I’ve been reading John Scalzi’s blog for a while now, though not nearly as long as it has, apparently, existed. I first learned of it last year or so, in, I believe, an issue of Wired. Scalzi is a science fiction writer whose books I’ll admit I’ve not read; I really only know about (and enjoy) his blog.
Today, he posted about his thoughts on blogs and bookselling. Scalzi is a blogger who blogged before ‘blogging’ actually existed as a word (I believe the word dates back to around 2001. Neil Gaiman is another); which, coincidentally, was before Scalzi actually had anything to sell. Nowadays he’s a multiple nominee for multiple awards (and has won several, including one for best new writer), but I loved his last paragraph:
“Personally I think people think about all this crap too hard. The reason to do a blog is because you want to. If you do it for any other reason, people will be able to tell, and it’s probably going to fall on its ass. The reason I think Whatever does well is because I like doing it, and I’ve liked doing it all the time I’ve done it. Simple enough.”
That’s why you’re here, actually. I haven’t talked about it much, but by summer of last year, I’d basically had a MyMeltdown; blogging on MySpace had become akin to my years in corporate America, or perhaps more accurately, my years temping. The site seemed to have become about either bashing or the relentless pursuit of more popularity. When I got the letter accepting me into my lectureship, I realized that I needed to learn how to reconcile my teaching life with my writing life. I realized I’d be standing, soon, before a group of students and attempting to play a very particular role, and I wished not to deviate from it. I didn’t want them to think of me as pretty much anything besides their professor, because I never did until I was well out of college.
The other thing I’ve already alluded to; Rupert Murdoch’s already bulky pockets. For my second assignment last semester, I guided my students through a prompt on journalistic integrity; what does it mean, who has it and how did they earn it, and can blogging fill the same role. Many explored the idea of conglomeration; that having a certain company behind you can help your credibility, but it also creates problems if it’s the wrong company, or if said company is concerned almost solely with ratings, as many seemed to be. Most noted that they didn’t believe anything they saw on Fox News.
That assignment helped prompt my decision to start this up. I learned as much through that assignment as they did. And now, it’s good to be back. It wasn’t so much that I didn’t realized what I had until it was gone so much as I didn’t realize how much I missed it until I came back.
Thans for coming back with me. I missed you.
February 25, 2008 at 7:54 pm
Hmm. Folks who blog for “the relentless pursuit of more popularity” are ultimately sad, IMHO.
Granted, blogging is largely about self-promotion: “Lookit me! I have something worthwhile to show you! Give me some of your time!” But if we blog solely for the attention and overlook the occasional chance to connect with others who might enrich our lives, then we’ve shortchanged ourselves.
The blogosphere — beyond and including MySpaz — has let me interact with wonderful individuals who give me new perspectives and fun experiences. That, to my mind, is a very satisfying reason to read and write blogs.
Glad to see you back, Will.
February 25, 2008 at 11:19 pm
I left MySpace at the beginning of the year for a whole host of reasons. A big part of it was that the reasons I initially started blogging no longer held as much creedance as they had in the past. I was also starting a new phase in my life that warranted much more attention. My plan–and what I did shortly before I stopped blogging altogether–was to have an independent blog open by invitation only…which I would update pretty rarely. I kept my profile on MySpace until I encountered a lot of backbiting behavior among supposed friends who, I think, were ultimately threatened/annoyed by my act of leaving to do something that was solely mine. I think they saw it as my rejecting them. People can be insanely cruel when they want to be, and the attacks I encountered sucked up way too much of my energy. It just wasn’t worth it. It was no longer fun. It was no longer necessary. In fact, it stole time away from what was necessary in my life.
I still get emails (a lot lately) from people wondering why they haven’t been able to access my new blog–maybe, I wasn’t clear enough? I don’t blog anymore. Sometimes, I miss it…mostly because I miss writing every day. It’s not something I do without a blog. Mostly because I don’t feel a need to spout my opinions privately. I’d rather talk to friends or whatever. I haven’t returned to blogging, and may never revisit it, because I’d rather sell my writing to magazines than give it away. I’d rather keep my personal life personal. I don’t need that outlet anymore.
I just started a Twitter feed a few days ago, which I find much easier to deal with. It takes less time; people aren’t as juvenile; and there isn’t the political backbiting. I haven’t advertised my involvement there. I don’t want to. I’ve thought about sending emails to my friends/acquaintances telling them to check there for life updates–since I’m not actively involved in any of my friendships right now. But something has stopped me. I guess living my life is much more compelling than logging it on some silly Web site.
I do enjoy your stuff, and I’m happy to read it…
February 26, 2008 at 4:29 pm
@Amy; actually, self-promotion is the opposite of the reason I started this site. I’m done promoting myself. I’m not even really interested in promoting my work. I’m intensely private, and my work is available via the most cursory Google search.
@Alma: I haven’t gotten many e-mails. Out of sight, etc., I guess. Not that I mind that. But one of my goals is to balance this with the pursuit of publishing in magazines, which falls under the “awesome” category, certainly.
February 28, 2008 at 4:10 pm
Will, you’ve flummoxed me. Why would an intensely private individual put his thoughts on a worldwide medium available to anyone? Doesn’t putting any writing online — in a format with unlimited access — qualify as bidding for other’s attention?
Not being hostile, just curious.
February 28, 2008 at 4:53 pm
@Amy: I didn’t say anything about my thoughts, words, or ideas being private–I said I am. I want my writing to get attention, not me.
February 29, 2008 at 6:18 pm
I understand this completely.
I have two other places I blog besides MySpace. I actually left MySpace last April, in fact, and was scared to death when someone who was apparently a “local” reader came to my door (my house, Will. She really did that.) and begged me to come back. People are scary.
Still, I thought about it for another week before I decided I would, but what I’m doing now for the most part is simply posting the articles I write for overseas after I send them off. Hence the posting of the Burma series (unfinished), the blogs on Kosovo, and so forth.
I’m becoming more private in my daily life and find myself playing around online less and less. I have the university job and I have the business. I just don’t have alot of time to do anything else but write.