Friday, April 17, 2009

writing: supply & demand


I advise the students majoring in English at my university - 1,000 of them, about 150 of whom are creative writing majors. (Others focus on literature, film or teaching English.) That number is up from just 50 creative writing majors a couple of years ago, and it's a growing national trend according to this guy. They write poetry, short stories, creative non-fiction, plays and screenplays, and the numbers keep growing. Every week a handful of students meet with me to declare that they want to major in creative writing. I wonder if in a couple of years half our English majors will be creative writers?

Let me tell you it's tricky as an adviser, especially in this economy, to strike a balance between encouraging young people to write with a vengeance, and tempering their expectations to become the next Elizabeth Alexander, Cormac McCarthy, Sofia Coppola or Simon Beaufoy because it takes a rare combination of talent, timing, perseverance and who-you-know to succeed (i.e., make a living, not just get famous). Many want to go on to graduate school for a Masters of Fine Arts in creative writing. $30,000-40,000 later, what will they have? Not a teaching job, those are too few - maybe one for every 300-500 applicants. And they would almost certainly need a PhD to be able to teach at university if they are one of the lucky few to get a job.

Our English department has a subscription to The Writers Chronicle (put out by the AWP - Association of Writers and Writing Programs), and when I have time and inclination, I read a piece that catches my eye on the cover. So I was reading an article titled The Rise of Creative Writing & the New Value of Creativity by Steve Healey in the February 2009 issue, and this line stopped me:

"It's true, of course, that readership for traditional categories of literature, especially poetry, is remarkably small despite the growth of Creative Writing programs."

Does that give you pause as it does me? The number of writers grows; the number of readers shrinks. Yikes.

And I immediately thought about blogs in the same light. As bloggers you and I know new blogs are created every day. In February 2008, the Blog Herald stated that it was tracking nearly 113 million blogs in English alone. Of course there are millions in other languages as well - maybe nearly 100 million in China. Has the number doubled by now?

  • Have you been to a bookstore lately? How are books selling in your neck of the woods? For every book that is published, how many copies are sold? I've read that the average number of copies sold of new books is 6,000. (Not if you're President Obama though. His 2008 royalties income from his two books Dreams From My Father and The Audacity of Hope totaled more than $2.4 million.)
  • Is blogging just a free and easy way to publish for those too lazy or discouraged to get published in print? (Thinking of myself here.)
  • How many blogs are there? How many are actually read? Ever chance upon a really good blog and see 0 comments for every post?
  • What led to the rise in creativity, especially among young people?
  • With all the new writing out there, new thoughts expressed, who's reading it? Will the gap between new writers and readers keep growing? Will we keep turning to the classics instead?

Every so often I ask myself what the value of blogging is? For me here at synch-ro-ni-zing it is:
  • writing practice
  • creative expression through photos and design
  • a salon for sharing ideas with interesting people
And at my Paris blog:
  • exploring a city
Each blogger has to decide for her or himself if the value outweighs the effort. For me, the effort is the reward too, if that makes sense. I mean I get a lot of fulfillment from the writing and design. Then getting to know some wonderful people from my backyard and around the world through comments here and through their own blog posts is very gratifying.

By the way, I recently received an email from a PhD Communication student at the University of Kentucky who is researching blogs, asking if she could use mine as part of her research. I agreed, and I'll be getting a survey from her soon. I'll keep you posted. I'd like to hear and share her findings.


m good said...

Thank you for this post. I have been writing for quite some time and now actively pursuing getting published. It is frustrating at times, exciting at other times. I started Meryl's Musings blog a little over a year ago as another avenue for writing. It has actually given me the courage to write with more freedom -- maybe that is part of the reason for some many blogs. :) Marion

Ann said...

Hi Ruth,

I am quite a newbie to blogging, started in November 2008. Initially I blogged to show case a book I had written. Later, blogging is fun, sort of instant gratification to see my blog and later to have comments and followers. However, I think is does detract me from serious writing. I know it is extremely difficult to get a publisher as a new unknown writer.

