PART ONE:Kamy Wicoff on the differences between blogging and writing, and on why the latter is her first true love.
This weekend, the thrilling, perpetually soldout BlogHer 2010
conference will take place in New York City. I attended my first BlogHer conference last summer in Chicago, and spent most of the time wandering around like a deer in headlights, trying to get my bearings. (And meeting some wonderful women, like Ananda Leeke
, who I hope to see again tonight
!) This year, however, I will be moderating a panel, "The Evolving Publishing Ecosystem,"
part of BlogHer's new writing track. Why? Because, according to one of BlogHer's three co-founders, Elisa Camahort, the bloggers who attend the conference have been asking for more tools, tips and encouragement when it came to writing
. These women, Elisa told me, wanted to write better. I couldn't help wondering, however, if they wanted to blog better, or write better. Because to me there is a difference.
Is blogging writing?
Or is writing something else?
On some level it is a silly question, I know. Writing is putting letters together to form words and putting those words in order on a page or a screen, and in that sense blogging is writing, of course. But when I finish this blogpost and put it up on She Writes, I won't feel like I wrote today. I will feel like I blogged today, and wish that I'd found time to write. A friend recently said to me, "I think you are creatively stymied right now, and you're suffering for it." I almost jumped in to protest by saying, "But on She Writes, I write all the time!" but I didn't say it, because that's not how I feel about it. Instead I realized I need to build writing time back into my life, now
What's the difference? Sometimes I think of blogging as a genre, akin to writing a column (if we must compare it to a "traditional" form), and if the brilliant and inimitable Katha Pollitt is not a writer, who is? I have heard Katha say that a 750 word column is capable of supporting exactly one and a half ideas, and to the extent that a blogpost makes an argument or succeeds in capturing an idea or experience with clarity and purpose, bloggers and columnists are very much alike. Katha, however, is also a poet, (she has won a Guggenheim for her poetry) and when Nancy K. Miller interviewed her for our first-ever "Five Questions for..."
, Katha had this to say about the difference between her columns and her poetry: "Ezra Pound calls poetry 'news that stays news.' In other words, poetry, if it’s going to be of interest for more than a moment, takes what’s of the moment to a deeper level. My column deals with what’s happening the week that I write it. That’s a kind of writing that dates very quickly."
Writing, in other words, is built to last. And as such, it takes time -- months or even years -- and its value is directly correlated to the process implicit in laboring so long over one's words. If it's good, it's good because it is the product of the precious, irreplaceable work of writing, rewriting, rewriting, and rewriting again. It is this work that distinguishes art from reportage. When considered this way, poetry assumes its rightful place as writing of the first degree, for there are no words more carefully considered or more mightily labored over than each and every word a poet chooses to use in her work. As Katha herself observed, "There’s more to life—and language-- than can be expressed in a Nation column
Which is why for me, anyway, blogging is blogging, and writing is writing, and I like doing both.
So do many of you, apparently. And this weekend I will go to BlogHer and have the distinct pleasure of interacting with a group of women who got together and said, "We want to write better." I can't imagine a crowd I'd rather be in than that.
STAY TUNED FOR PART TWO: What I Learned About My Writing from Blogging.