Last post for the summer

by Yule Heibel on July 31, 2005

It’s almost August. I’m waiting with bated breath for Maria to post a follow up on her attendance at Bloghercon this weekend, wondering if any new perspectives really emerged from the conference. (And I see that Maria has posted her account here!) Otherwise, I’m getting ready to go on a pixel-diet of sorts, since August is traditionally a vacation month and I, too, plan on taking time off from routine.

About the list of blogs and sites that refer to e-learning issues, which I thought I’d write and post here: I decided that there isn’t really going to be any value in posting this list, especially since many of the sites simply repeat links found elsewhere, without necessarily adding commentary or analysis. I already referred to the ones that did give me useful information in posts prior to this, so I’ll leave it at that. As more interesting entries come along, I’ll post them, August holiday excepted.

I’m rethinking my options, looking for a way to find/ generate income-producing work, and will try to put the writing of blog posts (as well as the reading of them) on the back burner — in favour of reflection, other projects, and taking time to enjoy the grandiose, gentle, blissfully temperate summer we are privileged to enjoy here on the West Coast. At the same time, since this blogging business is a highly addictive passion, I’m not so sure I can do without my blogly friends for long. Part of this weekend, which I already intended to spend offline, was instead spent reading and sometimes commenting on Shelley’s Burningbird, here at To Google, Pregnancy is Evil, as well as her Follow-Up to When We are Needed, which was a follow-up, logically enough, to When We are Needed. Another blog-related bit of commenting took place in my own space, here in the July 27 entry in response to a comment by an old friend with whom I was at Harvard. She pointed me to a new project undertaken by our erstwhile thesis advisor, and my response was anything but casual. That particular post already had a speculative postscript of sorts which diverged considerably from the original starting point, and adding in the comments thread, it’s now a real coat of many colours. Call me Joe. I did get some things worked out and articulated, though, and that’s what keeps me interested.

When I do this sort of connecting, conversing with different voices out there, I feel very energised, and much differently charged than when I’m writing some piece destined for a file somewhere. Perhaps it’s the sense of immediacy in the voices and the conversations. At the same time, there are vastly different perspectives on blogging and writing (and whether the two have much in common) that are hard to dismiss. The following passage is from a May 30, 2003 email that a high-ranking features editor at a very glossy New York City based magazine sent me. She had at one time shown interest in a story I sent to her magazine in 2000 and I briefly reconnected with her after I started blogging, admittedly because I wanted to keep the door to her office at least ajar. In my email to her, I mentioned that I had started blogging. She wrote back:

Not that you asked me, but when l looked into the Harvard blogging sites, I formed the (admittedly hasty) impression that these efforts have no more connection with serious writing than a good phone conversation or a chatty e-mail. “Real” writing is the creation of a complete, organized work–even a 350-word journalistic sketch. I could be wrong, but I think blogging is merely fun, and a postponement of writing. Joining a workshop or taking a course would be more helpful in my view. You would be more likely to finish a piece, instead of making a daily random hit.

I don’t know if that door is in any sense still ajar, because I’m not in a mood to look. As is obvious from my saving of her email, I never forgot this dismissive summation, and it haunts me because I can’t, for the life of me, see the difference between some of the well-written blog posts out there and anything that’s put in the “lifestyles” or “arts and culture” section of any magazine. With some blog posts, I can’t even see the difference between them and the seriously vetted articles published by so-called high-brow journals. Still, the remark haunts me because it suggests that there is an insurmountable barrier between writing for the love of writing and speculating and thinking out loud vs writing for a cheque. The latter seems somehow cut off from doing it for the love of it, and I find that troubling. I admit that I am terrified of writing on demand, even though I know I can do it as easily as passing water.

Maybe Freud was right and potty-training does leave traumatic scars. (joke…)

At any rate, today is July 31 and this August is going to be a time off for me. If there’s anything really great out there I should read, send me email (click on my name at the bottom of each entry and it takes you to a page with a little envelope icon. Alternately, just click here… I hope everyone has a great summer (or winter, for those of you “down under”!).


maria July 31, 2005 at 10:20 pm

I hope this catches you before your “break”! Just wanted to wish you lots of productive writing and to let you know that I think I have an inkling of what you are going through with the questions you raise about writing.

I wish I could report back that the BlogHer conference blew the doors of possibility for blog writing wide open, but then, you read my post already.

Had that editor who wrote to you some years ago had a chance to come to BlogHer now, I believe she would have to reconsider her words to you … though there is something in her observations that does echo the trouble I think both you and I are having with this medium. And that, I think, refers to the way we work as writers: slowly and with consideration over time — a process that doesn’t seem blog friendly at first. At least not the way in which the early adapters, the techies and A-listers defined what a blog is.

The great “service” of BlogHer, which I didn’t mention, is that it has cracked the door open to a redefinition of what constitutes “real” blogging. In the beggining, blogging belonged to the people who made the blogging tools … but now, it’s a user’s world in which the Internet and the blogging software is the writer’s tool. It’s another pencil, or lined notebook, or typewriter…

Blogs are here to stay. Unfortunately, the blogs that made it into (and still make it into) the traditional or old media, tend to be the ones written by pundits and techies, and not all of them are good writers. But they happened to be well promoted or hit on some current obssessions in the media. There are thousands of blogs out there, I believe, that are well written — in fact probably better written and more interesting than what that editor publishes, even now…But these blogger do not promote themselves (and here again, BlogHer might enbolden some of them to find ways to become more “visible”)

The best part of the BlogHer confernece was that this kind of quiet persistence in good blog writing was recognized and encouraged — no, make that taken for granted as part of the “blogosphere.” I am too fried from the whole event to wax poetic, or even coherently enough about it, but I just wanted to make the point that the conference really did serve as an opportunity for these types of bloggers to know that they are not alone and that people do value the traditions that these types of blogs are building … even if the project, or the “edifice” has barely left the planning stages and the ground-breaking ceremony.

On the other hand, much like you, I feel that to produce a certain kind of work, I would benefit from taking a hiatus form the blog … unless, of course, I could find a way of making money thorugh my blogging experience (and there are opportunities out there … but more about that later and in an email to you!)

Have a productive break!

Anonymous September 16, 2005 at 10:10 am

Your site is realy very interesting!

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