Blogging brought friends, you for instance.



Helena said...

Interesting. I find it hard to find books that I actually want to finish these days - I started feeling like that ever since I started writing myself. Not that I'm such a brilliant writer :-D but I think it's partly because I don't have so much time anymore and partly because I'm much more critical now. Of course I admire talented writers but if the story or the style don't please me, I don't waste time on finishing the book.

Blogging is a total waste of time, I think, unless you have a lot of readers and you clearly make a difference with your writings (like you do). I've quit blogging many times because of that, I should concentrate on "serious, meaningful" writing only but I've just been so lazy and busy because of the child. I should have hours of peace and silence to write a novel for example but I don't have that at the moment. Well, I guess I'm just making excuses and I hate myself for that. I'm a bit addicted to blogging because it's so easy and fun.

Is that birthday girl you? You look beautiful!

Susan said...

Wow, Ruthie, lots of food for thought here!

How very interesting that everyone is so busy writing that they don't have time to read. I've tried to bring more balance to that lately.

Blogging has definitely opened up my world. Everything that I ever wrote on paper, I usually tore up because I deemed it too silly, too weird, too personal, who would want to read it, etc. I've started a hundred "books" and tossed them out.

Blogging has freed me to write because at first I didn't think anyone would see it anyway. To my surprise, there seems to be a few people who think I'm mildly entertaining.

I do run onto those blogs that have 0 comments for every post. And I've tried to support a few of them. But as you know, there are only so many hours in a day.

As for books, I love them and I wish I could buy every one that sparks an interest or that someone recommends, but there isn't money in the budget for that, so most of my reading material comes from the library. My one exception is this little independent bookstore where I buy at least one book when I'm in that town. I just love the lady who owns it and she has two cats in residence!

The biggest drawback to blogging is the bigger butt I'm getting by sitting in this chair too much!

Dave King said...

Blogging and poetry have in common the fact that more people write them than read - with exceptions. Blogging for some (myself included) a way to get more readers than traditional publishing would provide - probably!
An exceptionally interesting post. We need more like it, I think.

Sally's World said...

I write, and i love it I have a literary agent and have high hopes of being published soon, it's been a long hard road so far. i think i use blogging to express my real thoughts and feelings, and i write novels to be creative and use my keeps me sane...sort of!

i still buy books, but like most the people i know i trawl through second hand bookshops, i can't remember the last time i bought a new book!

this is a great post, food for must be quite hard for you given the economy, ecouraging people to follow their dreams of becoming a writer is important, but people have to eat, not everyone could struggle...i couldn't take time out to write until my husband earned enough and i was at home with the kids....

Peter said...

Again an interesting post!

I now learnt that you can study « creative writing » ! I thought you became a writer because you had something to tell and that it was a pure artist kind of challenge, long studies or not! That you study your language, its literature etc. seems obvious, but that you also can “learn” to be creative was new to me! Isn’t there a danger that the students get too directed? (It somehow reminds me of my young student years when our teachers more or less told us how to interpret a read text; I suppose and hope that that has now changed.)

To give advice to students of what to study is today really a challenge. Very few branches seem today really promising, if any! (I was lucky to leave university during the late 60’s when the employers anxiously waited for you!)

I still try to find the time to read; normally it’s my way of going to sleep: The less interesting the book, the easier to get to sleep. Sometimes the book is so good that I don’t sleep!

Judy said...

Thought provoking post today…. It’s wonderful to learn that creativity in alive and growing! I suppose like the majority of us, young people will need to find that balance between a job to pay the bills and their passion to create. Only a few actually get to earn a living from their passion. But passion in life is essential to happiness and the creative passion needs to be encouraged. You have a wonderful opportunity help plant the creative seeds in the next generation!
Do you think most writers really just write for themselves…. Or that’s the way they should approach it?

shicat said...

