Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Cassandra's Apologia: An Argument for Blogging

Nearly four years ago, I was working on a novel contest for White Wolf, and wanted to name one of my principal characters Cassandra, as she was someone who told the truth, but was not believed. But I wasn't sure of the Cassandra legend. I did a Google search, and found The cassandra pages, which not only gave me a brief summary of the legend, but introduced me to the world of blogging. In those days, it seemed, almost everyone was blogging. I was extremely lucky that the first blog I read was beautifully written and always insightful. And through the cassandra pages, written by Beth Adams, I met some other wonderful people, including Peter, of slow reads, and Patry Francis, of simply wait. I began this blog in large part because of my serendipitous discovery of Beth's.

But as Beth points out in a post marking the sixth anniverary of her blog, many of us have tired of blogging, or have spent more of our time on social networking sites, such as MySpace or Facebook. I have a Facebook page, and I enjoy being able to connect with friends and relatives on it. But the Facebook medium is one which promotes brief quips--epigrams, if you like. But it isn't conducive to kind of writing exemplified by Beth, Peter, Patry, and others. The kind of writing that makes you reconsider your own views.

I commented on her blog that I found that my best writing outside the blog was done while I was actively blogging. She replied in an e-mail to me:

I think blogging is a way of keeping in shape, so to speak. Journal-writing was like that for me too. If you keep exercising the writing muscles, then they're there both when you need a quick burst, or to make an endurance run. It's the same for me with music practice - when I let it go for days or weeks, it's so much harder to get back into it.

I'm hoping that in this case, Beth is not a Cassandra, and thoughtful blogging will not diminish on the Web.


Lisa said...

You've zeroed in on something I've been thinking about quite a bit lately. My blogging has slowed down considerably, but in part because I wanted it to be more thoughtful -- I wanted to sacrifice quantity for quality.

However; I do believe that online interaction on other more abbreviated social networking sites -- in my case, Facebook is the medium of choice -- that need to connect is met somewhat, but to your point, it's not entirely satisfying.

I've noticed that the bloggers who do write the more thoughtful posts seem to still be at it. Blogs where there were much more frequent, but brief posts have slowed down or quit.

This may be a natural evolution...

Charles Gramlich said...

I've found blogging to be a real boon for my nonfiction because it makes me come up with topics to cover. I don't think it's been as good for my fiction.

Olivia said...

I don't plan to quit blogging for a long time yet. I love doing it because I no longer keep a journal, and yet it's a richer kind of writing than the short fact-capturing of a daily journal.

I guess along the lines of what Lisa said, blogging has been left to the more thoughtful writers thereby making it a richer ground.

Oh I said "richer" twice....hm.

steve on the slow train said...

Lisa--Some of them have, though Teju Cole, who wrote some amazing prose in "The Vernacular Body," stopped blogging, though several of his writings are on the Web. I suspect that reports of the decline of blogging have been slightly exaggerated, but if Beth is concerned, so am I.

Charles--I can see that. Since my fiction is historical, it has helped me.

Olivia--Checking back for repeated words is a sign that you're a writer. I'm glad you plan to keep blogging for a long time. I'd miss you.

Tea N. Crumpet said...

Ropi has stopped blogging and the world is less happy without him.

Olivia said...

Hehe, obviously that job I applied for suits me!

If you ever make a mistake I *will* point it out. :)

steve on the slow train said...

Tea-I'm sorry Ropi stopped blogging. He could be insensitive--he got a lot of negative feedback for his comments on Obama--but he's in high school. I was arrogant when I was his age. He does have a real flair for history.

Olivia--I've noticed that you use that formal distinction between will and shall in the future tense: will in the second and third person and shall in the first person, except for emphasis, where it's the other way around. Not too many people make that distinction anymore.

Olivia said...

Really?! I hadn't noticed! I can be quite quaint I suppose :)

I do know I often start an action question with, "Shall I ... ?"

Now you'll have me conscious of it next time, I bet!

Rosina Lippi said...

