Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Blog as Serial Narrative

How do you think of your blog? An open letter to the world? Your personal journal which happens to be public? The safety valve that keeps you from going postal and climbing to the top of some nearby tall building with a bullhorn and a deer rifle?

Many of us who prattle on in the blogosphere have a tendancy to think of ourselves as citizen journalists, occupying that sprawling space between The Official Major Media and the highly opinionated windbag on the second stool from the right at the corner bar; between the easily punctured myth of professional journalistic objectivity and the purveyors of sheer shameless agitprop. We lay claim to the traditions of the Revolutionary War pamphleteers, the underground press, and the Russian samizdat writers — or in my case, I tend to think of myself as the host of some small-market public radio talk show, struggling to keep the conversation going and slipping in the occasional public service announcement when I need to duck out to the bathroom. Most of what I write is in direct response to either posted comments or personal email, albeit sometimes rather obliquely.

The one thing we all seem to have in common here is a faith in veracity: that what we write is the truth, at least as we see it, or at least that most of the rest of our fellow bloggers are writing something that is very much like truth.

That's not true, of course.

There have been some notable attempts to use the blog as a form of serial fiction, albeit mostly notable in a negative sense. The young career woman who attempts to replicate the Sex and The City formula by writing a diary about her fantastic sexual adventures, and those of her friends: while these have been parlayed into six-figure book deals, the books have pretty uniformly flopped, and the more cynical among us have begun to suspect that the "diary" that supposedly spawned the book was the publisher's contrived media campaign all along. The young man supposedly blogging between combat patrols in Iraq or Afghanistan: several of these have been exposed as despicable politically motivated frauds, and when exposed these writers tend to be treated with the scorn and contempt they deserve and slink back to the sewers that spawned them.


But, do you know of anyone who has created a blog as a deliberate and known work of fiction, and if so, have any succeeded in drawing a sustained audience? It strikes me that a blog as sit-com, or a blog as romantic drama, should be able to tap the same sort of interest that draws people to television series.

Why do you blog? How important is "truth" when you choose what to write and which blogs to read? Would you read an entertaining blog that you know is fiction?