100 Days of Wikipedia: Week 10

This was the week I finally hit the snag and missed a day.  There are times of the year when I have so much going on that I can’t focus on everything.  February is rarely one of those times.  In fact, typically the snow leaves me stuck in the house with nothing to do.  I typically get seasonal affective disorder in February because there is nothing but snow.  This year it is different.  This year there is a puppy to consider and entertain.  This year there has been less snow than previous years.  This year I am the only reference librarian in my library.  This time last year there were two of us.  This time 2 years ago there were four of us.  There is just so much to be done and I can’t do it all.

It happened on Tuesday (yesterday).  I had a few days of remembering to make my edits at the last minute.  It was a busy weekend with snow storms to book end it.  An unexpected four day weekend means the next day I work, it will be crazy.  That was Tuesday this week.  When I finally remembered I had not done my edit, I was just about to fall asleep.  There was no point in dealing with it then.

So, what will I do?  Well, this is a personal challenge.  On Wednesday I edited 2 entries (you will see them on next week’s update) and I will tack a day on to the end of the challenge.

Other than that, I have been so busy that it has been difficult to do more than just add a citation, update the information on an entry, and submit that.  It always increases an entry by at least 600 bytes, but I wish I had time to create more entries again.

In other Wikipedia related news, it is time for me to start planning an edit-a-thon I am hosting at the university this April.  The theme is Latino Americans.  I have already started creating the list of entries to edit and create.

Day 66 2/3/16: Edited the Hadley Irwin entry for +2099 bytes

Day 67 2/4/16: Edited the Nell Zink entry for +665 bytes

Day 68 2/5/16: Edited the Judith Frank entry for +1126 bytes

Day 69 2/6/16: Edited the Ruth Landshoff entry for +629 bytes 

Day 70 2/7/16: Edited the Kayla Perrin entry for +734 bytes

Day 71 2/8/16: Edited the Bea Uusma entry for +1215 bytes

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100 Days of Wikipedia: Week 9

With the semester in full swing, the second half of this adventure has been more difficult than the first half.  These days I am just happy to get a citation added to an entry.  Putting in a citation always gets me to my goal.  I have been doing just that.  I have focused on entries from 2014 and early 2015 that are about women writers (it’s a goldmine) and authors I can find on the library’s biography tools.

I passed the 900 edit mark this week.  My thought I could get past 1,000 this past week, but it has just been too busy to do so.  I hope to do it before this project is over.

Day 59 1/27/16: Edited the Colleen J. McElroy entry for +1062 bytes.

Day 60 1/28/16: Edited the Alexis De Veaux entry for +1224 bytes

Day 61 1/29/16: Edited the Kathleen Coyle entry for +1819 bytes

Day 62 1/30/16: Edited the Beverly Lowry entry for +733 bytes

Day 63 1/31/16: Edited the Emma Richler entry for +622 bytes

Day 64 2/1/16: Edited the Maria Jane Jewsbury entry for +714 bytes

Day 65 2/2/16: Edited the Rachel Abbott entry for +654 bytes

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100 Days of Wiki: Weeks 6 -8

I know, I skipped a couple of weeks of updates.  That’s how busy things have been in life and work.  That isn’t to say that I didn’t stick with this challenge.  I just haven’t been able to focus on it here.

What happened that has kept me so busy?  Primarily the spring semester of classes has started.  This means I am now the only reference librarian in my library.  It is a complicated situation.  There have been a number of developments in the work I do with Wikipedia.  Some I can talk about here, others are too premature to mention.

First, last week was the #1Lib1Ref event where librarians around the world were asked to add 1 reference to a Wikipedia entry each day for a week.  I participated.  You can see the Twitter feed for the hashtag to get an idea of how many people participated.  It was a great event.  During these past few weeks I also attended the ALA MidWinter conference. On my other blog I wrote about the books I got, but I did have some good conversations about running events around Wikipedia.

In terms of editing, I focused on adding citations more than creating entries.  I wanted to keep in the spirit of the #1Lib1Ref event.  I continued to focus on biographies of women writers and realized even those that had been created needed a lot of work.

