Prufrock's Page

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Writer? Blogger? Or Both?

If you're a writer, or attempting to become one, should you maintain a blog? Author Tom Dolby (better known for his Virtual Book Tour) lays down the pros and cons:

"As the guest blogger for the brilliant Los Angeles-based literary blog the Elegant Variation , the process was easy and fun. No editors to pitch to! No one to limit the narcissistic ramblings I could foist upon my audience! I posted interviews with my friends, wrote about sending an early draft of my latest manuscript to my agent and linked to articles I thought were provocative. It was all promotional and self-serving, but I also found it strangely therapeutic. Unlike my regular writing routine, in which I have to wait at least a few weeks until something of mine is published, it was immediate; in contrast to working alone at my laptop, I felt connected to a community of others.

“Imagine, for a moment, if blogs were not a recent phenomenon: Would Philip Roth have blogged about his divorces? Would J.D. Salinger have posted entries about his reluctance to publish again? I was asked recently, 'If you're a real writer, do you blog?' Absolutely, if you want to. I think someday bloggers will be recognized, server space permitting, as the great chroniclers of our time, joining serial scribes like Samuel Pepys, Charles Dickens, Herb Caen and Armistead Maupin. For unpublished writers, blogging is a fantastic -- arguably, the best -- way to get noticed by an agent or publisher and get a book deal."

So far, so good. But...

"...I wonder how many published or even unpublished writers would do better to spend less time blogging and more time working on their books... I spoke with the writer Ayelet Waldman about it. 'Don't do it,' she said. 'Blogging will ruin your life.' Several months ago, Waldman wrote about her own experience in Salon, concluding that when she was blogging, 'The fertile composting that I count on to generate my fiction was no longer happening.'

"What Waldman was referring to was the gap -- that is, the time between an event happening and a writer putting it out into the world. For a blogger, it could be five minutes; for a novelist or memoirist, it could be years. As writers, it is critical that we protect that period, that we preserve the burgeoning vitality of our ideas while they are still in their developmental phases. There is an alchemy that takes place in that interval, during which reality turns into art. Bloggers who are also long-form writers risk losing that magic. Offered the rewards of immediacy, they may miss out on the gestational stages between having an experience or idea and its fruition on the page. I am reminded of that famous Grace Paley short story, 'Debts,' in which the narrator, a writer, says, 'There is a long time in me between knowing and telling.' "

One awaits the always-interesting views of Ms Maud Newton on the above.


  • I agree with this, in a way. On the other hand, a blog can be a great repository of notes/happenings/characters/etc.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:17 PM  

  • Nadine Gordimer once quoted Borges as saying that he wrote "for his friends and to pass the time". Could well be true of blogging, too :)

    By Blogger PrufrockTwo, at 3:27 PM  

  • :) thanks for this - it is interesting if blogging helps or hinders writing. how's this for a business idea - you could have a program which let you only blog once a month or something. enough time for gestation. and lots of bloggers could do with blogging less anyway. :)

    By Blogger Kafka on the Shore, at 12:14 AM  

  • Sigh.


    By Blogger Queenie, at 8:17 AM  

  • I agree with the cons, blogging is terrible for a budding writer. The immediate gratification of instant coffee can kill the patience to wait for the brewed one.

    By Anonymous Aekta, at 4:34 PM  

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