Monday, January 01, 2007

Not Blogging

'Happy New Year,' says the Partner of the Bitch, handing her the Guardian and that grotesque image of a hanged man's face. Words fail me.

But words have been failing me, blog-wise, for the Christmas period. With not much to discuss on the literary front and everything shrinking (or rather swelling) to the personal, there's not much to blog about for someone who's always banging on critically about the cult of personality. Even on my other, writer blog I try to stick to professional matters (unsuccessfully, I know), and it's more than just policy, it's superstition: I'm afraid of jinxing or using up the material I could put into my writing.

And then it seems to me that it's impossible to write about anything personal without fictionalising it anyway...

Yet how I loved Ms Baroque's vivid account of her Christmas with her children, and all her evocative personal posts, and those of nmj and Steerforth, for instance. It's made me think a lot about blogging. A blog is after all a public space - over Christmas twenty-odd people in Montreal, presumably students, came to my writer blog after Googling 'Themes in Compass and Torch' (one of my short stories) - and a writer always does well to be careful about his/her public image. Yet there's something so personal about the blogosphere - the language, the spontaneity, the discussions, and the fact that you really do feel you have made friends with like-minded people.

So I don't know...

I could tell you about literary-related things, I guess; I could stretch it and tell you about the things I did with members of our reading group: the Carol Concert in Bridgewater Hall with the Mozart Festival Orchestra dressed up in eighteenth-century costume and all the middle-aged women in glittery tops milling in the foyer, or drinks in the pub on Christmas Day, when the landlady came round and wished us all Merry Christmas so we felt we were in a soap pub rather than a real one. I could tell you about the literati party, when I talked for two hours to a Royal-Court produced playwright who has decided no longer to bother even trying with a British theatre system which has turned its back on the kind of play he writes, and to which a famous novelist turned up at the end with her parents in tow - but it was a private, not a public literary event so I won't mention their names. The two family parties - the one where my ex and my current sat down together with the kids, and the one with the Irish lot all singing and playing - don't qualify, of course. One New Year's Eve party does, as I talked for an hour to two handsome and disgustingly young marketing men about an issue I've addressed in this blog. Both agreed with my assessment that current marketing philosophy is about feeding into established practices, and both insisted that it is very difficult to 'market into the unknown'. Both however agreed, when they thought about it, that books (which can be intended conversely to surprise people or change their minds) require a new and different marketing strategy to be devised.

And then I went on to the crime-writer's party, whose name I had better not drop...

Daniel Green at The Reading Experience points to some interesting links about the nature of blogs: Robert Nagle answering the criticisms of George Will.

Happy New Year.


Blogaulaire said...

No wonder Montreal venues seem so dead over the holidays. All the interesting individuals are indoors, blogging your site.

20 odd students you say? I cannot even parse that remark. In any case, I don't think I fit: I'm over 30.

Have a grand 2007.

Elizabeth Baines said...

Hi, Blogaulaire, I read your profile which makes an interesting point about the dangers, or perceived dangers, of blogging. Tricky aint it?

Here's wishing you a great new job in 2oo7

Blogaulaire said...

Elisabeth, Thanks for your best wishes vis a vis my employment. Here in Quebec offering best wishes for the New Year is a derigueur. Though I'll spare you the formalities, I wish you health and all the best in 2007.

I'm surprised you saw in my profile a remark about the perceived dangers of blogging. I do see where I say I'll stay mum about employers or the content of contracts. But you should have seen it before: I dissed my longtime friend-turned-employer for the way she maintained her bookshop. A real no-no I gladly apologised for, though she never found out about it.

Daniel Green does answer WPs George Will regard in blogs, I agree, and in a positive manner. But he does not deal with the following remarks Will made:

"Time's issue includes an unenthralled essay by NBC's Brian Williams, who believes that raptures over the Web's egalitarianism arise from the same impulse that causes today's youth soccer programs to award trophies -- "entire bedrooms full" -- to any child who shows up: "The danger just might be that we miss the next great book or the next great idea, or that we will fail to meet the next great challenge . . . because we are too busy celebrating ourselves and listening to the same tune we already know by heart."

The attitude Will is endorsing is elitism pure and simple. Green could have explained that the Masses out here DO engage in a process of winnowing, of separating the wheat from the chaff, and that no one reads everything in some spirit of fellowship between equals. The same is true in the real world where, yes, the egalitarian spirit does reward participation. What would Will have, rewards for self-doubt to the point of giving up and staying home?

In fairness to Will, there certainly is too much to read and see on all channels of communication today. And merit, as always, often goes unrecognised.

I do not know how to register to make this comment on D Green's site but, IAC, you were the blogger who pointed me to the issue in the first place.

Elizabeth Baines said...

It's an odd one that, though: the idea that great stuff will get lost if there's a lot of stuff. Not if it's great, surely? Unless you go along with that notion that no one is bothering to winnow because everything's so self-congtatulatory...

It's actually Robert Nagle who answers Will: I think the way I referred to the links was confusing.

Blogaulaire said...

Elizabeth (with a 'z'ed this time, sorry for the 's' before:

I see it was Nagle. For at least 2 hours I stayed 'hung' on your site when my daughter arrived for a visit. You just logged some looong use time on that one.

To make this to-the-point: I think that talent CAN go unrecognised and for a very long time. This is demonstrated obliquely by the importance of promotion, public relations and just plain advertizing for all artists regardless of their worth, despite the volume of their production.

Elizabeth Baines said...

Well, no, I can't disagree with that!