Hi Ruth, First I love the poem ,that you wrote, on the side of your blog. I have had similar feelings about reassembling and gathering.
My son is graduating with a business degree in a few weeks and of course where are the jobs? I had a conversation with him about freelance writing. He is a good writer,edgy and sooo funny, even to people other than his family. So I thought what could it hurt, try putting together a portfolio. hmmm I'm sure he will make his way as we all do/did.
As for book stores, I love them. As I think of it, there was a great used book store next to the original Cottage Pizza in Ann Arbor,check it our when you are there. Dwindling readership? Because people are too busy,or on- line ? My sister is a librarian her coffee table is always stacked with books,everything from childrens books to adult fiction and nonfiction,but then again,when we were children my sister was rarely seen without a book. I on the other hand was playing in backyard swingin from the monkey bars.

alice said...

I knew about these "writing classes" in Usa and it's very interesting to read about that from you. many books and so few writers, in my opinion... Maybe I am too severe...;-)

Dakota Bear said...

Books-I love browsing book stores and buying more books than I can read in a reasonable time. I have stacks and stacks of to be read. I have stacks of partially read. I also believe in borrowing books from the library.

Blogging-my daughter Debo Hobo encouraged me to start my blog and she is there to give me technical advice when I need it. I don't blog everyday, but only when I feel I have something interesting to say. I have blogs I follow, like yours, that I enjoy reading. Through these blogs I feel I have made new acquaintances.

Oliag said... reason I went into the nursing profession...guaranteed job fulfillment!...but my secret ambition would have been to be a librarian:)...or bookstore owner...

photowannabe said...

Interesting post today Ruth. Wish I could be a creative writer but I enjoy perusing the works of others. I think people today want instant everything. They really don't want to take the time to think, read and become involved in someone elses world.
Its neat that you will be part of the blogging research.

VioletSky said...

I am no writer, nor have I any aspirations to be one. But I enjoy the challenge that writing a blog gives and the rewards of finding through it so many interesting (and interested) people. I get so much inspiration from the photos or writings on certain other blogs that I wouldn't get from books. Mostly that is due to the diverse nature of the blogs - you never know where they are going to take you next.

Then, there are the blogs that get published - collections of blogs put out in book form for you to pay for what you once read for free!!

Be one with the Fro said...

"The number of writers grows; the number of readers shrinks."

This is a shame, but I absolutely believe it. I used to work at a bookstore and we would get shiploads of new books, but it would take months before we saw the balance of them being bought. *does this make sense* The reason we closed was because not enough people were reading in the area...Anyway, its sad that people are relying on technology to do the work for them. Technology can't experience a good story for you...only you can.

Anyway, about your comment to my page...GET YER BUTT A BLANKET AND SIT ON THAT GRASS!!!!!! It is absolutely gorgeous out!!!!!!!!!

Have a happy day, Ruth!

Kim said...

Though the economy is suffering, writing as a vocation is neccessary and as you know, young writers need all the encouragement they can get. Like any craft that one wants to excell in, it takes time, hardwork, persistence, luck, and emotional support.
As for me and Writing. Love it. Hate it. I started blogging to get myself to write. With limited time it has become an excellent forum for me to play around with thoughts, ideas, and words in little increments. I feel that a little writing each day will only grow my craft.

Blogging. Love it. Addicted. Love that I can dialogue with someone who lives in India...or Japan...or Maryland.

Reading. Love it. Do it often.

CottageGirl said...

Hey Ruth!
Once again another thought provoking blog!

As I think about books and blogs, I can only speak for myself.

I know that am definitely reading fewer books, but am reading much more on line!

I think I love the blogs because I can interact in a fairly quick manner ... kind of like the high school days when we passed notes to each other between classes... now, however, I can communicate with people from all over the world!

I also get lots of ideas, and marvel at how creative and talented some people are you!

I must confess, my little blog is really just a way for me to chronicle events or feelings for my kids and grands. I really didn't even want to make it public, until I was encouraged to do so!

As an added bonus, writing the blog has helped me learn more about photography (which is so much fun) and has perhaps improved my writing skills a tad!

