Want to pay $10 for a guide to making money selling romance paperback on eBay? Sorry – pay $10 for an 11-page guide on making the bucks selling romance on eBay?
And, thanks to SonomaLass for this link, and the cold medicine I’m on for the following rambling reaction: Robin Hobb rants about blogs. Specifically, why blogs on LJ are the writer’s worst friend evah.
The nights and the days, the hours in which you used to write, edit and rewrite your deathless prose will slowly, drip by drip, character by character, key press by key press, be drained into Live Journal. The blogs there will grow fat and swollen, round bellied with the creativity they have siphoned off from your fingertips. The other trapped writers there will clutch at you with bloodless fingers, offering you feedback, praise for your advice, tales of their new kittens and recipes for turnovers. And you will read them all, every word, filling your mind with the daily doings of those other poor damned souls. And you will write responses. And when night falls, you will think that you have been a writer today.
But you have merely blogged….
Blog. Blog. Blog. Blog. Say it aloud. Doesn’t it sound like the slow drip of creative blood onto the uncaring Internet?
My dear friend, writer of writers, esteemed teller of tales that no one else can tell, beware! Blogging is not writing. It masquerades as such, t’is true. You sit at the desk, your fingers dance their blind and clever dance across the keyboard, words appear upon the screen, and oh, it feels like writing, like the easiest sort of writing, the writing that needs not to be justified on the morrow. It is the writing that makes the idle stupidity of the day something of worth, for has it not been written down, have not readers shared it and responded to it? Have you not been recognized, flattered and preened for today’s bon mot? Is not that what the writer lives for?
I see Hobb’s point, and it’s something that a few of us bloggers would have spoken at length about at RWA National if our proposal had been accepted. Blogging is not the best tool for every writer, promotional or otherwise, and anyone who tells you that you Must Have a Blog is dead wrong. Only you can make that call based on what Jane wisely called an evaluation of your return on investment.
Blogging is not for everyone. It can get in the way of a lot of writers.
That said, “blogging is not writing?” Oh, come on, now. It is too. It may not be the writing you want to accomplish, and Lordy lordy it is easy to get sucked into blog valley high and read this and that and click click click and dude where did the hours go? But I disagree that blogging is not writing at all. Instant gratification and fluid text do not make it less of a written enterprise, or mean that I take less than a proper amount of time thinking about what I am going to say.
However, her opinion reminded me of my never-written master’s thesis, which was going to be about technology as teaching tools for reaching remedial students with learning disabilities how to write. Tangent ahoy!
Back in the day, when I taught remedial composition, I had a class that was part kids who didn’t pass the entrance exam into College Writing I, and part kids who had varying levels of learning disability that affected their writing. One girl in particular could orally recite an incredibly erudite argument that synthesized multiple texts and maintained a balanced comparison and contrast of points with a really groovy conclusion. Could she write one word of that recitation down? Nope. Horrible horrible block between her mind and her fingers that was easily overcome when she talked.
Or, to my surprise, when she used instant messenger. The same girl who froze into a complete inability to write could write for damn pages over IM, or in email. I noticed the same was true of many other students, those with learning disabilities that they disclosed to me, and those who didn’t have anything to say about it. I started having office hours half on IM and half actually in my craptastic cubicle. I had a much higher level of interaction making myself available over IM and over email. IM and email were a lot easier methods for writing and typing, and I received some outstanding writing samples through email or through IM than from the venue that is Microsoft Word.
My thesis for my nonaquired MA was that IM and email are more like speech for the current population of college students and are thought of as “speech typed out” or “Speech through fingers” rather than as writing, and as such could be great tools for composition instructors who struggle with students who say they “cannot write.” My research was going to explore varying methods of communication, and there would have been some very liberal sprinkling of Ong and Derrida in there (side note: I had a graphic novel of Derrida’s Of Grammatology that was so freaking awesome and hilariously weird. I loved it.) and discussions of logocentrism and deconstruction and the inversion of speech over writing and writing over speech. Of course, I was looking at ways to redefine what is speech and what is writing in the context of writing instruction through speech (lecture) and writing practice, to an audience that values one over the other for an entirely different, non-philosophical set of reasons.
Hobb’s assertions that blogging isn’t writing, that it’s written socializing that bleeds away your creativity? Maybe for her, but for every writer? I think I’m a better writer because I blog, because I read the daily writing of other writers, and because I work at it every day. And I think blogging is writing because I don’t talk this much in real life. Not to people I don’t know, anyway. But I also don’t write fiction for public consumption (I do write it occasionally, mostly to remind myself as a reviewer that that shit is hard work) and I don’t blog as a tool to steal time from other writing. But I am a blogger, so blogging is my medium. And while I’m ruminating, can I state again how much I hate the word “blog?”
Those assertions that blogging is a cheap counterpart to writing made me wonder about all the papers I read nitpicking at the value of speech vs. writing. Derrida theorized that speech is valued over writing, just as presence is valued over absence, and then tore up those arguments against writing … so I’m just fascinated by the ways in which deconstructive analysis could be applied to Hobb’s argument, that blogging isn’t writing. Speech is historically valued over writing, but in this case, it’s writing over blogging: in Hobb’s argument, immediacy of response and feedback coupled with subject matter that is intensely in the present is of lesser value and a distraction from, if not derivative of, fiction that exists apart from and separates the writer and the reader.
Now that I’m kicking the ass of long-sleeping brain cells that used to do deconstructive criticism on anything that wasn’t nailed down, I ask myself, what would Derrida think of blogging? That’d be a hell of a good time right there: return Derrida to life and give him an LJ account. The hilarity ensues. I wonder if he had a blog somewhere. He died in 2004; it’s possible. (Now I’m going to ponder for shits and giggles what his LJ name would have been.)
While I get what Hobb is saying, the assigning of value to writing for novel publication over writing for blogs is irritating. If you blog or bake cookies or just chew your thumbnail instead of respecting a deadline you have professionally, then it’s not the blog’s or the cookie’s or your nail’s fault that you didn’t get your work done. But saying that blogging isn’t writing, to say that…
[c]ompared to the studied seduction of the novel, blogging is literary pole dancing. Anyone can stand naked in the window of the public’s eye, anyone can twitch and writhe and emote over the package that was not delivered, the dinner that burned, the friend who forgot your birthday. That is not fiction. That is life, and we all have one. Blogging condemns us to live everyone else’s tedious day as well as our own.
…positions blogging a running memoir as of lesser value than fiction writing and implies that it’s easy because of it’s sexiness and quick familiarity of use, that life doesn’t matter but fiction does. Obviously, Robb is not marketing memoirs.
The affronted blogger from her take-me-seriously (ha!) hot pink website says, “Say WHAT now?” What say you?