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This Explains Nothing

May 25, 2011
[Note to readers: my fishing license has been revoked. I’m not looking for reassurance. I’m trying to work something out using the few tools I have available.]

It’s been long, too long since I’ve posted anything of value in here. Well, I’ve posted plenty of stuff, mainly music-related, but no original writing. Apologies all around and apologies in advance is this piece goes long/gets weird/gets tiresome/has too many parentheses.

Quite honestly, I’m working through some weird sort of writer’s block. It’s not normal writer’s block as I’ve been doing quite a bit of work over at Techdirt. Given context and a starting point, I’m doing fine. Coming up with something on my own? Not so much.

Now I do enjoy the Techdirt gig, with all of its attendant “getting published elsewhere” glory and included perk of being able to say I write for Techdirt, something that probably will remain more important to me than anyone else but still won’t prevent me from name-dropping it frequently (often inside this very post) in hopes that it will somehow turn into a well-paying career for a respectable publisher that isn’t currently going out of business.

On the downside, it does tend to use up a lot of what I used to refer to as my “free time.” I feel bad that I’ve let this blog kind of slide, but the other thing is very shiny and new and I haven’t been doing it for 2+ years and so it kind of gets priority thanks to my willingness to be entranced by novel experiences.

(But not actual “novel experiences.” Like many others, I harbor the secret [but not so secret now, is it?] desire to write a Novel. [Capitalized so as to be easily identified as Something With Pretensions Toward Greatness.] I have some unorganized scrawlings in some notebooks and some ideas that float around, but nothing substantial, so you can all stop holding your breath. Or start holding it, and then stop, just as a favor to me.)

Let me take a moment here before this all goes downhill/sideways and tell you how grateful I am for your comments and compliments over the past 2+ years. No matter what I say from this point on, remember that.

(I’m serious. It is important that you know that I highly value your readership. Especially considering how flaky I have been lately about responding to comments and posting entertaining articles. [And nobody mention Tanager. I really need to go answer those comments. If you don’t bring it up, I won’t feel nearly as shitty as I do everytime I look in there and see the dust gathering.])

From this point on, I have nothing prepared. I am winging this in hopes that a breakthrough occurs as I ramble on, hopefully to some sort of conclusion or enlightenment.

BOLD STATEMENT OF NON-INTENT

Do you know what people hate more than poor writing? Writers bitching about writing.

Therefore, there will be no complaints beyond this point. Just positive stuff with the occasional bitterness. (Directed at nobody in particular — the best kind of bitterness. It’s the kind of unfocused bitterness that makes family reunions and office retirement parties the kind of excruciating event you wished you had the callousness to just say, “You know what, I’d rather drag my unprotected eyes across a stack of thin cardboard that’s been dipped in margarita salt than hang out here any longer.” We could say those sorts of things. We honestly could. We’d be branded “misanthropic” or “fired” but at least we wouldn’t have to make any more small talk about Aunt Whoever’s prize-winning quilt pattern or the 40+ years of middle management by the guest of honor.)

HERE’S WHAT I HAVE LEARNED FROM BLOGGING

It’s hard. It’s fulfilling. It’s sometimes scarily easy. It’s its own reward occasionally. There are way too many smart and funny people* out there. The overall ratio of smart/funny to the rest of the internet may be low, but I don’t read stupid or unentertaining blogs, so I can’t give you any stats.

*See also: the blogroll. If your name is on there, then you are who I am talking about.

Sometimes I stare at the blog and hate it for needing my help. Without me (or RF) cranking out posts, it does nothing. A week goes by and I’ve got nothing and I start to feel like a cybersquatter. “No one’s taking this name. If for no other reason, this stays live. I’ve got a brand to maintain.” (“Maintain” apparently meaning posting intermittently with a definite lack of cohesion.)

I have this blog on my RSS feeds. Why? Because it looks more professional when it shows up there. I find it inspiring. (I also find it narcisstic. But I want to try to remain positive.) The simple, clean lines of the RSS feed show up with a lot of established blogs and it feels good to me. “Look at it go! Hanging out with Marginal Revolution! And Cato@Liberty! And Techdirt! (Again. I warned you.)