But you know, I'm just not reading blogs exclusively. I've turned off the news lately and am watching less TV. I'm getting my news online where I have more control over what I see and when.

As I think about it ... I no longer subscribe to a newspaper or to any magazines. I get most of my news from the web as well as any information I want.

The books I'm reading now are more on the spiritual side (Eckart Tolle, Gary Zukov, etc.) ... I've had them for a long time and I continue to reread those over and over again.

I do continue to buy cookbooks and more recently, photo books as well as Photoshop books! That honestly is where my book money goes now a days!

Whew! Look I've almost written a book right here! I am so full of hot air tonight! It must be the Friday after a long week! Enough of my thoughts!

Have a great weekend!

… Oh let us know how the survey goes! Very cool!

rauf said...

my friends evict me from the chair and sit on my putter
where ?
what where ?
where what ?
where are the pictures ?
Den we sit and talk

i think das what i do in my blog Ruth, talking to friends. Quite annoying, i make them laugh i make them angry. i tell them stories. i am not a writer and i never claimed that i am a writer of any sort. just talking.

In the beginning it was like talking to a wall. one sided.
After a while it was not just talking. The blog became my room where over a cup of coffee we exchange ideas sitting on the floor or on uncomfortable chairs.
your contribution and from other readers made me rich Ruth.

i don't look for subjects, subjects come and knock my door. india is a funny place. You walk on subjects and you have to pick one up.

Yes yes. Everybody wants to make a movie, everybody wants to write a book Ruth, i am one of them. i have done that with this blog without any talent what so ever.
i am not ashamed and i don't regret it.

the biggest ever reward is meeting you Ruth.

no no no, this is not a writing practice for me

Creative expression ? no creative expression in my blog, i just talk.
The only difference is, my friends tell me to shut up. No one tells me to shut up in the blog. i go on and on.
isn't that nice Ruth ?

Hi-Expections said...

This post really caught my eye. i'm having a hard time deciding to take on a life as a writer. I still have time to change my mind. There is always the problem of this career being a game of blackjack. As far as blogging is concern, it's all a mystery. I having a hard time here too.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Very interesting. For me, blogging as served as a delightful place to put all the word pictures I had swimming around in my brain. It was getting crowded in there. I do enjoy it and have been tickled beyond belief that others seem to as well.

VaNeSsA said...

You know, those students you advise are truly lucky. You are a thoughtful and delightful person. Anyway, on to the topic at hand: I know that I have a blog because I absolutely MUST write, I write much faster on a computer than with pen and paper, and the idea that someone, anyone, is reading my thoughts is nice somehow, makes me feel validated, as if I matter a bit. On the other hand, I am a 0 comment blog and I'm not sure how I feel about it. My feelings change from day to day, I suppose. I guess I would like it if I knew at least a few people were reading what I write in the middle of the night when I can't sleep and in the middle of the day when my baby is sleeping, but at the same time, would that knowledge fundamentally change my writing? Right now I am caught in the ether between writing a diary and writing with an audience in mind. I wonder if I KNEW I had an audience, would my writing change? Would I become paralyzed by my fear of what people think of me? I mean, that's why I don't say all of these things out loud to friends, for example. But then why do I have my blog set to public? It really is a paradox, and I wonder if I am alone in this category - I feel like I am writing for myself, yet I know that I could potentially have an audience, and I'm honestly not sure how I feel about it.

Ruth said...

So good that you are actively pursuing getting published, Marion. I wish you success very soon.

This blog writing freedom is truly a gift. The main reason I began Huffing, which I didn't mention in the post, was to process some of the current affairs that were driving me nuts. I had to get to my own thoughts and feelings about them, and friends helped me discuss and think further. Don't know if I want to keep huffing though. I might take a different approach. Have to keep thinking though.

Ruth said...

Well, Ann! You followed the opposite path: publish first, then blog. That is so interesting, and it makes sense, of course, to showcase a book.

