Blogging about writing
May 22, 2007
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And now, writing (in a blog) about blogging about writing. Lance Mannion, whose blog a friend turned me on to, is quite entertaining. Today he takes issue with a novelist (Richard Ford) who says that “a literary blogger is just “some guy sitting in his basement in Terre Haute.”” (forgive the double quotation). Mannion’s reply, in part (the whole is very long, but worth it):
…what does Ford think that guy is doing in his basement in Terre Haute?
My guess is he’s writing a novel.
And this is something Ford’s got to know. Most great novelists started out as some guy or gal sitting in a basement, or an attic or a cheap rented room, in some place as obscure and far away from literary glamor and greatness as Terre Haute—some of those obscure and far away places were in Paris and New York, the distance and obscurity is spiritual and metaphorical but very real to that guy or gal.
A few years from now Richard Ford will be blurbing that guy from Terre Haute’s new novel.
There is a growing reaction from many sides of the mainstream media toward these darn bloggers, with the freedom to say what they want without having to have, y’know, earned the right to speak in public. I’m seeing it from the political reporting side particularly, but also here and in a few other places (like the SFWA’s recent dustup about authors who post their work online, which spawned a whole movement in backlash). What Ford is saying, essentially, is, “I don’t want my work reviewed and dissected by some schmoe.”
There are plenty of smart people out there who for one reason or another haven’t succeeded at making a vocation out of their avocation, but remain passionate about it nonetheless. In the sports world, Henry Abbott was recently hired to blog professionally by ESPN. Has his content changed now that he’s “certified”? Glenn Greenwald blogs for Salon, professionally, and he’s one of the smartest political reporters I’ve ever read. All Ford has done in making this remark is underscore that credentials are not a predictor of being in touch with people, or even of doing a good job.