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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Writing for Blogs

23 07 2004

A reader named ‘Tammi’ posed a comment to the cross-post of ‘Sgt Missick’s Rebuttal’ that nicely phrases some real concern about the whole idea of ‘reviewing’ blogs and asks what criteria I use. Because I think her questions probably reflect a fairly general attitude toward writing blogs, specifically, I thought this was the appropriate place to answer them. I’m not going to reprint her whole comment, but I’d like to suggest you click the link above and read it for yourself before you read the rest of my reply. It’s thought-provoking, and well worth reading for its own sake.

Here’s my issue – and please, if I’m off base I will apologize up front. This has nothing to do with politics, religion or anything. It’s actually just a question.

You’re not off-base at all. They’re perfectly legitimate questions and you have a right to know the answers. In fact, I figured when I started LitBlogs that at some point I needed to lay out what the criteria were so people knew where I was coming from and could judge whether or not my opinions had any relevancy for them. Your comment gives me the opportunity to do that.

And I want to state again for the record that my reviews have nothing whatever to do with politics or religion, either, except in so far as the blogs themselves deal with it, and then my concern is how well they express themselves, not how ‘correct’ their positions are. The purpose of the reviews is to give people some idea where to go and what they’ll find when they get there. Finally, what I pick is what I like. Fortunately, I like a lot of different things for a lot of different reasons, so my choices tend to range along a fairly wide spectrum.

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Sgt Missick’s Rebuttal

22 07 2004

On Sunday, I reviewed three blogs by soldiers from Iraq, including one written by a Sgt Chris Missick called A Line in the Sand which I suspected wasn’t legitimate because of the way it read. It would seem I have done Sgt Missick a gross injustice.

Much of the following was written tongue in cheek.1. To address Mr. Arren’s fist fallacious statement, that I am “a PR flack for the military,” I have this to say: I am a 31 Romeo, a multi-channel systems transmission operator/maintainer. I am currently working with Army phone and internet networks, administrating them to ensure they run properly. Unfortunately I can not go too much further into my daily job descriptions because of something the military refers to OPSEC, Operational Security, and I can not breach that trust. I have never admitted to being on the frontlines on a daily basis and have always made quite clear that I am simply proud to be a cog in the wheel that is the machine of the US Army. Mr. Arren, you may just be receiving a confirmation from my lieutenant after he reads this, he’s a good man and can verify that my word is good. I do have PR experience in my civilian career, but when I am in uniform, I simply a soldier with a blogging hobby.

That isn’t necessary, Sgt Missick. I believe you. That was Charge No 1. Charge dismissed. Read the rest of this entry »

Iraq Journals: A Little Writing Advice for Bloggers

19 07 2004

In a comment to the previous post, reader Kayz alerted me to a page she keeps that’s devoted to promoting blogs by soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as a number of civilian blogs by Iraqis (and one Saudi, which looks interesting). I spent yesterday afternoon reading through most of the soldier-blogs and reviewed three of them at Omnium. I’ll be getting to the others over the next couple of weeks. Hopefully.

I didn’t include them here not because they’re without interest but because they’re not, for the most part, very well-written. Certainly nothing I’ve seen so far comes up to the standard set by MY WAR, and the problem with almost all of them is a simple one often made by new writers: they’re trying to Write with a capital W. They seem to think that writing is about adjectives. One of them (not yet reviewed) was so full of ponderous layers of pseudo-profound adverb/adjective combinations piled on top of each other like compost that it was almost impossible to wade through.

So, for what it’s worth, a few words of advice to aspiring bloggers on how to make your writing more interesting.

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