I found my way here via Eudemonia after reading your interesting comment to her post on what she (or anybody) wants from a book. This happened right as I was considering what to post about today, so many thanks for the inspiration.

SzélsőFa said...

I was also surprised to not find Ropi in the blogosphere anymore.

I too, find reading other people's thoughful blogposts a most inspiring activity.
I blog for monitoring my own thougths and for seeking feedback. Although I sometimes define myself as a loner, I seek inspiring connections from every possible direction.
Recently, I've been away from a while - no wonder I've lost many readers. I am thankful for you Steve for still visiting my site every once in a while and share your thoughts on my ideas and grammar mistakes ... :s

Don't you worry about commenting on my English: you are doing it in a most polite and helpful way.

SzélsőFa said...

ok, *sharing*, not share

(this was a sentence I wrote, checked, rewrote, but forgot to adjust the verbs)

steve on the slow train said...

Olivia--You aren't consistent in that pattern, but you use shall in the first person much more often than most Americans. It's something I noticed, mainly because as the heroine of my novel(in progress) follows it. (She also does not use contractions and never calls people by nicknames. The idea is that she follows her late mother's example, whose first language was Gujurati, and who thus learned a very formal English.)

Rosina--Welcome, and thank you for your comment. I noticed you just started your blog. I'll be looking in on it. The list of books you've written is impressive. I've been listening to several courses by Michael D.C. Drout in the Modern Scholar series, so I'm fascinated by linguistics.

Szelsofa--In general, your English is better than that of most Americans. Thank you for encouraging me to comment on your English. There are so many differnt rules. You've got a West Germanic language changed by the Viking invasions (North Germanic), the Norman Conquest (French), and Church Latin, along with various other admixtures along the way. It's got to be difficult.

steve on the slow train said...

Rosina--I linked to your dollmaking blog. I just found your main website through Eudaemonia. Thnk you for the mention!

Rosina Lippi said...

steve - oi, the artdoll blog. I have to do something with that. The real blog is at rosinalippi.com/weblog -- as I see you've now sussed. I wish blogger would let me point to the real blog. Anyway, thank you for the welcome, and sorry for the confusion.

SzélsőFa said...

You've got a West Germanic language changed by the Viking invasions (North Germanic), the Norman Conquest (French), and Church Latin, along with various other admixtures along the way.

Excuse me?
You must be referring to the English language...
The Hungarian language comes from a long way with influences ranging from Turkish and Mongolian to Finnish, and yes, in recent times by Latin, German and various Slav ones, too.
Ours is definitely not a western-type language.

I'm sure I misinterpret your words cited above. You can't be saying Hungarian is of western-origin.

Anonymous said...

I'm blogging away, and am glad when I'm peering around to find so many familiar bloggers still at it, and to occasionally find a new one I enjoy.

steve on the slow train said...

Rosina--I'm not sure whether Blogger
will let you refrence a non-Blogger blog. Gerry, of twoblueday, had the same problem.

Szelsofa--I did mean the English language. I used "you" in a general sense, which the online "Your Dictionary" defines in the second meaning:

"any person: equivalent in sense to indefinite 'one.' [Example:] you can never be sure!"

Gerry--I'm glad you plan to keep blogging.

SzélsőFa said...

Aw, thanks for making it clear!

Elizabeth said...

Having only blogged for nine months or so, I'm still new to it all. However, what I have noticed is that it's like exercising--I am more observant during my day, more mindful of things. If I write daily, I am more productive with my "other" writing -- ideas germinate, etc. I am hooked on others as well and am still not sure whether this is a time suck or not. I think NOT. Never have I felt so stimulated and excited as I do of late, knowing that I can read some really great writing daily. Andrew Sullivan has written some wonderful odes to blogging that are particularly resonant.

steve on the slow train said...

"Never have I felt so stimulated and excited as I do of late, knowing that I can read some really great writing daily."

I agree--it's one thing that's kept me blogging. There's some fine writing on all the blogs I regularly read.