writers with blogs

In relation to the previous post, and as a result of Jeff Jarvis' discussion, a quick look across the Irish blogosphere shows up quite a few Irish writers using blogs to write about both work, life and everything else. Have blogs and email replaced the traditional literary letters? (NYT seems to think so) How much are writers willing to collaborate with audiences online?

Any input/ideas and opinions from writers, bloggers and readers are welcome. (I am linking to a few writers on the Blogosphere here but there are many more I have missed)

White House Poets   Shitty First Draft
Desmond Swords    Robert Bruce
Alice Lyons              Paul Sweeney
Sean Lysaght          Barbara Smith
Peter Sirr                Pat Boran
Micheal Begnal         Lorraine McArdle
That Girl                 John Scalzi
Onyeka George       Jane Holland
Bookish                 Selection of Poetry
Kevin Doran           C.Dale Young
Seth Ambramson
Lane Smith             Tuppenceworth.ie
Seth Godin             Eoin Purcell

The conversation surrounding this topic has been interesting, and conflicting in places. Barbara Smith summarised one aspect of the argument as 'boiling down to the difference between hard copy and soft copy'. The conflict between traditional publishing and the web is only one, and possibly the first, step in successful online publishing. There are a number of other questions arising from using the internet, such as the changing relationship between an author and audience and the changes that writing online has on writing methods.

All of the writers/bloggers/readers that have contributed so far have been fairly conservative about moving away from print entirely. American Poet, Robert Bruce hopes that his blog will bring enough of a readership to help him move into print when he approaches a publisher.

"…if, in 2 or 3 years I approach a publisher with my regular readership of around 100,000 folks a month (or more), said publisher will most likely be more inclined to take a glance at my stuff. You see, I’ve done all the marketing, footwork, and building for them.

…a blog does not replace real publishing. What it does is intensify the publishing world and shakes it out of a deep and selfish slumber."

The validity of self-publishing on the Internet is also brought to contention, as both Lorraine McArdle and Micheal Begnal dispute how successful self-publishing can be. The absence of an editor, and with no restriction on content, allows anyone/anything to be published and does not allow for any objective view to the content before it is published. Begnal adds,

"…if you get yourself in a literary magazine, or if you’re very lucky, a real book, that means that at least one person besides you thinks your work is worth something, and more often than not, that person knows their stuff (if they’ve found themselves editing a “respected” journal)."

Going further, Begnal also questions the validity of the medium and questions whether or not an audience takes a blog/website as seriously as a book? As much as writers' are unwilling to move away from print and use the Internet only to compliment their work, how far is the reader willing to move?

Eoin Purcell (via his blog) adds his voice and has experienced the change in publishing and a new departure in writer/publisher marketing relationships. 

"…A writer of a soon to be released Dublin Archaeology book approached us with an amazing idea, a wonderful website which acts a showcase and bundles of passion. What was more his website has over 100,000 unique visitors a month. Most publishers would have ignored the topic as being slightly off track, but as we have some experience with it and we liked the additional revenues of worldwide web sales, we will publish his book in October as the first of several."

Any replies will be posted up here – let me know if there is anyone I miss out on.


27 Responses to “writers with blogs”

  1. 1 Paul Sweeney May 30, 2006 at 10:53 am

    Just thought you might like to know that I also have a “poetry focused blog”. Its aim is to bring more of the some of the lesser known contemporary american and irish poetry to peoples attention. http://sweeneypoetry.blogspot.com

  2. 2 Barbara Smith May 30, 2006 at 11:21 am

    Thought provoking item, thanks for inviting me over here :¬)

    The blogosphere is definitely catching on with writers, especially here in Ireland. It seems to be those writers of a certain technically mobile age and downwards, if you know what I mean.

    For me, the reason why I like blogging, is that I feel connected into a wider writing world: I don’t get opportunities to get to Dublin, Cork, Galway or Limerick to meet and mingle with real people, so I’m building a framework of virtual connections, which helps me see what is going on in the writing world, and beyond Ireland too. I really like the possibilites it has opened up for me, even just in terms of contact – I’m more aware now of what’s going on.

