Is there lurking somewhere a New Blogging, some set of new or old-made-new formats that might light up our feed readers again?
My favorite blog these days is M. John Harrison’s. He writes these paragraphs, these apparitions—not articles, not essays, not much more than a few hundred words, but much larger than a tweet. I say “larger,” not “longer,” intentionally there. Harrison’s paragraphs contain more, provoke more.
When you’re writing in English, the space that opens up when you go from 10-30 words to 100-300 is immense. It’s much larger, in fact, that the space that opens up when you go from 100-300 words to 1000-3000. The curve—of density? sophistication? meaning?—slopes sharply there.
And I don’t know about you, but I have a sense for the amount of writing that can be done in a single go—a single flurry of the keys. An idea strikes, or a memory; you bang it out and post it. There’s such pleasure in that. You might say it sounds like a tweet, but personally, I find myself spending more and more time filtering and recomposing my tweets these days—boiling them down both to fit the character limit and, I guess, the limits of attention. A certain kind of blog post—a resolutely unprofessional post, a post that would never pass muster on a Gawker blog!—can actually be much looser, much more casual than a tweet. (You see people sometimes approximating this kind of post with a long litany of tweets; I’m on the fence as to whether that works or not.)
Okay, I think that’s the end of this go. I can feel my fingers slowing down here. Not an article, not an essay, not much more than a few hundred words. (297, actually.) Read Harrison’s paragraph and click around to a few more while you’re at it.