My real writer friend has a real writer problem right now, which puts things in a lot of context. In grad school my best instructor/the best instructor in terms of encouraging writerly behavior and practices surprised us once by saying to call yourself a writer you need to be published. Thinking about it fourteen-ish years later when many of my classmates have gone on to teaching, not teaching, writing, not writing, being a writer is about trying to making it your career. I was always more concerned with the accompanying safety net instead of doing the tightrope stuff. When I worry about my writing, it’s this stuff, it’s the blogging. It’s hobby. Something to keep the brain from atrophying. If there’s some particularly good writing up online, I don’t know. Even when I do read over old posts, I don’t pay too much attention to them. Hence the constant discovery of fifteen year-old typos. That’s not a real writer problem. Just like that “that,” an edit pass or editor would do something about those typos. I always hated paragraphs. So no more paragraphs on Summing Up.
White space. Maybe even some fucking dashes. But not paragraphs. I used to go back into writing and add paragraphs. I think even in undergrad when it was a history paper and I was already leveraging my rather impression exposition against having a very, very weak thesis statement. If I remembered a thesis statement at all. I used find funny citations too. Run-on sentences, artificial paragraphs, funny citations. Factually accurate but still more concerned with being entertaining. I did obnoxiously well with it, which was the point.
I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with blogging the last few days. I’ve got a good schedule with Comics Fondle’s Punisher posts. Don’t really have to think about it, just follows my work schedule. Because I feel more self-conscious about crying over Garth Ennis Punisher in private than I do in public. In public you can whirl in some potential embarrassment; it’s not just about the sadness of the comic, it’s about whether or not you’re willing to make a spectacle of yourself. And, for “The Slavers,” definitely. This latest arc’s got no teary-eyed moments, neither did the last one, so maybe someone told Ennis to stop trying to make grown men try. Of course he went on to do it all the time in the sequel series so who knows. Reminds me: Ennis has a new Punisher series coming; Soviet. Can’t forget about that one, as I’m nearing half done on my Punisher MAX read-through. After I finish it, I think I’m moving on to Swamp Thing but I’m not sure. I’m still not happy about how I write responses to chunks of issues versus issue to issue. I shoot for 350 words on single issue posts, 500 words on the chunks (i.e. Limited Series, Mini-Series, Maxi-Series, Story Arcs, Collections, One-Shots, Graphic Novels). So it’s basically 350 words for a twenty-two to twenty-six page comic, 500 words for anything over thirty pages or multiple issues. Because even though I can watch a three hour movie and write about it a day later and fixate on something in the first act, it doesn’t work that way with comics. If there’s a too visible act structure over a six issue story arc, the comic isn’t doing its job as a periodical. So maybe the difference is between ongoing and not? But I need to figure it out; I’ve got a lot to read after Punisher and I need to figure out how to write about it if I’m going to write about it. I put a lot of thought into Comics Fondle. Not work, but thought. Of any of four goddamn blogs—I really should’ve just folded everything into Stop Button—CF has the most potential for impact. If I can get someone to read Love and Rockets and Ennis Punisher, well, it’s a good thing. And I’d love to be cited in some scholarly paper about Ennis’s war comics. Or write one. But I’d need a sabbatical.
I think 750 is the new Summing Up word count target. Not target exactly, minimum goal. Someone tried convincing me to do something similar back when Stop Button strictly followed a 250 word count per post. I haven’t had a problem with writing terseness since freshman year of undergrad or so; the 250 word limit did something to how I write. And my writing after the years of 250 word posts is better than my writing before, so whatever it did worked. Some of it is CYA, obviously. Back when I started The Stop Button, the world hadn’t decided what was acceptable film criticism. Through some expository paragraphs on the old posts and actually amp up the snide remarks and I’d be just fine… for about four years ago, but still. We’re now over the 750, by the way.
Last thing: we’re listening to Louis Theroux’s book, Gotta Get Theroux This (highly recommended), and he talks about how it took him two weeks to write his spec script for “Newsradio.” I made a lot interesting choices, media consumption-wise, in writing school. “Cheers” and Lanark, for example. I wrote an episode of “Cheers” because I was convinced you ought to be able to hack out the plot structure in an afternoon and have it through edits to a reasonable quality in a day or two. I mean, I was right. Theroux got his two week thing from popular sitcom writer wisdom, which seems like an artificial constraint. Going to a writing program at an art school helped with one thing… cutting through the bullshit and deciding what kind of effect you want something to have. Does that effect need the bullshit or just to be itself.