Friday, October 15, 2010

The Small Press II: The Blog

I cannot quote the source, and I cannot even remember where I read it. It seems it was a news article I read on the internet about a year back. This time last year I worked part-time, and I do mean part-time, as an adjunct at Community College of Denver. I'll spare you the details, but I was terrified when at least 90% of my students turned in their first college paper written in text speak. I was floored. I looked to the internet to try to understand why a group of 60 students would do such a thing. They think in text speak. Instead of trying to change the ways of our young people, this particular article praised them. The part I remember the most was a statement which went like this: "This is the greatest revolution in language and communication since the Greeks." Now, how can we compare The Iliad with the ipad?
This was happening at the same time as I was dreaming of a better world. Admittedly, I am too old to want to change the world. In fact I do think it's silly. I see the signature gathers everyday: the ACLU, Save the Children; grassroots this, grassroots that; save the seals, Greenpeace. They are all young people, young people with apparent affluent upbringings. I say: "What?" They say: "Save the environment." I say: "Forget about it." They say: "Don't you care about the future?" I say: "No, I don't believe in it." They say: "I do." I say: "Go get a job like your father told you to do, or go be an artist, I can respect that." Then, before another word can pass thier lips, they check their cellphone. They say: "Yeah, whatever." And then they start on with their call, or their text, or whatever. Both of us have lost. Then I think, as I watch them operate a texting device, they aren't any different than those students I was just telling you about.
But is it really a revolution of communication and language? Doubtful.
Going back to this time last year, I decided that I wanted to join the technological world and spread my hi fi wings. I spent a few minutes looking at internet options, and when I became discouraged I called Freesia. Some of you may know her. Some of you may know that Freesia and I have been pen pals since 1986. 1986. Thats a long time to have a correspondence with anyone. At any rate, she suggested the blog.
I had heard of this blog stuff but as always I was a little gun shy. I opened an account, picked a scheme, and typed a few things. I left it at that.
The Small Press Festival in Boulder last March gave me new ideas about the world, communication and the importance of the small press. The notion that Umbrella Factory Magazine was created in the proper way was a baffling thought. We had done the right thing and we didn't even know it. At the time of the festival, we had just launched our first issue. Then, like now, we were learning. Between the creation of my blog in October and the Small Press Festival in March, all of my energy was wrapped up in Umbrella Factory.
The AWP conference in Denver last April lead me to new thoughts. At a workshop called "Platform" we were told, almost mandated to create a blog. See, as writers in the modern world, it is absolutely necessary to have a web presence. Okay, I thought, I have a blog. As you look at my postings, I really didn't start building this blog until the AWP. I must admit, it has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my entire career as a writer.
So, the Blog?
It helps to focus thought.
It solicits comments from others, whether they are subscribers, followers, or causal drop-bys.
It creates a presence.
It helps to focus thought. Have I said that already?
It helps with discipline. I've done my best to publish a post every week.
Furthermore, it's fun.
Is it the small press? Yes, I think so. It's the small press as well as it can be. A blogger can do just about anything they want to do. I've seen blogs that cover writing, movies, food, dogs and wow, you can learn from others. Blogs are classrooms, forums, news, ideas and in some situations, comedy shows.
The fact that anyone can create one, and everyone should, is the dangerous part of it. You see, everyone can become a reporter, a critic and an authority. Bloggers will kill the newpaper and print journalism. Perhaps that is a downside. After all, do you think the Nixon-Watergate scandal would have been so impactful on a blog? Who knows?
But as writers, yes, I think a blog is great source of exposure. It is the small press in the smallest form. It blends the technology with the ancient use of written language. We don't need to use text speak here, although I'm sure some do. Has the blog replaced the cave wall as our story telling forum? I doubt it. But it does serve a larger audience. Occasionally, I look at the stats. People are seeing me. Amazing.
I urge all of you out there to try it. Blog. Give us your verison of the small press. At the base of it, if you really think about it, all it all comes down to creation.

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