Five Questions: Grumpy Old Bookman
1. Why do you blog?
Here is a copy of a piece that I wrote in May 2006 on the whys and wherefores of blogging:
One post on the Arts Journal blog which caught my eye deals with the question of why people bother to create blogs anyway. And it asks a question which, for many bloggers, is a key one: how can you make any money out of the damn thing?
Well, admittedly it’s very difficult, and I for one have never made a penny out of mine – not directly, anyway, and I can’t say that I’ve noticed a dramatic effect on the sales of my various books. However, in my case, I am not too fussed about the money because I am retired.
So, if I’m not doing it for the money, why am I doing it? And I don’t mind admitting that it’s only recently that I figured it out. The answer is, it’s a continuation of a lifetime preoccupation, namely education. And it combines very neatly with another lifetime occupation, namely writing.
Almost my entire working life was spent in education, either as a teacher or an administrator. So I was, in various capacities, an educator. I was also, at one point, an educationist, in the sense that I made a formal study of education, including a PhD. And I even wrote a book about education.
As far as I’m concerned, therefore, the blog is just a natural extension of all that. It’s an attempt to pass on knowledge of various sorts: knowledge about how to do things, and how not to do things. What to expect, particularly if you’re a writer, and what not to expect. Information about books which are worth reading (imho) and also those which are not worth reading.
Of course you’d probably prefer not to know that I am interested in education, since most people have an aversion to being educated, in the formal sense. But we try, my sources and I, to make it as painless as possible.
2. Which author and/or book has most influenced you?
Well, of course, there are a great many. However, outside of my main career in education (mentioned above), my principal interest has been writing, in particular the writing of novels. I have made a lifelong study of the technique of fiction, and the single best book on the subject, in my judgement, is one which is long out of print:
Thomas H. Uzzell: Narrative technique (originally 1929; 3rd edition 1934)
You can still get secondhand copies – or you could, last time I looked.
Uzzell also wrote a later book – the Technique of the Novel. This is almost as good.
4. Why do you read fiction?
Because it generates emotions in me. With the right book, these are powerful and positive emotions, which counteract (somewhat) the negative emotions forced on me by the world in general.
If you’re reading novels for any other reason, you’re in the wrong place.
5. What makes you laugh?
That which is funny. Ho ho ho.
Oh, my dear chap, if only one could identify what it is that makes me (or anyone) laugh, bottle it, and sell it, you would be very rich. And famous.
Making people laugh is the most honourable and moral activity on the face of the earth.
Fortunately, if you study the book trade, there is much to laugh about. Unless, of course, you feel obliged to cry.
Michael Allen blogs at Grumpy Old Bookman, which can be found here: http://www.grumpyoldbookman.blogspot.com
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