This marks the half-way point in this project.  I am also nearing my 1,000 edit on Wikipedia.  In fact, I am hoping to hit that mark by the time I post the next entry.  I need about 18 edits to get there.  I think it means I need to work on some entries I have been developing for a few months.

Here are the edits I made:

Day 37 1/6/16: Adelbert Ames-  added +364 bytes.

Day 38 1/7/16: Lucha Corpi- created with +4381 bytes

Day 39 1/8/16: Lowell Memorial Auditorium- added 1368 bytes

Day 40 1/9/16: I edited 2 entries to reach goal.  First, Sheridan Le Fanu for +245 bytes. Second, Maggie Cassidy for +42 bytes.

Day 41 1/10/16: Academic Writing Month for +297 bytes

Day 42 1/11/16: A bunch to get to my total this day. The total added, in the end was +636 bytes

Day 43 1/12/16: I edited the entry for Mary Tabor +696 bytes

Day 44 1/13/16: I edited the entry for Mark Kurlansky for +2180 bytes

Day 46 1/14/16: I edited the entry for Lynne Olson for +1194 bytes

Day 47 1/15/16: I edited 2 pages for reasons.  First, Maxine Trottier for +1862 bytes.  Second, the Cross Point building entry for +346 bytes.

Day 48 1/16/16: I edited the Laurie Carlos entry for +484 bytes

Day 49 1/17/16: I edited the Mia Lehrer entry for +1,056 bytes

Day 50 1/18/16: I edited the Margaret Harkness entry for +794 bytes

Day 51 1/19/16: I edited the Jane Kurtz entry for +647 bytes

Day 52 1/20/16: I edited the R. J. Anderson entry for +1577 bytes

Day 53 1/21/16: I edited the Amanda Hopkinson entry for +800 bytes

Day 54 1/22/16: I edited the Rebecca Wittmann entry for +735 bytes

Day 55 1/23/16: I edited the Nelly Kaplan entry for +1448 bytes

Day 56 1/24/16: I edited the Sophie Littlefield entry for +787 bytes

Day 57 1/25/16: I edited the Sarah Ewing Hall entry for +785 bytes

Day 58 1/26/16: I edited the Sue McCauley entry for +649 bytes

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100 Days of Wiki: Week 5

It was a quiet week for me.  Nothing exciting happened for me in relation to Wikipedia, but between Cedric Doggery being neutered and the New Year, my goal was to just stick to the goal of increasing the bytes on an entry.

What I have been researching is getting more involved in patrolling new entries.  For some reason I thought it was a formal thing that I would be assigned or approved to do, but it doesn’t seem like that is the case.  There are three types of deletion requests and it turns out that patrolling them is just something you can do.  I am still looking into it, but I won’t take it on until this project is over.

I also spent the week focused on editing Lowell related entries: UMass Lowell Alumni and Lowell politicians.  I created fewer entries, but I am spending time adding citations to entries to improve them.

Here is what I worked on in the past week:

Day 30 12/30/15Michael Casey (poet)- added +353 bytes.

Day 31 12/31/15Christopher J. Coyne- added +270 bytes.

Day 32 1/1/16Sean Garballey- added +1443 bytes.

Day 33 1/2/16: Harish Hande- added +541 bytes.

Day 34 1/3/16: Jenny Nordberg- created an entry with +3799 bytes.

Day 35 1/4/16: Mary Helen Ponce- created an entry with +3177 bytes.

Day 36 1/5/16: William McNeill Whistler- added +951 bytes.

 

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100 Days of Wikipedia: Week 4

At the end of this entry I will share the edits I made over the last week.  Before I get to that, I have had a second experience with the Articles for Deletion (AfD) process.  Wikipedia has a bunch of identified problems.  First, there are fewer and fewer new editors coming on board.  By new editors I mean people who set up an account and use it at least 5 times a month.  Second, their male editors outnumber their female editors significantly.  Third, entries about women and topics considered to be of interest to women (more than men) are very low when compared to men and those entries of interest to men.  Fourth, the creation of new entries have slowed down.

