Sunday, November 4, 2012

My work as a Blogger vs. my work as an Author

As a literature professor, one of the best things about having tenure, or that is, having a bit of job security, is that you get to somewhat relax when it comes to publishing. (Ironically though, many associate professors end up publishing far more than when they were assistants). Prior to tenure, there's some pressure and anxiety about getting published in a "reputable" venue, which means a respected scholarly journal or press. It's somewhat telling that I picked up the pace as a poetry blogger after I had tenure, after I had a book contract.

Unfortunately, I doubt my current employer or most potential future employers would have respected my status as a frequent blogger on African American poetry as much they respected my identity as an author with the University of Michigan Press. Yet, I get the sense that far more readers have covered my blog entries on poetry than have read my book. Last Sunday, I published an entry "Rita Dove and the fear of poems that aren't black enough," which now has received 233 page-views. I suspect that my book has received substantially less page-views.

At this point, I'm well aware that it's a good idea for me to be an active blogger and an author. The field of African American literature needs and relies on extended treatments, displayed in scholarly articles and books. General readers, on the other hand, show little interest in discussions of literature, unless they receive it in small doses and on a regular, up-to-date basis.

Mornings that I blog likely intrude on times I could be working on my book project or a scholarly article. When I choose to work on my book project and articles, I neglect regular contact with those who follow my blog entries and tweets. What's a blogger who's also interested in writing books and scholarly articles to do?

I tend to make comprises or have my blogging activities overlap with my formal research and writing. For one, I produce relatively short articles, which satisfies the interests of online readers but also takes less time away from the time I could work on articles and my next book. During the time I'm working on my book project, I identify key concepts that I can explore for my blog entries.

Of course, I haven't yet reconciled all the tensions that exist between these warring ideas--my work as a blogger vs. my work as an author.

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