Friday, April 18, 2008

Are blogs a waste of creative time?

Hi all,

What else would a writer be doing on a Friday night than ensuring he had written his blog entry for the week.

I read an article in the Age today about blogging. It reckons that the best blogs are updated every day. Who the hell has the time to do that? And who the hell has the time to read that? They would want to be short posts. Anyway the article by Jane Sullivan, whose column I often read, got me thinking.

When I first heard of the concept of blogs, I thought that they would be a waste of a writers creative time. But I kept reading that millions and millions of people had not flogged the beast to death. Over a 100 million bloggers at last count. In case you were wondering, 36% of blogs are written in Japanese, just beating the number in English.

So, I started reading them. I sought out the blogs of publishers and literary agents. In particular two blogs became weekly habits. The now defunct MS Snark and Nathan Bransford at, both written by literary agents. Both had a wealth of information for writers, but I would not have recommend MS Snark to the absolute beginner writer because once they read how hard it is to get published they would probably have given up.

On March 4th 2007 I wrote my first post on my Myspace blog (I have since started blogs at blogspot and livejournal) It was about droughts affect on Wangaratta and how the Ovens River had stopped flowing just past town. I don't think anyone except me read that post but I wrote a few more over the following weeks. I decided I would write the type of blog that as a writer I might find useful. Telling people things like how much time I spent writing, what I was reading, commenting on articles I read about writing and informing them about the Master of Creative Writing I was doing.

I was in the last subject of my masters and things seemed to be going okay until a Prof Jennifer Webb wrote some strange and, what seemed to be to me, unjustified comments on my third assignment for the subject. I contacted her and asked for clarification, but at the time I was out of it on pain killers for an infected toe, so I didn't do a very good job of asking her for clarification. I then sent her a more detailed email. But she failed to answer my questions. More emails followed, no clarification came back. I complained to the uni, they hid behind their rules. So I complained to the ACT ombudsman. During this time I wrote a number of posts on my blog about what was going on. And my audience grew, averaging 130 hits a week. I often wonder who that audience was because hardly anyone was leaving comments. Were they other students upset at Prof Webb or perhaps uni staff wanting to see if I defamed them.

After the ombudsman's decision, which wasn't that useful because he could not really investigate the central issue I had with the uni, I continued writing posts about writing and occasionally the environment and what was happening in my life. The number of hits dwindled.

Now back to the article in the Age, it quotes other fiction authors as saying that blogging is pretty well useless as a promotional tool for selling a book. So why should I continue to blog. Especially if I could be using the time to write. What is the current purpose of my blog? And the answer is: to network with other writers. Then I asked myself what should be the purpose of my blog. And I found myself thinking, perhaps I should be trying to network with potential book buyers as well as writers.

My favourite blog is by American literary agent Nathan Bransford. He posts on average twice a week. One entry is usually about what has happened in the publishing and literary agent world over the past week, while the second post is usually about some issue in writing or publishing he puts up for discussion.

So, from now on, I will attempt to write two posts a week on this blog. One will review books discuss science-fiction and the future while other will continue my personal writing saga. I hope to still appeal to other writers who are unpublished and get their feedback as well as open up the blog to potential readers of my, as yet unpublished novels.


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