    Blogging itself is like a private diary, except it’s public! A paradox indeed. You can, I suppose, create a sort of web-persona: one with more wit (because you have time to edit etc), style, etc. In this, it is no different to the way you might be in real life – you craft different personas for different stituations.

    I like blogging for the discipline it gives me. I like the pieces that I write to have a point and to reflect some truthful aspect of me, I guess. Blogging could be said to reflect an egotistical yearning too- look at most blogs and you will see ‘I’ quite a lot. Perhaps it fulfils a need to replace the confessional without anyone else taking the burden of the sins ;¬) It’s also a great way of bragging about things that you’ve done or achieved – nothing wrong with that: some people are way too modest about what they do.

  3. 3 pb. May 30, 2006 at 12:02 pm

    Lorraine McArdle sent me a reply via email which gives an interesting point about her ‘unpublishablility’ and the desire to be in print.

    I use my blog as an outlet for my writing that is more ‘fringe’ and doesn’t have a natural slot in mainstream publications. In short, I suppose you could call it the ‘unpublishable’ or unlikely to be published stuff – however I still feel it is entertaining enough to share.

    In terms of my more serious writing – I reserve this for competitions and magazines. While the blog is a good outlet it is still what would be considered ‘self publishing’ and as a writer we all want to get recognised from a more objective source than this.

    Online publication may complement more traditional publication mediums and getting your stuff out there but I doubt it will ever replace the desire to see your work in hard copy print.

  4. 4 pb. May 30, 2006 at 12:08 pm

    Paul – thanks for joining the conversation, would really be interested to read your views on reader/writer blog relatiosnhips.

    Barbara – you are more than welcome. I like your feeling of greater connectivity as a result of blogging, the virtual connection. It is also an interesting idea, that you develop an online persona and interact as a variation of yourself with others online. The idea of developing connections and sharing ideas with people you have never physically met, where you can edit/remove what you say and approach these interactions with a different manner than you would in person. How much does the virtual persona influence the reality? 

  5. 5 PaulSweeney May 30, 2006 at 1:18 pm

    Actually, more and more of the “serious online poets” are asking what this blogging thing is all about, and if they should do this at all (i.e. C. Dale Young). One of the most useful things I find about bloggs in general is that they alert you to writers that may not get enough coverage, or decent reviews. I’ve now bought nearly a hundred poetry books based on the recommendations of “intelligent commentators”. Now and then interest in a poet “flares up” because of some intelligent conversation in the blogsphere. There are also intelligent and extended close reading of poems. In terms of “co-production” or quazi-collaborative efforts I think that this is probably more dangerous than helpful. However, finding people that are capable and willing to help you tease out some implications of your work is valuable. From a writing development point of view, there is still no substitute (in my opinion) to having a mentor who is themselves a writer. I have found the influence of Ciaran O’Dryscoll, Joe Slade, Mark Whelan and to my work to have been subtle, but important.

  6. 6 pb. May 30, 2006 at 2:06 pm

    The idea of the web being complimentary to print seems to the most widely held view – the goal for a writer is still to be published. Could this change? If a writer (like several bloggers, journalists, etc.) could make enough money through their website to support themselves could the web become the primary outlet and print become complimentary?

    Lorraine's reserving her more serious work for print, which doesn't allow for as much an online insight to her work but gives her an outlet to present work that would not be seen otherwise. The self-publication taboo also raises its head, does work published on a website/blog have less legitamacy to it?

    Web-publishing and internet access is not accessible, or desired, by everyone and certainly a large number of people in Ireland (be it due to age or otherwise) do not spend much time online. Barbara mentioned that blogging is being increasingly picked up by Irish writers, but only those of 'a certain technically mobile age and downwards'.

    Much like those untechnically mobile writers that can't imagine themselves blogging, perhaps new writers will soon be unable to see themselves without a URL, a blog and a web-publication.

