Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Blog Death

Now I have the hard evidence that I refused to seek out at any time over the past couple of years when I could have. No, I preferred to wait until the news came to me. And I move at such a slow and stately pace through the world of virtual culture, that I had not until this morning known about the post below, where Elif Batuman (a favorite young writer) explicitly gave up her blog in April 2012, not because she didn't enjoy it, not because it wasn't attractive and funny, but because  and here I will reprint her own comments

April 6th, 2012
It’s hard for me to convey how seriously my world was shaken by these lines from last Sunday’s NYTBR “In the List” roundup:
There was a time, three or four years ago, when it seemed every novelist had a blog, and why not? Blogging gave writers another way to reach readers, to promote their work or air their grievances or test their ideas in mini-essays that played to their strengths. But technology evolves, and despite some notable holdouts (Elif Batuman is one) Twitter has killed the blogging star. Now writers connect with their publics in 140 characters or fewer.

I had NO IDEA until I read it in the Times that writers had stopped keeping blogs!! Three or four years ago—that’s just when I started blogging! And now I’m one of the last ones left?? How did this happen?? When??

I became obsessed by the phrase “notable holdout.” “Notable holdout,” I kept thinking to myself. “Notable holdout.” Sometimes it sounded good; other times, not so good. I went through a long period of fruitless thinking. I looked up “holdout” in multiple dictionaries.  I wondered whether I would be worse at Twitter than Anne Lamott and, if so, how much worse. I took a break to check my email, and found 14 new spam comments posted to my notable-holdout blog by the latest Captcha resistant spambots, who have moved into the future and left me in the past. And, finally, I remembered Viktor Shklovsky’s immortal Third Factory:
It’s wrong to say: “The whole squad is out of step except for one ensign.” I want to speak with my time, to understand its voice. Right now, for example, it’s hard for me to write, because the normal length for an article will soon be reached.
But chance is crucial to art. The dimensions of a book have always been dictated to an author.

OK human history – I can take a hint. You can find me on Twitter@BananaKarenina, unburdening my heart according to the dimensions dictated by my time.

Once I had gotten started on the important life decisions, I also decided to shut down my Facebook “Author” page, although I’m leaving up my “personal” Facebook page. I will be tweeting (on Twitter) the newsy stuff I used to put on the Author page; Twitter is set to post automatically/ publicly to my “personal” FB page, so please feel free to subscribe. Those who use Facebook but not Twitter can see my Twitter posts on my Facebook page. To those notable holdouts who use neither Twitter nor Facebook, I hang my head and can only say, in the words of my late grandmother, “Hem bravo, hem pardon” (bravo, sorry).

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There are two main differences between Elif Batuman's abandoned blog and my anachronistically functioning one  hers was started by a young, already-famous person who is building her career with the characteristic suppleness and energy of the young and already-famous. She has a fan base to service, and why would she be picky about how that gets done? Me, on the other hand, I was old already and permanently-not-famous before I let my daughter coax me into setting up this site, and Spencer Alley is absolutely as far out on the technological limb as I am willing to venture. If Google pulls the plug on this format, I will relapse comfortably enough into silence, not into Twitter.