Robin Hobb is Not Entirely Wrong
Posted on March 13, 2008 Posted by John Scalzi 57 Comments
First, yes, quite enough of you have sent me Robin Hobb’s rant against blogging for today, thanks. No one else needs to send it to me. Also, hasn’t it been up for a while? I seem to remember seeing it earlier, although that may just be a fuzzy brain talking — I’m working on very little sleep, thanks to a kitten who thinks what I need to be doing in the wee hours of the morning is being his scratching post. Strangely enough, that seems to affect my sleep schedule.
Second: What am I, a hit man or something? The tone of many of the e-mails to me about Hobb’s rant have the whiff of Hey! Robin Hobb is being mean to the Internet! Let’s get Scalzi to beat her up! about them. Yes, I have a reputation of laying down the smack, but you know, I try to limit myself to smacking about those what need to be smacked. I know Robin Hobb a bit, and I think she’s just lovely, and thus have no personal inclination to lay down any smack on her. My apologies for those of you hoping to be entertained thusly.
Third: What Robin Hobb is saying, basically, is don’t blog when you should be writing your work. Yes, she puts it somewhat breathlessly and dramatically, with much gnashing of teeth and renting of garments, but essentially, this is what her advice here boils down to. And you know what? I don’t disagree with this. Blogging is fun and it can even be useful in a number of ways, but it can also be the writing equivalent of empty calories. It feels like real work, because you’re typing and all, but at the end of it you haven’t written any pay copy, and you’re no closer to something you can submit somewhere than you were when you began. You haven’t done work, and ultimately work is what you need to be doing, if you’re planning to make a go at being a fiction writer.
I don’t think it has to be an either/or situation, quite obviously — as you know, I write and blog, and I have a perfectly cromulent career, as do a number of other writers I could name off the top of my head. On the other hand, one of the reasons I stopped doing the AOL gig was that all the blogging I was doing was taking away from time that I could be writing fiction, and I’m at a point where it makes sense for me to focus there. Also, even having pared back my blogging committments, I have been known to procrastinate quite substantially online rather than, say, getting to my actual work.
No! You say. That can’t possibly be true! Not you! Alas, yes, me. Because it is easier to blog than write. It’s also easier to comment on blogs than write, get into flamewars on SFWA’s private boards than write, answer e-mail than write, and so on. All of that is, in fact, typing that is not work. Do enough of it and it’s very possible that your brain will say well! I’ve certainly done enough work for the day — I think I’ll fall into a vegetative state now and then pretty much shut down for the purposes of active and creative work. And then you’ve lost a day. Trust me on this, my pretties.
Again, I’m not going to tell you not to blog. I like blogging; I think it’s fun and it’s certainly done well by me. Also, you know, it’s your life, and your career. Do what you want. But I will suggest to you that if your blogging is getting in the way of your writing, you might consider not blogging for a little while, until you get a handle on your actual work (as some of you may recall I did at the end of writing Zoe’s Tale), or at the very least that when you sit down at the start of the writing day, you consider doing your work first, while your brain is still fresh and willing to be creative.
Basically: Put your work before your play, or the work won’t get done. That’s what I think Robin Hobb’s really saying here, and I think she’s right.
My own observation, posted to my LiveJournal, was that it’s possible that for some people, blogging gets in the way of writing productively, and for other people, it gets them fired up to write more and better. News break: Not Everyone Is The Same. I know, I know, that’s crazy talk.
Damn you and your crazy talk, PNH!
But, yeah. For some people it’s a distraction, for some people it’s a boon, and some people — I think I fall into this category — it can be either or both, depending on circumstances.
I do think if you notice that it is cutting into your productivity, you have to take steps. But this is true of any procrastinatory activity, like playing video games, watching Heroes, spending time with one’s family, etc.
Her rant reminds me of HP Lovecraft’s habit of writing long, long letters to people instead of writing fiction. While that did cut into his production quite a bit, it did help create a circle of fellow writers and fans that kept his work alive long after he’d kicked off.
