Author's note: This is a long and slightly sarcastic response to a mind boggling comment I received from my writing.
"Blogging is just another thing that eliminate, alienates, and distracts real writers. Post and wait for the instant gratification and pretend to have written something, even if it's just a blurb on the the internet that will forever be forgotten."
Was a comment I received in response to the "Last hired, first fired" post I recently wrote. I'm not sure if this comment was intended maliciously or was simply insights---that's what's difficult about communicating via the internet; you can't read body language or hear inflections that reveal much about language. However, this comment really made me think about the value that is in blogging.
First----the term "real writers" is problematic. What constitutes a "real" writer? Are bloggers not "real" writers because anyone can do it? Is writing a sacred act that requires some sort of selection process? Do “real” writers have to write the great American novel? Is it a requirement for “real” writers to have poetry published in anthologies? Do “real” writers publish their work in journals and major publications? Writing is not always a glorious role filled with honors and accolades. Bloggers are writers simply because they write. There is value to writing--even if it’s only to the writer.
Second---I'm wondering how exactly blogging "eliminates, alienates, and distracts real writers." On a personal note, I have made a conscious effort to write for at least thirty minutes daily---I don't always stick to the schedule, but I try my hardest to guard that time because it keeps me centered, keeps me discovering, keeps me wondering, and hones my skills (in writing and teaching). I usually write in notebooks when my students write--then during the weekend or if I get to it during the week, I turn one or two of those writings into a blog post. And I don't feel it's been an alienating experience at all---in fact---it has connected me with MORE people---people that I'm not sure I would step out of my comfort zone to associate with (I'm actually kind of a shy person who has a hard time approaching new people). This blog has helped me to connect with educators, people in my church, with family, with others experiencing infertility or the adoption process. One reason why I write (especially about infertility and adoption) is to share my experiences so others don't feel quite so alone AND to inform people about these very real issues that affect many. Donald M. Murray writes, “We forge communities when we share who we are, what we feel, what we think; and writing allows a sharing beyond the room, even beyond our lifetime” (Why I Write). So has blogging been alienating for me? Absolutely not. I also think it’s worth mentioning that reading anything (books, essays, political stances, blogs, stories, poems, etc) with a closed a mind can be an alienating experience. I think it’s partly up the reader to determine for him/herself if a piece of writing will be alienating.
Now---this person also mentions that blogging "distracts real writers." I'm not exactly sure what this person means because I haven't asked for clarification. If anything---blogging has focused my writing by encouraging me to write consistently now that I have people reading my blog. Is it all good work? No. But that’s alright---writers have permission to turn out crap every now and then. Blogging has also focused my writing by forcing me to consider the needs of my readers.
The last comment this person makes is confusing (maybe I've just milled over it too long): Post and wait for the instant gratification and pretend to have written something, even if it's just a blurb on the the internet that will forever be forgotten. I'm not sure if this person is sorry that internet writing isn't always remembered, or if this person is simply being snarky about internet-writing and doesn't find it valuable, "real" writing.....but, here are my thoughts (of course, take my thoughts with a grain of salt because I may not be a "real" writer):
Writers don’t always write for satisfaction. Sometimes we write simply to keep up the habit. Not everything I write is pleasurable. It’s sort of like running. Sure, I enjoy running...most of the time. But I don’t always enjoy it...sometimes it hurts, sometimes I dread it, and sometimes I skip it. But I run because it’s good for me; I run because I enjoy the challenge---I like pushing myself. I write for similar reasons. I write so I can be a better writing teacher. I write because if I don’t, I might explode in emotion. I write to relate to others. I write to share my stories---to bear witness. Sometimes I write absolute crap that is pretty worthless even to me---I don’t pretend this stuff is good and I certainly don’t expect people to remember it; sometimes I dread the act of writing, and sometimes I skip it. When writing is like this (and it often is), it’s not instantly satisfying and doesn’t always need a response from readers.
Blogging is writing done on the internet, but this single factor shouldn’t cause us to devalue the genre. Is there mindless drivel on the internet? Certainly. Is some of it housed on blogs? Yes. But there is also mindless drivel published in books, magazines, newspapers, and even literary journals. Ultimately, we have the power to choose. If you find yourself reading rubbish, instead of leaving snide comments try something more productive: close the tab or put down the reading material.