....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.
Writer Paul Theroux
Whew, it seems poor, famously cranky Mr. Theroux got upset when an interviewer said his latest book The Tao of Travel, seemed "blog-like." His book is, of course, anything but hasty and illiterate. All his books are well-considered acts and he has become justly famous (and rich) because of his carefully constructed, thoughtful prose. As a fellow traveler and a fellow writer, he is one of my favorite reads. Paul Theroux is the real deal. Read his many published works and weep, ye struggling scribblers.
And his criticism of blogs and blogging is spot on, too. Just scan through a couple. In fact, I'll do that now. Here is a snippet from a blog by a hopeful writer named Lucy Ann:
It has been a while since I've actually written something. I have done lots of planning, lots of rewriting, but not a lot of the 'creating' recently. So that's something I am trying to get my head back into. I think Matti and Dorcas are my main priorities right now, though I do need to write a new short story too. I have a lot of work to do, but I'm trying not to let that feeling of being under pressure and needing to rush consume me again. Trying to take it one piece at a time.
Yes, this is chatty, hasty babbling from a young mother who is, sadly, too preoccupied by her children to get any real writing done. That's the purpose, the goal of her blog--to chat about her writing, but we readers of blogs really don't care about her. Not yet. Of course, if we had found this babbling in an old yellowed journal in some musty attic in England and discovered it belonged to, say, George Eliot, we wouldn't be so eager to dismiss it.
Here is another snippet from another blog chosen at random:
Finishing The Ale Boy’s Feast was a moment of disappointment, not for the fact that I didn’t like the ending, quite the contrary. I enjoyed the ending, and loved the balance of both mystery and resolution. But it was a disappointment that the story has come to its end, in a sense. The story obviously, goes on. But our reading of it has reached its end....
This is blatantly babbly. The writer perhaps should have spend a little more time tightening it up his review of this book and trying to dig a little deeper into things so the reader could learn something, maybe enjoy some pithy or humorous insight into reading and/or writing. A little more thought, perhaps? A lot more thought, actually.
And here, just the next click away on the next blog, I found this by a blogger who describes herself as an atheist, lefty, mother, and someone who writes about whatever comes into her mind:
I was thinking about the things (memories/tastes) that a person can give you in life, some of them are small and some of them are large. Some of it good and some of it not so much.
Someone important in my early life died recently and I have a sort of collage in my head of what he meant to me. The trivial and upbeat of which I will be sharing.
A minor interest in keeping coldwater fish, a repulsion from eating fish (or indeed any seafood ever), a love of the 'World's Strongest Man' and the music of Johnny Cash.
And finally a rainbow. On the evening I drove away from the hospital there was this fantastic, vivid, perfect semi-circular rainbow. The best I've ever seen. I drove away wondering if it was the last time I'd see him and if I'd always now think about him in connection to rainbows. I don't know whether the latter is true, but the former was, it was the last time.
So, I guess Mr. Theroux annoyance was justified. If this random sampling of blogs is any indication of the state of the blogosphere, to have one's new book compared to it would be enough to make a serious writer of prose turn purple and maybe get up and kick something, perhaps the interviewer: "You man now leave. This interview is over and don't let the door...."
As for this blogger, and that would be me, who is also a writer of novels and short stories, I hope I am holding my own somewhere up above the chattering, babbling, illiterate class. I do this by:
1. Spending time on my blogs, sometimes hours. I write, re-write, reconsider, re-write, consider yet again, and re-write.
2. I publish the blog because knowing it is out there traveling around the world makes me anxious about it's quality and that makes me reconsider what I wrote yet again.
3. I think about it for the next day or two, sometimes dream about it, sometimes waking up with a start: "Good grief, what the hell was I thinking." Or maybe, and better, a brilliant epiphany: "Ha! That's wonderful. Why didn't I think of that sooner?"
4. Armed with such nocturnal insight, I get up, log on, log in, re-write.
5. I feel free to return to the last blog, or any previous blog written during the past six years, any time at all, and revising, re-writing, or even deleting stuff that suddenly seems silly, shallow, blabbing, illiterate, or shallow.
In the end, then, we can show the great Mr. Theroux that blogging can be literate, thoughtful, well written,or dare I say, even profound. We need only take our time and think and write and think and re-write and think again and re-write again and yet again and again until the babbling and chatter is transformed into something worth reading.
Douglas Arvidson is a past winner of the WICE/Paris Transcontinental International Short Story competition. His short fiction has been published in Paris, Prague, and in literary magazines in the United States and he was recently invited to be a staff writer for the Prague Revue, a cutting-edge, online literary journal (http://bit.ly/1mMT6ZC). The novels in his fantasy series, The Eye of the Eye of Stallion, include The Face in Amber, The Mirrors of Castaway Time, and A Drop of Wizard's Blood. His new novel, Brothers of the Fire Star, was selected as a finalist in the ForeWord Reviews 2012 Book of the Year national awards and as a finalist in three categories in the 2013 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards: Action Adventure Fiction, Historical Fiction, and Young Adult Fiction. It has become part of the pantheon of Pacific literature and is now included in school literature programs. Brothers of the Fire Star is an adventure story set in the Pacific during World War II and concerns two boys of different races and cultures who escape the island of Guam in a small sailboat when the Japanese army invades. They must then struggle to survive as they master the secrets of the ancient Pacific navigators. Appropriate for young adults as well as adult readers, Brothers of the Fire Star is available on Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com (http://amzn.to/1j3axVk) and Crossquarter.com. Visit the author's website: douglasarvidson.com