Writers Driven to Distraction, Part I
For quite some time, I've been amused by the often-irrational defensiveness and downright paranoia that pervades the conversation, at least in some quarters of the writing community, about the subject of blogging. I keep thinking I see a new high water mark with this or that vituperative anti-blogging article, at least until the latest irrational screed is quickly topped by an even more bizarre specimen.
So I figure, what the hell.
Why not start putting them up on the display counter, where we can all see them, read them, and perhaps take turns speculating on their underlying pathology. It might be fun, and who knows, maybe we'll even spark some comments that will help explain the phenomenon. I thought this following piece really took the prize--a screed by a bad novelist whose main claim to fame is having helped develop one of the icons of lowbrow '70s television, Hollywood Squares. I especially enjoyed how this guy speculates over how perhaps his exquisitely bad novels are being discussed by various blogs (not to worry, Les, I can't say I've ever seen a single mention of your work in any online discussion, but then I don't tend to frequent the kind of places where lowbrow-TV-writers-turned-exquisitely-bad-novelists would come up for discussion). Anyway, the piece appeared in Currents, a paper that offers up all the celebrity photos one could ever desire of Chagrin Valley's hunt country set. Since the paper doesn't seem to be online, I thought I'd reprint the piece in its entirety so you can enjoy it in all its delightfully snarling virtuosity. Meanwhile, I'll promise to return to this theme occasionally, bringing you other similarly entertaining rants against blogging.
Daily Blogging Just Can't Be Good for Your Mind
By Les Roberts
Bless me--I have sinned. Well, not really sinned--but I have not always told the complete truth--about several things. Now I'm ready to confess all. Um--almost all.
For instance--in the past quarter century, I've been very vocal advancing my disapproval of illegal drugs, and I'm sticking with that. I never mentioned that 10 times during my early adulthood I did try marijuana, given to me by someone else; I've neer spent a nickel of my own money for it. I believe someone should legalize marijuana for medical purposes, but otherwise I'm against it.
I've often said--for a joke but with a razor's edge of meaning--that the only two things which really taste good are sugar and fat. The line still gets a good laugh, but I don't mean it anymore, since in the last two years I have lost more than 20 percent of my weight and am much happier for it.
Lately I've been witheringly contemptuous of television, with the exception of one or two prime-time programs. Here comes one of my biggest confessions: I faithfully have watched Survivor at least until the new edition came on TV practicing the flaunting segregation of ethnicities and I decided I'd view it no more.
There is something, however, that I have never done--and not much is going to come along to change my mind about it, no matter what. I don't BLOG.
For those of you ummovable Luddites who don't even own a computer, blogging is the simple act of millions of people who get online every day and write whatever they feel like, expressing their feelings, relating the boring minutiae of their days and talk disparagingly about others they might never have met--and they install it on the worldwide Web so that everyone else can read their blogging. Sometimes their online "fans" blog back to them--and entirely different kettle of fish than emailing--and wave their thoughts around in the wind like a pennant for everyone else to see.
For all I know, someone out there is blogging about me, perhaps favorably or unfavorably about my books, my columns or my podcasts in their own private blog. I have no interest in looking around in cyberspace to see whether it's true. I don't care.
I don't get it. Why should I be blogging, and why does anyone else, either? I spend a good eight hours a day at my computer, writing. When my work is published, I hope somebody who has spent a few cents on me will take the time to read it, because that's how I make my living. If I spent an hour or two of my precious time blogging to strangers about whatever pops in my head, it will suck away my time and energy from what I've trained myself to do for the past 40 years. Then I'd have to spend another hour reading the blogs of perfect strangers commenting on my blogs. There are those days when, after giving up half my time blogging, I'll be too tired to write what I get paid for. Then all of a sudden I'm not a writer anymore--I'm a blogger.
And what should I blog about every day? 'This morning we did our laundry. Then we went to Wal-Mart, Giant Eagle and a health food store, picked up our dry cleaning and lastly patronized a filling station to gas up the car. After that, I came home and had a bit (non-fattening and with no sugar, by the way: see above) and finally got down to the business of writing, which I stopped long enough to blog this and titillate and intrigue any of you silly enough to read it.'
Not enought to keep the mind alive, is it? I'd rather write than blog. I'd rather read books or newspapers than read blogs. I'd prefer you reading my writing than my blogs. There are no blogs in my future; I promise you that.
Oh, yeah--one more confession. When I take a mid-day writing break for lunch--I sometimes watch the Jerry Springer Show. Now I've confesssed everything.