Well, I'm on antibiotics and really, truthfully, I feel very crappy. Make that very, very. I'm plopped in front of the computer and thought to type something in the hopes that I can escape my misery.
I've been blog hopping over the past week. One article in particular by Richard Cohen has been occupying my thoughts in my quieter moments. The post (and resulting comments) dealt with questions I've been wondering about, the impact of blogging in our society, the value of my own type of writing. In the end, I found myself asking, at what point does a fictional piece become a memoir? Where is that fine line?
I've always liked writing "creative non-fiction" (the term slightly repulsing Matt Bell). I enjoy telling my personal tales in delicate language, decriptive language. Sometimes, I go farther though. Sometimes I take an event from my life and use it as fodder for short stories, or the beginning of the occasional unfinished novel. "Secretary" for instance...I was that girl in the door one time. I turned the situation around, making commentary on certain problems that might never be remedied no matter the law. My experience was the influence for the short story, but not the script. On the other hand, I wrote a story once about a woman who had a penchant for killing off her dependent boyfriends. I never did that. But the character drove a VW Bug that was very much like my best friend's Bug that she drove. And the guy...well, he reminded me of myself in some ways, giving, dependent, oblivious. And the poem...that never happened, but I do remember feeling sad, losing love, realizing that all the poetry in the world would never bring him back to me.
Where is that line though, and what of the "blogging world?" Is it really leading to the decline of fiction? Just because so many can now post their own stories in their own unique styles, which all might be just prettied up personal experience? Which is not that much different than what Dante did or James Joyce. Those authors were heavily dependent on their personal experiences. Their work pulled real-world experience and, thanks to their creative genius, spat out those experiences in the form of fantastic fiction.
They used an already-existing medium and ventured into new territory with their particular works. They raised the bar for fiction, for creative writing.
I tend to think blogging is simply another medium. Yes, it's accessible, but not all that widely. It's accessible only to the technology-friendly folks, first off. Navigating the blogs itself takes experience, takes time. Getting read by others takes real effort. You have to get on other Blogrolls (new term), you need to get on bloggie (made-up term) search-engines, you need to get out there. Ultimately, you have to have something good to say to make an impact. Good writing, good fiction, good poetry, good memoirs.
Blogs are not going to take the place of literary journals or the small presses. I do not believe that commercial fiction will take over. There will always be the revolutionary reader and writer who will seek out something different and special. Something better than the best-selling non-fiction and fiction.
So, to get anywhere, you're going to have to raise the bar. Or...get fired for saying something really, really bad on your blog.
In the end, I don't feel worried about the future of fiction or memoirs at the hands of the blog. All fiction in my opinion comes from our real lives in some way or another, whether it's from observing the world from freight cars or experiencing it ourselves while driving our kids to school and back. The line between great fiction, great memoirs, and the common boring blog will be found. Good work is going to come from those who rise above the rest, like the cliche cream. The "good" writers will do it no matter what the medium.
As they say...this is all just my little old opinion.