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Genesis of a Historical Novel

Monday, August 18, 2008

what do I provide?

It was a hot night. This morning it is gray and cooler; a mild rain started to fall as I took out the recycling just now. Kimmie's garden around the patio out my window is as lush and green as it's ever been.

Something's been bothering me about my blog. Well, maybe more than one thing. But what I'm thinking of is its title, which refers to a "historical novel". For some time now I realize that what I am in fact writing is an epic. Like most epics, it is also historical--but the genre is distinct. So, strictly speaking, this blog does not document the genesis of a historical novel (a phrase that I grabbed quickly from the air anyway when I set up the blog as an experiment in 2005). For that, I actually feel a little bit bad now, a little bit fraudulent (but only a little bit!).

Are blogs passe?

Probably not. They are, after all, a new force in journalism in the most basic sense.

But when I read the book Letting Go of the Words by Ginny Redish, a text on web copywriting, I realized that she was right: people on the Web are seeking information. The task of a website, including a blog, is to provide this information as quickly, clearly, and easily as possible.

The information this blog is intended to provide is about the experience of writing a particular novel--and many issues ancillary to that. But many people land here in search of other things, such as the word-counts of certain novels or the significance of hermaphrodites in dreams. While I hope they regard whatever they find here as helpful, I'm not an authority on those topics (although my novel word-counts are probably as good as anyone's back-of-envelope calculations), and it bothers me a little bit that I might not be providing high-quality information on anything except, well, my opinions and my inner state generally.

It doesn't bother me too much (I'm offering up these words for free, after all--take 'em or leave 'em). But a fairly large part of me is keen on accuracy and integrity.

In a way, I'm surprised still to be writing this blog three years on. Mind you, I seldom write in my offline journal nowadays; so this is it. Such as it is, this is the document of my life. That is the information I'm providing, whether it's sought or not.


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