By Mary Hay Davis
“I tell ya – I don’t get no respect.” While those words are the famous catchphrase of the late comedian Rodney Dangerfield, they could also be the mantra of a good many bloggers who stoically clack away on their keyboards in cyberspace.
Although the internet has unleashed a vast new market for writers, it’s a double-edged sword – especially when it comes to the realm of blogging.
New markets are emerging on a daily basis (making the internet a writer’s nirvana), but the dawn of this new frontier has given rise to one glaring consequence: It’s created a fissure that – to many people’s perception — divides “real writers” from their seemingly less literary brethren: bloggers.
Yes, we seem to be the redheaded stepchildren of the writing world. Criticized, looked down upon and eschewed as ‘wannabe writers’, we bloggers have had to fight hard to earn a modicum of respect – something that seems to come far more easily to writers in other venues.
If the writing world had a caste system like India, bloggers would be among the ‘Untouchables’ – bottom feeders who can’t seem to get a ‘real’ writing job and have resigned themselves to living off the crumbs that others feed them.
Why this harsh perception? Because unlike other writing mediums – many of which utilize a gatekeeper (i.e. editor) to ensure quality control – blogging is a forum available to any person who can open a WordPress account and hunt and peck their way around a keyboard.
Think about it – the field of blogging is open to anyone who passed high school English (and from the quality of some blogs, apparently many who didn’t.) People wouldn’t take a few science classes and call themselves a doctor, and yet when it comes to writing, they feel qualified to hang up their cyber shingle and call themselves writers.
From a professional standpoint, there is a huge difference in the quality of the numerous blogs that dot the internet landscape. There are those that offer valuable information and relevant, engaging content (like FWJ!), and then there are the numerous diary/stream of consciousness-type blogs. You know the ones – where bloggers detail what they had for breakfast, how they spent their weekend, and the TMI drama of their latest breakup.
While there is certainly room on the internet for blogs on either end of the spectrum, the sad fact is that many blogs out there serve only to clutter up cyberspace and dilute the blogging gene pool. This is the albatross around a true blogging-writer’s neck, and creates a virtual weight that pulls us all down in the eyes of the literary world.
Since there’s no process in place to distinguish between a true writer’s blog and the countless blogs maintained by hobbyists, it seems it will be up to us professional writers to change things. Perhaps we should incorporate a new term for professional blogs (P-blogs?) that delineates a quality blog from a mere online diary.
While there may be no easy fix when it comes to boosting our humble blogging reputations in the literary community, we CAN continue to fight the good fight by striving to produce quality content and expanding our cyber-reach into homes and offices around the world.
And oh — I hereby denounce the Rodney Dangerfield model and instead opt to take solace and find inspiration in the words of an icon who knows how to get what she wants: Aretha!
R-E-S-P-E-C-T – now that’s what I’m talking about! Blog on, my friends, blog on!
Mary Hay Davis is a professional writer whose work has appeared in The Christian Science Monitor, The Costco Connection, Family Times/Parenting Today and San Diego Family, Magazine. She specializes in writing SEO web content, advetorials, informational articles and marketing material. Before becoming a writer, Mary worked over two decades as a police dispatcher, an occupation rich in anecdotes about the foibles and frailties of the human condition. You can contact Mary through her two websites: www.webprowriting.com and www.maryhaydavis.com.