If Greg can post a fucking picture, I can post lyrics again:
I'm on the outside
I'm looking in
And I can see through you
See your true colors
Because inside you're ugly
Ugly like me
I can see through you
Seeing the real you
-- I'd give credit but I don't know who sings it.
And isn't Greg the cutest thing, btw?? Beautiful eyes, that one.
I've read some pretty good blogs out there. One in particular caught my attention some months ago. Good writer; he's got a solid theme with buku amounts of material; and best of all, he posts real regular-like. He's always been well read, but after getting a recent mention on another high traffic blog his hits have skyrocketed. He's reported that he's even gotten contacted by some journalists and publishing folks.
Though our subject matter and voice are quite different, his blog has always been polished in the way that I like to think mine is. I try hard to eliminate grammatical and spelling errors, to the point of repeated revising after publishing. If I happen to read something two posts ago with an issue, I go in and fix it. If something isn't totally proper it's quite likely I'm playing with my voice and seeing how I can push the limits of what's standard and acceptable. Pushing those limits tends to be valuable in getting comments, I've found, which is most of the fun of this thing.
Incidently, this is the same way I do with my fiction; even in rough drafts. I push limits while trying to keep up the good grammar and spelling as I go. It's a valuable compulsion. Anyone who thinks that spelling and grammar doesn't matter either:
a. doesn't want to be a paid writer, and/or
b. wants to maintain the image of disdain for society as a guise for plain laziness.
I'm not lazy (well, not when it comes to writing) and I sure as hell want to be paid someday soon for doing what I love.
More to the point, I've always enjoyed his posts and his subject matter, so I've kept reading. However, I've noticed a few disturbing trends since his recent brush with fame. Jealous as I am of this guy for having apparently made potentially lucrative contacts, I'm trying to think about what's really bugging me in a rational, critical-thinking manner.
He's always come off as a little defensive and pretentious (he uses big words); as well as maintaining a definite regional attitude. He works a job where most people would consider him to be, frankly, a big dumb oaf of an asshole, so I guess he feels the need to show that he can string two sentences together. As, I might add, anyone who graduated from high school in this nation, no matter how poor the school district, should be able to do; provided they were paying the least attention in class. Despite these annoying quirks, or maybe because of them, he's good at drawing the readers in and keep them firmly on his side with a touch of conversationality.
But now most of that conversationality is gone.
Actually, the blog has taken on the decided flavor of a job interview. It's gone more "writerly" -- lots of properly punctuated dialogue (my biased, unscientific impression is that the percentage of dialogue has gone up slightly-- many good books hover around 40-60% dialogue) and every post has a definite theme; which, in case you didn't get what it was in the beginning, is wrapped up neatly with a bow and a kiss at the end. He's pumped up his voice and style until it's become Voice and Style. What was once subtle and unique has gotten in the way. He's gone all Oprah Book Club on us.
He's also written a couple of posts about the "interest" in his blog and writing. He's done a few things to propagate this image of interest --either fictional or real, I've no way of knowing-- and fairly cleverly. Most subtley, he's written at length about how he has found creative ways to make extra money at his job. No real problem with that. Publishers want to make money, too. Should this ever happen to me, I'd express my interest in doing what I can with the actual marketing of my books and my willingness to take part any creative endeavors to do so. But I think I'd be a bit more straightforward about it. He's also refused to release his identity to any non-paying enterprises because his job would be axed and he could be sued if his bosses found out. This does two things, besides protect his anonymnity-- which, granted, is his right. It reassures potential pay-offs that he is what he says he is; as well as adds to the mystique of the anonymous blogger with all the potential "offers". He's reinforced this by mentioning more than a few times that he can only respond to paying offers because his financial situation is such that he must keep this second job which provides the fodder for his blog. Ok, so let's go with "it's True", but it hardly makes for scintilating reading for his typical fan.
Regular readers know how wary I am of salesmen and salesmanship and how one vague whiff will make me go all rude on your ass where usually I'm just the sweetest of pies. In typical marketing/negotiating bullshit manner, he's made it clear that he can't do anything without cash in hand. He's tried to manipulate his financial "opportunities" (or hell, maybe tried to create them) with his blog. It might be a good ploy - there's nothing that one good salesman loves more than another salesman. But if I figured it out, albeit as sensitive as I am to it, a real salesman or experienced editor will see right through it. While he tries to come off as "honored by the offers," to me it comes off more as, "Heh, suckers. Let's see who I can play to get the most money."
But worst of all, he's eliminated comments. I read one blog without comments, but I only read it because the guy is so fucking funny that I giggle my way down the computer screen. I've found my interest in his blog dwindling though. I love reading the good writing on these blogs, but I've found the real fun is the comment box. Cuz let's face it - while I might care what others say on their blogs to a degree, I mostly really care what I think about what you wrote. I hardly believe I'm the only one in this boat, and I certainly don't hold it against anyone.
So, not that he gives a shit, I'm respectfully withdrawing my regular readership. I may check in from time to time, but not every day because it ain't a blog no more, it's a friggin' commercial.
I guess my main point in this is to analyze myself were I to find myself in this situation. It's hard as a writer who wants to be a selling writer to balance what you need to write with what you hope will sell. For instance, I don't have the compunction to write poetry, which, for all intents and purposes, does not sell. More power to the poets out there, but it ain't gonna happen. I also do not have much compunction to write short fiction, which could do wonders for selling my longer works. I'm trying to remedy that, but frankly I'd rather do the boring work of preparing a manuscript for submission (and anyone who has prepared a manuscript for submission knows how strong that statement is). Short fiction just isn't my forte. I think what bothers me most is that he appears to be selling out, even before a check has come in, and I don't think he's doing it all that well. I think it's hurting him as a writer. I guess I consider this a warning to preserve some semblance of the how of what I do, no matter the opportunity. I've got a voice, and for better or worse I rather like it. I guess I just don't want to lose the joy, ya know?
[editor's note: Sex plans on emailing this post to him, just so that he knows about it and can read and comment here if he likes. Sex sincerely believes that he won't care one whit about what she said, and that, in all likelyhood, neither do you. And no, Sex won't tell you who it is.]