you wonderful people are still dropping by BostonWriters.

Thank you for your enduring optimism about my ability to write during a pandemic.

I am in fact still reading and writing. I’m just not doing it here, at least for the moment.

You see, when I started this blog back in 2011, everybody was blogging. I convinced myself I needed to as well, if only to force a daily writing habit. Me being me, I wasn’t content with simply doing one blog well. I decided I needed three separate blogs for the three separate areas of my life that I enjoyed writing about:

  • This blog, on books and how they influenced my writing life
  • Caterpickles, on being a first-time parent and dealing with my daughter’s relentless curiosity without squashing it or my brain
  • Once Upon a Time in Needham, on the curious tidbits I was unearthing in my then-church’s archives

Once Upon a Time in Needham was the first of the three blogs to be retired and converted into a static website. A move from the Boston area to Chicago in 2013 kind of forced my hand on that.

BostonWriters still had a role in my writing life in 2013 — I needed somewhere to be an adult in public after all. Even if my being an adult who read books and attempted to write them was not something that happened very often.

Even then though, my other place, Caterpickles, was much more active. I had to parent and deal with a child’s curiosity every day, after all. Still, Caterpickles dealt primarily with questions posed by children, books parents could read with children, news parents could use to spark conversations with children, and of course, public art parents could view with children.

This latter category of posts proved surprisingly popular, which led me to publish a collection of tips for parents who wanted to use public art as a way to get their kids outside, curious, and talking (and not just about art). My book What’s That, Mom? chronicles what I learned about parenting during the course of visiting the fifteen fiberglass bunnies mounted in various spots around Dedham, MA with my then-five-year-old daughter.

When my daughter was in elementary school, she was Caterpickles’ most enthusiastic booster. She was constantly coming up with ideas for new posts and field trips, and even signed on as a Junior Photographer for the site at one point. But by middle school, she had grown out of it, and requested that I stop writing about her quite so often there.

So I did.

Still, by that point my book was out, and since it was based on work I’d done under the Caterpickles umbrella, I was loath to let the blog go entirely.

So I explained the problem to my readers, and asked them what they’d like me to do. Their response was pretty encouraging — more of the same, please, but from an adult perspective. So I began to use Caterpickles to answer my own curious questions, whether those questions were prompted by the news, conversations with my family and friends, public art I saw while out in the wild, or inevitably, the books I read.

In former times, I might have posted questions like “Why was Darwin so obsessed with pigeons?” or “Shala Reads Books and Starts Counting OSHA Violations: The Bones for Barnum Brown Edition” here on BostonWriters, since they were prompted by books that would appeal primarily to grown-ups, but my goals for Caterpickles had changed, so I posted them there instead.

Sepia toned image of a brown and white pigeon. Basic pigeon shape. The white feathers on the chin are presumably what give the bearded pigeon its name.
Seriously, though. What makes this guy so very interesting? (Image: Bearded pigeon, much like the ones Darwin studied while writing On the Origin of Species. Source: David Quammen’s Illustrated Edition of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species.)

Over time, I began making that choice more and more, even with books I read solely for pleasure. (See: “Book Review: Glass Houses by Louise Penney“)

Eventually, I realized that between writing Caterpickles and working on my next book for publication, I had stopped posting on BostonWriters at all. I tried to be better about it for a while, but between parenting, blogging, writing the next work-in-progress, and working at my local middle school library, I was forced to make a choice: I could either write one blog reasonably well or two blogs very poorly indeed.

I put BostonWriters on hiatus in early 2020. I’m leaving it up, because for whatever reason, y’all are still visiting (thank you!). And it’s possible that one day I’ll decide I need a dedicated place to blog about books and their effect on my writing life. But for the time being, I plan to write about that sort of thing at Caterpickles, along with everything else.

Thank you for reading BostonWriters. I’d love to have you join me at Caterpickles as well.

In the meantime, be well.

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