I've never known anyone in New Zealand. I loved seeing the photo of you with Helen Clark when she visited your school! And congrats to her on moving into her new position as head of the UN Development Programme. I hope she can make a difference.

Happy blogging, Ann. Are you working on another book?

Ruth said...

Helena, I've always had a hard time finishing books too. I know what you mean about getting pickier too. And of course, why finish a book that doesn't please you.

It is very kind of you to say my writings make a difference, that touches me.

I do think empty space is essential for creation. It's harder to find when you're a mom of younguns at home, maybe not impossible, but still very hard. I find I need hours in a row for writing, alone, in solitude. Maybe your husband can provide you some extra solitude?

Ruth said...

Haha, Susan, sometimes it's hard to get up and get moving. Today it isn't like that thankfully. The sun is out, it's warm, I'm about to hang sheets on the line - first load on the line this year!

I'm grateful for blogs because each individual has a unique view of the world. We should at the very least express it - even if no one reads it! But how fun if someone does read it, and enjoy it, and look forward to it, as I do to yours.

As you know I borrow books from our university library. I love it, especially because I check them out for 6 months! On the other hand, that length of time encourages me to take too long to finish them. Then I get notice from the library that they are due back, and I think, huh? I haven't even read half of them yet.

Then there are books like Anne Michaels Fugitive Pieces - out of print and hard to find. Read the library copy but now I want to own it. I need to google it.

Ruth said...

Welcome, Dave King, it's a pleasure to meet you, and then to read your poems. You have the ear, and the voice, and I look forward to reading them regularly.

I agree - I had no audience, well almost none, before I began blogging, although I was writing poems for nearly two decades. I've recently quit a poetry group, and I miss it, but I had too much on my plate. I'd like to keep writing poetry, and I must say yours have rekindled that interest. Thanks for the inspiration.

California Girl said...

Blogging for me is my creative outlet. I have been a frustrated writer for years but never dedicated enough to really go for it. Now, in my fifties (yikes!) I'm writing every day. And I'm writing a book. Will it get published? Who knows? It's the doing of it that is important nowl; to get to the finish line.

Yesterday on NPR, there was a piece on book advances and how out of control they have become. Staggering amounts of money are now thrown at second time authors whose first books sold in the millions. One of the publishing houses, I forget which, is now refusing more than $100,000 advance and no royalties but a 50/50 split of the profits. They think this is a growing trend because book advances to famous authors (Da Vinci Code, etc) are on a par with the highest paid movie stars. None of it makes any sense.

As an English Major who graduated with a BA in Lit and minor in ARt History, I knew I wasn't going to teach and, at that time, had no illusions I'd be a writer. However, it served me well in business as I am well rounded, knowledge wise. I know a little bit about much and not alot about even more! But I wouldn't spend %30-40k to get that now.

Ruth said...

Sally, someone wrote something recently (how sad that I can't remember who or where) the same thing that Virginia Woolf wrote, that you have to be wealthy to write. I'm glad to hear you are writing, pursuing publication, with kids at home. Kids are often a reason/excuse for not enough time, energy, open space, etc., etc.

I guess we do what we really want to do. If students have a burning desire to write - no matter what - they will write. Some give up everything else in pursuit of it. And they may not fulfill the exact dream they originally had, but they accomplish something. Tom Bissell who graduated from my department intended to write and publish a novel. Instead he is a successful author of books and articles, even got published in the New Yorker a few months ago. But his books are non-fiction. Did he fail? I think not. Anyway, he was determined to do nothing but write. It took him a while to get there, with a job as an assistant editor first.

The Talking Mime said...

sorry that this doesn't relate to your post, but I was wonder how you got you clock to work on blogger. I went to the website to get it set up and it will only work for typepad.

Arti said...