Of course, YMMV.
“Compared to the studied seduction of the novel, blogging is literary pole dancing. Anyone can stand naked in the window of the public’s eye, anyone can twitch and writhe. . .”
No offense, but that’s a vision of John that should be reserved to Kristine alone.
And yeah, that rant has been up for a good long while. Wonder what’s making it pop again?
You need not be afraid to admit your secret desires, my friend.
I’m guilty of all the crimes you mentioned in number three. :::hangs head in shame::: Because I feel that I’ve worked already when I come home, I avoid writing (WORK) with lots of writing (PLAY). Of course, that doesn’t explain why I play-write in the mornings too. And now, when the paying day job is slow, I’m here, agreeing with you. Argh. Will go take photos of Bad Puppy now instead.
Re: “renting of garments.”
You kill me Scalzi. Good one.
And really, this problem of writing in blogs being such an all-fired distraction is merely a subset of the much broader and highly pernicious time-suck that is … READING blogs. I mean, seriously. How much more fun is it to look at wacky cute pictures of people’s cats (hi, Chang!) and read vitriolic (yet clever) spew on political and social topics, than to sit here, scrunch up my brain, and read these here journal articles on computational fluid dynamics modeling of stirred tank reactors?
Leisure is leisure, work is work. Don’t confuse the two, don’t let the former sabotage the latter, and boom, there ya go.
Is it just me or is there at least the teensiest element of irony in the fact that this rant is…on a blog?
I’ll shut up now.
Nathan, sssh!! The fourth wall is always load-bearing, don’cha know!
Actually, it’s just on a Web page. There’s a difference.
I don’t have anything to add to the conversation other than I LOVE Robin Hobb’s writing. eom
“Good sir, if we could have but just one moment of your time, we would kindly like to step inside your Internet home and spread the good news of the Church of Blogger-by-Day Saints. What’s that you say, sir? You already believe in the power (pronounced as pow-war!) of the good blog? Well, sir, I am afraid that I must tell you that without accepting the salvation offered through the Church of Blogger-by-Day Saints, you may fall victim to the heathen ways of not blogging every moment of your life! For it would surely be a true shame if, on the Holy Day of Singularity, the newly born AI savior was to cast your domain name into the firewall guarded pit of dial-up connection hell for your lack of devotion! Please, sir, allow us to save you so that you too can spread the good news of bloggi… Sir? Sir? Why are you reaching to turn on your virtual sprinklers while we are still standing outside on your virtual lawn? We will get soaked.”
*slams door closed*
Sorry, I couldn’t help it. This just popped into my head after reading this entry and I just had to share it all in good fun. I hope it makes people laugh and not get angry. If it is any conciliation, I will be walking around for the rest of the day randomly saying pow-war!
I am very fond of Robin Hobb. Her work is lovely and her online interactions with her readers are always gracious. Certainly she has been very kind to me in all our interactions online (I frequent her newsgroup). So I am quite glad that you aren’t going to break her kneecaps with harsh words, Mr. Hitman Scalzi.
Some people are very private and some are not. To those who are very private, blogging can indeed seem like literary pole-dancing . . .an exhibitionistic actiivity to say the least. To those who are not very private, blogging is easy. My partner is very private; I am not private at all. I have often been amazed at how she finds safety and security in keeping things to herself while I find safety and security in letting it all hang out there. it isn’t about being extroverted or introverted (we are both introverts) but it is something else fundamental about how we perceive the world.
Some people are too private to blog. Some are too sensitive to deal with the casual cruelty of stupid people online. To some folks, like Robin Hobb, blogging and the reading of blogs feels vampiric.
But some of us like a little bloodletting to start the day off. :-P
I am amused by the idea that blogging is merely a side pursuit. But then again, it so often is a side pursuit and place to go rant.
