When Jen suggested I write a year-in-review post, I wasn’t sure where to start. So many exciting things have happened this year, including the founding of this blog. As I mulled over the possibility of this New Years reflection in my mind, I kept coming back to an argument I have had many times with a friend of mine.
“I don’t understand why anyone would want to write a blog.” This is coming from a notable writer if not a well-known one. In his case, I’m more surprised than anything else; he’s a constant writer, a prolific storyteller, has written articles and edited newsletters—you’d think blogging would be a logical step for him. The ensuing argument is not worth publicizing but his observation does bring up a very interesting point about the value we assign to different mediums of the written word.
Writing is both a very personal and very social game; as Sara Davison pointed out some months ago, “The stories I write are incomplete until someone reads them.” And blogging has allowed writers to be read in a way no other medium has before. Yet it’s still quite a new medium (the first blog was started in 1994, whereas the first book was written somwhere around 25000 BC). Books have been around for generations—we’ve been indoctrinated into a culture that recognizes and accepts books. Blogging, however, many of us still aren’t quite sure what to do with.
Like any form of writing, blogging is a way of publicizing a part of your soul, whether it’s the literary part or the news part or the food part (who doesn’t love a good cooking blog?). But it’s the immediacy of the medium that sets it apart from book writing. Book writing is official. The writing of a book can take years. Editing, designing, publishing, and printing, takes months at the least, and the result is indellible. No matter how personable your writing style, a printed book is an incredibly formal piece of art, which is one of the many reasons we’re so attracted to them. If you decide to revise a blog article, whether it’s correcting a typo or cutting that last paragraph you suddenly regret throwing in the embarrassing anecdote about the time your toddler threw up on you at a dinner party, within minutes of deciding to make the change, the change is made, and there is very little proof that the old version of the article even existed.
Writing a blog is the literary version of living your every day life. You might mess up, say the wrong thing, get your facts backwards or express an opinion and then, two weeks later, change your mind, and you can keep on producing new material, that nullifies the old or revising the old material (although in some circles that’s fround upon). The conversation is ongoing, the story is unfolding, and each knew post you make changes the overall effect and attitude of the blog. Just like in real life, you can trip over your own tongue, get into a heated argument based on your mood more than your convictions, but the next conversation you have can be different, you can apologize and correct yourself and keep on going, fluidly, and while your friends may never let you forget your slip-up you can live your life in a constantly moving line that makes what happened last week, or last year, simply a blip; a blog, like life, is in constant flux.
Producing a book is like carving your words into a tree. Once it’s in print, it becomes a concrete representation of you, a monument to your experiences, ideas, imagination. I’ve never seen someone make the decision to publish a book lightly; books have gravity. When your words are in print people sit up and take notice. Yet if you took a blog article and put it into print, there wouldn’t be much to distinguish it from a “real” editorial. Blogs are the air surrounding the printed word. Blogs are where we have conversations about the words we’re about to put into print, where we announce once the words are in print, where we hash out the details, post a chapter or two to see what people think, and get to know one another. The messy, constant, immediate, transient blog is where we live out the ideas we eventually print our book monuments to. We get messy and make mistakes. We learn and grow and connect to each other. And if a blog article is particularly notable, sometimes it’s worth putting in print.
It is not always easy for admirers of the printed word to recognize the value of the digital one, but value there is. So how is this diatribe about the nature of blogging a Year in Review post? Well, I suppose I’m reviewing our first year of Word Alive Press blogging. We haven’t made it to the 12-month mark yet but as 2014 draws to a close it certainly feels like we’ve accomplished something. Our contributors have been a fantastic mishmash of novelists, journalists, children’s book writers, and artists, and while we had the opportunity to see them showcase their best book writing as we worked with them in the publishing process, it is quite another thing to see a book-writer blog. We have had the opportunity to share our own experiences and ideas and learn about others, get behind-the-scenes glimpses in biography writing, see art become reality, dreams come true, and stories leap from the printed page to the silver screen. We’ve learned about press kits, protecting identites and joy and pain, not to mention all the anecdotes—I know far more about Jen’s childhood obsession with bunnies than I ever expected to. Our writers have been our audience and our audience has become our writers, and it has been a pleasure to see the heart and soul that has been poured into this little blog of ours.
It is hard to believe that a year ago, this blog did not exist; it has become as much a part of us as our books have. Thank you all for joining us, and here’s to another great year on the blog!
Amy Groening is a project manager at Word Alive Press. She is a passionate storyteller with experience in blogging, newspaper reportage, and creative writing. She holds an Honours degree in English Literature and is happy to be working in an industry where she can see other writers’ dreams come to life. She enjoys many creative pursuits, including sewing, sculpture and painting, and spends an embarrassingly large amount of time at home taking photos of her cats committing random acts of feline crime.