Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Should "Writers" Be Taken Seriously?

I think it's time to turn some tables. I hesitate to call myself a blogger but I guess the indisputable fact that I am a person with a blog makes me one. I don't have paper publications to my name and that means I'm not a proper "writer".

In the time I've been reading the odd blog and the time I've been writing this one I've noticed that the blogoshpere is being infiltrated by proper writers; fellows who really can write.

There's Sach, a journalist and there's David Blacker with his blog. Even Lakbima has now started a blog here and the time has come for action, or words, which are of course louder than actions or something.

As bloggers we have attained a certain level of competence in our writing and our etiquette. We all adhere some very specific standards and performance criteria and I am concerned that these so called bloggers just aren't down to our level.

The first thing that causes alarm is the undeniable fact that most of these "writers" actually have the audacity to write their blog under their own name. There's not even the faintest hint of being able to hide behind a pseudonym like mine or Ravana's, even though he's been outed to the whole world and his Mum now.

While we spend time and effort convincing no one but ourselves that we remain well and truly hidden behind our pen name, which is usually a name that gives us away anyhow, the proper writers just write and splash their moniker everywhere. This means that they are accountable for their words and can't shut down their blog and start another one up under a different pseudonym if the going gets a bit tough. Pathetic really.

Writers often meet up with each other, face to face would you believe? They talk to each other, organise literary festivals (as we know) and argue, debate and discuss things with their cronies. Bloggers wouldn't be seen dead doing this. We email, we comment and we bitch about each other any way you can imagine in this virtual world but we NEVER meet up or give away our real name.

Then there's the whole issue of smiley's, acronyms and those stupid things like :) and ;) and their billions of relatives. No half decent blogger would be caught leaving a comment on someone's blog without a few of the semi colon bracketed things or an acronym or two. The reasons for this are simple; we bloggers don't have the skill to explain what we mean. We can make a vague attempt at a jokey comment on someone's blog but we have to chuck in a smiley or its equivalent to make it clear that we're trying to be humorous.

Failure to do so inevitably results in someone (always a blogger) thinking that we're serious, which in turn leads to a scientific and factually based online debate on whether Theena's pants were black or white last Wednesday.

Trained journalists and writers spend many years learning how to do convey their meaning through the power of the written word alone, they're a special breed of people with superior intelligence and maybe even a dictionary or a brontosaurus. ;)

The issues of links and frequency of posts are two that I'll bind together, purely because this example in the Lakbima blog beautifully illustrates them both. In fact it is the Lakbima blog. It's one post with just one paltry link. The link isn't even one to Indi's blog and rule number one, that all posts must contain at least one link to Indi.ca, has been broken without the tiniest of thoughts about readership and the number of comments that the post might get.

Even the newest bloggers on the block know that rule number two tells us we should publish a post at least every two hours and the Lakbima blog goes against this too. Only one post, dated January 21st and nothing before and nothing afterwards. It's appalling that a publication can put out something that can masquerade as a blog without hitting these most basic levels of performance.

But the biggest worry is definitely that of literary and grammatical standards. Take a look at this by David Blacker, one of Sri Lanka's proper writers. Do you see any spelling mistakes or poor use of language? (apart from the minor one in which he's misspelled "Carlsberg", but it's probably just a typo).

No, and nor do I. He makes proper use of paragraphs, he ends sentences at the. Correct place. And he knows exactly where to use a comma. He even has the skill to throw in a word in italics, something I've been trying to master for months.

The single biggest problem is one that so many bloggers take for granted. It's a little topic we just ignore totally, many are even foolish enough tot think that we know all about them and use them correctly.

Yes, it's the subject of apostrophe's.

A proper blogger knows the blogger's rules, or should I say bloggers rule's, for the correct use of apostrophes. We really just chuck them in at random places in the average blog post. It helps if there's an "s" at the end of the word under scrutiny and many bloggers operate on the basis that an "s" at the end of a word necessitates use of an apostrophe.

Many will also throw in an apostrophe at the slightest hint of posession in a sentence and equally valid is the approach of removing all apostrophes from a post. It's common for me to read a post and wonder if some chap has crept in overnight and stolen all the apostrophes from it before the blogger has had a chance to read it properly. Then I've realised that we don't read our posts before we publish them anyway.

Proper writers just dont demonstrate that flair for the correct use of the little fellow's. It was all so different back in the 80's before blogs were around much.

There's my case.

Should "Writers" be taken seriously?

Not until they earn their blogger's credentials like the rest of us have had to.


Dili said...


cerno said...

I don't think the "Lakbima blog" has any association with the Lakbima newspaper.

Or so it seems from the solitary post . Looks like a newborn political blog to me.

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

Cerno - I've just looked again at the blog and I think you're right. I had assumed that they were related from the name.

David Blacker said...

Lol (that's an acronym, so can I be a proper blogger now?) thanks for calling me a proper writer. Wish my boss read this. Bugger thinks I'm only a lowly art director.

themissingsandwich said...

David, surely you told him where he can stuff his opinion? Didn't you always write in addition to art directing? Why don't you suggest that he reads your book or at least your blog?

RD, you've got me all paranoid now. I don't use enough acronyms other than one I created for a blog title once, if you can even call it that.

sach said...

Just for the record, Sach is a journalist who hasn't published anything in the recent months :( lol (that's a smiley AND an acronym). And the color of theena's pants deserves a separate post.

Java Jones said...

Hey, I thought I had missed something! Never used one of them lol's or smiley thingies all this time, so now I know!!

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

David - It's a good start. I'll monitor your progress and let you know.

Theena said...

How did my pants come into this? I am confused.

They were black BTW (Oh look, another acronym). I am wary of wearing white trousers for the fear of looking like a right pimp.

Sam said...

I think we Sri Lankans always take writers quite seriously, if those good writers are able to bang the crap out of Mervin Silva. And Sri Lankan writers are quite capable of amuse us too, when they use red ink to color up the same person. So I think the answer is “Yes”. We should take writers seriously. But bloggers, since they are yet to be delivering such tremendous results, they are yet to be taken seriously.

Absolutely agree with you about the humor in blogs. After all, isn’t the whole world is a big comedy, and what else we blogger can do other than laugh at it. In other hand, professional writers, especially journalists use fear and anxiety in their literature. Can we read any news paper without thinking world is going come to end before folding it down? I think, trained writes are some sort of terrorist group spreads the terror among all their reads, while we bloggers, laugh at each other and then go to youtube and watch a dog on a skateboard.

Regarding, grammar, spellings and that sort of things, let me use Oliver Goldsmith. “A blog may be very amusing with numerous errors, or it may be very dull without a single absurdity”. Well, he said book, not blog, but what is the deferent.

Damith-TS said...

gd post RD,n keep up the gd wrk

:) :( :o :o) :P :=)

btw, whts up with Theenas Pnts?

Darwin said...

ROFL @ Theena's pants :D

(there, do I meet the cut now?)

Anonymous said...

:) not bad...

Anonymous said...

I am doing the Lakbima blog and am in no way affilliated with the Lakbima News paper. Just a long blogger...

When naming my blog, I didn’t even remember that there was a news paper called Lakbima News- probably a give away that I am new to blogging.

Anyway, I needed a Sinhala name which would convey that, “what I write comes from the Sri Lankan land”.
Lakbima seemed perfect.

Sorry about the confusion.
Now I have a notice of non-affiliation at the top of the page.

It is somewhat a political blog.
I started it so I can express my ideas, annonymously, on the Sri Lankan situation.

By the way I have a second post.

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

Lakbima - Apologies, I hope I didn't upset you and thanks for clearing it up.