Tom Bissell on not blogging

Tom Bissell has a post about why he doesn’t blog at Powell’s Books Blog. Tom and I are the same age (both born in 1974), though he is way more successful in his writing career than I have been so far. But he’s not sitting on a magnum opus, I suspect, that will blow the field of modern poetry wide open once it’s published. So, optimistically, by the time we are fifty we should be in the same anthology of “hot middle-aged talent.”

I’m thirty-six, which plants me along a rather odd cultural seam. I’m old enough to remember a world without the Internet (I didn’t send an email until I was in college, and didn’t have a personal email account until I was 27), but young enough not to have known how important it was to pay close attention to the landscape as it changed around me, or how dearly it would affect me. In the late 1990s, when I began publishing, the only writers who had websites or blogs were either tech-savvy or unusually forward thinking. Because I grew up reading magazines and regarded the mere act of publication as promotional effort enough, I simply didn’t understand that the world as it was could be meaningfully altered — much less that it would be. By the time I woke up to this, I worried that a blog or website would seem like a late-to-the-party desperation move. (Yes, at one point in my life, I actually believed that someone other than my mom tracked my machinations that closely.)

My bigger worry, though, was that a blog or website would give me another thing with which to piddle away my time, which I already managed to do quite well by staring at walls. Plus, there was the whole mortifying possibility that I’d start a blog, work hard to fill it up with interesting material, and in effect be forced to attend a daily version of my own funeral in which no one came, no one commented, and no one cared.

(He’s right about that funeral stuff.) Nice work, Tom.

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