Keep these problems in mind as I tell you this story.  I have been working on a project to specifically increase the number of biography entries about women writers.  I like bio entries because I can easily find and use references through the library.  I can easily write a biography entry and create a good one in about an hour or so.  I have been focused primarily on creating those entries this past week.  Last week I had one hiccup when my entry was put up for speedy deletion while I was making edits.  The editor in question removed it as soon as I pushed back.  It is important to note that it happened within 5 minutes of creating the entry and it was suggested I create the bulk of the entry in my sandbox space before moving it to the entry proper.  So, I continued with my efforts in that manner.

When creating a biography entry, I often look to have 3 quality sources- including one traditional reference source.  The more sources I can find, the better the article and the more notable the person.  When it comes to biographies, notability is a huge issue.  Notability is often why biography entries get deleted.  The thing is, just because the person isn’t notable to you, doesn’t mean they aren’t notable.  Winning awards in your field, being the subject of a traditional biography source, and being covered in the news are easy ways to identify someone as notable when you don’t know who they are.  In Wikipedia’s case, at least 3 sources outside of personal webpages, blogs, and profiles, is also a good sign.

I created an entry this past week for Kelly DiPucchio, a children’s author.  I had a solid page with plenty of sources and within 30 minutes, someone had requested it be deleted because she was not notable.  This is someone who wrote a book with the Queen of Jordon and has won awards.  I did a little research and the editor who requested it be deleted write primarily about athletes- people I would never identify as notable.

I fought back.  I put up my own defense of the entry.  I reached out to other editors I know and asked for their help with the entry content, sources and defense.  So much of what is there now is the work of a few people, not just me.  We were successful, in the end, and saved the entry.  It prompted me to ask a few questions about guideline for editors regarding requests for deletion (the AfD process).  I wanted to know if people who question notability should wait a certain amount of time before requesting deletion.  Considering my first had happened within 5 minutes (and that editor thought it was a good-faith 5 minutes) and the second happened within 30 minutes, it seemed this happened too quickly.

Turns out, not so much on guidelines, but there are general suggestions.  Primarily, one that came up was “Please do not bite the newcomers“.  This relates to the often-dickish behavior by established editors when rules are broken, guidelines not adhered to, or any other perceived infraction by a new editor.  I am not a new editor though.  I have been around for over 10 years.  I am just new to creating entries.  In this case I knew and followed the rules, I just had an over-zealous editor recommend deletion without following other guidelines like learning if the person is truly notable or not.  This editor’s hand has been slapped for this behavior before.

Now imagine I am not an experiences editor who knows what is going on.  Imagine I really was new and creating one of my first entries.  An editor pushes to remove my entry and without a support system, would I have been able to fight back?  Would I have even bothered?  I have heard from plenty of people that they created an entry about someone, another editor said the person was not notable, the entry was deleted, and the other editor never came back.  All those problems I listed- this case is a clear example of something that is causing these problems.  A female editor creating a new entry about a female author- specifically a children’s author- is nominated for deletion by a male editor who writes primarily about male athletes.  He has more editing experience than I do, even though I have been around longer.  This needs more attention because I suspect it will happen again and most people I asked about this just sort of shrugged and offered how I can be in a better position to fight, rather than keeping it from happening in general.

More on this if it happens again- I am still formulating what exactly is going on.

Day 23 12/23/15: I created an entry for children’s author Kelly DiPucchio for +3929 bytes.

Day 24 12/24/15: I created an entry for Michelle Hoover for +4460 bytes.

Day 25 12/25/15: I added +1113 bytes to the Themla Todd entry.

Day 26 12/26/15: I created an entry for Lisa Robinson for +3141 bytes.

Day 27 12/27/15: I created an entry for Quail Hawkins for +3867 bytes.

Day 28 12/28/15: I added +637 bytes to the Julia Hartwig entry.

Day 29 12/29/15: I added +527 bytes to the Jerry Bergonzi entry.

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100 Days of Wikipedia: Week 3

I feel like I have hit a stride.  I have a few sources to find entries.  I have a few little things I can do to get my bytes in for the day.  The thing I have to overcome is time management.  That is, making sure I make the time to do the edits.  As little work as it takes to reach my daily goal, managing it can be difficult depending on the day.

This week was the start of a 2 week vacation from work.  Even though I am staying at home and working on projects, my goal is to get out of the house everyday so I can work without puppy intervention.

