Tag Archives: Blogging


Before I run out of day, just wanted to say HEY! It’s my 10-year blogiversary today. Here’s my first post, way back on October 26, twenty-aught-two.

This is where I’m supposed to insert my obligatory remark about being an old-timer or what blogging was like back in the day. So… I think it’s telling that I wrote that I was ‘finally’ starting a blog, i.e. in no way did I think I was a pioneer; I actually thought I was behind the curve. In retrospect, obviously not. And, on the other end of things, maybe a handful of the blogs I read back then are still active. There’s a lesson in that, I’m sure 😉

Thus to conclude this post, a quote from Dr. Seuss:

You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…

—Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

Oh, the places this blog could go…


A blog doesn’t seem to have any literary merit at all

Paul Theroux really doesn’t like blogs:

You could say blog-like, but I think “blog-like” is a disparaging term. I loathe blogs when I look at them. Blogs look to me illiterate, they look hasty, like someone babbling. To me writing is a considered act. It’s something which is a great labor of thought and consideration. A blog doesn’t seem to have any literary merit at all. It’s a chatty account of things that have happened to that particular person.

Paul Theroux

Oh, PT. I do love your writing, but I think you’re conflating form and content. There are plenty of books that could be described as “illiterate,” “hasty,” “babbling,” and without “any literary merit” (see, e.g.: any book “written” by a reality show personality) but somehow I doubt you loathe books or think calling something “book-like” is disparaging. Am I right?

One side of the story

[N]o matter how confessional a writer might seem, you are only seeing what they want you to see. You know what they want you to know. There are few things more controlled, to my mind, than a personal blog. It’s easy to believe you know everything about a person when you follow their blog or their writing online but you don’t. … Were holding up a mirror to ourselves but are controlling the angle.

You also only get to see one side of the story when you read a personal blog. … You see one side of the story, my side … You see the side of the story I choose to show you[.]

Roxane Gay

How you go from a blog to a book

BlogHer is about talking about how you go from a blog to a book, and how us writers, us people who live inside our heads, how we tap in to our own experiences to use for our writing and if maybe those experiences are too close, too hard to tell, too hard to share, we then turn our own experiences in to fiction, so that even though others might read it and not know those were our own childish eyes watching these events, we will know, and we will remember, and in the telling we will heal.

Shannon McKarney

A book is much more personal

Books and blogs are very different things. You write a blog every day, it’s super-topical, you communicate with your readers – and you can assume your readers have a certain level of knowledge, even that many are geeks.  A book is much more personal.  It’s more personal to write, and it’s a quieter, more personal, intimate experience to read a book.  I didn’t want the book to be dated next week.  And in the book I wanted to express something that’s under the surface in the blog – that cycling makes me happy.  In the book I wanted to say that overtly.

Eben Weiss

Now this is interesting. Lately I’ve been thinking the changing expectations of/by readers might be the key to my dissertation and I think this ties into that. No one expects a reader of a book to email the writer and announce that they’re reading the book or that they’re on page 182 or that they like it or hate it or that they’re done. I mean, sure, some readers do that. But it’s not expected. You’re not called a lurker or creepy or a stalker if you just read a book w/o notifying the writer that you’ve done so.

But if you just read a blog, you risk being called all those things. As a blog reader, the expectation seems to be that you will announce that you’re reading (in some fashion). Reading blogs (& other online writing) privately is seen as suspect. Case in point: The first mentions I saw of Twitter’s new “fast follow” feature (allows people to follow via sms w/o joining Twitter) yesterday called it creepy and stalkerish. Really? Keep in mind that people can already read Twitter pages (unless private) w/o following and/or follow via RSS. So, what’s the difference? I don’t think there is a substantive one. I think it’s just that it reminded people that they don’t like it when they can’t “see” everyone who is following them.

I think part of it is a writers vs. people-who-write thing. I think the writers tend to be cool with not knowing who all is reading their writing (because they view it as “writing,” i.e. something that they have made/created). But it tends to make the people-who-write uncomfortable because they don’t view what they write as being a creation (separate from self) but a transparent reflection of self. So, looked at that way, it makes sense that they want their readers to be their friends (or at least acquaintances). And that they don’t want “secret” readers.

On the readers’ side, I think when one has been used to considering reading a private activity, this expectation of being social at every turn is a hard adjustment to make, harder than seems to be taken into account. Especially when the most ardent readers tend not to be known for their gregarious personalities. And there’s also the weirdness of being made to feel bad for reading. Just reading. When did readers start to get labeled with terms formerly reserved for deviant (m-w def: deviating especially from an accepted norm) behavior? And does that mean that just-reading (as opposed to “participating in the conversation”) is now deviant? (ooh.)

And then there’s the whole flip side of this reader/writer thing, and that’s distance. Book writers know they have readers, of course (or they hope they do/will), but those readers are distant (not always any more, but in general). So, as Weiss says so elegantly, the book is more personal because it is more individual. Less influenced by the audience. Whereas blog readers (at least some of them, the conversators) are close. They’re in the blogger’s face, cheering or booing as the case may be. So the audience gets entwined in the narrative.

Be in it for passion

If you love writing or making music or blogging or any sort of performing art, then do it. Do it with everything you’ve got. Just don’t plan on using it as a shortcut to making a living.

The only people who should plan on making money from writing a book are people who made money on their last book. Everyone else should either be in it for passion, trust, referrals, speaking, consulting, change-making, tenure, connections or joy.

Seth Godin

Vacuum of Enthusiasm

[The acid of the Fug Girls is] what I want from my design blogs (among other things), but I can’t find it. I feel trapped in the vacuum of enthusiasm.

It is nice to be part of a supportive community, especially in a downturn. And there is a lot of beautiful work out there. But the economics and tempo of blogging mean that most design sites present us with pictures of up to ten beautiful things per day. The text is often just a tweaked press release. I am not sure what I am supposed to do with this, beyond a second’s admiration. If I happened to be looking for wallpaper, or tea towels, or a new poster, I might click through to buy, but most of it just passes unprocessed before my eyes.

Alexandra Lange

Maintain a Queue

To use an analogy from running, blogging is the daily training that prepares me for my “races.”

I gave up feeding the blog on a real-time, everyday basis a couple of years ago. … I maintain a queue of roughly 50-100 posts at all times, scheduling the less time-sensitive material at leisure and prioritizing the faster-moving stuff. That way I never get up in the morning dreading the task of tackling the blog. When so moved, I still write in real time, but I make that decision, not the blog. As soon as the blog stopped owning me, I finally began to master the blog form.

Thomas P.M. Barnett

So that’s the secret. Huh.

Now, if only I were that organized… 😉

Seriously, a queue of 5-10 posts, I could see. But 50-100 posts?! Dude.

It’s as real a form/genre as any

P.S. I’m glad you like my blog. I think I like blogging as much as writing poetry. I know many poets will think that heresy. I always see this sentiment that blogging is a waste of time and we should all get back to the “real work.” But to me it’s as real a form/genre as any: I’m trying to convey ideas artfully. I can do different things on my blog than I can do in a poem, which is why I want both outlets.

Elisa Gabbert