Blogging & Writing Are the Same Thing + Third Avenue Pictures

The Gowanus Canal at sunset. Pretty, but on Ninth Street, not Third Avenue.

Something sad happened recently.

Several blogs that I’ve been following for a long time stopped being blogs. It’s a bummer, because I have relied on them for hours and hours of quality procrastination. It’s not that they don’t still exist, it’s just that their owners have decided to make them metablogs. The single best thing about blogs is that you can make them be whatever you want. So I think it’s great if authors and their followers find blogs about blogging compelling; if questioning what it really means to blog is stimulating; if thinking about process is more important than focusing on outcomes; if putting content behind pay walls brings them financial security.

Hell, I would love nothing more than for this, what I’m doing right now, to be my main source of income. I don’t ever, ever see it happening, but I sure wouldn’t say no.

I live very close to Third Avenue, but I always wonder what it would be like to live *on* it. Loud, I imagine.

I don’t think any way of blogging is more legitimate than any other, but blogs about blogging don’t speak to me and that’s not what I want mine to be (even though, shit, that’s what this post is; I promise it will never happen again).

To me, it’s the difference between being a novelist and a literary critic or reading about exercising and going for a walk. The questioning, the theorizing, certainly has its place. For me, too. I spend enormous amounts of time watching movies and then writing about them. I don’t make movies and I don’t want to. I prefer to write about them. So it’s probably the same for these people.

Even though my sense of loss has been real, if minor, the conversation that was initiated has been good, because it’s made me seriously consider some things I wouldn’t have otherwise.

The most interesting question that’s come up has been the difference between writing and blogging. I was shocked that people found so many distinctions. I don’t get any of them. I realized that if I were to subscribe to these, it would be a way of letting myself off the hook, of making things easier for myself. Mostly because writing is my thing and it always has been. Maybe that right there is why I now find myself alienated from people who I’ve admired for so long. Because they’ve never professed to be writers so much as unconventional media consultants and bohemian marketing strategists. (Eventually, no matter how bohemian your strategy is, maybe the market sucks you in?)

Third Avenue and Ninth Street, with the elevated F train trestle

But I want to go back to what I said before, about how I prefer to write about movies, but wouldn’t want to make one. Why is this? I think it’s probably because it’s easier. For years, I considered being a professional academic; analyzing post-colonial literature for the rest of my days sounded like the best thing ever. But then I realized that the root of this desire was laziness. Because as difficult as it would be to write a dissertation on one of the longest novels ever published, it would be way harder to write my own (short, crappy) novel, one that would then be criticized. So maybe I’m projecting, but I think it’s possible that part of my resistance to blogs about blogging is that I think it’s lazy.

Scarlino Bros. Fuel

I definitely get it: It’s always easier to react than create. Questioning is easier than committing. For me, writing this post is a lot easier than the one I had planned on writing (about institutionalized sexism in the film industry). And that post, which I’ll hopefully write tomorrow, is a lot easier than going on the record about…all of the stuff, the things I find heartbreaking or beautiful or annoying or inspiring. Because that’s when you start asking, “Will they hate it? Did I say too much? Will people think I’m wrong?” That’s the risk. But if blogging as a medium is going to stick around, I think it’s an essential risk, because it’s one that every other medium has taken. Why should this be any different?

View the in-progress set of Third Avenue pictures.

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2 Responses to Blogging & Writing Are the Same Thing + Third Avenue Pictures

  1. Erin Machell says:

    Since I haven’t been reading the blogs you reference or their discussions, I may be rehashing and/or on a totally unrelated topic and/or just stating the obvious here. But while blogs don’t seem in any way distinct *from* writing, they do seem like a distinct subset *of* writing, no? Like the difference between a journal and an online journal – people who put them online do so for a reason, people who don’t also for a reason, and presumably the content would change depending on whether it was intended for broad consumption or not. But writing for an audience is always different than writing for self I would think, and writing for an audience in a way that could in theory be found by just about anyone – self-*publishing* in such widely available way, seems distinct as well.

  2. I think the difference is the same as writing a cookbook or writing a movie review. They are just different. And I think the inherent difference lies more in the expectations of the medium and, as you said, whether it’s intended for a large or small audience, since blogs can be on an infinite number of topics. But I definitely never half-ass a blog entry, when I do plenty of movie reviews (and I feel the exact same way about Roger Ebert–he never half-asses his blog, though sometimes I’m all, “Did he WATCH that movie?”), and I feel certain that it’s the most “real” writing that I do. I don’t know if I think it’s a different subset of writing or not. Like, magazine writing and biography and blog articles? Hmm…something to consider. But I do love any type of self-publishing, because each and every little zine, blog and book is one more chip out of the monolith of cultural hegemony.

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