Sunday, July 06, 2014

Blogger's Guilt


Whilst I was in Dublin I called in at Eason's Bookshop just to check that it was still there : with bookshops, like with pubs, you should never pass an open one just in case it has closed down by the time you pass again. I bought a copy of a book edited by Catriona Crowe and published by the Royal Irish Academy entitled "Dublin 1911". Described by one reviewer as a "capital cabinet of curiosities", it traces the year by means of a fine collection of words and images. There are extracts from local newspapers, old photographs, letters and cards which together create something which is as attractive to the sensibilities as a chocolate gateaux and as digestible as a slice of hot buttered toast. As I read it - over a pint of Guinness, of course - I couldn't help feeling that there was something familiar about the style, if not the content. It didn't take me long to recognise that the book was in fact a blog - a first class blog at that - dressed in a cardboard cover.

I am tempted to wonder whether blogging represents a new literary style as, the other day, I came across another book that reminded me of the kind of mosaic approach beloved by bloggers. "The North" by Paul Morley is made up of a tapestry of thoughts, recollections, comments and extracts, telling the story of the north of England through the reverse telescope of time. The paradox is, of course, that blogging seems to be bleeding stylistic boundaries just at the time when blogging itself seems to be waning. I am beginning to lose count of the number of well established and high quality writers vanishing from what we called in our swaggering youth "the blogosphere". Many are migrating to platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, some are crossing that great divide and finding success as serious writers. 

One of the great unspoken problems with blogging is that associated with reciprocal commenting. As a blog becomes more popular it attracts more and more comments, and the only decent thing to do is to visit your commenters' blog and comment back. Before long you seem to be spending more time worrying over whether you are behind with your commenting than you do in writing and reading. It's what's known in the trade as "Blogger's Guilt". 

I may not be going anywhere with this discussion, but equally I am not going anywhere with this blog. It will stay. It will continue to be my own mosaic of those things that I find interesting and amusing. If you read it and enjoy it that is fine - don't feel you have to think up nice things to say. If you don't have time to read it, don't worry - I have enjoyed writing it. News From Nowhere is not at home to "Blogger's Guilt".


16 comments:

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    1. there should be a little "likes" button for comments. Consider your comment liked.

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  2. I totally agree. No guilt...it is supposed to be fun for you, not a service to others!

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    1. Whenever I visit your blog, Betsy, I feel as though I am dropping in for coffee with an old friend. That is what it should be about.

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  3. I agree however it seems I blogged about a no-no in my family and got a good scorching. No one I know personally reads my blog but one of my children does not want anyone to know how wealthy she is. When I am writing about family activities and such I forget how she feels and get myself in trouble. Things they are achanging. I love comments but agree that is not my reason for blogging.

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    1. And again, I agree Peggy. We write for the pleasure of writing - if someone comments it is a nice bonus.

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  4. Don’t worry Alan - I’m still here :) I love that kind of book written as a miscellany of the author’s favourite pieces.

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  5. I have no guilt ever. Everyone has to find their own "good place" and be happy:)

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  6. Thanks for the term "Blogger's Guilt," Alan. That's exactly what it is. Although I have ceased blogging, and rarely comment any more, rest assured that I faithfully read your blog (OK, maybe a week's worth at a time) and enjoy every one. Jim

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  7. I sometimes find myself spending more time commenting on other people blogs than writing my own. I'll start of a comment and realise I'm writing a little essay. I soon realised I didn't mind much! I think blogging is a two way process. Sometimes the comment will set off a train of thought which leads to a post of my own. I don't, on the whole, slavishly trail from blog to blog speed reading posts just in order to comment. That would be like going into my local, walking round all the tables saying hello to everyone and then leaving. The pub analogy is a good one: far better to go in, choose a table for that particular evening and chat to just a handful of people at once.

    The term for this is, I think, "slow blogging". It's kind of the opposite of tweeting, if you like.

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  8. Blogger's Guilt applies to me and this weekend I put it down to Wimbledon, World Cup and Le Tour de France.

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  9. I have the same problem, Alan. It's hard keeping up with all the blogs I follow. Back when I was unemployed I had plenty of time for that, as well as time to publish a blog post every day. Now I get in at least one a week, and little enough time to even read all the blogs I'm subscribed to, much less comment on them. Maybe when I retire...

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  10. Yet another of your brilliant posts, Alan.
    Blogging is an art form of our 21st century, but just like other kinds of writing - novels, short stories, letters, and even postcards it is changing. I think it is the combination of change in both readers and writers.
    Last weekend I performed with an orchestra for an outdoor concert of light classical music. Before the concert began, there was a warm up group, a folk duo on guitars, playing for 10,000 people over an amplified sound system that allowed the audience to hear every syllable and every chord from two musicians. Later when our orchestra of 85 played, we each had individual microphones that mixed the music together to create a new kind of sound that was not truly real.

    But the strangest thing was that earlier in the evening I noticed how almost every person in the audience, young and old, was multitasking and reading/writing on a smart phone or tablet! Presumably they were listening, but not in the way people once appreciated a musical concert.

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  11. My blog will not be going to facebook or twitter! It's one way to maintain what writing skills I have. I will admit to having to scrabble around for topics, but not for the writing but for photographs. I don't get out and about enough. But I do a LOT of reading, books, magazines and blogs!

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  12. I love that I can join in whenever I wish. No guilt! But i have noticed changes too. Bloggers are changing . I find that evolution as interesting as out tendency to type rather than write these days.

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  13. Still around, Alan. Out of the Square Sunshine for a while, and currently developing things in the shade. But still blogging.

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