A Writer's Make - The Jose Vilson

A Writer’s Make

by Jose Vilson on September 14, 2008

in Jose

Question: What’s the difference between a blogger and a writer?

Yesterday, a friend of mine decided she’d abandoned blogging for a myriad of reasons, all of them viable and understandable in the eyes of the reader and the writer alike. It hurt me to read because I honestly believe in her ability to convey her deepest emotions and ideas. Even when she extended the post, she never bored people with the writing, eliciting expanded responses from her more devoted fans. Yet, because it was so personal, she didn’t write consistently. When she did, the “numbers” went up, but when she didn’t, well, only her most loyal fans stuck around.

Of course, this can only go two ways: either people love her writing and she’s lauded as a contemporary of her time, offering her book deals and money to do her thing on paperback, or she quits blogging as a whole, leaving her talent abandoned and unexposed to a greater community that may eventually appreciate it. Unfortunately for this heroine, the latter happened. And again, her reasons for leaving get to the heart of the ugly side of blogging. She may be a great writer, but she’s not a great blogger, and despite everyone’s arguments to the contrary, there’s evidence that there’s a difference after all.

I’m not going to name names, but oftentimes, I’ll read a blog and think how, while their point of view may be interesting and sometimes entertaining, it’s not good writing. In some of these blogs (irrespective of background), I’ll find misspellings, confusing conjugations and conjunctions, and just a lack of English (or any language) mastery. These bloggers will put up a controversial picture or speak on nonsense, yet the comments, links, and page views keep coming in the hundreds and sometimes thousands. It’s an interesting cross between crass production, formulaic name-branding, and salacious marketing. I admittedly read some of these blogs, but no matter how drawn I am to the content, the less I’m drawn to the overall writing. Many writers looking to get their writing careers off, thus, have a hard time fitting in because this new medium doesn’t always fit into the mold of the blogger, and gets disheartened in the process.

Granted, many of my favorite bloggers meet at the crossroads of popularity and solid writing. People like The Unapologetic Mexican, NYC Educator, and despite our disagreements about whether or not teachers should write poems, dy/dan, and hold the vanguard down in their respective fields. They, along with a lot of the bloggers in my sidebar, attest to how one can be a good blogger AND a good writer, so it’s not contradictory. Yet, relatively speaking, these type of blogs are becoming few and far between. So either people write well and don’t have much of a following, or they write so-so but have huge followings. I don’t like making gross generalizations like that, but the examples of both cases are overwhelming.

With that said, if you’re a writer who wants to blog, go right ahead. Yet, don’t let page views, subscribers, Technorati ratings, incoming links, and every other Internet gizmo determine your worth. Some people are just better at marketing and writing good blogs, and some aren’t. You can’t correlate how good your writing is with how popular it’s going to be.

However, if you reallllllly want to write, the only person that matters is YOU. You can only write as well as you believe you can. Once that happens, then you’ve gotta decide what kind of writer you’ll become.

What’s your take on this? Maybe it might help new writers and bloggers alike.

jose, who just wanted to write this in the aftermath of my friend’s resignation …

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

nezua September 14, 2008 at 3:05 pm

love it man. you’re right. write for the heart.

gracias for your words on my blog and writing, hermano. i really appreciate that.

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Alisha September 14, 2008 at 3:36 pm

I much prefer reading blogs of people who are good, solid writers. The written language deserves to be expressed well. I find myself not visiting as frequently when the writing is hard to understand because of the “grammar and usage”.

But, I also think the more you practice and “sample” other writers. . . the better you SHOULD become.

Alishas last blog post..And you thought she was conservative!!!

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NYC Educator September 14, 2008 at 3:41 pm

Jose,

Thanks for the kind words. Sorry to hear about your friend. Personally, I feel that way whenever I see another good teacher bite the dust. Most, it seems, do so before they hit five years. It’s a shame.

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Kevin September 14, 2008 at 4:13 pm

Agreed.

There’s another odd aspect to this dynamic though. NOT being able to write is often seen as a badge of honor on the one hand, and then often used as a catch-all excuse to dismiss an argument on the other. I’ve seen many a blog that takes pride, even boasts about how they “keep it real” by never proofreading or caring about actually expressing themselves clearly. I’ve also seen (way too often), people attack a solid, well-written argument, not on the grounds of the argument, but because the author misspelled something.

I like the freedom that blogging affords writers. I think of it as offering the opportunity for people to explore their inner James Joyce. You’re free to experiment with new ways of expressing yourself, and there’s no copy editor/writing teacher like myself looking over your shoulder and pointing out that comma splice. Unfortunately, not a lot of bloggers see blogging as art (and yes, writing is an art form). Blogging is all about links and who you know; however, as your examples prove, it doesn’t have to be that way.

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brran1 September 14, 2008 at 5:29 pm

I subscribe to the train of thought that if your argument/statements are cogent to the point where everything flows, people usually are oblivious to the 1 or 2 spelling errors that may be in place. I’ve also been told on several occasions by the few people that know me both on and offline, that I type the way I speak (if that makes any logical sense).

When it’s all said and done, I’d rather be a blogger known for exceptional writing, storytelling and inciting thought, than a blogger known for mediocre writing and 50 billion comments.

(Looks like you finally gave me something new to share in the G-Reader. Great post.)

brran1s last blog post..I Bid You Adieu…

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Bronx2020 September 14, 2008 at 8:53 pm

Because of my interest in joining the NYC Teaching Fellows program, I’ve been searching out education-related blogs, usually by teachers, many by Teaching Fellows… and Jose, I couldn’t agree with you more about the lack of quality on many blogs. What concerns me is the lack of writing skill among TEACHERS — the very people from whom our kids are learning.