  7. 7 Barbara Smith May 30, 2006 at 3:05 pm

    pb says:
    “The idea of developing connections and sharing ideas with people you have never physically met, where you can edit/remove what you say and approach these interactions with a different manner than you would in person. How much does the virtual persona influence the reality?”

    Well, with myself, I hope it’s not too much! I think there is a lot to be said for the kernal of truth at the core of things, but I think that part of the writers craft comes out when you’re blogging: you always want to create something better than your last entry. It’s a little like poetry – you always want the next one to be much better than your last.

    As to the strand of the discussion regarding how the writer and reader might interact, I suppose a lot depends on how seriously committed to this medium one actually is. I like the informality of blogging and the immediacy of reactions, but I’m still relatively wary of putting work in progress up, or for collaborative efforts just yet. This might reflect more than a grain of reticence on my part, but I do understand how it could well be a thing of the future. Look at the success of non-blog Poetry websites like the Poetry Free For All (Google PFFA), which facilitate workshops on poetry being written by people from all over the world – and they give very good crit!

    The thing is that it depends on how much you value art. Some people think that to publish in book form, hard copy, has more value than to post it on a blog. In a way this reflects on the populist vs classicist argument and there is no way out of that debate really except to just argue your corner and try not to be too limited about your standpoint. I guess that that’s really where this debate might be comig from?

    I would affirm what Paul S. is saying too about the discovereis from the blogosphere – in my limited experience I have found that the simplest way to get connected is to connect!
    Oh, and to be discerning of course – but that only comes from being burned ;¬)

  8. 8 Robert Bruce May 30, 2006 at 3:34 pm

    The goal of being published traditionally is changing for me.

    If growth continues at the current pace, things will be at a point soon where my site will offer a wider reach than most publishers (certainly small presses) could offer. Not sure what this means exactly yet, I’m not too hot on the idea of setting up my own small press for instance, but it gives a person options only dreamed about before.

    When I fired up KGP, I had only one simple idea. To bring my stuff directly to an audience. No middle man. I was nauseated by the ego and in-games found in a lot of publishing. Usually goes something like this:

    1. You submit.

    2. You wait 3-9 months for a response.

    3. You are rejected by form letter or…

    4. You are accepted and published in a small but respected journal that (mostly) a few thousand academics may or may not read.

    5. You are supposed to be happy and grateful that your work has been treated in this manner.

    OK, I know this might be mildly inflammatory language, but I’ve found it to be generally true (yes, there are good publishers around…), and this is one reason why poetry is dying in the mind of Americans.

    People can’t find it. Regular folks (the ones we write for by the way) are not going to seek out a thin volume that can only be purchased in a specialty bookshop.

    On the web, I throw the thing directly to the wolves (a deeply affectionate term for my audience).

    And the wolves have no hesitation in either taking me in or eating me for lunch.

    I wouldn’t have it any other way. Its up to them.

    And, if in 2 or 5 years down the road I decide to put out a hardcopy book, in the process I will have built and hopefully earned my reader’s respect.

    Thanks for the contact, hope this helps….

  9. 9 Kevin Doran May 30, 2006 at 4:59 pm

    I’m half-Irish, or maybe fully Irish . . . i don’t really know.

    Nice one on the links, anyway.

  10. 10 pb. May 30, 2006 at 11:47 pm

    Kevin, you are more than welcome to add your voice to the discussion.

    Robert – I like the idea of building an audience using the web and the obvious respect between the writer and the online audience. It has become very easy for a reader to simply move on to the next website/blog/link and harder for a writer to maintain a sustained reader interest however. So where does that leave the writer?

    As the choice online becomes greater and the internet becomes an even more popular medium, authors must move with their readers and compete harder to reach an audience.

