Saturday, March 27, 2010

Five Years Blogging: A Life Well Wasted 08

[David Brothers and I continue our chat about comics and blogging about comics. Read part seven on 4thletter.]

David Brothers: You know, I don't know if I want to make a living off blogging. I don't even know if it's possible -- most people I know who do this for a living are part of big-time group or corporate blogs. Once you add in the fact that I live in one of the more expensive cities in the US and it looks slimmer and slimmer. I certainly wouldn't mind a job I can do from my couch... let me stop overthinking it. Writing about comics, in addition to writing about other things I like, would be a nice job.

I get to do a bit of criticism and creative writing on occasion in my day job, which is always nice. Sometimes it is creating or expanding upon an already established story in a video game, sometimes it's a really thorough consulting gig... it's good stuff. Very fun. Not quite as loose as I can get on 4l!, but still good. I also get to tell people I'm a "consultant," and that's usually pretty awesome. I get to do a bit of my hobby for pay, so I can't really complain.

I was doing fiction before I was blogging, actually. Started with fanfiction way, way back in middle school, took a break for a while, then came back to it with improvisational fanfic and normal fiction in high school. Impro was actually a really good experience and helped to mold me into a better writer. I had regular editing sessions, I learned to cope with deadlines, I learned how missing deadlines effects serial works, and I basically went ahead and worked out a good chunk of those "first thousand bad pages" that writers talk about. Looking back, they aren't that great (to be nice about it), but I learned a lot.

At some point I realized that using my free time to service someone else's trademarks for free is something that I hate and switched over to just straight up fiction. Crime stories, noir tales, near-future crime noir tales... I have an obsession, I don't know if you can tell. I spent a few years writing every day, spread between work and school and 4l! and fiction. I still have a folder with the only ones I liked enough to keep, about fifty text files that range from finished to the barest scrap of an idea. That ended up taking a backseat once I got my current job and was briefly replaced with a short-lived attempt at doing comics of my own. That ended when I realized that comics should stay a hobby.

One of my goals this year is to get back to short fiction, and then once I'm comfortable getting back in that saddle, to try to do something longer form. I dunno- I try to plan ahead for the site, I have several goals for the year, and this is just one of them. I'm working to not let it slip by the wayside, because fiction is a muscle I don't flex often enough.

Was that even an answer?

Chad Nevett: Seems like one to me. Building on that, how do you go about writing for your blog? How do you decide which books you'll discuss or what larger scale projects you'll undertake? Hell, what projects have you undertaken over the years? (Yes, that is my not-so-subtle way of telling you to stick a links section on your sidebar with notable posts/series of posts like my blog has... because those are useful and good.) I imagine your process in picking what to write about isn't too different from mine: whatever seems interesting that I have something to say about. Though, I've mentioned this before to Tim Callahan, I will admit that some element of choosing what I'll talk about is what else has been said about the book/creator. If tons of people have discussed a book/creator, I'm more likely to shy away than when, in the cases of Joe Casey and Jim Starlin for example, there isn't a lot of critical thought out there and I can sort of 'stake my claim.' Hard to deny that ego-driven element of wanting to be the first one there, the one that everyone after has to respond to, and deal with. But, more than that, usually, if a work/creator has been discussed a lot, there isn't a lot left to say and who wants to just repeat what's been said?

But, yeah, how do you actually go about writing posts? Do you outline them? Do numerous drafts, edit as you go, just start writing and eventually stop? I'm pretty loose, so I'm usually a just start writing until I don't have anything left to say sort of writer. I like the energy of just going with some ideas as your guide but not much else. It's how I wrote essays in university (yes, even in grad school, which explains why somewhat lacklustre grades at times): leave it to the night before and go in one mad dash. I'm a deadline worker and I find my mind works best when the pressure is on. Get some pop/slushy to drink, put on some loud music, and just go. While that may not result in extremely polished work, it also leads to thoughts and ideas that don't come from taking it slow and methodically (for me, at least). I always joked in university that what I lacked in polish, I made up for in 'mad ideas' that the professor may not have seen from a student before. But, obviously, that's not how everyone likes to work and I'm one of those people who are interested in the process of other writers, so how do you do it?

Go read part nine on 4thletter!