Friday, May 06, 2011

Against the Tide

From the look of this place, you’d be forgiven for thinking that I had given up writing entirely. Nothing could be further from the truth. For a while, I was writing at something close to full-time, but the vast majority of it has been stuff not meant for general public consumption — marketing and promotional material, brand-building, communications, social media stuff. It’s all writing. And I’ve continued to place pieces on the Web and print throughout.

What’s changed, though, is that I’m increasingly unsure about blogging as a venue. As part of my marketing work, I spent a lot of time reading blogs, and the picture is not pretty. Blogspot and LiveJournal are looking increasingly like idea that have run their course, with sites lying ghostly empty, all inhabitants having moved away leaving no forwarding address.

Of course, the inhabitants are still resident on the Web. But they have moved on to other outlets, none of which I find entirely satisfactory. Tumblr is fun for linklogging and trendwatching, and I enjoy both the snapshot aspect of Twitter and its encouragement of pithiness. (My few recent blog posts doubtless show the influence.)

But the only reason for me to have either a Twitter account or a Tumblr is to aggregate the content I’m watching; I don’t see myself really adding much value to either platform. Because those systems are not adapted to long chunks of writing, and that’s what I’m doing right now — that’s what I need to be doing right now. And with limited time to do this, I need to concentrate on what I’m good at and forego the rest. And the hard fact is that every minute that I might spend firing off a 140-character tweet is about twenty minutes that I’m not spending writing anything of any scope — simply because the longform writing requires a different, more concentrated mindset that takes time and preparation to achieve.

Sometimes too much time, in fact. That’s why I finally, reluctantly decided to pull the plug on How Bad Can It Be?. The cognitive cost of examining with this stuff in deep, connective, and (most punishingly) funny ways was just too much to pay every week. Popdose is still a great outlet for writing in a similar mode, and the one-offs like my “Flashback” reviews let me do so without a crushing deadline. While I may yet do another regular column at the ‘dose — and I’ve got a couple of ideas — mostly likely any such project will be shorter-lived and less intensely-engaged than How Bad, of which I remain immensely proud but which took a hell of a lot out of me every week.

And Popdose opened the door for a new monthly gig with Kirkus Reviews online, covering pop culture books. It pushes some of the same buttons as How Bad, and more importantly there’s a paycheck involved. (The thrill of being associated with Kirkus — for 75 years one of the most respected names in the library and bookselling trades — goes without saying. But I’ll say it anyway.)

As far as print work goes, some recent short pieces for the Post have found me collaborating with photographer Mike Fisher, which has been fun. Mike’s a good egg, and has a keen eye. We work well together, and I’ve got an itch to see what we might do together outside of straight conventional photojournalism. Coming up with the right project will require some pondering.

And The Honeythief… well, The Honeythief is in a complicated place right now. It almost died on the operating table a couple of times over the last couple of years, and it’s still kind of frail and sickly, so I think it needs some fresh air and sunshine. So I’m going to start letting it out again, for short periods.

Starting today, I’m going to do a solid week of posts getting up to speed, leading back to a regular Fiction Friday feature. For a while, anyway. We’ll see how it goes.

Probably long past the point where anybody cares, I know. But I don’t do this to please you; I do it because I have to. And for now I’m going to keep doing it with the tools I’ve got available.

1 comment:

Julian Hsu said...

Well, hopefully you don't mind if I'm pleased as an unintended side effect of your doing what you need to do. ;-) I knew I left your feed on my iGoogle for a reason.