Since I officially became an academic, I’ve had a much harder time just stating an opinion, even on an unread page like this one. You could argue that this is a good thing – blogs have way too much opinion, way too little anxiety about publicly sharing opinions. Even tenured scholars like Jack Halberstam lose any claim to respect when their blog voice possesses them.
I think a lot of this worry is just a discourse marker – that would be words like “like,” “you know?” and “I mean,” to laypeople like the one I used to be – a way of indicating that I take academia seriously and therefore do not take myself seriously as an academic.
The blog isn’t the problem – it’s the idea that I might be something other than a blogger. And unfortunately, bloggers and real writers both have to make pages, and bloggers and real writers both damage their professional cred when they give in to writer’s block. They probably also drive away their audience when most of their product is meditations on Why I Am So Very Resistant to Writing.
And you know, as I finish my second cup of coffee, I’m getting frustrated with the blog-to-newsmag cultivar cycle – even as I see more and more authors trying to package their work for publication on sites like Salon. I gotta say, some of them authors don’t seem very well-suited to the format, or confident or comfortable in it.
Just like the five-paragraph book reports you remember from high school, the Salon/Slate thinkpiece is a very strict brief, more so since clickability. Its constraints become more obvious when they’re applied to everything from confessions of teenage alcoholics to excerpts from the introduction to a survey of eighteenth-century gay socialism. Not everyone is meant to write for Salon – and not everything on the internet should be available or amenable to Salon’s editors.
I don’t know whether I want to write short hits or longer work – I honestly cannot say at this point what my talents are. But I think blogging – or rather blogging as a rough editorial form, in sight and hope of sites that publish real journalists and pundits who really have developed and developed within this particular genre – has given me a particular sense of what those talents are.
(This is not an opportunity I would ever turn down! I hope that writing this on my blog does not make it harder for me to get money for packaging work for publication on sites like Salon! If you’re reading this, anyone at Salon, please let me write for you?! I can do good!?)
(I’m also not complaining about more diverse topics on sites like Salon – but you can’t just combine Slate’s Everything is Contrarianism brand to everything.)
And now I think I might be trying to find my way into a new genre – but maybe hampered by this long association of blogging with this particular topic. I’m apologizing for the awkwardness that betrays a bad fit.