Does Ray Bradbury Hate Blogging?

July 6th, 2006 by Bob Bly

Ray Bradbury — author of the Martian Chronicles and other science fiction classics — doesn’t think highly of the Internet.

In his new book Bradbury Speaks (William Morrow), he writes:

“We are multitudinous lemmings driven by wireless voices to hurl ourselves into the Internet seas where tides of mediocrity surge, pretending at wit and will but signifying nothing.”

He wasn’t specifically talking about blogging, but he could have been — the phrase “tides of mediocrity” in particular struck a chord with me.

Is anything great being written on blogs today — anything that rises above the merely mediocre?

If not, the possible culprit is time.

Blogs are quick: people jotting their first drafts and instantly publishing them to the Internet.

By comparison, great writings are usually the fruit of hard work and careful revision; E.B. White rewrote Charlotte’s Web 9 times before he felt it was good enough to submit to his publisher.

How many bloggers rewrite or edit anything they write, even once?

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31 responses about “Does Ray Bradbury Hate Blogging?”

  1. Robert Rosenthal said:

    I happen to be one of those incremental bloggers. I probably hit “Preview” ten or so times per entry. I’d love to nail ‘em all in one draft, but my garden variety brain won’t let me.

  2. Ted Demopoulos said:

    I write and rewrite. Some I even go back after I publish and re-edit.

    Then again, I may be slower than most, or maybe more uptight!

  3. Dianna Huff said:

    I write, edit, look at the “preview” half a dozen times and edit some more, post, and then do one or two more edits. I’ve never been able to dash anything off in one draft and admire people who can.

  4. Bob Bly said:

    Political pundit and author William F. Buckley once said that there is NO correlation between speed and quality of writing. The great Robert Heinlein, for instance, said everything he did was a first draft and he rarely edited or revised anything.

  5. Mordechai (Morty) Schiller said:

    Bob,

    I spell check IM messages! And I work and rework blog posts. OK, so I’m obsessive. Comes with being a writer.

    On the other hand, you can’t compare a blog to a book. The origin of the species is web logs–annotated logs of web pages. We’re not talking sonnets here.

    Morty

  6. SpongeBob Fan said:

    Seems to me that the trouble with most blogs is that it’s very hard to write a “daily column” — or even a three times a week column. A lot of people run out of news/topics very quickly. Then they start giving you a load of their “philosophy” or babble endlessly about how super-charged their vacations are.

    (A friend of mine is a newspaper columnist, and he has told me that there are plenty of times he’s sitting at his desk hoping for a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g good to come across the transom with enough for him to get a column out of.)

    It might be that the issue isn’t time, but a lack of content. When you get right down to it, maybe most people only have so much to say, and it’s less than they think/wish. (Our host here makes no effort to blog daily, and – God bless him! – he never lets some desire to do so cause him to waste our time with off-topic trivia.)

    Or maybe it’s editors that are needed! People who will push the bloggers to do better!

  7. Craig Hysell said:

    It is my opinion that, as people that write for a living, we are much more obsessed, possessed, distressed by the written word. That’s why people hire us.

    It is also my opinion that the majority of people who blog are not professional writers and yet are able to find a voice in the infinite emptiness that is the web.
    There as many styles of writing as there are writers that produce material. Unfortunately the web- and blogging- make writing for an audience available to everyone. And not everyone is a professional writer, or even comes close. Maybe this is what Bradbury was noting.

    And, personally, I always edit as best I can… even my emails. It’s my voice out there and I hate when I screw up- especially in a medium where everybody can see it. That said, I have never come close to writing the perfect piece.

  8. Bob Bly said:

    CH: Lou Redmond of Ogilvy said years ago, “We never write as well as we want to. We only write as well as we can.”

  9. Alexey Novikov said:

    There’s enough mediocrity outside of the Internet. Like the lite uncovering what’s hidden in the dark room, Internet helps to uncover mediocrity of one man and talent of another.

  10. Stephanie Diamond said:

    I can’t imagine writing a blog post in one shot and publishing it. Once it’s on the Web it will last forever. Great authors like Ray Bradbury give serious thought to everything they write. I think anyone who publishes online should do the same. We can’t all be Ray Bradbury, but we can at least do our best.

  11. John Kumpunen said:

    I’m a big fan of Bob’s. His books and articles made my life a heck of a lot easier in the B2B ad agency — looooong time ago. Thanks, Bob.

    About writing: Reality is that 99.9% of writing is terribly bad. Uninspiring, dead, clumsy, and just stylistically awful word-vomiting like Bradbury’s … “multitudinous lemmings driven by wireless voices to hurl ourselves into the Internet seas where tides of mediocrity surge, pretending at wit and will but signifying nothing.” Now, THAT is bad. Salieri waving his baton to drown out Mozart.

    But what’s wrong with that? Nothing. Reality is that most of us 6.5 billion are Salieris. We’re mediocre in almost everything we do. And you know what, life goes on. When my 8-year old brings a school paper for me to read, do I measure its worth by rules of grammar? Of course not. It communicates to me. It elevates my mood, it makes me proud.

    Same with blogging, it’s the ideas, inspirations, the energy that counts. It’s the ideas, the concepts that are remembered; grammar, stylistic fumbles are forgotten within minutes.

    Let’s be honest and proud Salieris, let’s celebrate mediocrity—without it all of us would be utter failures.

  12. Tom Chandler said:

    Bradbury’s right – the Internet’s “cesspool of content” is a surging tidal wave of crap, but then, the same description could be applied to television.

    Still, the next great Internet “Killer App” won’t be blog software, it’ll be filtering systems that separate the mounds of inedible thought from the morsels of the tasty stuff.

    Bradbury doesn’t hate blogging; he hates pointless drivel, which might only comprise 85% of it…

  13. Bailey said:

    Bradbury clearly spends no time at Fortin’s blog. His loss.

  14. Bob Bly said:

    Bailey: Why on Earth would Bradbury read Fortin’s blog? Bradbury has no interest in direct marketing.

  15. Vicki said:

    Pointless drivel *is* bad. That being said, there’s much being written in the blogosphere that ministers, heals, and uplifts the human spirit–mediocre or not.

  16. Andrew Seltz said:

    A good portion of what ends up on my blog starts life in a paper notebook. When I get an idea for a topic, I start jotting notes. Often I will write a draft on paper before typing anything. And I always go through a preview and edit cycle before publishing anything.

    The results, I still make mistakes and come up with better ways of expressing something later. One of the great things about blogging is that the people who read and comment on your work help to sharpen it.

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