Dismantling the mystique of publication

grub street

Today I’m inspired by Kayti’s musings on blogging.

A favourite blogger, Seth Godin, asked a question a while back that makes me wonder too. The gist of it was:

Why is it that more people, especially those who want to teach or inspire or write books or make change in some way, don’t have a blog?

In my teens and 20s I thought I’d like to be a journalist or, better, the editor of a famous magazine. I once went for an interview at The Sun Herald, the daily paper in Sydney, to get a position as a copy-girl. I didn’t get it. Later I had a chat with a family friend who was a newspaper proprietor and he viewed not having shorthand as an insurmountable problem. Thereafter, I got a frisson every time I heard the word shorthand as it were “Open, sesame!”  I think I might have even tried to read Samuel Pepys’s famous diary only because he wrote it in a special, secret shorthand that was not decoded till long after his death.

Fast forward many years and occupations later, and one day when blogging it occurred to me I’d finally become the journalist/editor I’d wanted to be long ago. Maybe I didn’t have a big circulation but I had, in effect, my own magazine. I could publish whatever and whenever I wanted. No-one could tell me to take out this word or that, or not to say such-and-such. I got to say how it would go because I was proprietor, editor, journalist, photographer, copy-girl rolled into one and it was good.

Many people still talk about writing a book as if the transformation in the act of publication has passed them by.  What they really mean is not so much to write a book as to have a book published, which translates into some version of “being accepted”, “being validated”, “being approved of”. If they would only start blogging, they would begin to dismantle the mystique that publication has acquired in their minds. They would begin to understand we are all publishers now.

This is one of blogging’s greatest gifts: it opens the door to publication of books, magazines, whatever you like, by dismantling the mystique of publication.


Image: “The Art and Mystery of Printing Emblematically Displayed” from The Grub-Street Journal No. 147 (October 30, 1732), courtesy, The Grub Street Project



3 thoughts on “Dismantling the mystique of publication

  1. First of all, thanks for the pingback der friend.

    I like what you are saying about the control we have as bloggers. Yes, it’s like this is MY page and I’ll say whatever I damn well please. I think what people mean is they want to actually SEE the hard copy. Well, having done it, I can say it IS exciting, but afterwards you are still the same old you. Nothing changes,


    • Yes, people want to see the hard copy (and give what they hope is “concrete form” to their story about being approved, being accepted etc). Self publishing makes it all possible now, and I think blogging hastens the realisation that self publishing (of books) is maybe a solution for them too.

      Blogging opens the door to transforming one’s understanding of publication and the meaning of publication.


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