It’s hard to believe that this is my 300th post. As I saw this occasion approaching, I reflected on the last twenty-eight months of commentary, criticism, musings, poems, favorite literary quotes and passages, biographies, portraits, event information, and original fiction and nonfiction excerpts I’ve presented and wondered, as I often do, what is writeaboutable? What merits the deconstruction and elevation of an experience or insight to a poetic observation or prose? Moreover, is anyone going to read this?
I’ve had countless discussions with my peers about the notion of writing what we feel versus writing what sells or, in the case of websites and blogs, what garners views. I’ve always advocated passionately that the former is the nobler, which most would not deny; however, the point that it will matter little if what you write from your heart isn’t read by anyone other than your mother is a valid one. In “Why Write” (December 13, 2009), I suggest that, as Poe avows, writers write for the intrinsic value of art without function, l’art pour l’art. I tend to agree with this and don’t feel compelled to publish with the aim of transcending literary obscurity, but then, I have a fabulous day job.
In Party of One: The Loners’ Manifesto, Anneli Rufus asserts that “most often, books go unread.” (I could say the same about many of my Archetype posts.) “The fiction shelves in any library are heavy with novels […] that have not been lent for years. Thus the writer, knowing this as writers do, is even more alone. Who will deem my work worth his time to read? The few. Yet writers write. And knowing what they know makes their isolation almost a sacrament” (124-25).
Jonathan Franzen also addresses the dilemma of writing in a void. In his essay “Mr. Difficult,” he presents two very different models of the relationship between fiction and its readers and admits that he subscribes to both: the Status model, in which the novel’s value is independent of how many people read and appreciate it, and the Contract model, which is based on the author earning and sustaining the reader’s trust and connecting with the audience. This concept of two models could apply to blog posts, as well, and I contemplate frequently about whether I should post what I feel and what appeals to me in that moment or post what, well, sells.
When I sit down to post on Archetype, that the content is interesting or poignant to me is paramount. Every poem, image, quote, or passage I’ve posted has moved me in some grand way. It has so affected me, in fact, that I want to share it and therefore hope that, by the post’s title or introductory lines, it will capture the attention of both subscribers and random literary blog browsers. While I love the days my site has a record-breaking number of views, I’m also pretty content with simply knowing I’ve put something of myself out there – an insight, an observation, or an Aha! moment of some sort. If it resonates with just one person, I deem it a success – even when that one person is my mother.
Three hundred posts and counting…this one is dedicated to you, Donella.
“Literary Pursuits of a Young Lady” by Alexei Harlamoff
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