Scott D. Parker
In recent months, I've taken to riding my bicycle more and more places. There was some natural foods website that enabled you to locate your address and draw a 2-mile circle around your house. Your pledge was to walk or bike to anything inside that perimeter. Other than major grocery shopping, I've started doing that. It's fun, I get exercise, and the world seems just a tad slower.
One of the things I've noticed is the informal fraternity among bikers and pedestrians. We nod at each other with a knowing nod, kind of like we know we're doing something different and it's our little secret on how fun it is. The world seems different, too. I rarely listen to music when riding, preferring (often for safety's sake) to hear the world as I pedal past it. As such, I hear different things, I focus on different things (not being hit by a car, for example), and take stock of my surroundings in a much more nuanced way. I'm to the point now where I'm considering trading in my mountain bike for a street-worthy bike capable of carrying small amounts of groceries and other things. In short, I'm considering buying the bike I used to laugh at in my younger days.
The thing is, I like being different. I like it that there is a little bike community where I can chat gears and pedals and ergonomic bike seats. It's fantastic. And I like spreading the bike-riding gospel, too. But there's always a little something in me that holds back. I don't want *everyone* to start riding bikes because then, the lanes would be crowded, the products would go up in price, and it wouldn't be as special.
I have the entirely opposite reaction when it comes to our wonderful online reading/writing/genre communities. I had the idea for this post on Wednesday. What I wanted to do was link the pedestrian/bike riding community with our crime/writing community. I love our online community, its size and breadth, and all the folks I've met along the way. Without the internet, frankly, many of us would be mere wandering souls in the vast desert that is writing and reading and books. I enjoy reading other blogs and books by fellow writers and, I hope, they enjoy reading the material I write.
Unlike the bike community, however, I want more and more folks to join our reading community. Naturally, it's because I hope folks will read my stuff and read other blogs I enjoy. Which brings up a question I've been pondering since Wednesday (when I thought of it while, yes, riding my bike): how often do we tell others about the blogs we enjoy? I'm not talking about fellow bloggers (although they do count). I'm talking about folks who may not read blogs on a regular basis.
Let's say you're at a bookstore and you see a person picking up a mystery. If you're a blogger who writes about mysteries (or a reader who enjoys a particular blog on mysteries), do you ever speak up and let the potential customer know about the blogosphere and the resources available? I'm not necessarily referring to self-promotion, although that is part of it. I'm talking about two people who share a common interest just talking. Like the time when I was stopped for a drink at a bike route and asked a couple of gentlemen about their bikes. They gave me a few pointers on what I should look for in in a bike and we went on our way. I took that information to the bike store and used it to talk to the salesman.
That's what I'm talking about with this blog community. We all enjoy interacting with each other. How often do we reach outside our established communities and bring in more folks?
I have to admit, I'm not the best in that category. But it's something I've decided to start doing.