I'm the 30th comment... will she even bother?...No matter. I have to respond because anyone who has 'Snow Cake', 'The English Patient', and 'Open Range' as her favorite movies, I must pause and take notice. It's a rarity to find those combination of film favs mentioned together. I'm glad to see too we have some mutual blogging friends like Third-storey Window and The Task at Hand.
This is a timely post, online 'publishing' could well be the trend for our age. But then again, it may also be temporal, since many may just opt out for more instant success in Twittering.

Bob Johnson said...

Hey Ruth, very interesting about the amount of blogs out there, and also about the number of writers. One thing I found very interesting is we just had an Indigo book store open up in our Mall.

I went to see what they had for books in Astronomy, the guy didn't even know where the Astronomy section was,lol. It of course was empty, I own all the astronomy sections in every book store I enter.

If you ever want to know what would be a popular blog topic to write about just head to your local book store, the kids section was full, couldn't find breathing room along with the fitness, magazine and non-fiction sections.

Ruth said...

Bonjour, Peter, I think you're right that creativity might be hard to teach, although maybe it can be fostered. But teaching writing as a craft can be helpful. I took 5 - five - poetry classes with my mentor, and I'd say she didn't teach us to write poems. She inspired us with a trigger - usually reading some good poems, then suggesting a theme (but this was never restrictive), then whatever we wrote, she would use our own words and shape to make suggestions. Her main essential for a poem was metaphor, and she always said if a person is interesting, they have a better chance of writing a good poem.

I don't think there is a better teacher than reading good models.

Once you figure out your "voice" - then you have to find an audience!

Ruth said...

Judy, I think writers should write for themselves, write what they know. Sometimes that, combined with passion and remarkable talent meets with success. That said, writing is also a performance. Having readers feed back what they hear is so valuable, and you get an idea if what you meant to do gets across.

So many first novels are quite autobiographical. Maybe we all want to tell our story. What is impossible to know beforehand is whether someone else will be interested in our story, as we tell it! What is universal, what is unique, what keeps someone reading?

Ruth said...

Cathy, what you told your son, I tell students not to wait until they graduate to start submitting work to journals. Start the rejection process early, get used to it. Some editors even take the time to offer feedback - so helpful. Until you start getting work out there, you keep writing and thinking you have the next great novel, but you've had no one to tell you that maybe your writing needs work.

Thanks for the tip on the used book store in A2, I'll look for it.

Now that we are all bemoaning the dwindling of readership, it's strange to think that when Jane Austen lived and wrote, reading novels was still frowned upon.

Ruth said...

Oh, and thank you, Cathy, about the poem.

Ruth said...

Alice, you must read a lot to come to that conclusion. I would guess that myself, but I am a terrible reader of books, alas, so it would only be a guess.

Ruth said...

Dakota Bear, I just realized, reflecting on your comment, that we have one large book case full of classics behind me, and I've read almost all of them. We have other cases with newer books, many I haven't read. My pile of library books has sat unread a few weeks now. I could read some classics over and over, like Austen's, or the Brontes'. I love Ian McEwan, Anne Michaels. One problem is my eyes are tired from looking at a computer screen all day at work, so when I start to read at home in the evening, I get sleepy very fast.

Ruth said...

Oliag, yeah and guaranteed JOB.

Ruth said...

Sue, writers need an audience.

Ruth said...

Sanna, I had thought of that, but I didn't realize it had happened. I thought it would make a nice book, to have favorite blog posts in a picture book, or a book of essays. Now that you can create books via Shutterfly and such, that would make a nice birthday gift to a blogger.

Ruth said...

Tiffany, now I wish I would have thought of taking a book outside on a blanket in the yard today. It was perfect outside. Darn.

Ruth said...

Kim, it took blogging for me to finally write every day. I work on posts for several days before publishing.

But I still have a nagging feeling I should be writing a longer work, taking the harder road of a sustained project.

Ruth said...

CottageGirl, I like how-to books too - photography, PhotoShop, cookbooks, gardening. Oh, I need to get the gardening stack out, have to design some things for all the seeds Don has planted. I wonder if we'll have enough beds for all his plants.