  11. 11 Mike Begnal May 31, 2006 at 3:19 am

    I would have to politely disagree somewhat with Robert Bruce’s comments, and agree somewhat with Lorraine McArdle’s. Yes, it is sometimes frustrating to deal with literary publishers and magazines. But if you give up on that, you enter the realm of vanity publishing, for which the internet has become one great big enabler. To me, that is the downside of the whole blogging thing. There is no real editing process, you do not get that outside take on your work. Of course, that take is completely subjective too, but nonetheless, if you get yourself in a literary magazine, or if you’re very lucky, a real book, that means that at least one person besides you thinks your work is worth something, and more often than not, that person knows their stuff (if they’ve found themselves editing a “respected” journal). Going through that process, dealing with the rejections and so on, toughens you up and gets you out of your delusions of grandeur. I think only when you HAVE experienced this process can you blog or self-publish with any credibility at all. So I would have to say that in my opinion Mr. Bruce is going at it backwards. The good thing about blogging and the internet is that, as he points out, there is a big audience out there, and an increased chance of being read. But I question whether even that audience takes a blog as seriously as a book, at least at this point in time. Possibly that is changing, though, and while I respect the democracy this implies, standards in quality and grammar are already noticably falling (if you don’t have an editor, who’s going to correct your spelling mistakes?– no one, apparently). And many blogs I find totally inane– people’s random thoughts or half-formed ideas. For me, like Ms. McArdle, the blog does not replace “real” publishing, but is perhaps a supplement to it. I also see it as the next best thing to having my own website.

  12. 12 Robert Bruce May 31, 2006 at 5:58 am

    pb. –

    It leaves the writer in a very good place. The elements that allow the reader to easily move on also allow the reader to more easily find what they may or may not be looking for. Works both ways.

    And, just as in traditional publishing, the competition is fierce. Rejection is abundant. Success is not guaranteed. The cream will always rise to the top. Just like it does on the farm.

    Mike –

    Respectfully, you’re missing the boat. Or, I was unclear above.

    I’ve not given up on trad. publishing completely. Quite the contrary. For instance, if, in 2 or 3 years I approach a publisher with my regular readership of around 100,000 folks a month (or more), said publisher will most likely be more inclined to take a glance at my stuff. You see, I’ve done all the marketing, footwork, and building for them. Of course, it goes without saying, the poems have to be good. And that is not up to me to decide. I write them and move on.

    Then again, as I stated above, I may not need to approach a trad. publisher at that point. My readers may have freed me of that need.

    The elitist view that a writer’s work needs a stamp of approval from Random House or The Copper Canyon Press to be considered real writing is bullshit.

    Self-publishing is a very different thing than vanity publishing. Many of the greatest writers in western culture have self-published. It is sometimes the only choice in a sea of choices.

    I, for one, am glad that Whitman put out his little book with his own money. Damn glad. So glad in fact, I’m going to lift a beer in his honor tonight.

    If I am going at this backwards, so be it. I stand in a long and illustrious line of men and women who have gone at it backwards.

    Whether or not I stand with them in 100 years is not up to me nor is it my concern. It will be up to readers, readers that will certainly not read my little poems in obscure university journals. But dear, precious readers that may be reading my little poems on my site as I write this reply to you. You see, I love my readers and have great respect for them. Why not make it easy for them to find me?

    If you find that I have no credibility, so be it.

    I agree with you and Ms. McArdle that a blog does not replace real publishing. What it does is intensify the publishing world and shakes it out of a deep and selfish slumber.

    And for the record: I did not intend to become the poster boy for blogging in this thread. I refer to KGP as “my site” in normal conversation. Ah, semantics….

    You guys take it easy. Thanks for the invite and the lively conversation.

  13. 13 Dermot May 31, 2006 at 10:03 pm

    PLease check out my site and see if it’s suitable to add to your listings

  14. 14 pb. June 1, 2006 at 12:34 am

    Dermot – I’ll link you first thing, I would also be interested in reading your views of poetry and blogging. Feel free to add your own ideas/opinions into the mix.