There’s a large difference between my LiveJournal and Spontaneous Derivation and its sister sites. My LJ is easy to write in; it’s just a diary.
But Spontaneous Derivation is hard work for me, because these days it (and its subdomains) are a house for non-fiction that is extremely difficult to pull off, whether it’s creative non-fiction, deep analysis of a Sherlock Holmes story, or how-to series for taking a blog from Blogger to WordPress without losing backlinks.
In fact, material for Sd has gotten to the point where I need to spend an entire weekend writing up posts for the week, otherwise I can only manage posts every other day at minimum best.
I’m in the curious position where my LJ has the potential of removing my time for serious blogging; and also where fiction writing removes my time for serious blogging. Yes; these days I consider myself a blogger first, and fiction writer second, although it’s probably more along the lines of non-fiction first, fiction second.
Additionally, I have a day job that, these days, I love.
Something’s gotta give, and I chose fiction. I think it’s quite possible to juggle all four, but I can only manage three. And for some, they can at most juggle two; full-time writers seem to do blogging/writing, writers with day jobs seem to do day job/writing.
And everyone can dabble. I just dabble in fiction.
I never really thought I’d take that position actually. Especially after Sd actually became something like a second job. But that’s how it fell for me.
Mind you, I tend to be a bit sensitive about the whole “blogging is a meaningless pursuit” thing, but I figure they’re just talking about diaries.
Um–excuse me . . . delurking here (having missed the Delurkers Thread, rats) . . . but am I the only one Out Here who thought that Robin Hobbs’ rant was supposed to be funny? Rather than, say, hysterically over-the-top? True, the core point was simple and serious—work before play, focus on what’s most important to you as a writer (what that is being the writer’s choice, I would add, myself)–but I thought the tone was, well, intentionally humorous.
Am I missing something? Or is this just my peculiar sense of humor kicking in again?
Wow..I enjoyed her rant. She should not be attacked but commended.
My disclaimer is that I am not a writer. So I am innocent right?
/me does the dance of innocence.
Renting of garmets? She doesn’t write wearing her own clothes? Well, whatever gets the creative juices flowing, I guess.
Mary @17, nah, I think you’re right. But funny can be a… selective thingy on the basis of the audience.
In an audience of people who blog, it’s sort of a touchstone to a virtual flamewar. Unless folks are confident enough in their blogging that they simply shrug and smile.
I kind of wonder if there is under-running guilt of some sort that makes people want to go scream at her.
Mary Frances– I agree, I think it’s totally meant to be funny. And it sounds like she’s speaking from personal experience, too!
Time to quote Ben Franklin again:
That’s why typing isn’t writing.
Now on the other hand, blogging is marketing, an important part of the business (that many writers hope their agent, manager, editor and/or publisher are doing for them).
For instance, I’d never have read OMW if not for Cory Doctorow blogging about it (Me: “Meh, sounds like more Mil-SF”), for that matter Cory’s link to Stross’s downloadable “Accelerando” brought me to Charlie Stross’ work too (Hugo nomination wasn’t enough for me to read “Iron Sunrise” — sounded too cheesy). You’ve pointed me (through those Big Ideas) to a couple more authors.
But wait — those are all marketing other people… No, not exactly. It’s also showing me you write well, with different POVs than your characters (not an obvious thing for many readers).
I don’t think all blogging is marketing. Some blogging is just journaling. Even my own serious blogging is not meant to be marketing.
Besides, even the successful marketing blogs are based on doing stuff for other people. You’ll be way more successful “marketing” someone else’s stuff than your own, if you want to think of it that way. Another way to think of it is that people don’t want to read marketing stuff.
They want to read stuff that entertains and is useful to them.
You wouldn’t call books marketing the writer. I have no idea why blogs would be considered differently, apart from the “there’s lots of free places to blog” thing. But the serious blogger pretty much ends up paying for the various things anyways.
Maybe it’s because blogging has the potential to reach a larger audience? But so do books.
