Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Hit the Wife in the North

Following Betty's foray into identity politics ("I AM A BLOGGER, NOT A WRITER"), comes an interesting short piece by Adrian Slatcher on the Manchester Blog Awards that apparently wants to blur the boundaries:

I think what is interesting is how a format that began as a semi-public "diary" now has almost no pretence about its pretension - the blogger is now craving an audience, and all last night's readers were more accomplished than some more literary types I've seen over the years.

Which raises an interesting question - at what point does a blogger become a writer? When money changes hands? When the presses roll? Or just when readership exceeds a certain level? That said, he isn't quite brave enough to contradict the Betster. Not all bloggers are necessarily writers but:

...I'd be surprised to find a young writer who now wasn't putting out some of their work via a blog.


Vicus Scurra said...

I tend to disagree with whether that question is "interesting".
I write, therefore I am a writer, I write on my blog because I am too lazy and untalented to consider other media. Like everyone else who writes, I want to be adored, admired and swooned over, so perhaps there is a distinction between the "bloggers" and "writers" after all, the bloggers are not pretentious enough and too realistic to think that what they say has any impact on anything, ever.

Christopher said...


Not too bothered about the swooning, though.

Fat Roland said...

Christopher: That's because everyone's busy swooning at the cute-as-a-button Blue Kitten.

I have two definitions of 'being a writer'. One: writing is what you do all the time and you can't stop; it's in your bones, therefore you are born a writer. Two: it's what you put on your passport and what pays the bills.

Most people in the first description want to be the second. Most people in the seond description have long forgotten what it's like to be the first.

Marsha Klein said...

"all last night's readers were more accomplished than some more literary types I've seen over the years."

I am confused by this comment. Do you think he means better readers or better writers? And, if he means better writers, why is that surprising? Surely, as Vicus says, what defines a writer is the act of writing, not the medium (or should that be 'platfom') his work is produced in ('on'? I'm SO confused!)
Out of interest Tim, would you describe yourself as a writer who blogs, a blogger who writes or simply a writer?

Geoff said...

I'm sure a real writer agonises over what they've written. If they want an audience they want that audience to say their writing's great. They don't want a dialogue. Hence the fawning comments on WITN with no reply.

Bloggers, I hope, just write the stuff down, casually check the grammar and publish it, hoping for some good conversation in the comments box.

None of the blogs I like have ever won an award as far as I know. I don't recognise either of the blogs he mentioned or any of their links. Their blogosphere is not mine. We are the opinionated ones. If they gave an award to the best blog in Bexley it would probably be one that focused on boring local issues. We don't care. We've got friends from all over the world.

Anonymous said...

As I said at Betty's I've found myself making an effort to be less writer-ly when I blog; just getting the stuff down is more important than the spelling and if it makes sense or not.

Betty said...

Ooh, I did sound like pretentious, attention seeking and annoying, didn't I? Talk about a toddler tantrum. I'm not a writer because I've got a poor command of grammar and spelling, I'm not intelligent and I've got nothing of interest to impart to the world. Doesn't stop the bloke who's in the corner of the pub from sharing his opinions with the world, and it doesn't stop me. The more people are irritated by my ill informed opinions, the better!

Tim F said...

VS: "I write therefore I am a writer". Yes, fair point, but do shopping lists count?

But the swooning's the best bit, Christopher. Well, unless there's money.

Depressing and cynical but bang on the money, Roland.

I think it's his vague characterisation of "literary types" that I have problems with, Marsha. I mean, John Grisham's a writer, but he's hardly literary. Is that what he means. I got paid for writing before I started blogging, so I suppose that makes me a writer who blogs. But I suppose it depends on what I'm doing at the time.

Geoff puts his finger on it; yet again, it's the dialogue, the conversation that matters, not some vague notion of the "quality" of the text. I've posted long, densely argued rants that raise nary a peep - it's the smartarse one-liners that get a discussion going that I'm proud of.

What is this "makes sense" of which you speak, Billy?

Ooh, here comes bad Betty. You weren't being attention seeking at all - you understand blogging, she doesn't. Simple as that. And I don't know why you constantly bash youself over your grammar, spelling, etc. It's always looked fine to me.

Marsha Klein said...

Geoff nails it when he says its about conversation (and I suppose I'm proving his point by responding to it!).
I'm writing this comment in my kitchen in Edinburgh, Scotland on a blog whose author is in Thailand, responding to another comment written by a blogger in London-that, for me, is the beauty of blogging.

Ooh, wv=tragi. I really hope the next one is 'comic'

Christopher said...

(Please excuse us a moment, Tim.)

Fat Roland: Very true. It's great. If I was Dutch I could style myself Oom-pa-pa, I believe.

WV = 'ornsake' Tragi-ornsake?

Anonymous said...

Geoff, I knew one blogger who got an award - best Belarusian blog - which he richly deserved and he was modest and sweet about it.

Christopher, indeed, a damned fine grand-daughter you've got there.

Marsha, the jet-lag's terrible though, isn't it?

Bloody hell, Tim, how long do you have to wait to get a drink around here?

Tim F said...

...and Marsha is immediately followed by posts from France and Germany. Damn, it's like a 70s Coke commercial here.

Consider yourself excused, Christopher. I'll just sit here and file my teeth or something.

It's BYOB, Pleite. The barman defected to Twitter.

Adrian Slatcher said...

I've just seen this... just to clarify, I meant that the bloggers on the night were more accomplished "readers". I'm actually a little disappointed that the blogging space has been taken over in some ways by fiction writers. At my own blog, I've tended to write commentary mostly, as its very much first thoughts, first draft, take it or leave it stuff, rather than, some rough cuts of some autobiographical novel. But writers write, you just can't stop 'em, and blogs are as good a place as any to be doing it.

Adrian Slatcher said...

P.S. er... Bournemouth Runner is also Adrian Slatcher, two blogs, you see, and the latter one (MEN) is not even mine. Confuses the hell out of me. In case you're confused. Again, re: the blog awards... it is what it says, for Manchester bloggers, so its not trying to be representative or anything - but it was a nice night, with people talking 'n' listening. Like in real life!

Tim F said...

Hello, Adrian. I know what you mean about fiction on blogs. I've got this (unjustifiable) instinct that blogging should be about stuff, rather than the stuff itself. But that raises numerous other questions. Why do we privilege art, music, fiction etc, and relegate criticism and commentary to the role of secondary art forms? And, if this is the case, is blogging still secondary to more established forms of distribution (books, telly, etc)?

Adrian Slatcher said...

I think it can be either... in the early days of the web people tried a lot of creative things (hypertext poetry etc.) with the medium, but there's almost an orthodoxy now - a blog is a blog is a blog as Gertrude Stein might have said. Of course, when blogs are non-fiction, they compete directly with the "professionals" - e.g. reporters, commentators etc - hence some of the conflict that you seem to get. The blog as slushpile first novel doesn't seem to engender the same problem! Notable non-fictionalists such as Alex Ross (The Rest is Noise) and Charles Ledbetter see blogs and books as complementing each other, as they should do - if only because blogs are immediate. Anyway, when did we begin to worry about what was allowed and what wasn't? I'm just pleased that these things are beginning to be debated, and that there's some finally some "bleed" between the different forms.