I am not sure why cleaning up my studio is a good prompt to resume writing. It may be that I simply prefer writing to cleaning and after a bit of straightening, begin writing again to rescue myself. It may also be that moving books around and looking at notes and failed drafts gets me sorting, thinking, coming up with ideas for new work.
Anyway, that is how I am spending Saturday afternoon.
Several weeks ago, I said that I was going to concetrate on writing and try to avoid getting into arguments. I still am, but must say that I am tired of the number of literary and cultural critics who have leveled recent attacks against the web (and blogging in particular), claiming that bloggers are "amateurs" who will never replace serious criticism. A great deal of this commentary--and frustration--seems misdirected. It is hardly the blogosphere's fault that major newspapers and other other traditional media outlets have "dumbed down" or eliminated their coverage of fiction, poetry and art and that the "serious" critics are finding themselves out of work. The shrinking coverage of literature and art reflects decisions made in corporate boardrooms and editorial offices, not on the computer screens of America's poets and artists. How editors and publishers expect to sustain a market by making their product less appealing to an intelligent audience baffles me.
And, perhaps because of this void, there is a great deal of serious, lively and informed criticism now available on the web, particularly literary criticism. Websites like Bookslut, Maud Newton, and Edward Byrne's "One Poet's Notes" are performing a valuable function--and they are often doing so amid deafening silence from traditional media outlets.
To claim otherwise is to be willfully ignorant.
I don't consider the small part of the blogosphere I wander through to be "amateur" in any sense. The people I link to are serious, professional writers, many of whom have (or are building) distinguished publishing histories and academic resumes. Because they are working writers, their blogs are not always concerned with literary criticism, but by and large, their reading lists are eclectic and interesting, their discussions are intelligent, and the work they choose to publish (on the web and in literary journals) is accomplished.