On writing

So I just finished a book that drove me nuts. It’s a blog-to-book book [I’d rather not specify it, but just to be clear, the author does NOT have a tumblr and it isn’t particularly new], and I believe it’s sold decently.

The author’s blog - and book - certainly stands out because she has an ability to write effusively, prettily, and in a way that sort of feels like a hug, or your like best girlfriend prone to speaking poetically telling you about her life. It is, for all extents and purposes, the wordy equivalent of “pretty porn.” For the book, she kept the conversational tone so that it felt like the author was talking to you - you! - over afternoon tea.

It got so exhausting. There was a tendency to slip into the second person - you would love this, I swear, you would be so happy - and it was charming at first but grew thin. All that effusiveness, the faux congeniality, just masked the real problem: there was nothing to say. The book falls into a Liz Gilbert Eat Pray Love-esque trap where it’s just running towards a happy ending straight out of many, many books that you’ve read before. It was ultimately hollow.

There was no need for the book to exist. Some chapters had blood, guts, passion - and if the book stayed at that level, it would’ve been amazing. Instead it was just tiring, and a prime example of why making blogs-to-books fit inside chick lit parameters is a losing game. It’s funny when pretty-on-the-surface writer tricks mask uninteresting writing.

There’s certain aspects of blogging that are good for writers. It’s fun as a writing exercise. It gives you discipline (really the most necessary part of writing). You can develop your voice and thoughts - but the instant demands of it certainly kill the effect of writing. I feel like there’s a trend with some blogs that have fun writing-for-blogs-level-writing that are going for flowery transcendence. They tend to be the type of blog that you love on first glance - oh, it’s all so meaningful! - and then you stop reading it and you don’t miss it. Lord knows that my tumblr isn’t a space for transcendence for me. It’s more like a space to have a conversation about culture and writing, mostly. Dinner party topics.

I just don’t want a generation of writers weaned on the internet to confuse voice with truly great writing. There’s something to be said for learning about the human condition and other people’s lives through messy, dirty, makes-you-feel-so-much prose. To reading a piece of great writing for the first time, the kind that makes you put the book (or whatever) down and go “Oh shit.” The Oh Shit moment is why I love reading.

I think there’s some poet out there who has a publishing company called “Write Bloody.” It’s a maxim that I completely agree with. Without the blood and guts, the evidence of existence, there’s no soul; it’s simply entertainment to pass the time and leave you closer to death.