Day 16 12/16/15: I found a list of biographies that needed to be created.  I created one, my second entry created for English poet Heather Buck.  Creating the page and adding the basic content from the source I found added +537 bytes.  By the time I was done with it, I had added +1952 bytes.  This was the first day I started working on entries about women writers around the world.  I have pretty much been working on these entries ever since.

Day 17 12/17/15: For most of this week I created entries.  I realized, once I popped the bubble of creating entries, it was surprisingly easy to keep doing just that.  I did hit a hiccup with another editors who, while I was in the middle of editing the Isabel Wolff entry today, requested the entry be deleted.  It had one line and I was adding content as he did that.  He later said he had waited 5 minutes to see if anything would be added, but I should build it in my sandbox before creating it.  Point was taken and that was what I started doing the rest of the week.  On The Isabel Wolff entry I created an entry with +2888 bytes.

Day 18 12/18/15: It turns out I am surprisingly good at creating biography entries.  They are really easy to create with you have biography sources to help, which I do!  I created an entry for Latina writer Estela Portillo-Trambley today.  I created an entry with +4368 bytes.  I contemplated re-starting this challenge and scrapping the days I only editing entries.  I changed my mind because I see this as an evolution of my comfort editing and creating entries.  As I learn more about editing, the more risk I am willing to take.

Day 19 12/19/15: I created an entry for African American romance writer Felicia Mason.  I created a +4338 byte entry.  There wasn’t much to say about it.  I did start looking into the ‘Did You Know’ section of Wikipedia.  It’s an element on the main page that shares little known facts from nominated entries.  When you nominate a page, you give it the DYK fact.  I would like to get some of my new entries added to the list.  The key is that for every one you nominate, you have to review one.  I am going to use my vacation freedom to look more into doing that and creating the list of what my new entries should have as a hook.

Day 20 12/20/15: Sunday was a busy day with family time.  The whole week was busy, but only Sunday claimed most of my day.  To make sure I got something done, I went to an entry already created by someone else from the list of women writers.  I found Christine Craig and added +654 bytes by basically adding citations.

Day 21 12/21/15: I was able to edit an entry even though my day was basically spent obsessing about Star Wars.  I created an entry for Demetria Martinez with +4080 bytes.

Day 22 12/22/15: Today I created a page for Joyce Harrington.  The entry has +2141 bytes right now.

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100 Days of Wikipedia: Week 2

I tried my best to plan ahead for this project.  It’s not completely possible to do so.  I have my little journal with ideas on what entries need work and what should be done.  I have a plan for what I can do when nothing else is easy to identify.  When in doubt, I can always turn to my watchlist, the entries I want to know about.  It tells me who updated them, when it was updated, and allows me to compare versions.  It is a great way to combat vandalism.  It turns out, the watchlist is becoming the source of many of my edits in these early weeks.  As I watch for vandalism to favorite entries, I am finding easy opportunities to expand on the entry in question.   I even expand the list as I edit and connect to other entries that need work.

Day 9 12/9/15: This was a day dictated by my watchlist.  Most of my friends know I am a fan of the band Better Than Ezra.  It shouldn’t surprise them that the Wikipedia entry is on my watchlist.  What surprises me is that I have rarely edited the entry.  When I woke up to find a new member of the band on the entry, I ended up focusing my day there.  First, I edited that content.  There was no good source listing this person as a band member.  One random webpage of band pictures listed the person, but nothing from the band or in the news.  So, I explained why I removed the content on the entry talk page (+803 bytes), removed the content on the actual entry (-15 bytes), and explained my removal on the editor’s talk page (+527 bytes).  It was an anonymous editor so I don’t know if it will ever be acknowledged.  Since I was already working on the entry, and I can only work on it once, I did the edits I had noted to myself.  This focused on the lead section, the summary of entry.  I added +570 bytes expanding that.

Day 10 12/10/15: This was a very big day for me, I officially created my first entry.  For this challenge, I worked on the History of Lowell entry.  Primarily I added an image and cited a source.  The image was of a marker related to Lowell history.  This added +443 bytes to the entry.  Most of the work I did was moving the entry for Pollard Memorial Library to the encyclopedia from my sandbox/workspace.  With all the work I did, I added +13,911 bytes for the entry.  This is the first entry I created and I already have a bunch more to go.  The last thing I did was reverse a bunch of vandalism on a few entries.

