Saturday, January 26, 2013

Blogathon 19: Best Time to Stop Reading Superhero Comics (Part 2)


How do I approach this. I'll start at the beginning and see if I can not embarrass myself. What I wanted/expected when I began writing for CBR was a cheque every month. A cheque for doing something I already did, albeit in a slightly different way. I was broke, out of work, and that money came at a good time. I would buy my comics and still have money left over each week, because I always made sure to review more books than my comics bill would be. That mentality lasted until I found work in the fall of 2009. And began again when I lost that job later in the fall of 2009. That's okay, because it was a shitty job that I could never figure out. It was calling up people in Edmonton and Calgary, asking them to do vacation surveys. If they said no, you had to take no for an answer. 90% of the calls you made were blocked by the national blocker list or simply got no answer. Another 8% said no. Another 1% didn't fit the criteria. And they wanted a certain numbers of surveys completed each night. You were not allowed to falsify any. I got in shit for that, because, the surveys were step one. Step two was calling those people back and trying to sell them on a bullshit travel club membership. On my final night, in one hour, I made 110 calls. 100 of those had no answer/were blocked. Another 8 said no. 1 didn't qualify. 1 did. Somehow, it was my fault that I didn't get enough completed surveys, though they couldn't tell me how to get more. Because it was out of my hands. But, they paid me for a few months and I wasn't too sad about leaving behind such a scummy, awful job. It took another ten months for me to find another job. The CBR cheque helped a lot in that time. It took me a year or so of working my current job before I realised that I didn't like reviewing comics enough anymore and I didn't need the money anymore either. So, I quit. And it felt good. I wasn't enjoying the free comics writing stuff either, so I'm quitting that, too. I thought giving myself a year would mean trying to get as much out of it as possible. It meant I wrote about Avengers vs. X-Men and enjoyed that, but... yeah. Don't get me wrong, I never did the CBR gig "for the money" as it were. It just came along at a time when I needed money. I enjoyed it. I enjoyed writing about comics like that for a time. Of finding new ways to say things I'd said many times before. Of finding the line you couldn't cross and somehow sticking a toe over. Of hearing rumours or getting impressions that I'd pissed off some thin-skinned creators who never quite got that it was never personal until they decided to whine. And, even then, I didn't make it personal though I wanted to. I can't say that the comics themselves got to me. The comic review that ended it for me was an issue of Prophet early in 2012. It was a Sunday and I was at my job (I worked weekends then) and I had a choice: write the review or do some more work (I was ahead). I realised that I enjoyed the work more than the review writing. So I was gone.

I spend 9-10 at work every day (if you include travel), so, you're right, why would I want to have any other time wasted? That actually gets at the heart of why I'm quitting this blog. I want to scale it back and see what I really love about writing. Figure out how to do it all again and not treat it like a chore. Maybe part of that is getting away from what you mention: superhero comics aren't as smart as I am. I take these skills and tools that I learned in school that I honed on great works of literature and, then, I apply them to Avengers vs. X-Men and bask in the praise I receive for making those comics seem smarter and more worthwhile than they do when you actually read them. It's not something I've ever thought about consciously. Or for that long. My usual response was always "It's all in the work! It's not me!" But I wonder...

I'm not certain that that's it entirely. In leaving the internet (I even plan on setting out a rigid schedule for reading things online) I have thought about what that will do to my pull list. There are things I buy because I know I will write about them. I was thinking the other day about picking a number and seeing if I could cut back to that. I'm not sure I can. I'm not sure that I should want to. But, having Michelle in my life and working -- those two things together have made a lot of this seem like a distraction that I don't need. When I was going to school, I didn't have her, so this was fine. When I had her, I wasn't working, so I had plenty of time. Now, I don't have that time. And what about if/when we have kids? I don't know how Tim does it somedays. But, look at his comics reading habits now that he's escaped the week in, week out wheel of comics reviewing (and comics podcasting). I said earlier today that he's my example in many ways and this looks like another one.

I can't see myself giving anything up entirely. Specific books, sure. Maybe most of them. Maybe everything new. Maybe get rid of a lot of what I have. But, not all. Never all. And I think I'm going to teach myself how to love this again like I used to. On my terms.

I wasn't planning to say any of this until Tuesday. But, hey, what the hell.

Thanks, Tucker.

In 30 minutes, we try to recover with Augie de Blieck, Jr. and I discussing long, 100+ runs of comics we have read.

We're up to $779.95 raised for the Hero Initiative.

[Don't forget to donate what you can to the Hero Initiative (Details in this post)! After you do, let me know via comment or e-mail (found at the righthand side) so I can keep track of donations -- and who to thank.]