Arthur Plotnik was kind enough to answer a few questions directly for Down the Writer’s Path. This segment continues an interview that runs the rest of the week. Plotnik is the author of the newly released, Spunk & Bite: A Writer’s Guide to Punchier, More Engaging Language & Style. Copyright Vikk Simmons, 2006.
Let’s talk about blogging. You’ve done some yourself. Does it demand a particular type of approach in dealing with language? Does it warrant a place in a writer’s aresenal? Do you think it can be an important platform for writers? Some bloggers have been able to leap frog into a book contract as a result of their efforts. How should a writer approach blogging?
The recent YearlyKos convention of bloggers in Las Vegas—attended by a Who’s Who of luminaries and a gaggle of mainstream media correspondents—gives some idea of the power and potential of bloggery. But to think that putting up a blog will make you a Markos Moulitsas Zúniga (king of political bloggers), with book contracts pouring in, is akin to sending off a novel and waiting for the check by return mail.
Yes, writers should have a blog, with occasional posts, either as part of their own site or on a host platform. It’s an expected part of your digital business card these days, a presence that proclaims, “Hey, I’ve got something to say, too.” But one has to realize that, with virtually everyone having a blog, yours will have all the impact of a sandwich sign worn on Main Street—unless you dedicate yourself to it and its marketing. And then you’re taking time and energy away from the conventional writing pursuits, aren’t you?
The most avidly read blogs seem to be those that are ends in themselves—complete heads-up reporting, investigative scoops, vital information, select links, and name contributors. Or, good blogs lucky enough to catch the eye of some mainstream power. Yes, a fetching blog might interest a book editor, but so might writing and sending out interesting manuscripts and proposals.
I do a couple of blogs in the voice of an imaginary dog—Spunky—a pooch from the cover of Spunk & Bite. I do it for laughs, and to offer some realistic advice or cynical perspectives on publishing that would seem self-serving or petulant in my own voice. This is my blog presence. If someone looks for me, I’ll be there; that’s the main idea.
I blog in natural, conversational language, in the spirit of the personal “log” that blogs are supposed to be. I include useful links, but not so many as to launch the reader into otherspace. Fortunately, my host’s meg capacity discourages graphics, which can be distracting when overdone—just look at some of those MySpace blogs; they’re like The Matrix double-exposed over X-Men. I do a post every few weeks, disdaining automated notifications to a subscriber network (does anyone want those endless alerts?) It’s a very small effort, leaving me strength to write columns and books.
Here, by the way, is an interesting new view on why daily posting to your blog is very yesterday.
If you’ve come to the interview late, be sure you read the previous posts this week and the one by Brigit Ganske from last week. Check out Spunk & Bite and see for yourself why so many are praising Plotnik’s latest work. You might also want to check out Art’s website, Spunky’s Blogrr, and, Plotnik’s official bio. If you haven’t already, read my review of The Elements of Authorship then return for more soundbites from the Great Plotnik!