Sunday, February 17, 2008

On Hermes in the Blogosphere

Blogging has transformed the world of the writer.

Nowadays a writer, someone who likes writing and wants to write, not just someone who’s been accorded or has accorded themselves the sociological role of ‘Writer’, can access, potentially at least, a very wide, international readership far more easily than at any time in the past. Indeed, because his productions are free he might, theoretically at least, be read even more widely than ever since readers are not discouraged by having to pay or to traipse to the library.

Naturally, some who read only when the author is deemed ‘distinguished’ enough to wear his thoughts in a book will not be impressed by blogs. Well, except perhaps by blogs written by the same distinguished authors, struggling to forestall the possibly negative consequences of their not keeping up with the game by not turning virtual. Some readers, moreover, are averse to the screen. They like the feeling of a book in their hands, in a café over coffee, on the train, in the lavatory, in the bath. Indeed, I can sympathise. I am one of these fellows. Indeed, I am even more sympathetic to the book given that I don’t have a printer. But that’s a point. All you need do is print, and then bind as you like.

Yet, despite these readership resistances to the march of the blogosphere, to which might be added that a great deal of what is highly excellent is still restricted to the book world, I think it’s increasingly evident that blogging has transformed the possibilities for the writer.

For the writer, things can look very rosy indeed. Not only does he no longer have to traverse the obstacle course and trials-by-rejection of the overwhelmed, highly mercantile publishing industry, he doesn’t have to restrict himself to specifically targeted readers, be they friends or like-minded souls, by envelope, or more recently, email or discussion group. He can just declare himself to the world; in a space all his own - a space not imposing itself on another, excluding none other from their place in the sun - and send people a link. He might also be read by ‘discovery’, by readers stumbling upon, or being directed to him by recommendation.

The removal of publishing-space scarcity leads to the added blessing that even if a writer is not paid for his efforts he is nevertheless not required to humiliate himself, as had formerly happened through Vanity publishing when in the desperate wake of the publishers’ failure to accommodate him he had to pay for the privilege of being read in an inverse action to what should happen.

I myself very much like the fact that neither I in my composition nor you in your reading have to part with or receive money. It speaks of a spiritual cleanliness, a purity, in which I am free of your claims upon me as someone not providing what you paid for; and in which you are free of the feeling that you can only read what I write if you’re a certain kind of person, able or willing to pay.

Surprisingly enough, this does not mean I wouldn’t accept money for writing. This might seem to contradict what I’ve just written. The fact that I, as do we all, in a collective condition of acute obnoxiousness, need money, is what leads me to be a TEFL teacher; and TEFL is a profession which, though ethically respectable enough, and allowing teachers an acceptable degree of existential authenticity - it being a wallet destroying, as opposed to a soul destroying profession - is not a profession which reliably excites me.

As to how to make money from writing, this remains to be seen. Any ideas? It could be that I am just not a ‘good writer’, whatever that means, and am misguided to think that I am.

And no, that was not me fishing for compliments.

In any case, what is true is that I enjoy writing and that, for me at least, is enough.

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