According to Karlin Lillington, writing for the Irish Times, William Gibson will stop blogging when he starts writing his next novel. It sounds as though he needs privacy in order to write:

He’s about ready to start thinking of his next novel – but in order to do so, he says he’ll have to give up his weblog (or ‘blog’), a highly popular website of sorts in which he’s written almost daily since January.

“I do know from doing it that it’s not something I can do when I’m actually working. Somehow the ecology of writing novels wouldn’t be able to exist if I’m in daily contact. If I expose things that interest or obsess me as I go along, there’d be no need to write the book. The sinews of narrative would never grow.”

or, as he writes himself in his blog:

One thing that was immediately clear to me, from the first blog, is that this is not an activity, for me, that can coexist with the writing of a novel. In some way I only dimly apprehend, it requires too much of the same bandwidth (yet never engages anything like the total *available* bandwidth).

But, definitely, the ecology of novelization and the ecology of blogging couldn’t coexist, for me. It would be like trying to boil water without a lid. Or, more like it, trying to run a steam engine without a lid. (I wonder if that would be the case for a native of the blogosphere — for whom, as Lou Reed once said of heroin addicts, “the needle is a toothbrush”? Maybe not.)

This is pretty much the opposite view to Steven Johnson’s statement that he’s been twice as productive in his other writing since he started blogging. But as I understand what Gibson says, for him the incompatibility of book-writing and blogging isn’t that blogging takes time but that it’s too public. Or too open, perhaps. He sounds rather like the individualist romantic genius who needs isolation to create great art, while the blogging ethos demands openness and social sharing of the process. I wonder if these opposed strategies are clichÈs, beliefs or just a sign of different personality types? I think I’m a native of the blogsphere – though I’m not sure about the toothbrush thing.

3 thoughts on “boil water without a lid

  1. Eirik

    It’s well known that authors come in two very different varieties: the extrovert who thrives on communication (before blogs and other forms of electronic communication there were public readings, lecture tours and the like) and the introvert who writes books precisely because they make other forms of communication unnecessary. People working at Norsk Forfattersentrum (a lecture tour agency/organization for Norwegian authors) could probably tell you a thing or two about this. Whether the end result (the text) is better or worse off, is another matter entirely. 🙂

  2. Jill

    Ah, so that’s why I’ve never written a single poem for my desk drawer yet love to blog. Now I get it!

  3. Camillas blogg

    the sound of time passing
    Blogging is very time consuming, and i can only agree with William Gibson who said he’d have to stop blogging when starting his novel – i can’t write and blog at the same time. The exams are approaching (quickly), i…

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