Friday, January 29, 2010

Salinger and Seclusion

I was pretty surprised to find out that Salinger was 91. I've always admired him for his reclusive tendencies, probably because that's kind of my ideal life. I've always wanted to be able to write and not deal with very many people. The reality is that to be able to make a living by writing, the work has to be out there for public consumption and it has to be something that will attract readers. But when they do read in large numbers, I get a little squirmy. I can't imagine things on the scale of Salinger's readers and critics.

If I even have a day when the blog has a lot of viewers, I immediately know that there is a link somewhere that is pointing people to the idiot who is talking such nonsense. Imagine someone of Salinger's caliber attempting to deal with not only his legions of fans but the literary critics and people who wanted desperately to find something wrong with his work so that they could feel important. Yeah, I think his lifestyle made perfect sense.

I actually read this article about a week before Salinger died. Most of them have good reasons to avoid a constant onslaught of critics trying to make a name for themselves by picking them apart.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Product Testing, Free Stuff and Blogging

Ok, so I had mentioned a few weeks ago the new FTC ruling about blogging and product promotion. Ever since then, I always look for the disclosures on blogs. Some of them have them on posts when they are reviewing an item and some of them have a general page that says that some product opinions are the result of a free product to test, which seems to meet the guidelines of disclosure.

The interesting part is that some bloggers are saying exactly where the got the items from, which led me to MyBlogSpark. One blog that I read frequently disclosed that a product had come to them through MyBlogSpark, and I have a blog, so I thought- hey, why have I not tried to do this? So, I signed up, and pretty rapidly I got an email saying that they had a General Mills cereal thing going on, and did I want a bunch of cereal to test.

So that led to one thought- Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Next to C-3POs and Smurfberries, which they don't actually make anymore, Cinnamon Toast Crunch is one of the best cereals ever made. So, testing CTC was no problem whatsoever. I actually got several coupons for the really big cereal boxes- not the tiny ones that they keep on the bottom shelf- from General Mills through MyBlogSpark. And yes, they were tasty. And yes, I probably ate too many of them because there were four giant boxes full of CTC sitting there staring at me.

So, the real question then is how to blog about them. Do I just do a review about the cereal? That's not really my style unless it's a review article. Do I just talk about getting free items? That's probably not what they had in mind. Do I just talk about disclosure and then disclose that I got some stuff? That's really has nothing to do with the thing that I was reviewing. So, I figured some type of hybrid was pretty much what I can do. I hope you liked it.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Two Years

I seriously want to take in a Haitian orphan. I don't know how to go about doing it. I found out that I do meet the legal requirements, but I don't think they are being taken out of the country at the moment. It seems like if they could airlift them out, a lot of people would be willing to adopt then and there. Here's info on adopting from Haiti. According to that, it can take two years to complete the whole red-tape process. It seems like a crime to make them wait so long. Surely they will change this in the wake of what's happened? It would be easy to airlift kids to Florida, I could be there in a few hours and then we'd go home. How do lawyers and politicians succeed in making everything so much more complicated than it should be?

What is a Managing Editor?

I've seen a lot of speculation about just what a managing editor is, some of whom attribute all kinds of responsibilities to that title. In truth, however, there is no one job description for a managing editor. I worked for a paper that utilized a a managing editor as a reporter who also helped other reporters with questions. It wasn't a very big elevation of responsibility, but it was useful to have someone to go with questions besides the busy editor.

At another paper, the managing editor served as the editor and handled everything that an editor in chief is supposed to do. The title of editor was given to the paper's owner, though he rarely had anything to do with the actual content and I wonder whether he even read it most days.

While a managing editor is fairly prestigious in that land where there is air and sunlight, I keep finding that managing editors are pretty low-level editors on the Internet. They are often just over-worked editors with little responsibility within the actual publication. Then I came across the term contributing editor at a site that I'm starting with. Maybe it's just me, but that seems a little odd. Either you're an editor or you aren't. If you're a contributor, why are you editing? I thought editors were people who couldn't write and so take out their venom on people who can?

Maybe there's a need for new online titles for editors who also write, editors who actually do have some control over the publication and editors who have a need for an important title to compensate for what is lacking in their lives. How about God-complex editor, editor-not-in-chief-because-the-title-is-meaningless and editor-until-someone-will-pay-me-to-write.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Nastiness and Skin

A few days ago I had a rather bad day, full of nastiness, deceit and cowardice. The thing about writing is that if your name is exposed to the masses, they see what you do and assume that you aren't an actual person. They feel the need to comment on everything, to express any negative feeling they have about anything that you wrote. Cowards sometimes send you nastiness for no reason other than that they can.

One day last week I got a some hate mail from someone who didn't like an article that I wrote about a year ago. They didn't really understand the article and took it the wrong way. I took the time to communicate with the person, explaining my position and talking it out until we both understood each other. It was fine. It was solved.

The very next day, I was forwarded a horrific hate letter from someone at a site that I write for. This coward wrote to the site to complain about me, saying that a couple of my articles were crap and that everything I did should be taken down. My attitude was bad, my ideas were bad and I was just basically a pile of crap. It was lovely.

