As those of you who have been with me for a while will know, I also write books. Mostly I don’t write about them, because that would be dull for all of us. The relationship between books and blogging however is (I insist!) going to yield some more interesting thoughts.
Books are a very old form of communication, blogs appear to be very new, but they have a lot in common with the pamphlet writing of the last 400 years or so. Pamphlets were low cost to produce and available to far more people than the elite ‘book’ and there were pamphlet wars, full of written arguments between rival factions getting steamed up with each other. It wasn’t so different, it’s just this is faster and involves les standing on damp street corners yelling at passers by. Well, for me, at any rate, other bloggers may do differently. Instead we get to stand on the corners of damp social media sites, yelling at passers by to check out our wares. Not much changes.
Nimue as blogger is not quite the same person/voice as Nimue as book author. Blogging is what I do first thing in the morning as a way of warming up my brain. I write a blog in about quarter of an hour, read it outloud to Tom to make sure it makes sense, isn’t too self-indulgent and isn’t awash with typos. Then I post. I pick topics out of the air each morning based on whatever’s been on my mind lately – there’s not much logic and structure and the only continuing narrative is created by what little coherence there is in my life.
I think about books a lot more. I plan them and give them structures. I undertake research and deliberate exploration rather than just spouting whatever’s on my mind. I polish the sentences over numerous re-drafts and make some effort with references and the like. If the blog is me first thing in the morning, the books are me when I’ve had a LOT of coffee.
I don’t duplicate content. You may get the odd blog post promoting the books where I copy a bit to give you a flavour, but that’s about it. Once I know I’m working on a subject in a serious way, I don’t blog about it – to keep my thinking book focused, to stop the project being diluted, and to make sure anyone reading the blog isn’t going to find they’ve paid for something already known to them should they pick up a book. I also don’t duplicate posts from other sites, so if you follow me in more than one place, you’ll only see a given blog post once. (If you were wondering, I do a monthly alternative wheel of the year blog here, I blog at Moon Books and JHP Fiction intermittently, and other pieces of mine are scattered widely across the internet.) As a blogger it would be far less work to just re-use articles across different sites. However, as a reader that would annoy me, and I like to imagine I have one or two people who get around to everything and whose dedication should be rewarded by making sure there’s always something new.
A book is always a failed attempt at saying something definitive. A blog is always a successful work in progress that lacks for coherence and conclusion. In many ways the blog is my more natural environment, because there’s more room to grow and change as I go and to explore the nuances of those shifts. It’s harder to step away from an opinion you’ve carved into the immortal rock of a book. Perhaps I take books too seriously!
As a reader I come to books and blogs very differently. I read a lot of blogs – usually in the morning, and very much to keep a sense of what is going on out there now. Book reading is an evening activity, and not about the contemporary at all, often. I read old books more than new ones. I read paper more than ebooks. Who we are as readers of blogs and books may be as diverse as who we are as writers of the same.