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Monday, July 21, 2008


I wonder: How many blogs contain blog posts about blogging? It's a definite adjustment, the blogging lifestyle. I haven't blogged at all before the creation of this HFR blog, and now here I am, a few weeks into it, and I'm in somewhat of a tizzy (flabloggergasted?) about how much of myself I want to put online. This isn't my personal blog, after all, but the blogs I enjoy reading the most are ones where the writers let their personalities in, where their struggles and ponderings come from a real place of concern or questioning. Ideally, a blog for a literary journal supplements the work in print - and I hope the content of this blog so far is doing that. But when you ask a bunch of writers to start blogging, questions are bound to be raised about the form and function of blogging.

When I posted my previous(/first, real) blog about the slush pile and my/HFR's relationship to it, I woke up the next morning feeling suddenly afraid. Had I spelled everything correctly? Had I said anything offensive? Had I said exactly what I meant to say? It all happened so quickly: I typed, and then there it was, for anyone to see. Someone, somewhere could be disagreeing with me wholeheartedly, and sharing that disapproval out loud. Or online! Paranoia set in, even though what I had written was hardly personal, and wasn't the kind of thing that would excite controversy. (Also, I might be paranoid by nature.)

Perhaps this is how memoirists have felt for years. I took a class in creative nonfiction once, and it felt like we spent ninety percent of class discussion time talking about how not to offend our loved ones. "Write the truth and be prepared to deal with the consequences, or don't write at all," was my teacher's response. And it seemed like good advice to me. Memoirists, of course, have the added benefit/torture of hindsight. They can take as long as they want to decide how a certain life-event should be revealed. Blogging, on the other hand, gains most of its power and authority from being immediate. We get the bloggers' feelings in the moment, before too much time and perspective have had a chance to interfere. I have a blogging friend who experienced a life-changing tragedy. Reading back over her blog (though part of me felt bad for having this kind of curiosity) was fascinating. There was a distinct "before" and "after" the event. You could see the difference in the writing. It was like reading someone's diary. Her emotions were there, day to day, unfolding.

For all of these reasons, blogging presents interesting options for the fiction writer. A student in my class last semester, wanting to experiment with form, wrote a story as one big post in an online chat room. During workshop, members of the class suggested breaking it up. "What if you wrote it as a blog?" someone said. The class perked up. The characters' emotions during each post would be more immediate, my students realized, instead of reported in an after-the-fact monotone. The story's events would also gain suspense. In first person past tense we know our narrator has lived to tell the tale, so suspense is always stunted to a certain extent. A blog-story affords the opportunity for reflection missing in present-tense, but lends an unpredictability not usually available in past tense; each post would occur after a major event but before the next one. And writing a story blog-style is a great exercise for the writer -- it asks him/her to live first person in the character's skin through various distinct moments in time. Our blog conversation was a lesson and exercise in point of view.

The world has already seen its first contribution to "Google-lit" (read this great entry from the Kenyon Review's blog); is blog-lit already out there, too?

1 comment:

Jessica said...

I've had a few posts where I hesitated on the "post" button and then once I posted it, received good feedback. I have a few other posts that did not get the go ahead, and they're still tucked away in a computer folder. Maybe I'll get the guts to put them out there, or maybe not. I know I will probably not post them anonymously though, because one thing I learned about blogging--people are quick to criticize anonymous bloggers for not being man enough (or woman enough) to tack their name onto whatever they put out there.