I read an article the other day (exactly where I read it completely escapes me, hence the lack of a handy link directing you toward it so you can read for yourself) which posited that the blog is dead. It’s dead because the new generation of net-users are more content with writing short-burst statements about their lives and opinions on places like Twitter or Facebook. Nobody, it seems, has the patience any more to actually sit down and write.
“What a load of rubbish,” I thought. “People will always love rambling on about themselves. The blog isn’t dead!” And then it occurred to me that I don’t seem to be updating on here half as much as I used to be, but I’m perfectly happy to post opinions/funny comments/general inanities on Twitter and Facebook while avoiding writing anything longer than 30 words.
I have an excuse: I write for a living. I write all day long, in fact. If I’m not writing a feature or an advertorial or a film review or a book review or a DVD review or an interview then I’m answering emails, writing up invoices, sub-editing copy or, in the rare times I actually feel like being creative, trying to work on a novel (ha ha ha ha ha ha). Typing is all I do; and so typing up a blog entry, particularly when I’ve been sitting at a desk all day and my wrists are getting sore, isn’t always what I want to do. I’d rather read a book or watch TV or just collapse into bed. Which makes me paranoid, actually. You hear people saying that the thing that makes a ‘writer’ a ‘writer’ is that they can’t stop writing – they write all the time, in much the same way that an artist draws all the time. But if I can’t even summon the energy to write a blog of my personal thoughts… well, clearly I am not a writer.
Although I could just be someone who can’t stand staring at a screen for more than 12 hours a day. I’ll try to keep this in perspective.
What really undermines my confidence about this whole ‘writing’ lark, at which I am very lucky enough to be able to make some kind of a living, is when you read an article or a book or an opinion piece which makes you want to crawl away and never look at a keyboard again because it’s just so damned good. I stopped reading Vanity Fair many years ago because the quality of the writing was so phenomenal (even if every issue did spend much of its time trying to beat the crap out of George Bush, which was a noble endeavour, true, but became very wearying). Today I am taking a second look at my ‘novel’ (ha ha ha ha ha ha) and considering jacking it all in. The reason? I just finished Kate Griffin’s follow-up to A Madness of Angels – the soon to be released The Midnight Mayor – and found it so brain-freezingly brilliant it made me wonder why people like me even want to write when there are people out there doing it so much better.
There’s talent and there’s talent. There are authors who can spin a good yarn, keep you entertained, conjure up a hackneyed and yet perfectly enjoyable plot and leave you wanting more – JK Rowling would probably be a good example. But then there are writers who can write. Kate Griffin (or Catherine Webb, her real name) doesn’t just come up with a decent plot – she comes up with brilliant characters, colourful language and a sense of place that took my breath away when I first discovered it. I think it was when I read her description in The Midnight Mayor of London’s Barbican as ‘a space-time vortex’ (because it IS, oh my god, it IS) that I realised I’m never going to be a writer. As I said, there’s talent and there’s talent.
She’s got it. I don’t even have the willpower to write a blog entry.
I think I know why everybody’s deserting their blogs and spending time on Twitter. It’s because on Twitter, at least, you can pretend you’re a better writer than anybody else. Chances are – as long as you’ve spelt your update correctly – you’re right, too.