Thursday, August 04, 2005

About blogging, writing, and seeing blog people

Through Steven Cohen's Library Stuff, I came across an article written by T. Scott Plutchak entitled "I see blog people." Mr. Plutchak is editor for the Journal of the Medical Library Association. The issue is 93.3 (July 2005): 305-307.

Mr. Plutchak opens the article telling about an author he read some time ago. He does not recall the name, but what is important is what the author argued. That writer argued that a writer needed to love language in order to be successful. The challenge for a writer was to narrow the gap between the image or idea of the mind and what is revealed in the text. It is, and as a humble writer I can attest to this, a complicated process.

Mr. Plutchak goes on to tell about his experience in making his own blog. He says, "what I liked best about doing my own blog was that it forced me to put down a complete thought or scene in a relatively short space. I found that I could manage about 700 to 800 words in a single sitting of a couple of hours, with lots of revision. Sometimes I wrote a few sentences that I thought were pretty good" (Emphasis in the original). He then writes about his observations from blogging and seeing others blogging. I have to say this: I often feel like I do a few good sentences rather than the large posts of 700 to 800 words, at least when I blog (you should see my personal journal is another story, that one I am free to go wild and write away). However, I do try to be thoughtful when writing for my blogs. In my experience, limited as it is, it is not always an easy balance between short quick items I just want to record and the longer reflective items that I often draft separately then post to the blog. This is where I make a little confession: I do a lot of my writing and drafting by hand. Yes, I actually use a pencil or pen (pencil preferred) and paper (*waits for readers to shudder or say "ooh ahh" HaHa!). Going back to the article, Mr. Plutchak's observations are made in a neutral tone and are insightful. Given the good share of prescriptivism about blogging out there, this type of article is nice.

Mr. Plutchak also provides a discussion about library and librarian blogs with the eye of an observer interested in learning and sharing that learning with readers. I think this is very cool, and something I aspire to: to learn and share it with others. Mr. Plutchak in addition reflects on Mr. Gorman's less than stellar remarks in a simple and plain way. Yet Mr. Plutchak is objective enough to point out to that the blogosphere is not perfect either. He writes:

"The people who may add a comment to a particular posting have, no doubt, a tendency to shoot from the hip, and the quickness to get something online results all too often in bloated prose and flabby thinking. Too few bloggers take the time to think about that tenuous connection between thought and writing--they are too much in love with their ideas and not enough with the language. But, with a little patience, one can find much that is rewarding reading."

I will admit that I can be guilty of shooting from the hip when I leave my little responses in other blogs. I don't think that is necessarily a bad thing; it is the nature of the blogosphere to be conversational, and "real" conversations, very often speakers will shoot from the hip. For me at least, I hope for civility in the dialogue. Sadly, some places in the blogosphere lack that civility. As for the posts to the blogs I keep, I try to put some effort into those. If people are patient enough to make it here, I think I should give them something good. So, if it means reworking a draft, I do it. In part, I am in love with the act of writing. I have been in that love affair since I discovered the power of writing in college and then as a teacher of writing. I connect writing with thinking because one is a tool for the other. Well, that is my philosophy. In practical terms, I am sometimes not as "timely" as the 'big leaguers," but I am going for good, not fast, or at least, not too fast. I am aware that part of blogging is being consistent, but I also strive for something with quality. I would be ashamed to put out something less than good. And yes, I know some people out there have no shame. In the end, all of this is part of the freedom the medium allows. Patience and thoughtfulness can be rewarding not only in seeking out what blogs to read as Mr. Plutchak writes. To that I add that patience and thoughtfulness can be rewarding in writing for your own blogs.

Overall, the article has a positive and optimistic attitude. It makes some excellent points to think about. This makes it a very worthy read for librarians and other bloggers.

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