I agree about reading the news online. Two reasons I keep watching NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams: a) I like him; b) I like to get a rundown of what someone thinks were the important stories. It's pretty subjective, but I can use online sources for other stuff that interests me.

Oh dear, there isn't enough time and energy for it all.

Ruth said...

Oh it's so strange, rauf. I've looked back at your early posts. They were so different - shorter, and no one visited. We all began like that, although I always had Bootsie since she began a year before me.

You were one of my first visitors - just about three years ago now, can you believe it? I remember it was a daffodil photo, so it might be exactly three years, give or take a day or two. You left Wordworth's poem.

I can't measure what I've gained from you since then. It would be an impossible task. I remember the first time I went to your blog after you visited mine (you hit "next blog" I think and found mine), and it was like scales fell from my eyes. I thought, oh, I have so much to learn. I've been addicted to Daylight Again ever since. No one wants you to shut up. When you had to be away last year, we were begging you to come back.

Ruth said...

Hi-Expections, just try it, start writing. Start a blog and make it public. See if you can get an audience, it's so helpful - I've learned a lot from other bloggers. What do you have to lose? It's free, easy, and it will pull you in and make you think about ideas, make you want to put your expressions out there. I wish you had I blog so I could visit it.

Ruth said...

Pamela, good that your blog is a delightful experience for you, because for me it's pure pleasure.

Ruth said...

You've said it just right, VaNeSsa. Kind of like science experiments - as soon as there is an observer, the subject is affected.

In a way maybe it's no different from being a little girl in a bathtub talking to "someone" - an imaginary friend. You need an audience, real or imaginary, to tell your important thoughts to, and your not so important thoughts as well. I saw Queen Latifah again in "Holiday" the other day, talking to herself in a mirror, and I admired the character's ability and desire to do that, to treat herself as her most important ally and friend. But yes, sometimes it takes a blog a while to find an audience. Now Susan and I have found you, and I hope others will too. It's great to develop a community of friends in this way.

Ruth said...

California Girl, it's about time book publishers began thinking that way! And now for doctors, movie stars, sports stars and a few other professions I could name (cough cough, the ones who get their pay through bonuses on Wall St).

Margaret Mitchell wrote one book, Gone with the Wind. It took her ten years to write, and it's one of the most popular books of all time - over 30 million sold, and obviously the basis for one of the most popular movies.

Ruth said...

Hi there, Mime, I see you figured out the clock without any help. Good! I was so dumb, I was typing out instructions in a comment blog at your place, giving you a nice link to Clock Link, etc., etc., and suddenly I noticed something moving on your sidebar: ahem, a clock with the second hand moving.


Ruth said...

Hi there, and welcome, Arti. And likewise you have a lovely presence over at Ripple Effects. I was impressed with the aptness of Eliot's words for our current times. Sometimes he drives me nuts, but others I hear his wisdom.

So happy to meet you.

Delphine said...

Hello Ruth it's reat to be back again, a week away from blogging feels like a month-- although I have spent valuable family time, and loved it!
I found you post very interesting from the point of view of my other blog which is mainly dedicated to my late husbands poems and writings. He was in the categorie of creative writing, however it is easier to post his poetry than his other longer pieces. The blog receives almost as many hits as my Chateau blog, but rarely gets any comments! I have considered the fact that perhaps my choice of title is the problem?

Ruth said...

Hi, Bob, I do the same thing with photography books and bookstores. If the bookstore has a small selection, I make my judgments.

It's way that you're an expert in astronomy, right? Way more so than the average amateur. It's awesome that you have continued teaching yourself, and you're included in the happenings, web sites, etc.

Ruth said...

On the other hand, Delphine, it seems as though that blog title would draw people in more! I don't know.

I confess I read your chateau blog more than your husband's poetry blog, because I am addicted to your story and seeing the beauty and all. And here I am a poet, and I don't read the other one as faithfully. I think it is sheer laziness, because it takes more engagement of my mind.

So glad you're back!

Be one with the Fro said...