Day 11 12/11/15: It was a busy day at work so I was exhausted by the time I got home.  I did work on the entry for In The Unlikely Event, the book by Judy Bloom.  I find myself going to entries for the current book I am reading to see what the entry says.  I made two edits in which I added content from interviews and articles about the book.  In total I added +1213 bytes.

Day 12 12/12/15: Weekends are clearly going to be the most difficult.  Vacation will be difficult as well, but weekends are constant.  When I realized there would be days when I would struggle to identify an entry to edit, I signed up to get suggestions on my talk page: SuggestBot.  It’s a bit of code that provides me with suggested entries and what type of work they need.  It is based on other edits I have made. One entry it suggested was Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, an Italian writer.  I found a source, corrected some data, and added +388 bytes to the entry.  I also started re-building an entry for the New England Football League, a semi-professional football league.  The entry had been deleted, but I think it should be re-added.  I found the old content and started adding it back in.  Now I have to update it and find some sources.  I will also start articulating why I think it should remain in Wikipedia.

Day 13 12/13/15: I went back to the suggestion list on Sunday.  I worked on the entry for the Charles River Museum of Industry in Waltham, MA.  It was placed at Francis Cabot Lowell’s first mill in Massachusetts.  This is probably why the bot suggested it to me.  I cleaned up the entry, added some sources (just a couple), and added +269 bytes of data.

Day 14 12/14/15: Yet again I used the suggestion list to find a page to edit.  I am really finding a wealth of ideas there.  I worked on the Southern Cross Novel Challenge entry and did a lot of work.  This is a writing competition like NaNoWriMo… actually, inspired by NaNoWriMo, but from the southern hemisphere so they work in June.  It seems to have closed in the past few years, but I was able to do a lot of work to clean it up and verify sources.  I added +458 bytes to the entry between adding and removing information.  I also worked a bit on the NaNoWriMo entry to make a space to mention the spin-off compeitions.  That added +273 bytes to the NaNoWriMo entry.

Day 15 12/15/15: I discovered a tool called ReFill that fixes citations on entries.  I primarily played with it today.  I went through the list of entries from SuggestBot and put them all through the bot to see if citations needed to be fixed.  Primarily, Yeti and the British Literature entries had changes. On the Yeti entry, I added +205 bytes.  On the British Literature entry, I added +380 bytes.  The total was +585 bytes.

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100 Days of Wikipedia: Week 1 already

Here I am at the end of week 1 for my 100 Days of Wikipedia.  Some days it was really easy to hit my goal, other days not so much.  What I realized is being at home and trying to work, considering that Cedric Doggery wants to sit with me at all times, is far more difficult.  Also making things difficult was the reminder that I was only going to work on each entry on one day during the 100 days.  That meant I couldn’t come back to it unless I had another 250 bytes from a new page.  So, there were a few hiccups in week 1, but I got it done every day.

Day 2 12/2/15: I focused on the NaNoWriMo entry.  It needs a lot of work to not look so much like an ad for the program.  I added some citations from sources outside their webpage.  That got me +685 bytes.  Goal met.  On the talk page I suggested a possible re-design of the entry, but that will have to be a side project for me.  That was +433 bytes.  After that I worked on my Pollard Memorial Library entry by adding info box content for +175.  On WikiMedia Commons, where images and video are stored for entries, I added a bunch of photos for the Pollard Memorial Library entry and they were added to the entry.  A total of 2152 bytes were added for the day.  The last thing I did for the day was volunteer to be a library leader for the #1lib1ref project.  More on that in a bit.

Day 3 12/2/15: This was the day I revisited an entry I had worked on last year: Rady Mom, the Lowell state senator.  He is pretty cool and I wanted to add a new source I had found that expanded on his biographical information.  I got +1555 bytes added for his entry.  I had some fun on the Pollard Memorial Library entry adding some other images I found on Wikimedia Common and adding coordinate information, which is not as easy as I thought it would be.  I also added in some categories to help connect it to other related entries.  I am almost done with it.  I added in +640 bytes of information.  I ended up looking at the Fitchburg, MA entry to revert an edit.  There is a list of neighborhoods for the city and someone removed them.  I added them back in and added citations to confirm these neighborhoods exist.  That added +1447 bytes.  The last thing I did was correct a link on the Lunenburg, MA page.

