Bricks and mortar

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

in Blogging

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.

{ 5 comments }

1 Rick March 31, 2011 at 7:27 pm

My vote is for “Keep to the current model of stories and posts, at the current rate and quality.”

But ultimately, you have to decide if it’s worth your time. There are no rules to blogging, no matter what anyone else [including me] may say.

I’ve been a follower of Hidden City for years and I have to say that it still makes me excited to see Hidden City pop up in my RSS reader.

.

2 Paula March 31, 2011 at 7:37 pm

I also vote for “Keep to the current model of stories and posts, at the current rate and quality.” I really enjoy your stories and really don’t care how often you post. When you do, I come by to read.

3 Carlos Miller April 1, 2011 at 7:13 am

The worst writers are those who conform to other people’s standards. The best writers are those who are true to themselves.

I hope that answers your question.

4 Chuck April 2, 2011 at 10:04 am

Hmm. Seems I am the odd man out, so far. I’d love to see more Q&D posts. I love the stories. I think a change might work, now. Is a blog for personal communication or to publish writing? Call me. I do have some thoughts on this. Too much to try to type into my iPhone.

5 Amy June 10, 2011 at 12:40 pm

You have to decide why you blog and who you are blogging for. If you are doing it because you want to interact with people and you are not satisfied with the degree of interaction you have received, then you should research what makes some blogs more successful, stats-wise, and decide how you can appropriate to your voice. On the otherhand, if you blog because you have an urge to write and need an outlet more public than a journal, then you should just keep doing what you are doing.

That being said, I think there are probably always ways to improve upon a specific model. It is important to change as the world changes, and when we talk social media… well, the world is changing fast!

I am pondering this issue with my own fledgling blog (http://abooklst.blogspot.com/). I want to do it for myself, and to give myself an outlet to think, be creative, and to write – but then of course I’d like people to read it and maybe even comment on it one day… so far that commenting component is oh so slow-going!!!

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