blogs as essays. or not.

I love E.B. White. As a nonfiction writer, at least. I really hate Charlotte’s Web. But as a grammarian and essay writer, he is just the type of talented dude and curmudgeon that I love. So I liked reading this pile o’ quotes by him at Brain Pickings. His thoughts on egoism are great, because I think they totally apply to bloggers today. Since I am a blogger, and since I have published far more nonfiction than fiction in my “career,” this is very interesting to me:

The essayist is a self-liberated man, sustained by the childish belief that everything he thinks about, everything that happens to him, is of general interest.

Duh. Totes book bloggers. Like, there are so many of us, how can we possibly think that our opinions are more interesting or valid than others? But we all have to operate under that assumption that we are wildly interesting to other people to garner favor from publishers to receive ARCs, to take the time to write thoughtful reviews, and just to keep motivated in general. We keep using the first person because we think that all of you totally want to read our blogs above all others, not to mention above other critical outlets like newspaper book reviews or author blurbs.

I like to think that I don’t need to write regular book reviews, because you can find those anywhere. So I write about what books mean to me and whatever I’m doing in my life, which makes my reviews more unique, but also more egoistic. Do you care? If you don’t know me personally and think I’m interesting, probably not, right? And yet I keep doing it. So maybe you do care. Or maybe you’re just nice and keep clicking “like” because you hope I’ll do that for you. But what’s the point if reading isn’t happening?

The other great point White makes that is completely applicable to bloggers is this:

The essayist, unlike the novelist, the poet, and the playwright, must be content in his self-imposed role of second-class citizen. A writer who has his sights trained on the Nobel Prize or other earthly triumphs had best write a novel, a poem, or a play, and leave the essayist to ramble about, content with living a free life and enjoying the satisfactions of a somewhat undisciplined existence.

Uhh yeah. Sometimes I think that I had better stop doing all this and get back to “real” essay writing, and also get back to the type of writing I got my degree in – fiction. But I’ve been told multiple times that I shine at essays. But then again, is blogging really essay writing? I often approach them differently. I write blogs faster and rarely edit, aside from as I go. And so long as I keep acting like they’re different, they are. And bloggers are definitely lower class from other writers, except when certain bloggers get found out and offered book deals. There’s a reason there is a different noun for people who write blogs than people who write other things, who get to be called authors, writers, and a specific noun for the type of thing they write – essayist, novelist, playwright, etc. Bloggers are different creatures altogether, and I don’t think any of us have quite decided what we are or if we want to be united.

I have no idea where to go with this. It’s just thoughts.

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2 thoughts on “blogs as essays. or not.

  1. Thoughtful post, and a real good essay^ too. 😉

    You inspire me to try writing a post on this also. Love the thought exchange that goes on with the type of blog you’ve created, Hannah.

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