I think blogs remind us of a time when life was more connected. In some ways they’re a new translation of something that has little to do with writing, and more to do with society trying to remember how to communicate in conventional ways. You know, when you bumped into your neighbour at the letterbox and just chatted.
Or when you were read books chapter by chapter at school, the teacher explaining the context of the novel, as you gazed out the window and let it all soak in; when families discussed a news story at the breakfast table, or your parents gossiped, where names were rarely mentioned though everyone knew precisely who was being spoken about; or when your uncle took you out to the yard and gave you gardening tips as you tumbled the earth with your fingers.
Blogs are particularly empowering for writers. They can showcase their flash fiction, or poetry, long before their work hits the shelves. As a new writer, I think it’s more likely we’ll look back at all our postings and cringe.
It concerns me though, this new archaeology (if it is, in fact, a new archaeology). As I watched Pixar’s Wall-E with my son the other week, I started to think about where we are headed if we become linked through technology alone. What if we forget the old ways of communicating? Will this then be a world of internal monologues not wholly shared? Stories created from lives not lived? If so, then it won’t just be the book dwindling, but story itself.
I was discussing this with fellow writer, Les Zig, and he pointed out that for the blog to evolve to that point, where they’re created from lives not lived, it essentially becomes fiction anyhow. To quote him: “It’s actually bizarre if you think about it. Like the snake swallowing its own tail”.
Perhaps it will come down to effort. For many, the novel has always required too much work. It’s an effort to pick it up, it requires effort to read, and it’s an effort to discuss, more so than a simple blog post. Maybe we have only enough energy to keep a narrative if we cut off at the 300 word mark.
Despite this, I firmly believe the book will live on. The novel as a book especially. I’d also advise you not to believe everything you hear.