Yes, Ruth! You definitely should of, but guess have plenty of days to do it because pretty soon its going to be GORGEOUS outside all day everyday!

C.M. Jackson said...


great post-the english major now commercial real estate broker thanks you. I believe however that art and writing evolve--if one must write or paint they will because like breathing they must...for the rest of us, who pause and think how will I make a living, the world moves on. Blogging is a vehicle for those who wish to flex their creative muscles and books will survive. I have a Kindle but I can't replace the feeling a book in my hands especially when it has drawn me in. Your students are lucky that you are there to counsel them. Congrats on the survey--you are a gem!
best c

Ruth said...

Tiffany, can you believe the fluctuations in the weather? It will be lovely this weekend apparently. Yay!

Ruth said...

It's a balance, C.M.. You summarized it well.

Thank you so much for your kind words.

dutchbaby said...

As a publisher, I know only too well how difficult it is to sell books. My sister and I attend the largest book convention in America (Book Expo of America - BEA) each year and see the participation level shrinking due to the effects of electronic publishing. The good news is, if authors want a forum to be heard, all they have to do is start a blog. The bad news is, it continues to be difficult to earn money as a writer. The rules of success still apply: you must strike a cord with your readers and you must find those readers.

I love to blog because it is a fantastic creative outlet and I agree that the reward is in the process as well as in the end product.

Anna said...

Hey Ruth my strategy was always get a job or profession that is practical, I am not saying that art is practical, but something more that will generate good income, so then I can do whatever I want with my creative mind... there is too much competition these days in arts.... Anna :)

PS just catching up with your posts!

shoreacres said...

I'm only now catching up since my trip, and I'm so glad I found this post. It's quite interesting, as are the responses.

A few things come to mind. The first is that I simply reject the notion that there is "serious" writing, and then there is blogging. It's like saying there are serious painters, and then there are watercolorists.

Each genre has its own limitations and possibilities, but it is the writer who determines the quality of the writing - novel or blog.
I'm serious enough about the writing I do for my blog that I never have accepted the premise one "must" post each day simply to fill space. I think, I ponder, I feel my way toward insight and tentative conclusions - but post only when I know that each piece is as resonant and enticing as I can make it.

I've also come to suspect that by its very nature blogging is a unique literary style that can and perhaps should be viewed in the long term. My blog is not a series of discrete posts, but an organic whole, an on-going conversation with myself, joined by others. My readers determine direction as much as do I, and each new entry makes the whole far more than the sum of its parts.

Beyond that, a blog is unique by virtue of having no "end", as does a traditional novel or story.
It's really quite extraordinary to watch writer and readers form into an exploratory team, scouting along the edges of meaning for glimpses of significance.

And finally, I've been at this long enough now to know where the value of blogging lies for me. A small, illustrative story, if you don't mind....

Some months ago I wrote a poem called "Search Pattern" after the death of Roger Stone in an offshore boating accident. I published it on my blog. Nine months later Roger's widow found the poem through Google - her initial comment is there on the blog, beneath the poem. She also emailed, saying she was going to print it out in large scale, frame it and mount it in the room that would have been Roger's study in their new home - the study he never got to use. As she said, "If I had found this before his service, I would have had you read it."

Such occurences don't happen daily, of course, but they happen with enough frequency that I've learned to take the long view, to be patient, and to always, always, do my best - for whoever is out there, waiting for the next thing I have to say.

Ruth said...

Dutchbaby, maybe it is more true than ever that one needs to be wealthy to write.

But the writers who must write will keep doing it, in spite of the obstacles.

Thank you for your input, from the world of publishing!

Ruth said...

Anna, that is what I am always telling students. You'll likely have to earn money in ways other than writing, but what's good about that is that real life provides material for the writing.

Ruth said...

Yes, Linda, it is the writing in blogs itself that will change how blogs are viewed. When there is an audience, what more can you ask?

We've already seen a shift in perception about blogs. And that's thanks to careful writing and thinking, as you do in The Task at Hand.