So someone wondered when I’d be moving to Paris to join my French boyfriend. Good grief. Must have been my I love Paris post set him off, don’t you think? Blogging has hazards I hadn’t even considered. I mean, sure, I love imagining surroundings for bloggers I enjoy reading, but I also realise that that’s where the boundary to fiction lies. Yes, what I blog is (mostly) true, but there is so much that I don’t blog that unless you know me, the idea you have of me from these words probably has more to do with fiction than reality. Your imaginings, not my world. I suspect blogs are smokescreens as much as windows.

What’s really happening? Well, this morning I woke up, missed Scott (who is wonderful and lives by a beach far from Paris), booked tickets to go see him (quite soon, really, just a few weeks), showered, woke my daughter, sang, chatted, packed lunches, got her to school and me to work, made sure the bookstore has all the books for my class and now I’m planning teaching. First lecture of the year is at noon. Afterwards I’ll do my one hour of writing. It would have been better to do it before teaching, but, it’s the first class and… well, you know.

Even with that kind of detail, most of what you imagine of my morning is probably coming from your imagination. Not from my reality. Strange, isn’t it? But you know, even Weez’s stories of dating leave out almost everything, and when Jane’s blog was black for a month after posts about depression she came back with photos of kisses and stories of joy and holidays.

11 thoughts on “fiction and blogging

  1. diane

    I wouldn’t say these dreams of your Parisian life are exactly fiction. Misconceptions, maybe. Projections for sure. They say a great deal about how romantic people still think Paris is. But — coming from someone who’s hip-deep in a novel, writing it I mean — it’s not fiction. Sorry to quibble. And how did your hour go?

  2. Jill

    Oh. I think I used fiction in the Scandinavian way, where it is more a phenomenen than a genre. I think Americans (all anglos?) use fiction to mean “novels”. I definitely don’t think our ideas of each other’s lives, based on reading each others’ blogs, are equivalent to a novel. I think it’s fiction in a fictional worlds sense, in a more general sense where fact and fiction are opposed. Or perhaps complementary. Fiction to me means (more or less) that it’s not true, it’s imagined, it’s part of a collaborative game or it’s something I imagine based on what I read – but I’m starting to realise this is only one of many ways in which fiction is used?

    If I’m right in my understanding of a Scando version of fiction that is broad and mushy and an American version of fiction that’s a formally defined genre, it’s interesting that Americans often use narrative in the same mushy all-encompassing way we use fiction, whereas Scandos usually use it strictly as describing a formal genre.

    See: ludology wars.

    My hour? Terribly. I thought the how-are-your-theses going meeting with the finishing MA students was tomorrow. It was today, so I went straight from teaching to the seminar.

    My daughter has a friend visiting and they’re playing happily alone. I could probably write now but I started making burnt butter brown sugar cupcakes.

    Cupcakes are nice too. Oh dear.

  3. Elin

    Oh! Is this why I’m having trouble over here? I didn’t think there was a difference in the way we use “fiction”, now you got me wondering. What do you think, Diane?

  4. diane

    Hi Elin & Jill

    In my understanding, one important difference between fiction and narrative is that narrative doesn’t stand in any particular relation to fact. (Memoirs are narratives but also “factual” in a sense that novels are not, for instance.) Whereas fiction is often used to mean “the opposite of fact” (sometimes not in a very nice way).

    That said, I have been thinking this morning that you did mean “fiction” in some more general sense, Jill.

    Maybe the deeper question here has more to do with this thing called “fact.” Why are people tempted to take stuff in blog posts for facts, rather than something else?

    I keeping thinking of what happens on diet blogs, where photos and statistics give the impression that the blog truthfully represents a real person’s real life. The blog has a confessional/testimonial aspect. And as you get invested in the blogger’s “real” struggle, often the blogger’s struggle to diet comes to be related in complex and interesting ways to her (it’s usually a woman) efforts to blog.

    Sorry to hear about the fate of your hour, Jill, but good luck with the cupcakes! Yum.

  5. collin

    “Maybe the deeper question here has more to do with this thing called ‚Äúfact.‚Äù Why are people tempted to take stuff in blog posts for facts, rather than something else?”

    I suspect it’s partly the whole “weblogs are online diaries” meme. My blog is a window, but it’s only one window (of many) into the sprawling country mansion of my life, and it’s a window I only walk by when I’m in particular moods. If it’s the only window that some people know, it’s not that hard to imagine that those people would get certain ideas about me–that I think about academic stuff far more often than I actually do, that I spend less time fighting depression than I actually do, etc. Blogs tap into that desire that most of us have (as readers) to be insiders in other people’s lives, to strengthen our weak ties.

    My blog–and most others’, I suspect–are only “based on a true story,” a phrase that never ceases to amuse.


    ps. Good luck with your hour/day, J.

  6. diane

    “that I spend less time fighting depression than I actually do”

    I hear that. Oh, yeah.

  7. Jill

    Based on a true story – I love that. I might add that as a tagline to my title.

    Trackbacks aren’t working for some reason, but Lilia’s linked to this too, and links on to a post she wrote a while back comparing the way you can shape an idea of someone from a blog vs. from their profile on a social networking system. Some good points there.

  8. Scott

    I miss you too, mon cheri. (hopefully the occassional vist to noveau jersey will suffice for paris for now). Amour, Scott

  9. Francois Lachance

    Quebecois and Anglo-Canadian Feminist writers have for quite some while explored the intersection between theory, fiction, language games, consciousness and the shaping of reality. Nicole Brossard’s _Picture Theory_ is a nice starting point. Carolyn Guertin has a site devoted to many aspects of the power of metaphorics explored in the poetics of these authors. See

    A translation into English of Brossard’s Journal Intime has just appeared. It would be interesting to compare its genesis as a series for radio broadcast to the blog genre. In any event the writing is gorgeous and very much in the exploratory vien of the bio-blog. My translation: “To love you is not a restful thing. To love you, it’s a term with multiple meanings which stem principally from the sense which could be given to tension and concentration. […] _I love you_ works as both a conclusion and an introduction.” Lovely to think of blog entries as love letters. Each and every entry in a sense is overheard. At play in the game of split addressee. Me. You. Us.

  10. jessica

    you r a good fashion designer and i hope to meet u someday so we can talk about different types of fabric and designes and stuff like that

  11. Jill

    How convenient to be reminded of this post a day after booking tickets to Paris to meet my beloved American boyfriend! (This comment is a love letter)

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