Jane (With The Help of Fran Lebowitz) Comments On Bloggers. And It Isn’t Always Pretty.

“Having been unpopular in high school is not just cause for book publications.” ~Fran Lebowitz
HBO is featuring a delightful and entertaining documentary on Fran Lebowitz entitled “Public Speaking,” directed by Martin Scorsese. She has much to say on many things. But the comment that I have been pondering for days is her view that writers need narcissism in order to write.
Some writers, of course, are more narcissistic than others. As are some bloggers, I’ve found.

“When Toni Morrison said ‘write the book you want to read,’ she didn’t mean everybody.” ~Fran Lebowitz

The problem with the Blog World is that anyone with a computer and an internet connection can blog. The wonder of Blog World is that anyone with a computer and an internet connection can blog.


I’m conflicted, as you can plainly see.

Just as there are better novelists out there, there are better bloggers. Better. Different. Some interesting. Some less so. There is a delightful array of blogs from which to choose. Different strokes for different folks.

But each and every blog contains a little of the same thing. Self-absorption.

“Too many people are writing books.” Why is this?  “Because you have been taught to have self-esteem.” ~Fran Lebowitz

We all have something to say. We all say it, here on our blogs. Is it worth saying? That lies, my friend, is in the eye of the beholder.

Frankly, it amazes me sometimes, at the perceived (my perception) popularity of some bloggers. I measure popularity based on the number of comments, or advertised hits on a blog. I’m sure you’ve noticed but some mediocre writing is getting lots of attention.

And then there are the blogs I follow that inspire me. Where the writing is fresh and interesting. If you measured some of their popularity by the same parameters? They land in the uncool category, for sure.

We all possess, at least an inkling, a notion that someone out there, anyone out there, wants to read what we’ve written. Some of us find more readers than others. Some of us need more readers than others (as evidenced by the many contests decorating so many blogs). The trick is finding the balance. We need to find what a healthy, rational psyche can thrive on – a blogging balance that feeds our need to put our thoughts out there and validate our thoughts at the same time.  We must avoid the trap that false validation can bring and ground ourselves. Know that you aren’t going to please or entertain or inspire all of the people all of the time. And that’s OK.

The number of followers you have does not assure you a higher seat in Bloggers Heaven.

“Very few people possess true artistic ability. It is therefore both unseemly and unproductive to irritate the situation by making an effort. If you have a burning, restless urge to write or paint, simply eat something sweet and the feeling will pass.”~Fran Lebowitz

As much as her comment gives me a chuckle, deep down, I disagree. I’m glad the internet is limitless. I’m happy to have found Blog World. I’m glad I’ve found a place of my own. I enjoy the variety of bloggers out there. The amazing writers that I admire, encourage me and inspire me to be better. A better person. A better writer. A better mother and wife. A better friend.

Call me narcissistic, but I write, hoping to inspire others in the same way.


Filed under Blogging, Observations

26 responses to “Jane (With The Help of Fran Lebowitz) Comments On Bloggers. And It Isn’t Always Pretty.

  1. ck

    You ARE inspiring, Jane! Just one of the many reasons I’m so glad that you’re back. And also, “Having been unpopular in high school is not just cause for book publications,” made me laugh. Though if someone can write a kick-ass book about it, chances are it would bring validation to the rest of us who still have terrifying dreams that we’re back roaming the halls of those horrible years.

  2. Steven Harris

    I agree with much that you say here. Most of the blogs I love are not in the billions of hits variety, but maybe that reflects my own mostly non-mainstream tastes in certain areas? But the validation in some sense is simply that people think things about their world. Before the internet we had conversations with people in pubs or over dinner about these events. Now more of us blog about them and hopefully get a conversation going with those who read us. I still think of the internet as a techy version of the garden fence. We’re just chatting over the fence to our neighbours a lot of the time and I’m fine with that 😀

    • I’m happy to have found this new version of the garden fence as Steven refers to it! I get to crawl into the thoughts of millions of people. The downside for me is that I realize I’m becoming more like my mother every day. She was a huge Larry King fan and used to ‘join’ in the conversations he would have with his guests. “Mom, Larry can’t really hear you.” Last night, I heard myself commenting out loud as I read through someone’s reply to someone else’s recent post. I looked around to see if anyone noticed. As luck would have it, I was alone…except for my million or so blogging friends.