Meh. I really take exception to the idea that all blogs are just about the blogger.
Perhaps it’s my own queer brain partition, but I perceive it as there are different “types” of writing.
Writing in blogs and on comments is off-the-cuff and doesn’t force me to be too far into my brain.
Writing for my company (that is, the content for our games) is somewhat similar, although sometimes having to work the math and explain all the details forces me into that deeper brainspace.
Writing fiction, however, more or less wipes out the world around me. I’m in the story, in my head, and pretty much the only way to drag me out is to drop an anvil on my head.
I don’t think every writer is like this, though. I have observed otherwise great fiction writers who have tried to start a blog, only to be perfectly miserable at it. Not every literary writer is a blogger. Not every blogger is a literary writer. And don’t get me started on literary writers who get hired to work on storylines for games, because my opinions on that would probably evoke a foaming at the mouth response akin to Robin Hobb’s post.
If I obsessed over a blog post the same way I have been obsessing over the short story that’s due in, oh, two days I would be a miserable wreck. But I don’t, because I don’t see them the same way.
Or, to put this much simpler: what PNH said.
And don’t get me started on literary writers who get hired to work on storylines for games, because my opinions on that would probably evoke a foaming at the mouth response akin to Robin Hobb’s post.
Sean Stewart? Maureen McHugh? Ummm, am I missing something?
It helps to understand the structure of the medium in which you’re writing, and I suppose if you import someone who’s far enough away from the process that they do not inherently have to learn to manipulate the structure of the game, it could be difficult, but.
“Writing in blogs and on comments is off-the-cuff”
Another statement that may be true for one individual, but certainly isn’t universally true. There are blog posts it’s taken me the better part of two days to write, because it was important to me to say it right.
In addition to PNH’s comments in #26, I’ll also point to Hal Duncan’s Notes From The Geek Show blog and Fred Clark’s Slacktivist. I don’t think that either of those blogs, taken as a unit, could be considered “off-the-cuff.” Both of them are brilliant intellectual works.
Robin Hobb’s rants are always meant to be over-the-top funny with a core truth in there somewhere. If you look at the placement of her rants on her website they are in the mad woman in the attic area. One look at the pictures in that area will clue you in to the tone.
She even has a warning to enter at your own risk.
Unfortunately her rants are regularly pulled out of their context and posted elsewhere as troll-bait by those who like to stir things up for their own amusement.
I think all of this ignores the most important point: “What’s in Robin Hobb’s attic, that she needs to keep the door to it locked???”
Jay Lake has a livejournal. He seems to be doing Just Fine ™ while living in what Robin Hobb thinks is a time and writing vampire. In fact, I’d say his output is pretty damn good.
As is, let’s see… Jo Walton, Cat Valente, and E. Bear off the top of my head.
I get that there’s a “ha ha, only kidding, except where I’m not” edge to the rant. I also think it’s in many ways a sign of what writerly generation Hobb comes from. Newer writers have blogs. Blog are, among other things, marketing efforts by authors who’re not getting marketed as well as they’d like. Hobb is established, and probably has a better maketer/agent/publicity group for her books. Hobb probably does not make social connections online, or get the value of it, both personal and career wise.
In the scale of it, it’s just a “damn kids, get off my lawn” rant. Actually, not even that funny.
Ah, an instance of the rant intended to be funny but that, taken at face value, tends to generate flamewars…
See, humour *is* difficult.
Robin Hobb actually has a newsgroup in which she is quite active with her community of readers, and I think does value making connections online. She doesn’t have to communicate personally the way she does, and she is always pleasant.
As a trying-to-be-writer, I identified with the line about thinking, “Oh look at the hours of work I’ve done! Just sitting in front of my computer is work and I am weary!” Because it’s self deception. And it happens to me all the time. I have a personal blog and a sports-related blog I run, and it is a huge time suck. The depth of the writing is not comparable to fiction, so it’s tricky in that it makes you think you’re writing, while it’s not the type of writing you need to be doing.
