More Writing About Writing

To begin with, I have to confess I’m as guilty as anyone. About what? About writing about writing, of course. Now… for some background.

When I began to consider being a writer, I thought I was going to be a poet, and I did get some poems published in various small poetry and literary magazines. And then, there was this escalating altercation in Southeast Asia, and I ended up piloting helicopters for the U.S. Navy and didn’t write very much. When I got out of the Navy, I started writing market research reports dealing with the demand for industrial pneumatic accessories by large factories. Then I wrote a very bad mystery novel, awful enough that I later burned it so that it could never be resurrected. Only after all that did I attempt to write science fiction, and after close to ten years of hit or miss short-story submissions, with only about half a dozen sales while I was working full-time at my various “day jobs,” I finally got a rejection letter from Ben Bova which told me to lay off the stories and write a novel. And I did, and I sold it, and I’ve sold, so far, every one I’ve written since. Now… all this history is not bragging, or not too much, but to point out that virtually all the writing I did for almost forty years was either occupational-subject-related or poetry or fiction that I hoped to see published — and even more hopefully, sold for real money and not copies of magazines and publications.

All that changed a year ago, when I started blogging… or more specifically, writing about writing or about subjects that bear on writing, if sometimes tangentially. Instead of writing fiction for publication, I’m writing close to the equivalent of a book a year… about writing. I’m certainly not the only one out there doing this. In fact, I’m probably one of the later arrivals in this area.

But I can’t help wondering, no matter how my publicist has said that it’s a good idea, if there’s something just a bit wrong about writing about writing, instead of just writing. What’s happened to our culture and our society when readers seem to be as interested, or more interested, in writing about writing than in the writing itself. And why are so many younger writers going to such lengths in their blogs to attract attention?

At least one well-known publisher has noted that no publicity is all bad, but is this sort of thing all that good? Or is it not all that good, but necessary in a society that seems to reward shameless self-promotion as vital for success?

Who could say… except here I am, along with hundreds of others, writing about writing.