On a Response to the Ridicule of Blogging

>> Wednesday, April 2, 2008

"Vampires of the Internet" "It was a dark and stormy night. The chime rang on my computer, indicating that a new email had arrived. I peered at it through my bi-focals. It was from a fledgling writer I had recently befriended. With a trembling finger, I double clicked my mouse to unfurl the missive upon my screen. What I saw filled my heart with dread. Her letter was brief. It said she had finally caved in to reader pressure and was going to keep a blog. I was immediately struck with a lurch of dread. Not another one. Not another writer falling to the ever insatiable Live Journal and the tawdry lure of the blog! A gleaming blue link in her letter flashed seductively, inviting me to visit her new LiveJournal blog. A single click was all that stood between me and the anti-fiction! With a small shriek of terror, I hit delete. Then I carefully wiped my mouse down with alcohol before blessing myself from a small bottle of White-out that I keep on my desk. (Sometimes, only the old remedies will work.) Delete it from my mind, I beseeched my Muse. Edit it from my awareness and preserve me from like temptations. My friend had fallen to the dark side. I knew that I had to forget her, to dismiss her from the ranks of promising young writers and somehow soldier on without her. In the next moment, my conscience smote me. I was abandoning her to her fate. Yet didn’t I deserve at least part of the blame for her fall? Oh, my dear young writer, didn't anyone tell you that Live Journal is actually where the Living Dead of the writing world are created? There are many kinds of vampire in this old world. Some suck ambition and confidence from you. Others press white teeth to your throat and actually draw off your blood. But give me teeth at my throat, real teeth, a thousand times over before I am left to face alone the specter of a LiveJournal Blog of my own. For once a writer has entered that realm, there is no turning back. T’is true, so sadly true. Soon when your precious hour of free time arrives and you sit down to write, you will think to yourself, 'oh, but I must do my blog first.' And you will go there, and dutifully blog. At first, you will notice nothing amiss. It is pleasant to receive the daily dose of recognition from your readers, the gratifying feedback, and the responses that invite a response from you. But my dear friends, it is NO COINCIDENCE that blog and blood begin with the same three letters! Daily you will rise and go to your keyboard. You will blog. And you will read what people write in response to your blog. And you will write responses to what they have written. And then you will visit the blogs of those who have responded to you. And you will write pleasant and cheery comments there. And then you will go back to your own blog, to see if anyone has responded to your responses. And then you will go back to the blogs of others, to see if anyone has responded to your responses to them. And the clock will suddenly say midnight. And you will look at your manuscript in consternation. How can it be that there are no new pages, not even a paragraph? Where has the time vanished? Why are your hands so weary? Too weary to type so much as a sentence of your book. Tomorrow, you will say to yourself. Tomorrow I will start afresh, and I will type all day to make up for the pages I have not written today. With the best of intentions, you will go to sleep. But on the morrow, when you wake and rise, you will not write. You will blog. So it will go. Slowly. Inevitably. When you sit down to write, try as you might, you will blog instead. Blogging is easier. The gratification is immediate. When you look at the empty screen that demands a disciplined scene between three-dimensional characters, you will say to yourself, “It’s too hard just to start cold. I’ll warm up by blogging. Just a little bit.” And again, when you look at the clock, it will say midnight. Another precious writing day will have flown. You will assuage your guilt by saying, “But I did write today. I wrote in my blog. And is it not important that I connect with my readers there, that I share daily news with my peers? It’s important to my career, is it not, to be visible on the Internet? Every day, when you try to sit down to write on your book, you will notice a strange weariness in your fingers. You mind will go blank as you look at the blank screen. And then, almost of their own volition, you fingers will dance on the keys, typing in the dreadful www.livejournal.com Soon you will add it to your favorites, so that the ravenous time leech is but a single mouse click away. Day my day, key press by key press, it will draw you down into the hell from which so few writers return. Look at your hands, where your wrists hover so lightly above your keyboard. What are those minute, strange marks there, on your pulse point? Could they be punctures the size of a pixel? 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. In the deep of night, you will awake, suddenly knowing how you should have responded to that troll. In the darkness, you will stumble to your computer, and with trembling fingers, push the ‘on’ button. In the dim flickering of the monitor, your fingers will settle on the keys. You will type and type and type. No fiction will emerge. But Live Journal will feed. You will not even recall that this was the day of your deadline. You will not think of the white-faced editor who wrings her hands haplessly and asks, “But when? When? When will the book be done?” To which you will have no answer. 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? Remember that you are a storyteller, skilled in the seemingly effortless courtship of the story. You have danced the dance of a thousand veils, revealing to your rapt reader a world, page by page by fluttering page. You have drawn the reader in, stripped him of his doubts, suspended his belief and beguiled him into living in your dream with you. You have left him spent upon the shores of your world, heard him mutter to himself, “I can’t believe it’s over. When will she finish her next book?” This is not a feat that is accomplished thoughtlessly. Ah, my writer friend. It is harsh but it must be said. Compared 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. You and I, we are meant to write and edit and write again. We are meant to agonize over a verb, to dig in the day’s discarded fragments to recover that one phrase worth saving, and to put all those days of writing into one coherent whole, which, graced with covers, will reside on a bookshelf, not for moments but for years. We are meant to write stories in which events have meaning and lives make sense, to make up for the nonsense and drudgery of reality. Oh, my dearest writer friend. Be strong. Resist the siren call. Don’t blog. Write. "-Robin Hobb

One day, I do want to be a writer, but I'm not ready for that responsibility. I work 40 hours a week, that in itself drains the creative juices, my blog is my outlet to a life I had, and still reminisce about, when I was younger.

I am 21, but most people think I am older, my blog lets me be 21, and so I shall blog.

Angie Meeks


The Holm Fam April 2, 2008 at 4:15 PM  

Yup, I'm addicted. Multiple times a day I check to see if there are any new posts out of my 37 blog RSS feeds. Blogs leave me deaf to my daughters' cries. That is how I know I have a problem. Intervention is necessary, but I am usually in denial of the seriousness of my problem. :) And my husbands says the social outlet is "healthy" for me. I think my neglected daughters think otherwise.

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