The Time Has Come

At long last, I have figured this gambit out. The Life, only occasionally referred to here in Reluctant-Land, has become one of those things where one wonders how to maintain a blog under the circumstances. Over the past two weeks, I have been trying to figure out how to balance reading, writing, and living — all three of which are far more important than anything I could possibly post here. Like most bloggers, posts are offered to stave off afternoon boredom (hence the one-third nudity clause referenced not long ago — 66% of everything else is illicitly penned with frequent Alt-Tabbing, often with sizable mistakes, quietly corrected after being pointed out by nice people). This Walter Mitty existence is all fine and dandy. It allows me to keep up with literary-related news, you to read it (and/or poach it — I don’t care), and everyone remains more or less happy. But I thought it might be a good idea to point out what this blog is and isn’t.

1. This is not a 24 hour literary news powerhouse. That would be nice, but quite frankly I have other things to do with my life. If I do not read, I do not improve my writing. If I do not write, I do not improve my writing. If I do not live, I do not improve my writing. There is an ostensible goal here. It will take years. As a result, early morning and evening updates have been abolished, so that necessary existential duties and functions can be carried out. Maud, the Saloon and Mr. Sarvas (among many other swell places) pull this off better than I can. But frankly, I just don’t have the time anymore. In an effort to kill the needless distractions in my life, the plan is to blog (for the most part) daily, but only during hours in which I am renting myself out to unidentified overlords.

2. No more posts while nude. A few weekends ago, a priest buzzed my apartment. He wasn’t a Jevovah’s witness, but he did identify himself as “a man of the cloth.” The priest offered to observe me for a week and determine if there were specific activities I was particularly adept at with clothes on and (he preferred) with clothes off. I didn’t ask about the scientific principles involved. But it was either this or a three-hour effort to convert me to Catholicism. So I caved. The priest determined that I was more successful reading in the nude than writing in the nude. Since I have this tendency to take my clothes off, in part or in full, close to bedtime, and since I feel more comfortable doing this, now that a priest is no longer hanging around the flat, the choice has become obvious.

3. A greater emphasis on journalism. I don’t have Laila’s drive to do a book review every week. But I admire her ambition. And I also admire Mark for his Dan Rhodes interview. And, yes, despite my differences with Dan Green, the man is trying to come to terms with the role of criticism. So props to him too. This is the kind of stuff that we, as literary blogs, should be doing. If we are to have any real credibility or purpose here, then the time has come for us to put ourselves out there, rather than compiling collections of links. Imagine the kind of coverage that can be found at Bookslut or January or Book Ninja transposed to any of your favorite places. Elaborate comparisons, attempts to gain insight that the major newspapers can’t (or won’t) cover. You know what I’m talking about.

This whole “link plus commentary” business is about as difficult as microwaving a burrito. I think blogs can do better. I know I can do better. There’s something extant in the form that has made us all lazy.

Fuck Google News. How about making some phone calls and confirming facts? How about looking at your local literary calendars, calling up a publisher’s publicist, and arranging for an author interview? How about showing some actual initiative?

In fact, I double dare everyone involved in the lit blog world to pound the pavement.


  1. Well said, Ed. There are certainly days I take a look at my one place and think, “Great, a bunch of new links, so fucking what.” I think that’s one reason Dan’s had a strong impact on me, too – posting less frequently but in greater depth and offering something that – whether you agree or not – is uniquely his.

    Double dare accepted; that doesn’t mean I won’t still keep offering my usual bag of news (especially since you’ve now committed me to do so), but I got a charge out of the Rhodes interview, and am planning some new bits to punctuate the links.

    And, um, on the whole nude business, flirting dangerously close to TMI-land …

  2. After several years of doing those author interviews, and never quite warming to the task of transcription, man, I’m TAKING A VACATION by blogging. (Well, and getting the occasional interview by email…)

  3. In GRJ’s world, there will be no phones manned, no clatter of street-shoes on concrete. And that’s a promise I make to all my customers.

    Seriously, though, I’d like to do more (read: some) reporting on literary events, as Ron and others do.

  4. Just so long as this isn’t another trick to get out of writing the Book Babes Watch…because this week’s piece is even more of a doozy than last week’s.

  5. ba careful what you wish for (from lit blogs)

    There are certain blogs — among them, The Reading Experience and Collected Miscellany — that I respect but rarely agree

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