Bricks and mortar

by Marc Kevin Hall on March 31, 2011 · 5 comments

in Blogging


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I recently had a late-night impromptu Twitter discussion with three local bloggers on the topic of writing versus blogging. Twitter’s a lousy format for these kinds of discussions so I can’t reproduce it here — too much branching and weaving around among the participants — but here are a few selected statements.

@pbarbanes: If you blog, what’s the hardest part about it for you? If you don’t, but sorta kinda want to, what’s been stopping you?

@mkhall: [T]o me the hardest part of blogging is lowering my editorial standards enough to write quickly.

@vicequeenmaria: Quality writing is quality writing. I don’t care if it’s delivered through blogger or papyrus or homing pigeon.

@pbarbanes: So you see no qualitative differences between writing/publishing to speed of the web vs. newspaper or others?

@pbarbanes: Does the definition of “quality” change? One def for blog posts, another for pre-digital/socmed publishing?

@CarlosMiller: Sometimes a writer can get too writerly where it becomes an act of masturbation instead of communication.

@vicequeenmaria: True, but not always, sometimes a writer can craft amazing prose that is still journalistic in nature.

@pbarbanes: But isn’t that why @mkhall is conflicted? His high editorial standards slow his output, when he wants faster “blog” output?

@mkhall: I’m not so much conflicted as I am writing for the wrong medium, and trying to make it work.

@vicequeenmaria: Guys, bottom line is this: Not everyone who is a blogger is a writer. It’s really that simple.

@pbarbanes: [...] I’d be leaning more toward the “everybody’s a writer” position.

@vicequeenmaria: I’m more of the “everyone’s a publisher” but we can compromise.

@vicequeenmaria: I totally think blogging is democratic and for all, but that still doesn’t make you a “writer”.

Of course, I go through this kind of mental exercise in my head every time I sit down to write. Hell, I wrote about writing versus blogging almost exactly a year ago. I spend as much time thinking and editing as I do writing, which isn’t the way it’s supposed to work on-line. Victory goes to the swift, and the readership to the first to click “Publish.” But that’s not the way I work, and since my health has continued its steep decline I’m even less inclined to do so.

Much of my time — the time not consumed by job hunting and doctor visits — I’m working on a commercial project. Then I also spend time time researching, writing, and endlessly editing essays for publication here.

However, I still manage to post to Curio City on a fairly regular basis, but that’s not writing; it’s actually much closer to the roots of blogging than anything else I’m doing. I don’t have a tough time doing it, because it isn’t as personally important to me. It’s just a quick fun thing I can do to spread around some cool things I’ve found on-line, without expending much mental energy.

And yet, Curio City has five times the readership of Hidden City.

I’ve invested a lot of myself into Hidden City over the years. I truly care about the quality of what I post here, and I care far more than is reasonable for what is effectively just a blog. Have I somehow managed to brick myself up in the catacombs, leaving the fortunate audience on the other side of the wall with the amontillado? Are literary allusions — however broad — just writerly masturbation? Just what am I doing here?

I’m trying to do too many things, it would appear. Some essays I hope to educate or inform you; in others I hope to make you feel; I always want to entertain. If I’m lucky and diligent, maybe I can do all three, and do so with a modicum of craft.

Maybe I shouldn’t do any of them.

This is the amazing new Golden Age of Connection, where the Internet has brought us all closer than ever before. Let’s use it. Let’s take a poll.

I’m not going to bother with one of the easily gamed on-line polling systems (not that I flatter myself that this would be worth the effort.) To answer, leave me a comment, send me a message, email me — I don’t care how you choose to do it. Let me know which of these courses I should follow:

  • Keep to the current model of stories and posts, at the current rate and quality.
  • Post about anything at all, as long as the posts come quickly and are topical. Let the quality be damned.
  • Post more stories and leave the real world alone.
  • Give it up and close down.
  • Do something else I haven’t considered.

Consider this your chance to tell me what you’d do if you were me (poor things). Of course, the volume and quality of the responses will have a bearing on my eventual decision, too.

I nervously anticipate your response.

PS: This was dumped out of my subconscious onto the page with minimal editing, for what it’s worth.

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