Erm, Josh Jasper @ 30, see Karen’s comment @ 15:
“Her work is lovely and her online interactions with her readers are always gracious. Certainly she has been very kind to me in all our interactions online (I frequent her newsgroup).”
Newsgroup = online social interaction. Blogging isn’t the only form of online interaction. I also note a lot of ‘probably’s in your random assertions. This isn’t to say that I agree with Hobb, cos I don’t really. Just… sounding like you know what you’re talking about is sometimes a good idea, yeah?
wrt Eddie @33: blogging is indeed not the only form of online interaction; it’s just one of many. Forums and newsgroups are, in fact, very often larger in audience than the big blogs in the same niche.
Success in blogging depends a lot on online interaction and networking. You have to go beyond the blog.
And to that end, you might never have a blog and just a website, but still be well-known. It helps to have a presence online with respect to your own URL, but it is not enough.
Oh, this is classic!
I was just settling down to do my day’s work. Gotta do 1000 words a day, at least. In a perfect world, I could get 360,000 words a year, at least. Then I could throw away 1/3 of them as bad writing, and still have a 210,000 word fat fantasy novel. Even in an imperfect word, this still works for me, every year.
Unless someone sends me a note saying, ‘Hey, did you see that GRRM mentioned your blog rant on his newsgroup and it got lots of responses, and then John Scalzi talked about it, too?”
Well, how do you resist going to peek, just to see what people are saying? How do you resist reading what all those posts say?
GRRM saved me. I can’t respond on his ‘not a blog’ because you have to have a LiveJournal account to post there. And I don’t, and I won’t, so he has saved me from myself. In fact, after skimming only 3 or 4 posts, I tore myself away and said, “No use reading what you can’t respond to.”
But, instead of settling down to hammer on chapter 5, here I am, tip-typing away on John Scalzi’s territory. Even though I know better. Time keeps ticking away, and this is not filling the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds worth of distance run. :) (Spot the plagiarism?George Martin would, I’m sure.)
I just turned 56, and I’ve been writing on a keyboard for, well, since I was 18, anyway. Lots of keystrokes, lots of wear and tear on the old hands. I now know my fingers have a limited number of keystrokes per day before they hurt. I just used up 1, 452 of them. Er, actually, it’s more now, isn’t it? But back then, before I typed that sentence, I’d used up 279 words, too!
Now, obviously, these are easy, off the top of my head words. And I’m still going to write my 1000 book words today. But I’d better get to them soon, because I also watch my 3 grandkids, all under 7, today (and most days) and they are going to arrive on my doorstep pretty soon.
I’m pretty sure that if I didn’t watch the grandkids every day, I could blog, live journal, etc. But for me, it’s a ‘no contest’ question. Same for my grown kids, who would much rather drop off my genetic rockets to the future here than entrust them to institutionalized day care. So, if anyone wants to write a rant about how a writer could get more writing done by not watching his/her grandchildren, feel free.
My ‘rants’ are always intended to be over the top–I trust everyone here knows that? If you start out at my website and explore the attic, eventually you’ll find the ‘rant’ area after passing all the warnings.
But here is what is absolutely true, serious and not over the top at all. For sports and for life. You Get What You Train For. You don’t become a tennis champ by swimming a lot. You will not become a novelist by blogging a lot and replying to posts and sending supportive notes to your friends. (You can become a novelist by writing a novel on your blog, but I trust that everyone knows that’s not the type of blogging I’m talking about.)
See, this is the problem. This is such easy writing. I could go on and on and on, just blather along for hours here, long after I’ve said what I meant to say. Just words and more words, and I could actually say to myself, “Well, I’m being a writer! I’m increasing my profile.” But this isn’t, really, being the kind of writer that I need to be.
I need to be a writer who tells a story and gets paid for it.
No story told, no writer paid.
