A dictatorship, not a democracy

(A note added May 17, 2021: I made this 2003 post private a few months ago, in a bulk reorganization, and am making it public again because I mention it briefly in my book and want to cite it in endnotes. I’m hoping that I’ve shut off email subscriptions on my site, so that this won’t be emailed to anyone. Ideally it will also not be tweeted out and so forth. If you receive a notification in error, please accept my apologies.)

I started this weblog in somewhat different form in June, 2002.

Until now I’ve resisted the urge to post about the purpose of it, for several reasons. First of all, there are few things more tedious to me than musings on a weblog about the weblog itself. What’s more, I pay for this site. I don’t profit from it. And I’m accountable to no one for what I post here. If one morning I decide to dedicate the blog to speculations about the inner lives of snails, there’s not a damned thing anyone can do about it.
In light of Jennifer Howard’s recent attack in the Washington Post on this site and some of my favorite weblogs, I’ve decided that a few words on my intentions may be in order. (For those who aren’t familiar with the article, this blog fails in Ms. Howard’s estimation because it is part of a self-congratulatory literary-blogger cabal and does not provide objective literary coverage.)

To be clear: the fact that Ms. Howard is dissatisfied with the site or may disagree with the opinions expressed on it bothers me not at all.

What rankles is that she evidently feels she has some claim on it, that she’s entitled to take issue not only with the substance of my content but the focus of it.

With all due respect, and pardon me for repeating myself, this site is the product of my obsessions, capricious whims, and questionable judgment. No one pays me to post here, nor do I expect anyone to pay me. I’ve never promised anything more than “occasional literary links, amusements, politics and rants.” And if I’ve failed to deliver on that score, well, sorry — but so what?

It’s often assumed that I’m part of the “New York publishing establishment.” I suppose this is true in the sense that I work in New York City, in publishing, as an editor and writer, and am compensated for doing so, but my day job has absolutely no relation to this site or to fiction publishing. Without going into detail, I’ll note that my work duties are on the other end of the publishing spectrum from the things I discuss here.

Beyond my full-time job and classes, in my spare time, I maintain this site. I use it mainly to procrastinate — on my writing and everything else — by posting about literary and publishing developments and other things that strike my fancy.

Sometimes I also vent about my family, post about my personal life, and joke around with other bloggers.
Lately I’ve become increasingly manic about covering literary developments and have posted fewer personal items. Perhaps as a result, my interest in the site has diminished.

I’ve considered shutting it down, and may do that one day. But for now I’ve decided to let my own interests dictate the course of things around here. It’s likely that there will be more selective literary coverage in the coming months, and that the percentage of personal posts will increase somewhat.

If you’re looking for a comprehensive list of the day’s literary articles, many of the sites I mention on a daily or weekly basis do a bang-up job of it, and you should be in the habit of visiting them anyway.

If you’re otherwise disgruntled about this change, you may wish to:

(1) skip the posts labeled “personal”;

(2) stop visiting the site and find another that meets your needs;

(3) continue to waste your time reading the site and then waste even more time complaining about its failure to meet your expectations; or

(4) start a site of your own.

Earlier this year I disabled comments after I was attacked for my opposition to the U.S. war on Iraq. My reasoning? This is a dictatorship, not a democracy.

I guess all I’m trying to say is this: what you’ll find here is what I feel like posting.

We now return you to the less didactic tone we prefer here at MaudNewton.com.


Newsletter Signup

Subscribe to my free newsletter, Ancestor Trouble.


You might want to subscribe to my free Substack newsletter, Ancestor Trouble, if the name makes intuitive sense to you.