Saturday, April 28, 2007

The Downside to Blogging

Two things I saw this weekend converged in my mind and set off some flashing lights and sirens about the danger of blogging.

One of them was the description section on a blog I tripped over through my Google alerts. As is often the case, one of my alerts took me to a blog that had absolutely nothing to do with the subject I'd set up the alert for, but had somehow by chance combined the right words to get tracked. The author of the blog, the name and location of which I've already forgotten, said that she (or maybe he) was a writing teacher, and encouraged students to write often and dig deep, and the blog was an effort at doing just that. Or something similar.

The other was a very long poem on a blog with no page rank, one I never would have seen had a friend not sent me a link. Here's the thing: it was good. I don't like poetry all that much, and you've already heard my thoughts on how scintillating blogs are--I'm convinced you're not even reading THIS, because who would, and why? But this poem...I didn't do anything else while I was reading it.

If I haven't mentioned it before, I'm a chronic multi-tasker. When I'm emailing or IMing with a friend who says, after a time, "I have to get off of here and get something done" or some such, I'm always surprised. That might be a sign that I'm a very slow learner, considering how often it happens, but there it is. I'm shocked anew every time. Because I'm ALWAYS "getting something done" while I'm at the computer. I screen Google alerts and print articles for work between emails; I fold laundry and sort papers and pay bills while I IM; I have thirty or forty windows open on my computer at all times. So when I say that I sat here at my computer and read this whole very long poem without doing anything else, with a basket of clean laundry at my feet, without clicking the send/receive buttons on any of the three email accounts I had open or taking a quick peek at my bank balance to see whether the book order check had gone through yet, it means something. Nothing empirical, of course, but something about the impact of that poem on me, personally.

And that made me think that it didn't belong buried on a blog that wouldn't be easy to find if you didn't know the author. And that combined in my mind with that writing teacher's comment and made me think that maybe having such an easy outlet isn't such a good thing, not if you're a real writer. Because if you have a place where you can just write, straight into the template, and "publish" and be done with it, doesn't that sort of decrease the incentive to seek out a wider audience? Isn't there something more gratifying, in a backward kind of way, about just posting something on your blog than there might be about sending it out over and over again in hopes that maybe, six months down the road, someone will buy it and then publish it another three or six or nine months later?

There's definitely something to be said for writing more, in whatever forum. It's definitely habit forming, and the more you write the more it feels natural to write and the more you WILL write--or so I believe, anyway. But suddenly I'm wondering whether blogging doesn't provide something of a disincentive to publish, an easy way to dash off one's thoughts and make them available to the world without any extensive editing, without worrying about word counts and fonts, without research and rejection and (maybe most of all), without waiting.


Barb said...

Oof. This struck a nerve. Since I resurrected my blog, I haven't written a column to send out. I'm enjoying the hell out of myself but I'm not getting much done except some creative navel gazing. Bummer.

Kay said...

Hmm, there might be something in that. Not that I've been doing much blogging lately, but mostly that's because I am currently writing for uni, which takes precedence. When I'm not studying, blogging can be a bit like this for me I think.

(Just came by from a link at light.sweet.crude)