Diving for Cover: Why Fiction Blogs Are So Scarce

30 07 2007

Having put myself on this beat a while ago now, I’ve sort of gotten used to being the only one doing it. I’ve also begun to accept the fact that, much to my surprise and even chagrin, blogs with literary intent haven’t blossomed and spread in anything like the profusion I expected. Indeed, in the past couple of years we seem to have lost more than we’ve gained. I’ve been able to find even fewer active lit blogs than I could three years ago when they seemed to be everywhere and about to explode into an important segment of the blogosphere.

I’m not sure why this is. Blogs are just another form, not inherently hostile to literary aspirations as Dan Roentsch has certainly proved. Yet his is the only fiction blog that aspires to the form that I’ve found and one of the very few still active that continues to attract a large readership. In the beginning I put it down to blogging’s newness, assuming that lots of comic and fiction writers just didn’t know about it yet. But three years have passed since I started doing this and everybody now knows what blogs are even if they don’t read them, so ignorance is no longer an excuse.

Is there something about the form that turns writers off? Hardly possible. I used to edit a small lit zine back in the day and even though we paid nothing, were expressly looking for off-track stories, and had at our height fewer than 300 subscribers, we received hundreds of submissions a month. Most were over-written but many were short-shorts, little more than prose poems. Larger zines got thousands of submissions a month, were literally buried under them to the point that they had to declare a moratorium, sending manuscripts back unopened for 6 months out of the year. You’d think such a rich and varied subculture, frustrated by standard publishing mechanisms, would have gravitated to self-publishing – which is, after all, what blogging is all about – in droves. Yet it hasn’t happened.

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