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January 10, 2005

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steve

I was thinking along similar lines this morning. It also may be worth noting that unlike other novels by bloggers, this book hasn't emerged from repackaging the specific content of the blog (a la Wonkette and others). That's a corollary to your comment about being a writer before becoming a blogger, but perhaps a significant one because of the way it establishes the blog in it's own particular position in relation to other work.

steve

Wait, I didn't mean Wonkette; I meant the other one, didn't I?

Sarah

The Washingtonienne (Jessica Cutler) and Belle de Jour, too. Ana Marie Cox was a writer and editor long before she ever became Wonkette, and I expect she'll be the former two things if and when she decides to jump ship from Planet Denton.

What blogs can do for those of us who were working on novels before (or, like me, finally realized it was high time to get off her ass and start working on one as well) is give a greater visibility not only to our personalities and tastes but to our work as well. It's no accident most of my freelance work has resulted from my own blogging, and that my writing has improved from blogging on a regular basis, but if I gave up the blog tomorrow, I'd still be writing.

In Laila's case, I think, Moorish Girl gave readers a window into her voice, which is thoughtful and measured and very compelling. This translates into the stories of hers I have read so far and will no doubt further translate into her future work.

Karen

One of the reasons checking in on you all is so addictive is that it's very clear you are real writers -- which springs from being real readers. Even the most cynical and sly among you wear your passions on your sleeve.

daniel olivas

laila is one of those wonderful writers i've gotten to know through zoetrope's writing workshop. when i read her news on zoetrope, i almost let out a yelp. good things do happen to those who work hard and are talented...that's laila.

Jimmy Beck

That settles it. If I can't cash in, then clearly there's no reason to start a blog...Okay, gotta go turn in these cans and bottles.

CAAF

Mr. Beck, I would have thought the chance to parlay your blog fame into a Playgirl spread would have had you up and blogging months ago. What will it take?!?

Scott

Mark,

Your point about Laila being a writer first, blogger second is well-taken. I was wondering when the image of the litblogoshpere was going to start moving from "people who write about authors" to "people who are authors and who write about authors." As you noted, a lot of us are writers first, bloggers second and Laila's book is a great indication that we're serious about books and that we know what we're talking about.

Of course, Laila book is, first off, a triumph for Laila, and I'd like to offer congratulations.

Jim Ruland

Well put and well-earned congratulations to Laila!

Katie Weekley

Huge congratulations to Laila. She is a very talented writer.

Carl Peel

I knew Laila to be a very talented and gracious writer for five years before I stumbled on her blog. That's the main reason I read her blog (the other being that I'm not likely to hear of North African and Middle Eastern writers and books any other way).

Also, her book sounds like something I'd definitely want to read, regardless of her blog or anything else.

Congratulations to her.

MG

Thanks for the kind words, everyone. You've all been very generous with your praise. I'm sure we'll see other writers in our community get published very soon. I look forward to toasting you all when the time comes!

Angela

Congrats to Laila! At last a writer who's a writer first!!! We all love that! I will look forward to it!

Hapax Legomenon

Blogging means that you have built an audience over time, and publishing houses like it when their PR is already done for them. A lot of writers write for and follow the litblogs with literary projects of their own fermenting in the back of their minds; we don't need no stinking publishers to validate our efforts.

I'm in a different market than the lit market. But my erotic fiction site(see my URL--warning, somewhat not worksafe) gets 3000 unique visitors a month (compared to first books, which rarely sell over that).

Then there's money. Hey, a few thousand dollars in royalties is nice, I don't deny it. But when it goes out of print, or when the publisher decides to make it available only in a proprietary digital format, suddenly the Faustian bargain doesn't seem so swell anymore. Suddenly the 95 years of copyright control seems like forever.

We need a new infrastructure to reward writers directly, without compelling them to give up their copyright for 95 years. I'm talking about POD, a donation system, something. I agree, having a book publication is real world validation that impresses people. But it means little else.

While I think we should applaud litbloggers for completing a project, we need to change our definition of what constitutes success. For example, I feel that my literary erotica project is "very successful." I would rather hear more successful stories about POD successes than people who have "succeeded" with mainstream publishing.

I know Moorishgirl's fiction is good (and I've read one or two of her stories already to know she is talented). But in two years used copies of her book will be floating around on amazon.com for under a $1. Perhaps I'll buy a copy, and out of the $4.50 I'll spend, Amazon will receive the largest portion, and Moorishgirl will receive not one dime.

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TEV DEFINED


  • The Elegant Variation is "Fowler’s (1926, 1965) term for the inept writer’s overstrained efforts at freshness or vividness of expression. Prose guilty of elegant variation calls attention to itself and doesn’t permit its ideas to seem naturally clear. It typically seeks fancy new words for familiar things, and it scrambles for synonyms in order to avoid at all costs repeating a word, even though repetition might be the natural, normal thing to do: The audience had a certain bovine placidity, instead of The audience was as placid as cows. Elegant variation is often the rock, and a stereotype, a cliché, or a tired metaphor the hard place between which inexperienced or foolish writers come to grief. The familiar middle ground in treating these homely topics is almost always the safest. In untrained or unrestrained hands, a thesaurus can be dangerous."

SECOND LOOK

  • The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald

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    Penelope Fitzgerald's second novel is the tale of Florence Green, a widow who seeks, in the late 1950s, to bring a bookstore to an isolated British town, encountering all manner of obstacles, including incompetent builders, vindictive gentry, small minded bankers, an irritable poltergeist, but, above all, a town that might not, in fact, want a bookshop. Fitzgerald's prose is spare but evocative – there's no wasted effort and her work reminds one of Hemingway's dictum that every word should fight for its right to be on the page. Florence is an engaging creation, stubbornly committed to her plan even as uncertainty regarding the wisdom of the enterprise gnaws at her. But The Bookshop concerns itself, finally, with the astonishing vindictiveness of which provincials are capable, and, as so much English fiction must, it grapples with the inevitabilities of class. It's a dense marvel at 123 pages, a book you won't want to – or be able to – rush through.
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    Tim Krabbé's superb 1978 memoir-cum-novel is the single best book we've read about cycling, a book that will come closer to bringing you inside a grueling road race than anything else out there. A kilometer-by-kilometer look at just what is required to endure some of the most grueling terrain in the world, Krabbé explains the tactics, the choices and – above all – the grinding, endless, excruciating pain that every cyclist faces and makes it heart-pounding rather than expository or tedious. No writer has better captured both the agony and the determination to ride through the agony. He's an elegant stylist (ably served by Sam Garrett's fine translation) and The Rider manages to be that rarest hybrid – an authentic, accurate book about cycling that's a pleasure to read. "Non-racers," he writes. "The emptiness of those lives shocks me."