Friday, August 31, 2018

Moving on (for now).

It will soon be two years since I posted on this blog, and, as I explain on my author blog, the reasons are various. One of those reasons was that blogging was very difficult to maintain, both timewise and psychologically/mentally, while I was writing some very immersive full-length fiction. I now find myself in a position to blog again, but have decided - for the moment at least - to confine myself to posting on my author blog, and the reason is not simply time and creative/intellectual effort.

Fictionbitch was my first blog, created specifically for theoretical comment on the nature of literature and its place in our culture. Initially I chose to write the blog anonymously, in that time-honoured literary tradition whereby comments can be judged for themselves rather than through what is known of or believed about the author, and I wanted to be able to comment on the issues honestly, according purely to my lights, without the need to avoid offending other authors, or publishers. It wasn't long, however, before someone objected to this anonymity. The novelist Susan Hill, who was also blogging at the time, complained about it on someone's else blog (Scott Pack's, maybe), stating her view that people should own up to their opinions, and seeing something underhand, perhaps, in my anonymity. This troubled me a good deal and did seem like a symptom of the growing cult of personality I felt was tainting our literary culture - and it did indeed fuel some Fictionbitch content.

Meanwhile I had begun to realise that, at that time, blogging had become an essential tool for an author (Facebook and Twitter weren't even in existence, I think), that publishers were increasingly expecting it, and that I needed to create a blog to promote my own work. My author blog was thus in direct opposition to Fictionbitch, a place where I had to be myself and advertise my work (something, that last, that didn't at first come easily, since I was brought up strictly not to blow my own trumpet) and was increasingly required to promote enthusiastically the work of others - in other words, to take part wholeheartedly in that cult of personality and hype that Fictionbitch was holding up to critical scrutiny. This worked for while, in a kind of Jekyll and Hyde way, until one day, out of the blue, Blogger outed me by combining my blogs, and it went round the literary blogging community: Fictionbitch is Elizabeth Baines!  I'm pretty sure that from that point on Fictionbitch was less bluntly critical than it had been, and keeping the two blogs in the air and juggling those two opposing roles, the critical and the promotional, did require greater effort and creativity (and often left me feeling a bit of a fraud). Still, I'm glad I achieved Fictionbitch, several posts of which, I'm told, are collected in The British Library (I haven't checked this out myself).

But I have to admit defeat, that social media have personalised everything and that there is really no option but to give in. In my time away from my blogs I have come to terms with this, and hope now to be able to incorporate in my author blog some of the kinds of discussion I had on Fictionbitch (which I will leave fallow for now), relating them to my own writing. The new post on that blog concerns the current debate about cultural appropriation, and what it means for me as a writer and my own writing.
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