Should authors write literary blogs?

Years ago, in another life, before children, I asked Paul Theroux if he would write (for a princely sum) an introduction to a magazine I was publishing for the World Bank. He was very efficient and business-like (some might say prickly, or even snooty) in his communications about the project, and he produced a thoughtful 1000 word piece in a short space of time.

So I had to smile, when doing research for my blog, I came across this quote from him, in 2011:

“I think “blog-like” is a disparaging term. I loathe blogs when I look at them. Blogs look to me illiterate, they look hasty, like someone babbling. To me writing is a considered act. It’s something which is a great labor of thought and consideration. A blog doesn’t seem to have any literary merit at all. It’s a chatty account of things that have happened to that particular person.”

I do love his books, but really – what a snob! He’s missing the point entirely and exposing his lack of understanding of the blogosphere. Hasn’t he heard that the publishing industry is not exactly a private gentleman’s club anymore? We’re banging on the doors, and more people are being let in. (Incidentally, I’m happy that 2014 has been declared ‘Year of Reading Women’ but crumbs! How depressing that reviews written, and books reviewed, are dominated by male writers.)

Should author’s write just literary blogs? People write blogs for all sorts of different reasons. The internet has democratized getting all sorts of voices heard. No matter who you are. No matter what your background. Who says author blogs should be ‘literary’? It’s up to the reader to like or dislike. To read or not to read.

By pure co-incidence, a blog from Kirsten Lamb popped into my RSS feed, in which she argues that authors are not necessarily experts in teaching the craft and that readers are interested in how writers explain the world around us with new eyes.

“Craft, the industry, our process, our research are our tools for our art, but they ARE NOT our art. Readers, or potential readers ARE NOT interested in the tools of our trade, rather they want to see how we USE those tools.”

Note that she doesn’t say that authors should write literary blogs.

She gives some great examples of creativity, via Amazon reviews, which made me laugh out loud. I especially liked How to Avoid Huge Ships.

“As the father of two teenagers, I found this book invaluable. I’m sure other parents here can empathize when I say I shudder at the thought of the increasing presence of huge ships in the lives my children. I certainly remember the strain I caused so long ago for my own parents when I began experimenting with huge ships.”

Do take a five minute break and check out

The wit! The craftsmanship! The sheer thrill! The inventiveness!

Creativity of writers can be found anywhere. Blogs don’t need to be literary, but they do need to show that a writer can write, illuminate, excite, entertain, be inventive – a reflection of their style and content.

I’m not expecting to read a novel when I’m reading a blog. So sorry Mr Theroux. I don’t think a blog should be literary, unless of course the author wants to write it like that.

What kind of blogs do you like reading? Drop me a line – I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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