me and e-mail

Imagine a cartoon hamster. She’s running on her little hamster wheel, whiskers flailing with effort, and then the wheel starts going faster and faster, because she’s not the one making it turn; and then finally it starts going so fast that it flings our poor little hamster off into space.

That’s me and e-mail, right now.

Something like half a dozen times over the last couple of months, I’ve put out a herculean effort and gotten my two inboxes down to a state of near-manageability. Just when I think I’ve got the problem licked, though, twenty new messages come through and I start getting swamped under again. And so the cycle goes.

A large part of the issue, I’ve come to realize, is blog comments — which get e-mailed to me — and that puts me in a bind. See, I like posting here on LJ, and over at SF Novelists. I especially like posting stuff that generates actual discussion. But then I get a minor flood of comments, and they’re comments with substance in them, that deserve substantive responses; so they sit around waiting for me to have brain enough and time to deal with them, and next thing I know my inbox is stuffed again. Which makes me feel guilty, because a lively back-and-forth is a pretty important ingredient for a lively blog, and I want the latter but am having trouble wrangling the former.

(And in the grand scheme of things, my problems on this front are tiny. I do not have the readership of some people I could name, much less the kudzu comment threads.)

This is not a problem with a simple solution, and I’m not expecting anybody to hand me one. But I thought it was worth at least acknowledging the situation, so you’ll understand what’s going on when I say: I’m sorry for not having responded to stuff, and I’ll try to get to some of it (but may not get to all of it) as soon as I can.

0 Responses to “me and e-mail”

  1. mindstalk

    Do you use a mail filter? All my mailing lists go to their own mailboxes, as does a whitelist of close friends (which triggers special notification.) This doesn’t help with the flood — may make it easier to ignore — but also helps with important e-mails not getting lost, and with being able to tackle mails from a particular source at a time. And with not having the main inbox look like it’s full of 1000 unread messages.

    • Marie Brennan

      Reading messages isn’t a problem; I stay on top of that without much trouble at all. And most stuff gets deleted or filed without any real delay. My inbox serves instead as the list of things that need dealing with: I need to reply, or take action on something, or it’s a reminder of an upcoming event. As a result, the threshold for “too full” is a heck of a lot lower — twenty or thirty messages is essentially a to-do list with twenty or thirty items on it. Not counting everything non-email based in my life.

  2. mojave_wolf

    eh, I twas in the middle of a discussion w/someone else in one of your blog posts and promised a long wonky reply to them when I had more time, and have yet to have more time and may not till, oh, next weekend, by which time there will be no point, so totally know how it goes.

  3. pentane

    If I were in your situation, I’d just throw LJ comments into a filtered box and get to it when you can. You have a day job which is not entertaining me in LJ comments.

    • Marie Brennan

      I don’t disagree — but there’s also a little voice reminding me that in certain respects, LJ is part of my job. “Being interesting on the Internet” (to borrow a phrase from a friend of mine) is part of self-promotion, not so much in a directed way (buy my books!), but in the way that helps raise my public profile. On the other hand, I don’t like the idea of this being something I do just to benefit my career, and interacting with people (rather than flinging stuff up and ignoring what results) is one of the ways I make it meaningful for myself as well as others.

      It’s finding the balance point that’s hard.

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