I don’t get to do that each day. I got a bunch of kids to get through college.
Time to stop.
You Get What You Train For.
True that. Though mostly I use the more serious writing on my blog to get over the writing-seriously-on-schedule block. (Yeah, that went down the toilet this month. Stupid fiction.)
You will not become a novelist by blogging a lot and replying to posts and sending supportive notes to your friends.
You won’t even become a professional blogger…. if by blogging a lot you mean “random yap”.
Ouch. Josh Jasper, beware ;-)
BTW, this is another of the exquisite but excruciating ironies of the internet: everything ends up linked somewhere unintended, eventually… And then of course misunderstood, misquoted, misrepresented, and so on and so forth.
And all about something most sane people, basically, agree about: blogging can be one’s person procrastinating, and another person’s playtime. And for others, it can even be marketing, or fan-husbandry. But it’s not the same as novel writing. (Even if I can well imagine somebody using the blog form for a novel, and even publishing it online… But it’s another story. One someone probably already wrote, anyway.)
Just a reminder?
So true – and not just for blogging. Sitting in front of a computer all day and writing the sort of documents full of words like “hereinbefore” and “defendant is therefore not entitled to relief as a matter of law” really, really kills the urge to write normal stuff. I find that I actually write more when I’ve spent the last 16 hours running around making court appearances. That’s not typing.
Arachne@23: Everything our host does here markets himself. Admittedly when I blog over on my thigmotaxic (all of 43 readers on a peak week, probably mostly spiders from here), I’m just ranting or gushing, I’m not marketing squat.
And Robin@35 — you’ve just increased the chances I’ll read one of your books. Even if you think what you’ve done is useless.
Hmm… as a corollary to the TruFan posts of the last couple days, maybe what you need to get those magic 1000 is friends whose blogs respect you?
Without LJ, I would not get any writing done at all, because I’d be dead. Absolutely no exaggeration involved.
So. You know. As in all things, people are different.
(And while perhaps one does not swim one’s way to a tennis championship, cross-training is not a bad thing, and usually helps – I don’t know any of my sports friends who MERELY does their one and only chosen sport in all their hours. I also came out of music school – wherein all voice majors, including yours truly, were required to have another instrument, too.)
Joel @39: That’s certainly one interpretation. I don’t know if the cat blogging or the frequent non-sequitars and so on are actually marketing. Nor are the serious articles he writes. Nor are the serious articles I write.
Nor are a lot of the articles that Darren at ProBlogger writes, nor even what Maki at DoshDosh writes. They are *about* marketing, but they are not actually marketing.
Unless all writing is just marketing. You might as well call books marketing at that point, though I have seen books that try to market. Fiction tends not to be of that style of kidney.
I strongly agree with her, but at the same time know, as it has been said already, that everyone is different. Among the many reasons I have difficulty with blogs: it’s taxing, distracting, and, yes, greatly impacts productivity (and subsequently sanity levels). If it’s a force that works more *against* a writer than *with* … they should kill the damned thing. Simple as that. If they don’t, it is their folly.
This is going to have to be vetted by the Council of All Writers Must Do Things The Same Way And Agree On Everything.
You may recall the recent proclaimation from the Council of AWMDTTSWAAOE that all novels must begin with the word “Isopod”. Compliance is mandatory.
I’ve got a Livejournal. In the last seven days, I’ve written 1,7K of contracted-for non-fiction, 3K of fiction and about ten sentences of blog post. Just another data point for the spectrum.
But I have been through times when waiting for comments to my blog or responses to comments I left on other people’s blogs was more important than writing – or more important than sleeping, for that matter. They tended to coincide with times when I was feeling especially depressed or isolated, or when I didn’t have a clue where the writing was headed.
I want a cromulent career as well.
I’m going to go blog about cromulentlessness.
The facetious of her rant was pretty easy to pick up–not sure why anyone would take it seriously enough to actually get up in arms about it.