  15. 15 Mike Begnal June 1, 2006 at 4:04 am

    Well, I WAS drunk when I read your post, and I think maybe a couple of your original points stuck out at me more than others (or the way I perceived them at that moment). I really can’t disagree with your reply, and I hope I didn’t say anything that pissed you off too much. I think if the work is good, then it doesn’t really matter what the medium is (print or web)– good work will out in one way or another eventually. And after I posted my original post, I did realize that my phrasing of the ‘credibility’ comment was not what I really intended. I guess I should have ‘edited’ mySELF a bit better (tho maybe that is also one of the things I was talking about with the web– there is the tendency to shoot off some instant comment without the mediation of checking over a hard copy). Far be it from me to say who has credibility or not, and I did not mean to imply you didn’t have any– how would I know anyway? I guess what was concerning me was the whole vanity-publishing notion, which I accept is not necessarily what you were talking about. I agree, yes, it is good that Whitman self-published. But most people who do so are no Whitman. That said I certainly don’t subscribe to the ‘elitist’ Random House ‘stamp of approval’ either. I had more the literary magazine or independent press in mind when I was standing up for editors and print publishers. All the best, and apologies if I offended. Yes, I think it’s mostly semantics here….

  16. 16 Robert Bruce June 1, 2006 at 6:26 am

    No offense at all Mike.

    If I make it over to your amazing country before I check out of this world, let’s drink some whiskey and put up a reading.

    And I need an authentic Irish pub education…


    By the way, this verse has balls:

    If he still lived, the patron king from the banks of the Laune,
    with his following by his side—they would understand—
    and if he still held sway in that gentle, sheltered, harboured haven,
    my poor people would not stay in the bleak district of Duibhne.

  17. 17 Cas Stavert June 2, 2006 at 10:35 pm

    How much are writers willing to collaborate with audiences online?

    Speaking as someone who spent five or six years writing fanfiction in online fandom before moving on to writing my own stuff, the idea of there being an ongoing dialogue between the writer and their readers seems perfectly normal. Fanfiction archives are usually large communities of writers and readers discussing all aspects of writing, and much energy is expended in providing voluntary editing services (beta reading), writing/reading reviews and recommendations.

    These days I find I cannot understand an author who doesn’t have either a website or a blog or both, because enabling easy feedback is a surefire way of getting to grips with what your audience wants.

  18. 18 heort June 12, 2006 at 1:32 am

    looking for information and found it at this great site.

  19. 19 wakefield June 12, 2006 at 11:43 am

    Nice site. Thank to work…

  20. 21 MaryAnn McCarra-Fitzpatrick August 5, 2006 at 3:31 pm

    A most interesting conversation. I still submit work in the traditional manner but I really enjoy the freedom of blogging poetry.

    I’m currently a SAHM and don’t have the resources to pay for workshops or courses…..or (with two little ones to look after) the freedom to be able to go to open readings (as I once used to do in times gone past…..) but, as long as I have access to paper and a pen (or even a crayon and a paper bag) and my blog, I still have a voice.

    MaryAnn McCarra-Fitzpatrick
    Mount Vernon, New York
    United States of America

  21. 22 poeticlicence September 7, 2006 at 10:11 pm

    Well after a very long time of trying to get published in the ‘traditional’ format it would seem that I couldn’t get a f**king obituary published these days so I give up!

    What I would have termed my better ‘less fringe’ poetry that I was reserving for print will now be appearing on my blog because I now believe it is the only home for it.

    From a disillusioned fed up and frustrated writer


  1. 1 chartreuse (BETA) » Blog Archive » The Day After Tuesday Bloggers Remix (or nine rules, ten feet, and four hundred thirty six comments but it’s the pictures that really change the world) Trackback on May 31, 2006 at 5:27 pm
  2. 2 poetbloggs » Blog Archive » readers: writers with blogs Trackback on June 1, 2006 at 9:11 am
  3. 3 readers: writers with blogs at poetbloggs Trackback on December 13, 2006 at 5:10 pm
  4. 4 Blogs » writers with blogs poetbloggs Trackback on March 10, 2008 at 8:06 pm

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