Sometimes people look at me funny when I tell them that I am a published writer. Not so much about my book Ten Years Gone: Pomp and Circumstance (though they do question my credibility with I tell them it’s only available digitally and not in traditional print), but rather when they find out that my regular publishing come through a variety of online outlets in the form of blogs. Some people end to regard the blog as a somewhat wistful, or perhaps sophomoric, and certainly unprofessional outlet. Most hardly consider syndication or regular publication in online outlets such as Eat Your Serial to be as credible as a traditional column in a printed publication; at least most of the old guard who are unwilling to see the trends in publishing and reading. To them, a blogger is probably a man in his 40s who never left his mother’s basement and argues incessantly about how far it would take to travel from the Holodeck to Engineering on the Enterprise E, or a teenager keeping all their angsty poetry and punctuationless tirades about their math grades on Facebook—but blogging and online publication is a lot more viable than that, much more diverse than that, and requires a lot more craft than that.
Recently, in a conversation I was having with award winning blogger Marc Polite, I came to the realization that I am no longer a neophyte blogger, simply dabbling in the world of digital print on the side while I try to break into the world of traditional publishing. Rather, I’m the CEO of a digital publishing house, and the Editor-in-Chief of a high volume, content rich web-based magazine (as well as a contributor to Marc’s own well regarded website). I am a full-fledged professional in the world of blogging, and I hadn’t even realized when, or even that, it happened.
Surely when I helped to found Eat Your Serial, I knew that I’d be published in digital media, but as I became more involved in the company, as I transitioned through the many stages of becoming part of the new guard of publishing, I found that the venue became more-and-more legitimate; not only to me, but to the world and its readership. The dissemination of information through the internet has become not only a fact of life, but the way of life in a very short amount of time. In 1995 when I got my first AOL account it was novel, a luxury, almost like a highly affordable toy (provided you had the expensive interface)…but now, the world has developed and evolved in such a way that you need to have internet access. You need it at home, you need it on your phone, and once Google Glass drops you’ll probably need it in your face for the rest of your life. Since the internet is the accepted primary vessel of information, then why are people so quick to scoff at online publishing and blogging?
Personally, I’ve taken up the mantle of “blogger” as a badge of honor. I take pride every time and every site my words are published because, I’m an egomaniac, and also because “screw you, I’m published”. I find however, that many people both in mainstream life and in academia are slow to accept this as credible publishings like the ones in journals and magazines of yore. Though, for the life of me I cannot imagine why. How many newspapers and magazines are abandoning print in lieu of web-based or digital based publication? How many more ebooks were sold in 2012 than traditional print books? How many more people were able to express their viewpoints to the world and share ideas freely, and without discrimination? Ah ha.
That’s that one I think. You see, the world of publishing used to be (and still is in many ways) a very exclusive club. It still is. You still need to be accepted, you still need to be vetted, you still need to apply and pitch yourself to companies that are established, or transitioning from the old guard that have high esteem and respect. It is just as competitive (or maybe even moreso) to be published in the New York Times blog as it is to be published in their Op Ed section. The problem is, there are far more options now. The route to self-determination via self-publication in venues like iBooks, Amazon, Smashwords, and through publishing houses like Plympton and Eat Your Serial that deal in digital products is scary for those unwilling to accept change. They discredit it because it is accessible. Perhaps, they assume, that everything will be garbage, useless, trite, and crap once the exclusivity has been removed from the equation. But there has always been crap, and always will be crap and as for the “exclusivity of quality” to the print medium, I dare any of you to go pick up a copy of Twilight of 50 Shades of Grey and then discuss the quality of exclusivity.
In the meanwhile, the free dissemination of information, and use of information through the internet is a highly relevant security and political matter. What do you do about WikiLeaks? How do we fight CISPA? The internet’s Wild West Days are clearly coming to a close, and it isn’t because blogging and information of the internet is unviable, unimportant, or without value. Just the opposite. Law enforcement regularly check social media, blogs, and other internet footprints of suspects—look how much information was garnered about the Boston Marathon Terrorists just by reading through their internet footprint. This information is real, it is viable, and it is the 1950’s “just add water” dream to the First Amendment, promptly delivered for the 21st Century.
In my college Creative Writing class, blogging is an important component of the course. Students must blog twelve times in 15 weeks because it is a new venue for expression that is part article, part journal, and part megaphone. As more young people become fluent in its use you will see the credibility of the blog skyrocket (admittedly, though, there will probably be more prestigious ones, and others not so much…but this is natural and appropriate). Blogging is powerful, blogging is viable, and blogging is important because it isn’t as exclusive as before. Certainly there is more information to sift through, but ideas and opinions isn’t the sort of soup that gets ruined by too many chefs…it’s more like choosing the best book in a book store—except the store is infinitely large, and the choices are impossibly endless.
So I pose the question to you—is blogging a dirty word in writing? Does the availability of access and the breakdown of exclusivity make it more powerful or less viable? Is it every bit as legitimate as other kinds of publishing?
Clearly you know what I think.
Written by: Brandon Melendez