My friend Judy and I discuss on a regular basis life, our students, and how our peers interact with the internet, which is (quite frankly) rarely. As a result, she and I are about the only commenters on each other's blogs outside of family members. I told her my daughter's peers have a different mindset (as does her daughter's) and that this younger generation regularly reads and comments on each other's blogs. Or Facebook pages.
I read a lot of blogs. Some dismiss them as narcissistic, lightweight and completely self-referential. Are they? I'd say no more so than personal essays that are published in the newspapers. (Or poems in various collections.)
But the difference between the published accounts and these "free web" accounts is that critical word: "free." I've thought for some time that the web could be a vehicle for publication of some kind, whether it be this blog-self-publishing version, or whether like Pioneer Woman, a blogger is picked up by the major publishing houses for a book, thereby legitimizing what is written by the act of putting ink to page, money into bank account.
In all cases, the goal is to build an audience. When I was at my writer-friend's home the other night, she had several books that she talked about. One was her friend Holly's book, a softcover book that didn't have enough sales so it didn't merit a contract for a second book. So, Holly's done. In a way. Much the way I felt after hitting 400 posts and the only comment was a "encouraged" comment from my husband, as well as a comment from my friend Judy, mentioned above.
Hitting 400 posts is not the same as batting .400, or hitting 400 balls out of the ballpark, or publishing 400 novels, or 400 personal essays, or raising 400 children, or baking 400 cupcakes. It's viewed as someone just sitting down at their computer and larking around with words, text, photos, illustrations, in other words, not serious writing.
But it is seductive for just that reason: a blogger/writer can mix, match, cull, steal, borrow, video, write, doodle, in short, lark around with all the various types of media that are out there. And it's immediate. And given the writing compulsion of the writer to write, it's easier than wading through publishers, agents, convincing the world out there that supposedly doesn't read, to Please! Notice Me! It's Web 2.o at its finest, and all free.
And if the blogger/writer picks up ads on the side, potentially lucrative. I noticed that Nienie has now opened up her cooking blog and the cynic in me noted that the ads were front and center. Given the proclivities of my generation I don't ever anticipate getting paid for my internet writing. But it's not only ads. Do prizes attract viewers? Do free giveaways bring in the blog numbers? In many cases (mostly those of the under-thirties generation) blogging has become about getting paid for the copy that is put forth into the world. We have come full circle. Does getting paid for maintaining a blog legitimize this endeavor?
Or is ink to paper still the only way for a writer to earn their credentials?