Resistance is futile.
Nope, it’s not the Borg we’re talking about, but the Blog – weblog, that is.
And the resistance was mine.
It’s not that I’m a computer-phobe. Really. I’ve been using the little buggers since – well, let’s just say I remember punch cards and TRS-80s. Growing up with a dad who programmed and designed computers for the U.S. Air Force, I became quite familiar with technology. And my first publishing job was with a small-press niche magazine, where I learned to edit, design and lay-out the publication (ever tried page layout in DOS? Not a pretty sight). And even when desktop publishing programs were available (think FrontPage and Microsoft Publisher), they were so fraught with bugs and freezing problems that one small monthly issue took six days to complete, and more start-overs than I like to remember.
In fact, looking back, I wonder how we managed to put out a monthly magazine stuffed with stories, columns, and poetry, not to mention original art, without e-mail, digital files, and P2P file-sharing. Oh, I remember – we used the U.S. Postal Service (snail mail to the Gen Yrs out there), computer disks, typewriters (I re-typed more manuscripts than … well, there were a lot), and pen-and-ink drawings. Scanning was in its infancy, and software prohibitively expensive, so we relied on half-toning photos and artwork, cut and pasted onto pages covered with lines and grids (now you know where the term “blue-penciling” a manuscript came from – the blue kept the lines and comments from reproducing in old copiers and printing presses). Graphic design involved actual writing implements. And we walked 15 miles to work uphill both ways in blinding snowstorms …
So it wasn’t the technology that raised my stubborn gene. It was the idea that any idiot with an Internet connection and the dim dream of being a writer could actually command the attention of the world as a … writer. Or a journalist, which is worse, because I actually went to school and earned a degree to be a journalist, and some of the so-called reporting I saw, and still see, was miles away from objective, researched, and well written.
Writing is – or should be – a contemplative process. We think a thought, we see the words that illustrate that thought, we place them on paper and edit them very carefully before we send them out to the world. I have spent the last 30 years of my life honing my craft, constantly learning new things, updating skills, making an effort to produce quality product that reflects well on me and my fellow writers. But when you can just barf out words with no thought, when your every opinion and thought and ranting is immediately at the disposal of anyone with a computer and wi fi, what
does that do to the words? How special are they (and by extension, me and anyone else who strives to put them together) when any idiot can call him- or herself a writer?
And just how seriously do editors and publishers take these fools, anyway? Isn’t it possible that by jumping on the bandwagon, I would be seen as just another rant in a storm of raves? Where would my credibility go? Would I have any? And, as my brethren in Hollywood are quick to point out, in the end, that’s really all we writers have, our credibility, our good name. Otherwise, branding would still apply only to identifying cattle.
So I ignored the blog tsunami. I sneered at those would-be WRITERS (said in a breathless and totally undignified tone).
Silly me, to think I can ignore trends. Just like those who thought television would never catch on, who laughed at the Wright brothers, Henry Ford, and Bill Gates, I’ve been hoist on my own petard and shown to be, if not stupid, at least woefully out of touch. Or unhip, my daughters like to point out.
The Internet is the new “Who’s Who,” with potential employers and clients and even mates Googling for info on the people they meet. When I manage to get a potential client to meet with me, or an interview for a “real job,” they ask: What’s your blog called? I couldn’t find it. What’s your Web presence?”
And after that fish-out-of-water gasp (you know the look I’m describing), I have to come up with some lame excuse (like, my ISP ate it, or my Web master gave me a note or something). It’s not good, believe me.
So, consider me a member of the band(wagon).
I did a gig as an opinion columnist for a year, and that was where my sarcastic and warped sense of humour stood me in good stead. No one wants to read about how anyone else is dealing with life, unless the writer can make them laugh. I seemed to have a knack of poking fun at everything (and I didn’t let myself off the hook – I’m my own worst critic). Being the mother of teenage girls and trying to remember how to be an adult in the working world after taking about 14 years off is trying, but it can be very funny – if you know how to find goofiness in every situation. Since I would probably make jokes at my own funeral (and don’t be surprised if I write the script for that before I shuffle off to wherever it is old writers go), so finding amusement in a very bright child who takes the motto “High Potential, Low Achiever” as a personal badge of courage isn’t difficult.