Apples and crabapples

(I know this post is a bit ironic in a blog about writing which I have started largely because people keep telling me I need to blog about writing to have any sort of writing success. But here goes.)

I have a lot of mixed feelings about the kind of sentiments in this post (“How Joyce Carol Oates would launch a writing career today”). It’s pretty common advice–want to be a published author? Blog, tweet and be sure to have a Facebook page. I don’t disagree with the core concept, that these days success as a writer is as much marketing yourself as a brand as having any sort of talent. And I even have a feeling that it’s just an updated version of the whole network-to-get-noticed thing. But all the same, it grates at me.

I suppose somewhere in my mind I’m still enamored of the idea of everything being pure meritocracy even though that’s pretty much impossible. Some part of me just wants success=hard work + skill. And another part of me wonders if being a good blogger really means you’re a good fiction writer. You may have interesting ideas, a great blogging voice, be incredibly engaging… but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re really all that wonderful at creating imaginary worlds and made up people. It may give you a leg up: clearly you’re good at articulating your thoughts, sharing observations about your own life, and knowing what makes someone stop and read. But I can think of more than one blogger whose blog posts made me more interested in reading their fiction… and then when I read their fiction, I was disappointed to find I didn’t really like it. (That said, I’ve also discovered at least one great author through reading her blog, so…)

But I suppose there’s the hook: I liked their blog, so I went out and bought their stories, and otherwise I wouldn’t have.

Still, the curmudgeon in me thinks writing should be about writing, and you get better by writing, not by blogging, and yet here I am blogging again. Ho hum. I suppose I must sort of like this damn thing, after all.

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2 Comments

  1. I love this post. It is exactly how I feel. In my first ever blog post, I pondered the same question. If I wanted to become a chef, it makes no sense that – instead of cooking – people would say you needed to wear t-shirts with bright colors, dance with eating utensils, and tell people what kinds of food you like to eat. Those things may be interesting, and may get you some attention, but it doesn’t make you a good writer.

    I am also still a romantic. And I truly believe that if you write well, and create very compelling stories, you will succeed. I have never read a blog by any of my favorite authors. I don’t buy books because someone wrote a good review. I find an author I love, and read everything they write. I hope that maybe, sometimes, this old formula still works.

    But in the mean time, back to my blog! 😦

    Reply
    • I’m really happy to hear I’m not the only one that feels this way!

      I do trust certain reviews (from friends or trusted sources), and I will take a chance on someone who has a very interesting blog, but I am definitely faithful to the authors I love. I don’t always find I love the rest of their works–eg. one of my favorite fantasy books is by a rather prolific fantasy author but I only like that single book by her–but generally it’s a good thing.

      I do think it’s so sad that publishers aren’t necessarily embracing the library ebook, because I’ve discovered many authors through the library, and now that I’m slowly shifting over to ebooks, I’m always disappointed when I can’t find the e-version on my library’s overdrive site.

      Reply

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