Blogging Versus Essays — or: “It’s a Huge Fucking Pet Peeve When You Call My Articles ‘Blogs’.”

For the last year or so, I’ve decided to expand my operation.  I went from the would-be novelist (and not “would be” as in, “Someday I’ll write the next Great American Novel,” but as in, “For the love of St Fuckitallsburg, someone purchase one of my manuscripts.”) with a sporadic tendency toward short stories to pseudo-journalist, writing essays and op-ed pieces on current events.

It’s been one helluva ride.  While getting my work out there has not made it any easier in getting a manuscript sold, I have found a modicum of writing success.  I’ve had a few viral essays (and isn’t that everyone’s dream these days — to “go viral”?), including one with nearly half a million social media shares.  I got to talk on a radio show about another essay, and my time at one website helped set the stage for the release of my ebook.

I’ve been able to share my stories and provide insight and give at least a few people solace by articulating how they had been feeling.  It’s an exhausting labor of love (especially since most websites don’t pay their freelance writers *sigh*) but the emphasis is on “love”, not “labor”.

However, there are few things in this world that tick me off quite like when people mention an essay of mine that had just been published by saying, “Oh, I read your latest blog!”

This right here is a blog.  I am currently blogging.  Which is why it wouldn’t annoy me if you read this and then said to me: “I just read your latest blog entry!” (because, remember: saying, “I read your latest blog!” is kind of like saying, “I watched their most recent TV show!”  It’s nonsensical, unless you construct entire TV series(es) or blog websites in your spare time.)

But what I do for sites like Elite Daily, or Elephant Journal, or xoJane, is.not.blogging.  Even what I do for Thought Catalog — even though they grant their writers the most creative freedom — is not blogging.  Those are essays/articles.

Let me explain why it’s not blogging in a nice, bulleted, listicle format:

* I don’t have to write a pitch to a production team in order to blog.
* I don’t have to get approved for publication in order to blog.
* I don’t have to fill out W2s (for the few sites that pay their writers) in order to blog.
* I don’t have to cope with editors who can and will change up everything, from your wording to your paragraph structure, until you don’t recognize your own writing anymore.
* I don’t get nearly the traffic I do when I write for a website (instead of “blogging”) because, at the end of the day, those are websites that accrue millions of hits a day.  And I’m a schmuck with a blog.

It’s a tremendous pet peeve of mine when people label an article of mine a “blog”.  It might seem like semantics, but there’s a world of difference between the hoops a writer jumps through to have their work posted on a website and the supreme lack of hoops a writer jumps through to write on their own site, powered by WordPress (or Blogger, or Tumblr).

Any schmuck can sign up to any number of blogging sites, knowing full well that their pieces will never be emailed back to them, asking for a rewrite before it can be considered for publication.  Their entries are posted in real time, available for the world the second you click “publish”.  It’s hard work to write for someone else, but it forces you to be a better writer.  Blogging, if you’re not careful, can turn into one masturbatory verbal fest.

Obviously I have no problem with blogging — again, as blogging is something I am doing at this exact moment.  But it would be like confusing singing in a professional band with karaoke, or photojournalism with bystander cellphone shots.  The overlap is there, but replacing the former with the latter negates the hard work, the challenges, and the potential rejection.  It runs the risk of trivializing what is in front of you.

And if there’s anything you should never do to someone who is laboring away at their passion, it’s trivialize what they put out.  There are many writers in my shoes, who toil away, not content with just a few Tumblr tweens reposting your entry.  It takes a lot of ego swallowing to write for a website; an ego that is already big enough to play the semantics game with “blog” versus “article”.

For someone who doesn’t understand what goes on behind the scenes in the writing world, this change-up with wording can seem unnecessary.  But, for a writer who could fill up an additional full-length manuscript with rejected query letters and pitches, it’s the difference between appreciation and invalidation.  Something to think about the next time you run into a writer — or professional singer, or photojournalist, or anyone knee-deep in what drives them forward.

AND, since this is a blog and not an article, I can just leave the post here, as is, without an editor asking for a more concise conclusion.  Mastubatory verbal fest complete.

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