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December 16, 2006


"A larger, contained project like a book requires solitude and single-minded focus with no instant gratification such a blogging provides."

I don't see why you can't eat that particularly cake and have it too, Beth. You just have to be willing to push your readers a bit. Probably lose some of them in the process, when their eyes glaze over from the steady stream of words.

But why, exactly, can't "The Right Thing" (your recent long series) be part of a book project. I simply don't think the binary division between "blogging" and "writing literature" exists anymore. I know it doesn't for me. And I wouldn't even say Pamuk's 500 words cost him more than mine cost me. It's the one who wears the shoes that knows where they pinch.

You're an exception, Teju, along with some others who put a great deal of effort into their words, regardless of the medium. I certainly do. Agree about Pamuk - I certainly don't mean that all bloggers are tossing off their posts without sweating as much as any serious writer. All I'm saying here is that even with that large effort, the work I write here isn't what I consider to be "finished," and I need to find a way to push myself to go that extra mile or ten. Maybe it can be for my blog - I'm just not sure if I want to expend that effort for something that has a two-minute lifetime. It's the torrential blog-stream that increasingly discourages me; the churning, the swept-downstream aspect of it, too fast to stop and see what's on the shore. But I am definitely going to do what you're suggesting, and what you do on your own blog: challenge the readers and myself more.

I've never attempted a book before, so I'm not able to compare the effort that goes into both.

However, I tend to devote two or three hours to every entry I make, whether it be merely photographs or discussions of poems or books I've read.

The result has been nearly a 1,000 visitors a day, often people looking up entries I wrote so long ago that I'm surprised by them when I happen to re-read them. As an ex-highschool teacher who taught research writing, I always felt that there ought to be more substantial work on the net so that students or self-learners have access to quality ideas on a variety of subjects.

Loren, I really appreciate this comment, especially what you say about the need for substantive work on the internet. Thank you.

Beth, I agree with you about the torrential aspect of this blog-life. Posts and posts and posts, in a steady stream, but who's paying attention? I often wonder that myself.

But, on the flip-side, I think it is possible to command the attention of a few people. You certainly do so here, on this blog. The attentiveness of your readers comes from a series of decisions you're made as a blogger--the language (i.e. the tone of voice), the design, the photos, the length of posts or sentences, the frequency of posting, yea, even unto the very font size--decisions that all add up to a particular environment in which (some) people feel at home. That's the only way, after all, to slow down the torrent: by providing respose.

And it's a constant struggle not to give in and become like the instapundits.

I believe Orhan Pamuk is divorced. There's no easy way. And no way to give up if it's what you need to do. Your writing about this is very helpful and inspiring and thought-provoking. I've always wanted to write and not done it. Don't think it's ever too late. But certainly the later it gets the fewer illusions it is possible to have about the price.

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Who was Cassandra?

  • In the Iliad, she is described as the loveliest of the daughters of Priam (King of Troy), and gifted with prophecy. The god Apollo loved her, but she spurned him. As a punishment, he decreed that no one would ever believe her. So when she told her fellow Trojans that the Greeks were hiding inside the wooden horse...well, you know what happened.