This is not a blog

This is Not a Blog

Nor is it a pipe.

I ran into an aquaintance recently who told me how much they enjoy my blog—except for one thing: I don’t update it anywhere near frequently enough.
I thanked them for the compliment—every writer longs to be told they’re being read—and then set them straight on the blog thing, which may not have been such a good idea because who adores a pedant? I don’t know if they’ll continue to read these humble musings. Nevertheless . . .

This is not a blog.

The blog is a form that doesn’t suit me. I’m not interested in having to have special software to write my musings. And I’m allergic to diaries. Not other people’s diaries, those can be fun. I read quite a few blogs and journals regularly: the blogs of my friends Chris, Gwenda, John, Lawrence and Nalo so I can keep up with their lives; bookslut and Moorish Girl for publishing news; pseudopodium (which was Bellona Times. I’m still sad Ray changed the name), Making Light and Melymbrosia cause they’re all such polymaths. I’m just allergic to my own diary.

I kept one from the time I was eleven till, um, considerably older than eleven. It was an account of what I did and saw and thought and it is the most boring thing I have ever written. Mindnumbingly so! Except for the embarassing bits, which are kind of compelling in the same way that a train wreck or hideous skin diseases can be compelling. Not something to be inflicted on anyone else ever.

It’s also one of the most poorly written monstrosities I’ve created and, trust me, I’ve written some really, really, shockingly unreadable crap in my time. I started writing stories and "poems" shortly after learning the alphabet. I didn’t produce anything approaching good until I was in my thirties. That’s almost three decades of dreck. And some of the diary was written scarily recently. There was no way I was ever going to inflict a Justine blog on the universe.

These musings began just over a year ago when I found out that The Battle of the Sexes in Science Fiction had been shortlisted for a Hugo Award. After recovering from my complete and utter shock (okay, I never quite recovered: I still wear my little gold Hugo pin to bed at night neatly pinned to my pyjamas), I visited the official site only to discover that I was the only nominee without a website. Why would anyone vote for my obscure university press book if they had no idea who I was or how to find said obscure book? The humiliation of garnering fewer votes than No Award stared me in the face.

I panicked, begged my friend Deb Biancotti to design me a site and started hurriedly throwing a bio and list of publications and everything else she suggested together. Within seconds Deb came up with the design you’re looking at right now. Isn’t it great?

But it wasn’t exactly gripping. Bios, lists of publications, excerpts from reviews only go so far. How was I going to give those Hugo voters the incentive to nudge me ahead of No Award? I visited lots and lots of writer websites and quickly noticed that sites with interesting essays about writing, publishing, and having once been a mormon were by far the most compelling (in a non-trainwreck way).

Deb added a section called Musings, Rants and Essays which I filled with stuff I’d already written on Buffy, researching science fiction, science fiction in New York City, Carol Emshwiller and Ursula Le Guin at WisCon, and romantic jetlag. Instant content, which then sat there for weeks and weeks and weeks. I thought about adding some of my more scholarly essays but, bleah, too boring. Then one night I went to a great reading at KGB and decided to write about it. I wrote, rewrote, read it to Scott, rewrote again and, hey presto! The musings in their current form were born.

Shortly afterwards I added a second one about having to wake up way too early. Suddenly everything looked musable. I’d be telling Scott a story from when I was a kid and be thinking, Hey, this could be a musing. Everything I did and everywhere I went gave me ideas: about the New York Liberty, handing out voter registration cards, why chewing gum is such a bad idea (still haven’t finished that one—too much to say), the differences between Sydney and New York City. It was endless.

However, I write for a living, and I don’t get paid to muse. Early on to keep things under control I decided to aim for a musing once a week and if I didn’t manage that, not to sweat it. I don’t, which keeps the musings fun and relaxing; something cool to do when the real paid writing isn’t flowing so well. I write musings when I feel like it and when I don’t, I don’t.

They take anything from an hour, to days, to weeks to write. A blog is all about momentary writing. My musings are slower and way less spontaneous. I have a folder full of dozens of unfinished ones, including a musing on being Australian that I started last June and may never finish (too hard).

Writing these mini- and not-so-mini essays has forced me to shape my thoughts on various topics and to learn a whole new non-fiction genre. A genre I very much enjoy writing, unlike, say, the kind of non-fiction I wrote in my previous life as an academic where every sentence had to have a vast array of duly quoted and footnoted supporting evidence as well as having to prepare for every possible counter argument. Uggh.

This is my fortieth musing written just over a year after the first one. So I’m not making my musing-a-week goal, but I’m not disgracing myself either. I promise this’ll be the only musing ever about writing musings.

New York City, 20 June 2004

PS At the Hugos last year my book garnered more votes than No Award (coming in fourth Battle got 137, No Award only managed 25). I owe it all to this website. Thank you, Deb.