Later that day, I found out that some cowardly asshole had linked to another of my articles on that site and called it stupid or something like that. The brain surgeon involved thought that the site, a gigantic content site that is more than 10 years old, was a blog. So, I'm getting a lot of traffic here from people who read that thing and my oh-so-nice response. Fuck 'em. If you are reading that thing, you're not much smarter than he is.

Here's the thing- writers are supposed to have a thick skin. That's the first thing that any seasoned writer will tell you. There are some people who won't appreciate you. There are some people who assume that because your name is out there you are a target for any random venom that they want to spew. You're supposed to grow a thick skin so that you can continue on through disappointments, rejections and assholes.

Somehow, this hasn't happened to me. I don't have a thick skin. I have a paper-thin skin. Someone being so nasty to me for no reason, especially when that person is completely wrong, is personal and awful. When it happens three times in two days, my confidence gets shot to hell. It's like going up against those high school bullies all over again. They all were so much taller than me and had way perkier boobs. They knew things about boys when I thought they were bizarre and possibly dangerous creatures. The bloggers and random cowards who complained about me and said rude things are nothing special. They are the schoolyard bullies who always seem to win.

So, they wanted to make me feel like crap? Well, they did. You guys win. Yay you! Do you feel better now? Do you feel important? Is everything compensated for? Do you have a book deal? Oh- that's me, sorry. I guess the time you put into your relentless complaints about my "attitude" and my grammar in a single article could have been better spent querying publishers. Pity.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

New Year's Writing Resolutions

I didn't realize it the last time I updated the old blog, but that last post was my 200th post to this blog. I do have a few resolutions now that I've had a few days to reflect on what I really want to achieve this year versus what I really need to achieve this year.

Here were last year's resolutions, and here's how they stacked up:

"Stick to a basic work schedule." I did make a lot of headway with this, mostly by using two notebooks, numerous lists and a timer.
"Work on my novels." Ha ha, ha ha ha ha! Wow. Ha ha hee hee, ho ho. *wipes eyes* Excuse me, I'm back now.
"Read my work more often." I am getting marginally better at this. It still embarrasses me to read my own stuff, but I'm trying. I really am trying.
"Continue to build residuals." I have come a long way with that over the past year. I now have six or seven residual streams and have a few hundred a month coming in from them. That's a nice little insulator to have for peace of mind.

So this year, here's what I have:

Learn moderation. When I find something I want to do, I hit it pretty hard, time wise. I need to find better balance between personal writing projects, PR clients, content writing and residual building. I cant spend whole days writing fun stuff when there are opportunities out there that I could be missing because I've put up blinders to everything else.

Have confidence. This one I struggle with continuously and there may be no end to that struggle. I often take on work that pays less than it should because I lack the confidence to ask for more or to go after the higher-paid work. I recently had a bunch of high-paying articles and couldn't sleep a bit the night before I did them, convinced that it would all end in disaster. I go into meetings thinking that I know nothing and even when I am helpful I wonder if people weren't just being polite and pretending to think it was all useful and collaborative.

Shoot for print. Every year I say that I will, and it looks like this will be the year that it actually does happen. I do have a book deal, though it's certainly not the best one that ever came along. I may end up posting about it soon, but I haven't gone through all of the agreements yet, so I don't know what I can and can't say. Aside from that, I want to pitch an idea or two to at least one magazine and one publisher.

So, a year from now I may be laughing at this year's resolutions, or I may be wondering how I could shoot for so little. That's the great thing about the future- the anticipation of finding out is what drives us to continue on.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Putting Off Resolutions

I'll come up with them, I'll come up with them, but until then I have a rant. I really, really do not understand the constant texting and the obsession people have with iPhones and Blackberries. People seem to be aligning themselves along whether they have iPhones and text each other every five minutes and whether they don't.

I don't want to get into a lot of the bigger implicates of which is better, which actually keeps people "in contact" and whether it's actually better or worse to be in constant contact. I genuinely want to understand why so many people do this and if they understand how boring they are. I can literally no longer eat a meal with my brother because he texts people the whole time, takes pictures of what is going on around us and then tweets the pictures- all as we are eating together. Back in the day they called that rudeness and self-absorption. Today apparently it's called, well, I actually don't know. What is this called?

I went to Disney last year and I was truly puzzled by many of the people there. Here's how it works: you stand in line for 15 minutes to an hour in the heat and blinding sunlight, growing weary from standing on concrete and sweltering in the heat and humidity. When it is finally your turn, you get to sit down in the dark, enjoy cool air and experience a ride. Instead, many of the people treated the experience as an interruption of their texting time. They struggled to see their phones in the dark. They typed non-stop while on a ride, at Disney, during their vacations. Many of them watched the rides through their cameras as they filmed the entire experience.

I am very sad to see how boring many people who used to be lively, interesting and engaging have gotten. I can understand sending a text or making a cell phone call if you are looking for someone that you needed to meet somewhere and can't find them. I can understand it if you realize that you forgot to remind someone about something and need to send them a quick message. I can not understand texting people for hours a day about anything at all. I can't understand interrupting a meal, a movie or a work day to send junk messages to a bunch of people that you may not even know. If there is a real, logical reason other than "everyone is doing it- it's new" then I'd love to hear about it. Maybe it would soften the blow of seeing so many interesting people dry up and turn quiet, lifeless and just plain dull.