The ChicagoNow community of bloggers participates in a number of special projects designed to expand our communications horizons beyond the sometimes narrow subjects of our particular blogs. We were recently asked to interview a fellow blogger.
It was my pleasure to interview Kelly Konrad who blogs about books and much more as LitzyDitz at ChicagoNow . You can also learn more about Kelly and read more of her writing on a wide variety of topics at her website, litzyditz.com.
Waiting4Cubs: You have written that your blogging about books began with an annual New Year's email that consisted of a review of books read the previous year, with recommendations both for books to read, and books to avoid. Let's go back a little further. How and when did your love of reading begin, and what genres of literature became your early favorites?
Kelly Konrad: I've always loved to read. It was just an easy way to entertain myself as a kid, and we moved every few years, so it could have also been a place to go when feeling lonely or shy. While I don't read a ton of it anymore, I think fantasy and even Sci-Fi were my first loves. A Wrinkle in Time [by Madeleine L'Engle] remains one of my all-time favorites.
W4C: How did your love of books inspire you to express your feelings about books in writing?
KK: Honestly, I'm not sure how it started. I think, years ago, it was a sort of replacement to the traditional Christmas letter for me to friends. I wanted to share something with friends that would encourage discussion. No one really cares if my 3rd grader was in the school play. But tell them you read a great book, and they want to know more, or tell you what they thought about it. And it kept me writing, even if it was just 50 words. It was about something I loved.
W4C: Did you read book reviews before you began writing them? If so, do you still read book reviews?
KK: Strangely enough, I'm not into book reviews. That's not arrogant or elitist, I swear. I just don't trust a lot of what's on Amazon, and I think longer form reviews can get kind of snoozy. Mostly, I write a review the way I would want to read one — did it touch me in a particular way? Is it going to be a long slog, but worth it? Is it heinous and not worth the time? (Fifty Shades of Grey *cough cough*). And I love when I find a gem that's not part of the mainstream book world.
W4C: Let's return to your writing. Your blog first appears to be about books, but you write on a wide variety of subjects, often within the context of your own family experiences. For instance, "slut-slamming" and kids' wardrobe choices, raising children to be readers, an open letter to a new mom, a blog about your dad for Father's Day, or even calling your son a "dick." How did this broadening of your writing topics come about?
KK: For me, writing came before blogging. I got my bachelor’s degree in Journalism, worked for a local paper, worked in corporate communications, spent time freelancing, and went back to work as a content manager and editor. But even before that, I kept journals, I wrote short stories, passed notebooks in class … it’s just a part of my DNA. And while I tend to keep my blog focused on books or book-related topics, there are times that a topic just screams to be written about. I could probably write more about parenting, but there are already so many people that do that so well, and I am sensitive to my family’s privacy — usually.
W4C: How did you choose, or create, your blog/website name "LitzyDitz"?
KK: A friend of mine and I were going to start a full-fledged website, and we just started batting around a few names. She backed off, and I decided to go for it -- at least the blog part. Litz is for literature, Ditz ... Well, I'm not exactly a Ditz, but I certainly don't run with the NYT review crew. Way too erudite for me.
W4C: Well, the name certainly expresses a sense of fun and, I think, accessibility. Do you find that your personal brand is more LitzyDitz or Kelly Konrad?
KK: The two are interchangeable. Everything I say as LitzyDitz comes from my warped, addled brain.
W4C: Where do you see your blog taking you in the future? Or, where do you see yourself taking your blog, if that's more appropriate?! And do you have any other writing projects in the works that we can look forward to, like a book or ... ?
KK: The reason I think I can find blogging so enjoyable is that I don’t get wrapped up in numbers. While I wouldn't turn down a dream paid job of just reading and blogging and ranting about ridiculous stupid things people do like pay $400 for a pair of hot pink satin Burberry tennis shoes, I honestly just write for fun. If someone besides a relative clicks on it, I’m thrilled. I’d love to be the book critic at a newspaper or magazine or other outlet, but I’m also happy just telling friends about great books, Google Analytics be damned.
A lot of friends ask me if I am ever going to write a book. I would love to. It’s just a factor of time. I work full time, have a marriage, a home, three kids … I listen to other authors in the same situation talking about staying up all hours, writing in the 15 minutes of spare time they have, and I wonder why I am not as motivated. I have to remind myself that, when the time is right, that path will show itself to me. In the meantime, the blog is where it is at.
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