I want to leave comments correcting their syntax, their grammar, and more than anything, their STYLE. I can forgive a typo; oops you wrote too instead of to — hell, we all make mistakes. But some people write with no style, which is so much more difficult to explain and teach people than grammar and syntax.

Ok. I’ll end my second-hand rant off of your rant.

Bronx2020s last blog post..NYCTF Info Session — My Thoughts

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talda September 14, 2008 at 9:56 pm

i am attracted to blogs with good to great writing. i get distracted easily when it comes to poor syntax, grammar and misspellings and what not. sometimes the argument is strong enough to overcome those aesthetic shortcomings but most of the time it’s not. it’s almost like a beautiful person with a bad attitude…completely unfortunate.

i took to blogging because i love to write and fancy myself as a good writer. i do hope that, as i continue blogging, i can turn that “good” into a “great” with the constant practice.

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e. September 14, 2008 at 10:36 pm

Jose,

I feel you. I think at one point you shared an article about the difference between writers and bloggers. I think we all know the frustration that comes after you write a really dope piece and get no comments and then you share a funny video or picture and you get tons of comments. It’s the life of a blogger.

That said, I do think there is a different between writers and bloggers. And as your other comments have demonstrated, I’m not alone in my thinking. I hope your friend continues to write privately.

peace,
e.

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Jose September 14, 2008 at 10:49 pm

nezua, anytime. You already know what it is.

Alisha, you’re right. We should get better if you’re sampling other good writers, but the problem is, some bad writers are so thoroughly convinced until they get into other venues and find themselves at a huge road block.

NYC, that’s gonna be a post I’ll have to write about soon since it’s already happened a couple of times this year.

Kevin, you’re definitely another good blogger for sure. I’ve really gotta think about what makes a good blogger, and not just contrast, because the people in my Google Reader are rather impressive, moreso than the reads Google offered me at first as examples. I’m all for networking, but it need not be so … blatant.

brran1 I’m glad I could share something worth sharing with others.

Bronx2020, now imagine how I feel since I’ve been in this for 5 years now. I’d pull out my red marker at every turn if I didn’t know it’d hurt my monitor.

talda, when we’re focused, we tend to be very good writers. And I do use we for real.

e, for her sake, I hope she does, too.

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Miss Profe September 15, 2008 at 3:41 am

Thank you for the post, Jose.

I strive to write well, and to write for myself. However, I also strive to write well, and, hopefully, inform/inspire/educate readers via my posts.

My readership may not be wide, but it is loyal.

BTW: You are a wonderful writer, Jose.:)

Miss Profes last blog post..Faculty Kids

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Tracy Rosen September 15, 2008 at 6:26 am

Uninspiring writing is just that – uninspiring. What is the whole preoccupation with page views anyway? Once in a while I am reviewed (or even review myself) for stumbleupon. My page views go way up. But I would much rather have a few solid readers who leave me comments that make me think, that stretch my writing and reflection than page views. Don’t view me, interact with me!

I guess if someone is swayed by the whole cult of personality thing, as a writer, then maybe blogging isn’t the write venue.

Tracy Rosens last blog post..Learning From My Students As I Rise

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Bam September 15, 2008 at 7:08 pm

I think writing is an extremely intimate and personal thing. With that said, it is almost impossible to write something, other than research and not inject oneself into it.

Notice I said writing. Not just novelists or bloggers write…

In blogging I searched for a ripple. That doesn’t mean comments to me. It means people who are reading, and then more people who are reading. To some this may amount to page hits, but I mean READERS, which also includes RSS. If you read me, then you are interested on some level and that matters. Regardless of the fact that the source of my writing and that of many writers is a very personal place.

At the point where I can not hold a couple handfuls of attention spans, it becomes no longer worth it. “It” being the part of me I invest when I take time to write.

I wasn’t asking for much. Loyalty, and I was woman enough to admit that the lack thereof was probably largely my fault.

Thanks for the post.

B.

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CathrynMarie November 3, 2008 at 9:27 pm

One blogger suggested that I post tips on getting reading and such as I did a similar post for musicians – I expressed that it would be impossible for me to be taken serious by a bunch of head strong, I know everything, I’m a celeb blogger because I don’t advertise as a blogger and they’d question me. I write from time to time, more personal things than gossip blogs. From time to time I will show support for friends or something but I do not consider myself a blogger.

No disrespect to anyone, but today I read a post on Shakir Stewart and the blogger got a lot of props on the write up but all they did was post a few words from friends of Shakir and added that he was a great person. What exactly did this blogger do that made it unique and worthy of praises? To me, bloggers are people who copy already posted material and comment on it.

To each is on tho :) – CaT

CathrynMaries last blog post..The Anatomy of a Music Business BUZZ

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Jesse Muhammad December 15, 2008 at 10:25 am

Peace.

I agree with you on this. As a staff writer for The Final Call Newspaper and a blogger for our paper as well, I have seen some of the same things you have mentioned as I read through blogs every week just to see what others are talking about of substance.

When I post something on my blog, before I press “Publish” I always think how will this raise my readers one degree higher? I give them snippets of my upcoming articles in the Final Call or just address an issue in the country or world that nobody may have chimed in on. I balance it with some creative moments as well because I’m into the visual arts.

Being I writer is an art and I never take my readers for granted which I think some people do.

I’m glad someone referenced your site this morning on Twitter. I will be checking yours out.

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