  3. I wish I had HBO because this documentary sounds fascinating.

    You recently left a comment on my blog saying, “…writing can be a lonely adventure. But blogging (for me, anyway) has made it less so.” That’s one of the main reasons I blog, too. Like Steven said, it’s the picket fence conversation. And, yes, some conversations are less lively, less interesting and more mediocre than others 😉 but I don’t think being silent and eating candy is the answer if someone really wants to join in. The ones who are “me, me, me” all the time, I think (eventually) just end up talking to themselves.

    Thoughtful post, Jane — thank you~

  4. What I like about blogworld is the purity of its freedom of choice. Unlike television where I have little direct control over what, exactly, gets put on the airwaves, the internet offers limitless variety and my own free will. If I choose to read pure drivel, I can find it. If I want to read something thought-provoking, I can find that too. If mindless and inane blogs get lots of readership, it’s really irrelevant to me. And if quality blogs have lesser readership (as long as it doesn’t deter the blogger from continuing to write) then that’s irrelevant to me too.

    As for my own blog, I work hard to write thoughtful and articulate posts (today’s entry notwithstanding…) and if people respond – either in comments or within the confines of their own minds – that tickles me. But the fact remains that I blog because I like the way that it challenges me to confront the world in interesting ways.

  5. The blogs I love the most are the ones of those who are clever artistically be it sewing, painting, photography whatever and the ones (like yours) where the writer isn’t afraid to express an opinion – however controversial it may turn out to be. I don’t have a lot of readers and commenters – but the ones that I do have I appreciate very much! The blogs I loathe with a vengance are the ones which are just a huge ego stroke – they are boring and self indulgent. *Gets down from ranty soapbox*! It is as Mr Harris says rightly the garden fence of the modern world and there’s nothing better than a good gossip over the fence!

    • Thanks for the encouragement. Sometimes I veer into dangerous territory. But I can’t be/write who I’m not. I have opinions. And this particular post could have gone so much further into the danger zone. It was inspired by the documentary (of course) and some self-indulgent blogs out there. I had to show a lot of restraint, writing this post. But then, I always come back to “Different strokes for different folks.” I’m glad there’s such a variety out there for us to choose from. Without it, Blog World would be a frightfully boring place.

  6. So it was Fran you were talking about the other day on the phone! I love her–talk about SnarkWoman! And yes, we bloggers are so full of ourselves that I’m surprised we talk about anyone else. 😉 You rock, friend!

  7. Fran Lebowitz documentary is wonderful;Cole called me up to watch it, for some reason she has completely drawn in a 14 year old boy. I agree–A mothering book by Britney…or a self help book by Paris? Please.
    I love the conversation a blog offers. A “salon” of sorts.
    Dooce was a blog that turned me off for long time but over time, I went for the comments as much as I do for the pictures of writing. And I found myself excited when Leta lost her first tooth.
    PW has me wondering how she does it…and frankly I’m a little skeptical. But who cares…I enjoy the pictures, food, and once again the comments;I found your blog by reading the comments on PW.
    On a smaller scale the conversation is much more intimate. Over time its amazing how much you learn and care about a person you have never meet. Pen Pals ).
    I like to write, and connect…Odd lives up to my expectations. For now, that is more than enough.

  8. Like ck, I laughed out loud at some of those Fran L. quotes. But I think my view of writing is less cynical than hers, especially as it applies to most bloggers I know. The blogs that I read most religiously are those written by earnest, reflective men and women interested in passing their ideas by others.

    Is it narcissistic to assume that anyone else would care to read my musings? Maybe, but then every real-time conversation I have with a friend must be too. I think humans are social creatures and the manner and pace at which we live today makes it harder to come by real connections. And blogging has provided me with both an outlet and a community at times where it’s been lacking in the “real world.”

    Fascinating topic, Jane!

  9. I think we writers are all narcissistic to a degree…the best thing about the blogging community for me is encouragement from other writers I respect, which validates what I do more than support from “regular people” (non-writers).

    Previous commenters have spoken about the amount of “not so good” stuff in Blogland which is still “popular.” I think Blogland is a lot like television…there are people who prefer “Jersey Shore” to documentaries, and that’s okay (for them). Different strokes for different folks…


  10. We all have thoughts and opinions, some more interesting than others. The good news about a blog, as opposed to a face to face conversation, is that we don’t have to read the whole thing if we choose not to. We don’t have to comment if we choose not to. We don’t have to smile and appear to be interested if we are not. We can put it out there any way we choose – and others have the same privilege. For me, your blogs are always interesting and provide food for thought. Like “what’s self-indulgent, and am I?”

