Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Why I've Come Late To the Party (or Don't Call Me a Blogger)

It's not my intention to offend anyone who reads this, but likely anyone who is reading this and knows me is aware of the fact that I will probably do it anyway. Yes, this is my first official blog, and yes, this is my first official blog entry, and yes, this is my explanation as to why I'm not a blogger.

I have long referred to myself as a neo-Luddite. I like certain aspects of technology. I love my laptop, my iPod, and my PS2. What I don't have is our culture's pervasive need to power-up my laptop, to get the newest iPod and to upgrade to the PS3. I also don't want an iPhone (the touchscreens just make me feel icky), I don't know how to Twitter (I think it sounds perverted when anyone but CNN's Rick Sanchez says it), and I try to keep my texting to an absolute miminum - and when I do it, I still feel a low-level bit of shame.

I've also avoided the whole blog scene. I've been writing professionally for about six years now, and blogging has been on the rise most of the entire time. It hasn't interested me until now, and to be honest, it's still not quite grabbed me. To do this was a professional decision. This week I am sending my fourth version of my first novel to the first publisher to seek interest.* One piece of advice which has begun to flit around in the past year or so is that publishers now expect serious writers to have an online presence. It makes them seem professional.

Please excuse me for noting the irony here. Very few of these online writers are actually professional writers. They are bloggers. They've never submitted a query letter or proposal to a publisher. They've never waited months to hear if their manuscript would be published. They've never been given a 24-hour, 1000-word assignment on a subject on which they know nothing. They've never had to fill 12 column inches with 3 column inches' worth of background information. They've never even had 1 day to compose the greatest ad copy ever for two different clients at the same time - neither of whom are willing to pay for this great copy within 180 days. These people are bloggers, not writers.

I'm a writer, not a blogger. If that sounds arrogant, so be it. I had a piece of fiction published in 1992 and received a $35 check for it. Since then, I have never written anything and not been paid for it. By definition, this is what makes me a professional. I've been published in several different fields in several different markets and even been reprinted in eight different countries. I've also done the mercenary work - the ad work, the commercial work. I've been paid for all that, too. In each case, I had to deal with another person, or group of people - a publisher, editor, selection committee, agency, or client - who decided that this work is good. In each case, I met the standards, did the necessary rewrites, and let someone else publish my work. I believe this is as it should be.

Often I see bloggers refer to the act of putting something on a blog as 'publishing' it. It's not. Publishing it requires a publisher, a decision made by someone else, and an act of actually being published - which I still believe means, in print. I won't refer to this as being published. I'll say I have 'written' a blog entry. I'll 'display' it.

For the moment, I hope to write and display at least once a week. Perhaps that will improve in the future. Perhaps not; we'll see. I can say that it is my hope to eventually put a short story or two on here. I haven't written a short story since 1995, simply because I prefer writing in long form. Yes, for those who know (who are probably the only people reading this), the first one will probably be a Heroes (not the TV series) short story. I also might try serializing another piece for feedback.

I don't really mean to offend anyone here by saying this, but frankly, I've been pretty offended by the nouveau literati's way of co-opting terminology to make them sound professional. Yeah, I've come late to the party, and I've only brought Jameson's. But I don't drink Protestant whisky.

*Anyone who ever read my columns in Planet Weekly knows I love my footnotes. This is the first! -- The first version of Heroes went to TSR and arrived the week that TSR was bought by Wizards of the Coast. The new batch of editors from WOC were rude and obnoxious and refused to give me anything but a condescending attitude when I contacted them about the novel. As a result, I rewrote Heroes the first time and cut all ties with TSR. About six months after it was finished, TSR/WOC contacted me and asked to publish it. I told them to go to Hell. I've never regretted that decision.

[manuscript name edited on 1/25]


  1. How long was your shower after writing this?

  2. Mmmm, buttery slabs of man!

    This really makes me think about what those strings in the back of your hair are all about...

  3. Not so much buttery slabs as weeping and scrubbing the pain away...

  4. Congratulations, you have in fact busted my blogs-are-self-important-drivel cherry Nick, this is my first Ever comment, kudos ya big bastard. Can you smell the sarcasm, or perhaps hear the Pingggg!? As I consider myself a bastard and a writer too, it's good company. I probably wouldn't have done it for almost anyone else (that bit doesn't sound like quite correct English alas), I must love ya like a brother. If I feel dirty here myself, I comfort me with the fact that we're sharing it, even if long distance at that. Go us, wahoo, how droll. Perhaps you'll do me the courtesy of helping me out with this sort of thing some day. Oh yeah, and put each other, however altered by fiction yet true in spirit, in each other's books. Or something like that, and of course your Emperor wubs you :). The once and future Whitey

  5. Either a cat just walked on a keyboard or someone from Memphis just signed in. I think it was the Pingggg that gave you away, Fluffy.

  6. I like buttery slabs of man. They are much cuter than most people. So there.

    Of course, after reading this, I'm terrified to know what you'll think of my sunshiney little plot of land in the blog-o-sphere. Nothing mind-shattering over there, I assure you. Mostly a day-to-day rambling as witnessed by yours truly.

    At least Bryan and I are trying. Mikey won't even pick up a blog to save his life. You should smack him for that. :D

  7. I've given up on smacking other people. I no longer have a violent bone in my body. (Except for the little bits of ones that started out inside others and sort of migrated into me due to impact. There's a violent bit of jaw bone in my right hand, some cantakerous ribs, belligerent collarbone, and some frankly antisocial skull.)

  8. All wrapped up in a wonderful cuddly package. (Wait, are people supposed to know that?) ;D

  9. As a resident of the #1 state for teen pregnancy, I don't feel bad anymore. It's an epidemic!!


  10. Yep.

    I left the previous comment in the wrong ... blog?

    And I'm in the IT industry. Shame on me.

    I'm new to this as well. Can you tell?

  11. Welcome to the Kingdom of the Blind! Now if we could only find a Cyclops to lead us...