Saturday, December 4, 2010
Truman Capote: "That's not writing! It's just typing!"
You know how they say you shouldn't go to the market when you're hungry? They should also say, "You shouldn't blog when you're in a bad mood." Having said that: Here I go!
Some people tell me that if I want people to “know me as a writer,” I’m supposed to “blog every day.”
Blog every day? Uh-oh! If that’s the case, I have to blog a whole bunch more, because my last blog on this site, prior to this one, was eight months ago – my last blog is dated May 29th!
First of all – what on earth would I blog about? I like movies, but there are already ten million people who write about movies on line, and probably, they write better than I can write. I could write something political, but there are definitely people who do that better than me, as well -- not to mention that the fact that I hate liberals and conservatives (people who only see 'their own sides') alike. I guess I could write “curmudgeonly” pieces about my “pet peeves,” but I’ve already written a few of those – scroll down, and you can see ‘em – and when I read them back, they strike me as being more than a little creepy.
When I started this blogsite about a year ago, I thought it was a good idea – and in a way, it is a pretty good idea once in a great while, because I can use it as a catch-all for some previously unpublished articles I wrote, which I have already posted – my interviews with Milton Berle and with a porn king, the weird screenplay I posted, and an article about what it was like to be a student in the legendary author Terry Southern’s writing class.
But mostly, blogging, to call a spade a spade, is bullshit, an extreme form of impotently narcissistic navel gazing – which is the reason I won’t allow myself to do it that much. I have some friends who publish wonderful blogs which are truly moving and amazing, but this piece isn't meant for them -- this is for everybody else in the world.
Blogging’s not new – there’s always been blogging, but it used to be called “my private thoughts that are not interesting enough to share with other people and which I should just keep to myself.” Thanks to the internet, everybody’s half-assed private thoughts, including my own, are now considered to be “writing.” But as Truman Capote once opined, correctly, when he was describing Jack Kerouac's excruciatingly rambling prose, “That’s not writing… it’s just typing.”
The other problem with blogging, is that it has ruined journalism and strangled magazines and newspapers out of existence. Every sentient, mouth-breathing creature in the world has a blogsite, and all of these blog ‘articles’ are mixed in with the real journalism, and it has cheapened journalism – literally so, because, ten years ago, during the internet boom, before blogging, I would get paid $250 or $350 a piece to write articles for these early e-zines, and now that there’s a deluge of writing on the internet, those same artlcles that used to pay $350 are now paying $5 or $10.
What everybody has to learn – and I’ve already absorbed this lesson – is that we should all keep our thoughts in our own heads. Unless you're John Steinbeck or Upton Sinclair, you have to realize that nobody can change the world by pecking at a keyboard. Just like you don't want to hear my problems, sometimes I don't want to hear yours. When you blog, you're telling the world, "Here I am! Look at me!" Well, guess what: The world is busy accumulating money and buying stupid computerized gadgets and taking its cracker-munchers to soccer practice. The world doesn't want to hear it. And I don't want to hear how your little genius did on his spelling test today, or how your azaleas or jacarandas are doing. Honest-injun, I don't! Your blog posting might feel therapeutic for you while you're writing it, but for me, it's like nails on a chalkboard.
Plus, on a very basic level: Why on earth would anybody write anything for free? Does your doctor work for free? Your kid's teacher? The guy who fixes your car? Of course not. And writing is work, too. And here in America, writing equals money. I am continually amazed by anybody who would give anything away for free... unless, of course, you're doing a charitable act, which is of course great and ennobling and something that all of us could stand to do a little more of, most of the time. If you want recognition, go to Darfur and feed some kids, don't write a blog about some plastic surgery-case you saw on "Dancing with the Stars" last night.
And: The same people who tell me I'm supposed to blog every day also tell me that I'm supposed to do it so I can "brand myself, on line," but I'm not a brand! I'm a person, a regular fortysomething man with a lousy attitude! If I were a brand I would probably be "Colgate with MFP," but I'm just me. Some people infuriate me to no end...
Maybe tomorrow I'll wake up in a better mood and I'll decide that I like blogging, and I'll erase this and write fifteen new entries. But today I think blogging is dumb. In fact, it's so dumb, I had to write a blog about it because I am the world's biggest hypocrite!
In director Terence Malick's Badlands (1973), young mass murderers Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek, who know they are fated for a tragic end, make their way into a recording booth, in which they lay down an acetate of their voices as a way of demonstrating to the world that they were "here" and that they "mattered." That's what blogging is: Blogging is when disenfranchised or unimportant people want the world to know that they were here, so they make recordings of their voices. (I do it, too.)
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