  11. I often find the bigger the blog the less interesting it is. The more every post is written for their large audience, and a certain intimacy is lost.

    I try to always write what’s on my heart at the time, so that I actually enjoy the process too.

  12. A couple of weeks ago, I had this same discussion with some friends. In a similar, but different context. We were talking about the world of self-publishing and books. The beauty of the internet is that you can bound your words and call yourself published even if you did it all yourself on Lulu or some other self-publishing tool. As a result, there are books out there that I don’t appreciate, but I think you said it best, “different strokes for different folks.”
    Great topic and discussion.

  13. Yes, to everything you say here. And the same concerns, and irritations, and ambivalence, and sense of necessity to write daily in a way that conversation may be ignited – and – practice, practiced.

    And yes, to being a better writer, a better mother, a better and more conscious person as a result.

  14. I enjoy reading a wide variety of blogs…and realize that every post doesn’t have to be thought provoking. Sometimes they’re just fun. Or pretty. Or useful. And if they don’t strike me as interesting I just don’t finish them. Yours? I almost always find interesting! LOL.

    Sometimes I feel that what I post is well written, has a point, makes people stop and think. Other times it’s just a frivolous entry for no particular purpose except it was something I wanted to say. You just never know. Which is the beauty of the blog world.

    Glad you’re back. I’m really behind in my reading!

  15. You are one of the blogs that inspires. I love the variety that is out there, too. I have seen some wonderful conversations spurred by blogs that may not be well written, but the ideas they are trying to share are wonderful. And, isn’t that what it is all about … sharing ideas and thoughts and maybe finding some new points of view yourself?
    Thanks for speaking your mind and daring to venture into what you perceive as dangerous territory sometimes ….

  16. I finally decided (or, I finally remembered, rather), after a paranoid period of craving new readers and commenters, that I am writing for myself and for my family. I want to capture those moments that pass all too soon and that I won’t remember down the road. My blog helps me notice things I would otherwise overlook.

    And I agree about some more “popular” blogs being poorly written or lacking interesting content, at least to me. But, to each her own. It’s a big, wide world, the Internet.

  17. There are more than 3 million blogs out there at the last count more than a year ago. Exactly the wonder you speak of: there is bound to be some blogs that fit your taste. And I agree: Bloggers have to be a bit narcissistic. 🙂 I love blogging, otherwise how am I gonna get anybody to listen to what I have to say? I clearly am having trouble doing this inside my house…

  18. I have difficulty finding interesting blogs. So many are diaries — and so many pontificate — but few are simply interesting. I’ve also learned that popularity has little to do with quality. Your essays hit the mark with both quality and interest.

  19. Deeelightful post Jane. Yeah, this thing called blogging has created a conundrum in my life – so much time spent – sometimes thinking, “did I really take 15 minutes to read THAT?” And just when I was shooting for Blogger Heaven, you’ve set me straight. Like you, I’ve been amazed by the sense of community that I’ve come to enjoy here.

  20. The blogging world is like a village…It creates community. I think as a blogger you start out wanting a creative outlet (no matter, if you are good at it, or not), what you discover is that folks find ways to relate, to share and to establish relationships. The blogosphere is amazing-who would of thought?

    I don’t pretend to be a writer. Someone once asked me, why I blog, if I don’t consider myself a writer. I blog because food is my passion, and I want to share it. I thought I would be sharing it with my friends and family. I had no idea the world it would open up- now, I feel like I have friends and family all over the world.

    Great post!

  21. Great post. I do want to be a real writer one day. And they have editors and agents who are “suppose” to weed out the talented from the dreamers. But read some of the junk out there, and it looks like some people have fallen asleep at the wheel. I like the Blog World because it gives everyone a voice. And that’s something we need. We can always shut out the voices if we want to.

  22. Popularity does not equal quality. Few books are published; most are just bad. But that doesn’t mean all the unpublished is bad, too. Luck, luck, luck. With blogs you don’t need luck. You don’t need readers. You just need to be true to whatever voice you want to write with.
    And then the luck part is taken out of the equation.
    All that’s left is good writing.
    Jane is Exhibit A.

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