Procrastination: the art of shagging the dog

I know all about procrastination.  I’ve been in school since I was five; I’ve mastered the art of shagging the dog.

Acadia University allowed me to take my skills to a whole new level as laptops were encouraged, sometimes required, to be in front of me during lectures.  And those blinking conversation boxes on MSN were just too darn tempting to ignore.

Imagine if Emily - the mythical Dickinson - had written a blog - Who knows what gems - There could've Been!

Even in high school, before computers’ heyday, I was not averse to pounding the ivories or going for a bike ride to escape homework assignments (and I was a studious student.)

Oh, procrastination, how do I love thee?  Let me count the ways.

Video games, music, Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, more e-mail, Youtube, cleaning, organizing, eating, bathing, playing with my animals, going for a walk, heading to the gym.  I could go on.

My computer, obviously, is my worst offender.  The internet holds vast opportunities for procrastinating, including blogging.

For about a year, blogging has been one of my favourite ways to shag the dog.  I tell myself it’s a great exercise to keep my writing skills gooder but it’s still prevents me from doing something more important, or seemingly important.

In the scheme of writing, the immediacy of blogging makes it the immanent genre of the literature world, while novels and poetry are more transcendant, respected.  They last in the canon, studied by readers and critics alike for years to come, depending on the fashion.

Blogging is much like journalism in that it is immediate, a transient who will leave town on the next train.  You won’t recognize a journalist’s voice because it is the united voice of the Canadian Press: fast, efficient, fact-packed to the max.  After you read it, it’s no longer important (unless you enjoy combing through the minutiae of newspapers and magazines past.  I do.  Note there were no bylines back in the day because journalists were not to be seen or heard, just their stories.)

Few people could tell you the names of famous newspaper or magazine writers (I took journalism and fail at this exercise too, so don’t feel bad.)  Someday, the same will be true of bloggers.  High school teachers won’t be dissecting blogs or the clever tweets of Sockington the Cat.

After publication, your post is adrift in a vast universe of people thinking out loud.  One small post isn’t enough to make a difference to literature, even if it does receive a lot of “hits” one day.

In blogging’s defense, however, it opens up possibilities for someone excluded from the hoity-toity canon, a bastion of often white males from dominant western nations.  Would Shakespeare have been successful if she were a woman?  Virginia Woolf answered, in “A Room of One’s Own” a hell no (not an exact quote.)  Of course not.  Maybe if Judith Shakespeare had a blog, she would’ve made it somehow.

Blogging offers writers and even non-writers a chance to have their voice heard by anyone who stumbles upon their blog (or is directed to it from a Facebook link that shamelessly promotes the site.)  While technology and the cost of computers might be a barrier to some in developing countries, blogging is arguably more democratic for many people, more so than traditional publishing.  All it takes is an internet connection, computer, and a little technological know-how and voila!  You are a published blogger.

Posting online is an invaluable tool for expressing one’s self, kind of like a diary or journal that everyone gets to read now and not a century down the road.  I’ve always enjoyed a good diary; even the most everyday thoughts have value, even if that value is not Literature with a capital L.

My point?  I’ve digressed a little, but I’d like to bring it back around to procrastination.

For me, blogging is writing procrastination.  It takes away my writing appetite, leaving me with a few posts on a few subjects, when I really want to be working on fiction that has been sitting in the wings, waiting to be finished in some draft or another.  Not that I’m trying to dismiss newfangled forms of expression: I’ve just spent too much time in a classroom studying literature to abandon it now.

So I give up the transcendence of creating a fictional work for the immediacy and immanence of a blog post on celebrity gossip or random thoughts.  Quick gratification.

Though I enjoy blogging because it allows me to play with pictures and words and share that play with others, it is something that will disappear as soon as there’s new blog post.  Here today, gone tomorrow.  While not all fiction is immortalized, blogging has yet to reach a status worthy of classroom discussion and academic papers.

Now that I’ve finished my post, it’s probably time to start some fiction, if only because my blog voice will soon be the voice that comes to dominate my historical works and that would be all bad.

On second thought, maybe I should write a contemporary story about a blog!  Dilemma solved!

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