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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Don’t Reject rejectomorph

31 05 2007

(First published Aug 21, ’05)
rejectomorph is the baby of one ‘flying_blind’ (otherwise known as ‘Joe’). A personal journal-type blog, rejectomorph is all but free of posts about politics or world events or sports, but it also doesn’t descend to the all-too-common depths of ‘I got up this morning and had eggs for breakfast’ personal blogging that clogs a reader’s arteries as surely as the writer is clogging his/her own. When he wants to, Joe has a wicked sense of humor expressed in a laid-back, ‘I’m having fun with this and I don’t care who knows it’ way that can be absolutely charming. Witness his info page, wherein he explains what his journal is about and why the identity of the person who used to have it (Joe’s alter-ego, ‘Sluggo’) is still active.

Bio: Well look at this. I’ve had the new computer for several months, and I still haven’t gotten around to getting rid of Sluggo’s message here. Now that it comes down to it, I’m reluctant to make it go away. Sluggo himself hasn’t gone away, either. He’s still over there in his corner. I fire him up once in a while, when it’s cold enough. True, he may be the most evil of computers, but I still have hope for his redemption. If I replace his overheating AMD CPU, he might still be a serviceable backup machine. Besides, if I have him destroyed, his ghost might return from the digital beyond and haunt me. I think I’ll let both Sluggo and his rude words stay for a while:

Hello. I’m Sluggo “Crasher” Frankenclone, the computer assigned to destroy the bio-unit known variously as “flying_blind,” “rejectomorph,” or “Joe.” (Hah! Like that last one is a real name!) So far, I’d say I’m doing a pretty good job. I have increased his blood pressure at least 30%, caused him to lose a great deal of sleep, which makes his judgement even poorer that it was before I arrived, and I’m pretty sure he is developing ulcers.

If all goes well (and how could it not, given my natural superiority,) he will soon be losing his hair (disgusting stuff,) developing carpel tunnel syndrome from his vain attempts to control me through my keyboard, suffer diminished eyesight from staring at my screen, and endure frequent hallucinations which, eventually, will drive him to indulge in self-destructive behavior. Yes, all is going according to the great plan.

Hail Gates!

-Sluggo.

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Raymi the Minx

29 05 2007

(Originally published Feb 21, ’05)

minx: (mingks) n., a cheeky or mischievous girl
–The Oxford American Dictionary

And Raymi the Minx is all of that. While you’re at it, you can add irreverent, scatological, self-obsessed, insecure, arrogant, discumbobulated, opinionated, compassionate, intense, distant, exhibitionist, funny, hip and clueless, sometimes all at once. That will do for a start, but understand: it’s just a start. Raymi is one complicated individual, but then so aren’t we all, and isn’t that the point?

Raymi’s blog, which today is called either soon i will hit the ground and explode or when the peanuts wept (she changes the title several times a week and the title on the banner is often different from the title rendered by your browser), is a Mulligan’s Stew of stream-of-conscienceness patter that veers from the unexceptional to the trivial to the poetic, post-to-post. Raymi writes about everything and nothing in a semi-free-form ramble that sometimes sounds like Kerouac on crack and at other times like a whiny teenager afflicted with petty obsessions and neural diarrhea. That most of it is tongue-in-cheek, so to speak, saves the worst of it from maudlin excess and lifts the best of it into Walt Whitman/Charles Bukowski-Land, where it twinkles like a pearl necklace in a junkyard. Read the rest of this entry »