Day 4 12/4/15: I ended up back at the Lunenburg, MA entry to update a few more incorrect links there.  I only added +102 bytes, but now people will find the correct webpage.  This was the difficult editing day.  I was off that day to see my mother who was visiting.  This was also the first time I edited from home.  The other days I have worked on this during breaks at work, primarily lunch.  I learned that adding citations goes farther than adding links.  I spent most of my time on the List of Public Libraries in Massachusetts trying to find webpages for those libraries missing them.  That was where I got the last +159 bytes for the day.  In the end I added +261 bytes, my lowest day yet.

Day 5 12/5/15:  I only worked on 1 entry- Townie, the book by Andre Dubus III.  Dubus works at the same university as I do and I read this book about a year after it came out.  The entry is very small, they call it a stub.  I added some content and organization before I had to get going to visit my mother again.  I was able to add +350 bytes.  Someone else has already come in to add and correct content.

Day 6 12/6/15: I spent most of my time working on the entry for the book I Know What You Did Last Summer (you may remember the movie from the late 1990s).  Duncan, the author, updated and reissued many of her books in the last 10 years.  I found out when I read another of her books and started research what happened.  I want to add information about the updates to all the related entries.  I added +713 bytes to do so on this one.  Then I corrected a citation on my Pollard Memorial Library entry for an additional +239 bytes.  A total of +952 bytes were added.

Day 7 12/7/15: I spent the day working on 1 entry for the Jerathmell Bowers House.  This is historical house that is close to my home.  I had worked on this entry a bit last year and knew there had been a good article written about it.  I added in information from the new source and the citation for +1286 bytes.

Day 8 12/8/15: I worked just on the Andre Dubus III entry today.  I added content about his past careers and a citation for it.  That added +519 bytes.

So, what is this #1lib1ref project? It is something the Wikipedia Library is doing to get more librarians involved in Editing Wikipedia.  It is part of Wikipedia’s 15th Anniversary celebration.  From January 15-23 librarians are asked to add a citation a day to Wikipedia. I am going to participate and hopefully help other librarians who wish to participate.  More to come,

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100 Days Of Wikipedia: Day 1

100 Days of Wikipedia Journal

100 Days of Wikipedia Journal

November is over and so is my novel writing.  That’s not to say I am done with various challenges or even with writing.  December 1 starts two editing projects.  First, editing the novels already written.  Second, and the topic of this entry, is editing Wikipedia.  Today starts my 100 Days of Wikipedia challenge.  For the next 100 days I will add at least 250 bytes (words, for lack of a better way to explain) to Wikipedia each and every day.  I wrote about the challenge a few weeks ago.

I took some time yesterday, the last day of November, to see how much work it took to get 250 bytes added.  It is a simple and easy goal.  After trying to write the novel, writing 250 words a day is a piece of cake.

I am keeping a journal to help me keep track of what I have done and ensure I have calculated my contributions correctly.  It will be helpful as I will be posting weekly entries to this blog reviewing what I have done over the past week.  To give you an idea of what that will be like, here are the last two days.

Inside My 100 Days of Wikipedia Journal

Inside My 100 Days of Wikipedia Journal

November 30:

This is my warm up day.  I added some content to the Middlesex Community College entry to verify the identity of a past President.  This content was something from December 2014 at the first edit-a-thon of that series.  An editor had left before we had located a source and never came to another edit-a-thon.  I had been holding on to it.

The link will show you the added content by showing you the difference between the previous version and the version with my content.  This was simply adding a citation and added 175 bytes of data.

I also worked on an entry I am creating for Pollard Memorial Library, the public library here in Lowell.  I am working on the information box on the right side of the page.  I added statistics and cited my source for the data.  Originally I had the same page as separate citations.  I had to delete the extra citations and correct it.  With all that work (some removed data and some added data), I added 341 bytes.

In total, I added 516 bytes for the day.

Today, the official start day, I worked on two pages I am creating.  First, I worked on the entry I am revising for the March of the Living.  This page technically exists, but some fellow editors and I agreed it was ready for a big revision.  I have started that process.  Today I identified some sources to help verify content and moved some of the text around to better organize it.  That added 1162 bytes.

