Thank you to Rigoberto González for recommending this here blog at the National Book Critics Circle Blog’s “Spotlight on Blogs.” He tells us that he “attended a forum recently in which MFA graduate students impressed upon the audience the importance of reading blogs as a way to stay in the loop and keep abreast of the goings-on in the literary world,” with which he agreed, and then was asked which blogs he recommended. He’s compiled a list of eight blogs, a few of which I have yet to check out: Practicing Writing, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Ploughshares, Silliman’s Blog, Poeta y Diwata, Tayari’s Blog, Maud Newton, and Galleycat.
Again, this makes me think about the usefulness of blog, to the reader, but definitely to the writer, keeper, and/or curator of blog. I started blogging towards the end-ish of grad school, and only because Professor Jeffery Paul Chan had asked us to keep a writing journal for his weekly writing prompts. He then gave us the option of either submitting printed out pages, or just giving him the URL. The latter turned out to be more useful, in that our classmates were also able to “peek in” on our work in progress.
So I started my original Blogspot blog, oblivious to blog culture, unsuspecting of how painfully public everything could become. It taught me to be discerning about my private and public selves, to know there is indeed a marked difference and that the private self should be well-guarded, i.e. not splayed and spread-eagled all over teh interwebs. These days, having a public self is old hat, and necessary, if only to toughen my nerves for Haters and Trolls, which are different from students and critics of the poetic and intellectual work. Seriously though, I do believe being publicly accessible can only assist to further discourse on my poetic work.
Victoria Chang has recently reentered blog world, and has asked, “Why Blog?” She does have a good point: “Why blog and have this type of ‘conversation’ when you could sit right in front of the same person and have a civilized conversation?” There are many reasons why we can’t simply have civilized conversations face-to-face with others. Certainly, geography is one of these reasons. Oscar and I got together with (infrequent blogger) Patrick Rosal and other folks yesterday evening for drinks and food, as Pat has come to the Bay Area for a poetry reading at Mission College. I can’t remember the last time I sat at a table with him, but I do know from his blog what he’s been up to professionally.
This sounds totally naive but I still do believe we grow community this way. Or at least, the possibility of growing community is enabled via blog and e-world. Here, I am not interested so much in “collecting” “friends” via social networking platforms, as I am in reading the thoughts, ideas, beliefs, works in progress of other artists, activists, intellectuals, and even perhaps participating in the discussion. But to be more forthcoming, I am interested in using this public space to formulate and further my own thoughts, ideas, beliefs, and works in progress. There is something about working and writing with a sense public accountability.
On the Editor Unleashed blog, Maria Schneider has posted “The 60/40 Rule of Self-Promotion” –
Something I learned from my tenure as a magazine editor: Most magazines stick pretty closely to a ratio of 60 percent editorial content to 40 percent advertising. In other words, 40 percent promotional content is the upper limit of what a reader will tolerate. The other 60 percent has to be quality editorial content to keep readers engaged.
I think maybe this 60/40 rule can apply to social networking and blogging, as well. So 60 percent of the time, you’re posting useful content, reaching out to others, making friends, building relationships. And 40 percent of the time you can devote to (preferably subtly) promoting your book, blog, freelance services, etc.
I figure I’ll simply stop blogging when it ceases to be useful to me, though the “building relationships” with educators and editors and of course other artists part of blogging has been and continues to be very useful to me. That my blogging is potentially useful to you, or that this here blog’s content is potentially useful to you, I suppose is a happy by-product.