Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The Collected Bloggings of A.N. Author

Been thinking (easy now) about blogs, blogging, and bloggers. More specifically, writers who blog. All bloggers are writers by definition, but there are a few who are also "authors of note".

Once upon a time, we looked at authors via a couple of sources: Their Works (novels, plays, poems, etc); their collected letters; their diaries; and published interviews. Some authors write some great Works, but if you want to really get them best of them, you have to go to the less formal scribblings and outpourings.

But now that's all changed. Because we have these blog things.

Authors who blog are going to share a lot more of themselves with the world, on a much more regular basis, and with little or no delay whatsoever. Back in the day, you often had to wait until the guy popped his clogs before you could see his letters and find out what he was really about. But now you get it in real time. You can read the novel one minute, click on the blog the next, finding out what A.N. Author had for dinner last night. A bit confusing, no? Fiction on one hand, fact on the other. All of it going into your brain at once...

Look at Neil Gaiman. As far as I know (and I probably don't know very far), he is the most high profile author who has a regular blog. He posts a hell of a lot there on his blog, telling you about his world travels, different projects, sexual peccadilloes, cultural interests, family stuff etc. (Did I say "sexual peccadilloes"? I meant "menstrual armadilloes".) (Did I say "menstrual armadilloes"? I meant, of course "letters from readers". Jesus, you've got a sick mind.) Anyway, you get to know a lot more about Neil Gaiman.

This means, of course, that he can no longer be the mysterious creator of the strange, fantastical stuff he puts out. We never really believed he lived in a garret in the middle of a forest, writing by night with a feather quill on parchment. But, without the blog, any lingering doubt is removed. On the other hand, if the Work is all that you see of an author, the mystery remains.

But does that help? Does "the mystery" add to the enjoyment of an author's Work?

Now look at Magnus Mills. He has published four great novels, and a couple of short story collections. Elsewhere, there are few cursory interviews, and a lot of hype at the beginning of his career, with all the "bus driver gets huge advance, longlisted for Booker" malarkey. He has no web site that I know of, definitely no blog, and you don't really get much of him in the media. (There are hundreds of authors this applies to, but I'm only picking on the authors I like mostest.) Sometimes I wish he did a blog, or had a website with some more (non-fic) material on it. His novels seem to come from such a strange place, I want to know more about it. But would it really add to the reading of them, knowing that he's doing a book signing at Burnley Waterstones on July 15th, and it would be great if you turned up?

No, it wouldn't.

It wouldn't help if he went on at length about his influences and interests either, or what film he saw last night. The work stands alone. And do you know what? I think blogs, websites, and maintaining any kind of high media profile probably takes away from it.

Nevertheless, I find myself sitting here, doing a blog. Hmm............

OK, here's my conclusion... (Because we need closure, right?) You have blogs, and you have books. They are two separate things. Some are great authors, some are great bloggers. Sometimes you have both. And sometimes you have a great author who is also a great bricklayer. Does his bricklaying add or subtract from his writing? No. Does it have anything to do with it? Not really.

Then again, I bet Neil Gaiman builds some mind-boggling walls, when he gets the old cement and trowel out.


Gav's Studio said...

Maybe we should all stop blogging, get off the net, and pick up a book?

Charlie Williams said...

I dunno... I look at a few blogs and sites, then I read a book, do a bit of writing. The two things are not mutually exclusive. The other thing about blogging (for a writer) is that it scratches the itches that don't get scratched in your fiction. But you could end up with a mesy, scandalous blog, if you took this too far.

Actually what I wanted to say when I started this post was that we can find out a lot more about an author, with the advent of blogs. The academic of the future, say, will have fewer "letter" to slog through, and a lot of online archived blogging. Hey - what about emails? I feel another (v.short - I'm rushed) blog...

Cheers Gav's studio.

Jozef Imrich, Esq. said...

If you want to know what God thinks of power and money, just look at the people he gave it to.
-Dorothy Parker

Look at all those who have blogs ;-)

It has been said you can live your life one of two ways. The first is through trial & error, and the second is through other people's experiences. Bloggers tend to come from the second camp and I applaud them for sharing with the rest of us all the pleasures and pains life bestowed on them....

Gav's Studio said...

Did people ever send trivial letters? I wonder if we can archive text messages? Now that might make some interesting reading.

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