On top of this, I uploaded some photos I took of Pollard Memorial Library so I can add them to the entry.  That was a total of 3798 bytes.

Just to cover my bases, I also added content to an existing entry.  On the Lois Duncan entry I added a link to an entry about the ALA award she won.  That increased it by 4 bytes.

This was a total of 4964 bytes.

So far, this has been easy.  I will post an update next Tuesday and tell you about how things went over this next week.

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Impostor Writer

For the past 2 years, I have been playing around with how I want to blog and my view of myself as a writer.  There was the failed failure blog.  The failure in that was that I lost interest in writing about the topic.  I am having much more fun with the Book Club of 1 blog.  There I write about my experiences as a reader in the context of my sense of self.  All entries are really just about me.  But then, isn’t the entire blogging experience a narcissistic one?  This blog remains a professionally personal space.  It’s attached to my professional portfolio so I am far more careful in what I say here than I am on other blog spaces.

On the failure blog I focused a bit on impostor syndrome.  While it seems to effect everyone, it is primarily focused on women.  The simple idea that you are an impostor and will be caught some day, but for now you are faking it until you make it… yes, we all have those moments.  For me, it seems to be connected to my writing.  I have never really suffered from a lack of confidence until these past few months when I decided it was time to share my writing beyond my little circle.  In making decision about how to publish a novel, I have had to face my own sense of being an impostor.

It is not all prevailing.  I know I am a good writer.  I enjoy writing and I see everything I write as making me better at something I am good at.  Where it hits is when I consider what I should do to share my novel.  It can be seen when I hesitate to let someone outside my inner circle read what I wrote.  It can be seen when I brush off compliments from friends and family because they love me and want to encourage me.  It can be seen when I try to be realistic about my expectations for my novel.  I actually told my ‘alpha reader’ (the first person to read for edits) that I simply want to make back what I spend to self-publish this book.

The thing is, I want to earn rewards for writing.  I want to start modestly and build fans.  I want people to share the book and leave reviews.  I want my skill as a writer to be complimented by strangers.  That is what my impostor syndrome wants to feel legitimate.  I am willing to back it up with money.  I will pay for a good cover design.  I will give away free copies.  I will go to events and sell the book.  I have sale goals: 100 copies.  Not 100 in a year, a decade, etc.  I just want to sell 100 copies before I die.  Why?  Because I was told only 10% of independently published authors ever sell more than 100 copies.  I like a good metric.

My impostor, in this case, is probably taking my confidence and forcing it to be realistic.  Think of all the independently published novels and small independent publishers.  This is a over burdened marketplace.  I have seen the inner workings of the industry.  I know, statistically, the chances of me getting to a major publisher and actually accepted are SO VERY SLIM. That only 10% of independent authors sell more than 100 copies is a sign at how over loaded the industry is and how hard it is to get to readers.  My dream is to build momentum and to get the attention of a publisher eventually.

What can you expect?  Well, I have been promising this for years, haven’t I.  The current and ever changing plan is to have something ready to be published by June 1st.  Something you can buy and share.  This will probably be the first of many self-published books.  I hope to have the second ready in December.  Here is what I need now:

  • 5 readers who will look for typos.  You will be given a free, very unfinished copy of the book when I am ready for you to read.  As a thank you, I will give you a completed, hardback edition with an inscription.
  • Graphic designer for the cover art.  I am willing to pay you money for this, but I am on a budget.  I do have 2 ideas to play with, but am not feeling so committed to them that I won’t hear another idea.  You too will get a free, very unfinished copy to help you in any way with the design.
  • Font suggestions!  There are some tips for picking fonts for novels (serif fonts being considered better- the ones with the little lines attached to the end of letters).  The story is a modern version of Austen’s Persuasion and I really want to play with the cover title and inside font being reminiscent of the original.  If you like fonts, let me know if you have a suggestion.  You may be overruled by a graphic designer on cover fonts.
  • Ideas for promotion.  I have gotten a ton of advice from local writers and publishers, but if you have an idea I am willing to consider it.  I am not going crazy, though.  Publicity can become a full-time job in itself.

I will have more things I need as we get closer to June.

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