I found it amusing and mostly just plain common sense.
Writer’s write, sure, but writers who want to get paid write saleable material.
Am I the only one who didn’t know that Robin Hobb was female? For some reason, I always thought it was a guy writing all those books.
Hey, is it still “Invent a word day” somewhere? I ask because “cromulent” has me stumped. Are you using Conan the Barbarian’s expression of awe (Crom)? Is it based off of Lent, indicating the giving up of crom during Lent? I’m always interested in word usage, hah.
Completely ignoring the subject:
I like blogging; I think it’s fun and it’s certainly done well by me.
I originally read the second apostrophe-S in that sentence as standing for “is” rather than “has”. I found it amusing. That is all.
Patrick’s right on about it varying between writers, and also for any given writer between circumstances. I have days when I have to lock myself away from commenting (and sometimes from reading my usual haunts) to get anything done, and other days when venting or rambling or expositing on something I care about really helps me get the creative juices flowing and write well on paying projects. The only thing a writer can do, really, is try out various approaches and see what works most reliably, then do that most of the time.
I thought Robin’s rant was funny, myself, although I took it with a grain of salt. Partially because I don’t confuse my journalling with my other writing, partly because there are lots of other things I do that have potentially more impact on whether I write. Things like not rigourously scheduling my World of Warcraft or Civilization so they don’t impinge upon the rest of my life. :) So yeah, the lesson I took away seems to be the one Scalzi did: Prioritize the writing and don’t let other things (taking baths, reading other people’s books, killing giant mech monsters, rock out on Guitar Hero) get in the way of your writing if you really really want to be a writer*.
(It probably helps that I don’t watch TV or even very many DVDs. But I have plenty of other distractions.)
*I note that really really wanting to be a writer is different than merely saying you do. I mean, in my early twenties, I went for nearly five years of saying I wanted to be a writer AND NOT WRITING. *head-desk* Too bad I had not yet discovered Scalzi’s advice on laptops and coffee shops.
First, I thoroughly enjoy Robin’s works. I’ve read all of them, even those she wrote under her other name, and just finished her latest a couple of days ago. But I really wasn’t aware of her more humorous side until I read this rant. And I must agree: blogging is a serious time suck. But it’s fun! And ego-boosting! And let’s you interact with all those others who think it’s fun! More power to all the bloggers in the world!
Eddie Clark @ 33 – are we sure the comments in the newsgroup are actual connections? I got polite comments from JMS back when he was posting to rec.arts.sf.babylon5.moderated. I certainly don’t think there was a connection.
But your point is made. I shoulda payed more attention :-/
Blogging is writing for an audience, and let’s face it, that’s why many people want to get their novel published in the first place. Blogging is also an immediate reward for effort. Write the blog, publish it, and anyone with an internet connection could be reading it within seconds.
Compare that to the 10-14 years some novelists wait until they finally, maybe, see their work in print*, and you can see why blogs are popular.
* That was based on an admittedly small sampling of HarperCollins Voyager authors here in australia, on the Purple Zone forum. It was the average time from the day these authors started the first sentence of their first published novel, until the day it was released. Didn’t include false starts & trunked novels.
Before I write my own column, I like to warm up by visiting random blogs and leaving comments. I consider it to be akin to shadow boxing before the fight a bit, to loosen up the arms.
At first I was offended by Robin Hobb’s tone, then when I read her post more thoroughly I realise that she has a point.
As a professional writer who is trying to write her first novel I find myself totally written out at the end of the day. At a time when I’m supposed to write at least a few words of my novel, I’d rather sit slumped in front of the TV. The thought of writing more words at the end of the day plain tires me out.
But I must also say that blogging opens up an avenue for readers to see another side of the writer. If you can discipline yourself NOT to spend TOO much time on your blog (and sadly, that can SO happen) you can blog and write that manuscript at the same time.
I have made so many precious friends around the world because of my blog. It’s not all bad :)