Sunday, March 22, 2009

Writers Writing Blogs (a Rebecca post)

As blogs are a word-based medium (vlogs and photoblogs not withstanding), it would seem that those for whom words are a vocation, an amusement, an obsession--ie., creative writers--would be fantastic bloggers. And, to be sure, many are. Neil Gaiman thoughtfully and generously connects with fans on the journal at his website--chatting about life and the universe, as well as his writing and publicity. Nathaniel G. Moore''s blog, Critical Crushes, blends interviews, fiction, photos, and uncategorizably cool miscellany. Julie Wilson's Seen Reading blog became a whole website and now a phenomenon (a phenomenal one), but it really is mainly just one woman's imaginative take on the world around her.

But for every writer blog like the ones above, there's one with a dozen posts from 3 years ago, and then an embarrassed sounding apology six months after that. A lot of writers *hate* blogging. Actually, a lot of *humans* hate blogging, but it's always more surprising in the writers, because words are supposed to be their world. But blogging is still work, more or less depending on your endeavour, but still, no matter how much you slave over that brilliant post, a week later people are wondering why you never post anymore. And blogging can seem a wee some. It really is me me me I I I all the time on these things, and some people who are used to turning the lens outward find that uncomfortable indeed. Others have no problem with it, and shouldn't--Jennifer Weiner is funny enough to keep me reading her blog, even through the posts about babies, reality TV and libraries in Philadelphia, all things I normally don't care about. I love Katherine Nabity's work ethic (she puts word counts in her posts!) and her science and sports trivia.

I also love the way myriad shy writers use the blog form to duck writing about themselves, or their creative work. Fiction writers Kerry Clare and Kate Sutherland flip the page (as it were) and write about their reading experiences, while poet Alex Boyd reviews films and Zach Wells responds to shouts and murmurs from the book world. Other than the insight and quality prose of these blogs, the other joy is that because we read them and keep reading them, we start to get a sense of the bloggers, and to get to know them through their critical work.

Other writers simply run their blogs at lower impact--Stacey May Fowles, Mariko Tamaki and loads of others use their blog to post what they're doing elsewhere, performances, publications and projects. And some writers just post sporadically. Before RSS and Google Reader got so popular, a few month gap between posts would have been the end of most blog's popularity--who would keep on remembering to check in? But thank goodness for such things, because the poet who writes Caravan Girl provides such lovely comments on life, love, food and art that I would hate to miss out. I have loads of blogs on my reader-feed-thingy that haven't seen any action in months, but I'll be ready and eager to read whenever those bloggers come back.

Ah. I may have to accept that they won't, many of them. Blogging can be an unrewarding form--no money, no reviews, little glory other than the joy of seeing comments in the comment box. People get busy, get bored, get dial-up... It's an ephemeral form, blogs, and I guess we should get used to seeing people come and go. But it's not as ephemeral as all that. The best blog ever written by a Canadian writer, in my opinion, was Michael Winter's tour blog for *The Big Why*. That tour's over, the blog hasn't been updated in two years, and I think Mr. Winter has a few other projects to deal with these days, but the posts are still there, and they're still great. Go through the archives, read at random, read'em all--it's virtuoso talent noodling around, and it's great to see.

My blog was a gift to myself for finishing my master's thesis. I knew I would like doing it, and I do. This might make me a meglomaniac, or just not a very good blogger--I have never been able to focus on reviewing, or work status reports, or excerpts, or publicity, or any one thing for too long. I keep skipping around, and the nice thing is, no one minds. The scary thing about blogging is that there are no editors to refuse to publish what turns out to be lousy work, nor proofreaders to save you from embarrassing typos, nor censor to save you from potential libelous claims. But if you get beyond *that* terror, there's also no one to tell you what to do. Readers who didn't spend $20 to buy the book but merely surfed over for 90 seconds of entertainment, are pretty forgiving--or they just surf away in 45 seconds instead. And blogs allow me to share opinions on stuff even if nobody asked me. And though often I'm just chirping away into the void, sometimes my blog helps me connect with people who think what I think, or something entirely different but somehow related. I love that.

Blogs are a friendly form: not commitment-heavy, not structured, but not easy, either. I really wish more writers would blog, but I can't blame'em for being a little wary of this amorphous form.



Zachariah Wells said...

Rebecca, I know we haven't met, but I get called a lot of things and shy is rarely one of 'em!

Rebecca Rosenblum said...

Reserved, then? Something that indicates that you aren't quite so self-important as to blog about your shoes, your vacation plans, or your arguments with couriers (unlike some of us).'s complicated!

Zachariah Wells said...

Oh, don't fret, vacation plans forthcoming. Scotland. And I'll be buying a new pair of walkin' shoes for the trip.