Pen of choice

write well and I’ll even ignore the bloody icons…

I’ve added two more links to my list of writers’ blogs. The first is to the magnificent Nalo Hopkinson (I’ve been a fan of her writing since Brown Girl in the Ring), and the other is to Peter Watts, a SF writer I haven’t read yet, but is on my “must-read” list after reading an excerpt from his current novel, Behemoth (thanks to March for nudging me in that direction).

The main reason I decided to link to Peter’s web journal was the opening statement emblazoned across the top: “No Moods, Ads, or Cutesy Fucking Icons”.

“Well said, Peter,” I thought, “you’re my kind of writer.” The boy is writing his journal in raw HTML! Not a whiff of blogging software anywhere. That gets an extra tip of the hat in his direction for being a curmudgeonly purist. And, the journal is amusing, informative and well-written. Score!

I only link to writers’ journals that genuinely interest me, or say something, consistently, about the art of writing. Or are just damn funny. A combination of the above is what I love the most. My list is not exhaustive, and isn’t meant to be. If I haven’t linked to the rest of the thousands of jobbing writers who blog it’s because of one of two things: either their journals don’t do anything for me, or I’ve not stumbled across them yet.

Peter’s slogan raises a particular bugbear of mine about online journals, blogs, diaries, or whatever you want to call them.

It’s a syndrome I’ve come to call “livejournalitis”.

Of course, not all livejournal writers succumb to this affliction, but I’ve noticed many of them are tainted by the symptoms:

1) Constant moaning about their job, friends, or personal life, most of which is attention-seeking bullshit so their clique of friends can rally round and commiserate, or worst crime of all, offer huggles. Excuse me a moment, I almost retched. I have an extreme allergic reaction to the h-word.
2) An obsession with icons. Either the main icon on their page, or the hundreds of mood icons people add to their site so we can tell what kind of mood they are in. Hey, isn’t that what the writing is supposed to convey, people?
3) Quizzes. Oh my lord, those afflicted with livejournalitis adore their quizzes. Usually, they’ve created one all of their own. Combined with pages groaning with icons, this usually makes their sites a pain to download.
4) A boring hum-drum catalogue of events from their life that wouldn’t merit mention in a conversation, so I don’t know why they are detailed so lovingly on their journals.

I’m not perfect, especially since I have two journals. I write to please myself, not my audience. If people don’t like what I write, there are plenty of other journals to read. There are some great ones out there–even on livejournal.

Here are the rules of blogging to which I abide:

1) I never, ever, share intimate details about my relationships with my family and friends.
2) I never repeat an anecdote without getting the permission of the person who told it to me.
3) I try to do my research and get my facts right.
4) I rarely badmouth anyone, unless they are a member of a conservative political party.
5) I try not to moan about my life. If it sucks, I try to do something to change it. Writing often helps. On occasion I might stoop to being angsty, but as I said, I’m not perfect.

I do like a good rant, every now and again, which is my greatest vice.

Mostly I write to sort things out in my head, and that’s particularly useful when it comes to the craft of writing. Plus, I can honestly say that the journal I’ve been keeping for 3 1/2 years, Babblogue Blog, has done more to improve my writing than any other exercise in which I’ve indulged. The benefits accrued from the discipline of writing daily can’t be praised highly enough.

Except when it distracts you from getting the real writing done. Which reminds me… I’ve work to do.


  • brendan

    So this is Splinister… damn good too! The rules of good blogging you give are worth standing by, if only because they seem like good old common sense… though that’s something that seems to fly from otherwise quite sensible people once they’re sat in front of a VDU with a mouse in their hand. Mind you, I’ve broken plenty of those rules myself…Loved the articles about Crowley, Lovecraft et al. too.

    • Maura

      It’s funny the images that come to mind when you read a piece of text. For some reason I saw a guy in front of a computer screen holding a live wriggling mouse in his hand…. Glad to see you stopped by Brendan. Everyone should read his excellent journal. Especially when the punk animals take over.

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