Google Reader allows me to flatter myself. That’s got to be the most unintended use ever. I’m sure beta testers never stumbled across that “feature.”

POSSIBLY RELATED ANECDOTE

I used to work as a DJ in a bar. And it was fun. It was the most fun I’d had while still earning money. I could drink and play music and get paid. I did this for a few years until the management decided they wanted to chase out The Dance Crowd and replace them with The Rock Crowd, mainly to get rid of The Black Crowd.

And I played along. And then I left. I quit and moved halfway across the country to kill what was left of my soul with a nine-month stint as occasional boyfriend and stand-in dad for the last woman I dated before meeting my wife. This fell apart in 9 months or so and I returned to the town I left and reclaimed the job I left.

Why? Well, because I could. DJing is easy. Things had changed and the bar was back to at least being all-inclusive as long as sales were good. But it didn’t last. And then management made the same decision. The employees fought it but I was right back in the job I loved hating every minute of it. I was no longer a DJ. I was just some guy playing records for money, catering to a crowd that wanted to be somewhere else, working for people he didn’t respect.

So I drank more. And more often. I handled this soul-crushing, whorish job like anyone else would: I attempted to set some stuff in the employee restroom on fire and got canned.

Related how?

I’m not sure. Something about how doing the thing(s) you love can still be heaped full of suck occasionally. In the bar case, it was external. (Except for the drinking. That was all me.) Here, it’s internal. Sometimes it’s a mixed blessing. Other times, it’s hangs all over everything like an overly talkative acquaintance, hammering away at you with inanities and sucking away your inspiration. (Again, internally.) You want to do the things you love, except sometimes you can’t find the easy joy in those things. The upside is this is usually temporary.

My brain is bricked. But it will be back. It’s happened before. I’ve written my way through (once). I’ve waited it out (once). This is some of each.

-CLT

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17 comments

  1. I have lots to say here, but right now a hairdresser downtown is calling my name. (My given name is “Semi-Mullet”.)

    I’ll be back. But just so you know, I dig this post so hard.


    • Right on. I’ll be here, holding my breath.


    • I hope you aren’t still holding your breath, the haircut took 471/2 hours longer than expected.

      But I’m back to rocking the full-mullet again, so there’s that.

      I learned more about you in this post than I have in two years of stalking/following your blog. And Ulysses is right, you’re hilarious even when you’re not trying to be. But not in one of those “I can’t take this guy seriously” ways. More like a “This guy is so ridiculously talented he probably eats ridiculous talent for breakfast!”

      (HUH???)

      Er, next time I won’t get the sides of my mullet cut so close to my skull.

      Anyway, what I’m trying to say is blogging will always be around. Go where the inspiration takes you, that’s what GOOD writers do. And Techdirt is where it’s at right now.


    • No sweat on your delayed return, bschooled. I was holding my breath, but I got a friend to hold it part of the time. I was all like, “Can you hold this for me? I’ll brb. kthx.” And he was all like, “Wha-?” but he was all out of breath. And full of mine. [??]+[!]

      Thanks for the advice, bschooled. My thought process was that if that’s where everything was clicking, then I was just taking the easy way out. So that’s kind of fucked up. Why would I think that? Some sort of latent blogguilt? (It’s now a word. Glossary to follow.)

      Thanks also for the compliments. I’ve been skipping breakfast a lot lately. Maybe that explains the downturn that everyone here keeps telling me isn’t actually a downturn.

      Aside to commenters: If you’re not reading bschooled’s blogs (yes – she has more than one), you should be. You will find no better source of cripplingly funny writing. And she posts pretty much all the time, so you get quality and quantity.

      Here are the links:

      http://www.justmakingconvo.com/

      http://youonlyawesomer.com/


    • Plus, she rocks the mullet like no one since every hockey player ever.


  2. In an attempt to really ignore the meat and potatoes of this post, I have to say that you’re hilarious even when you’re being painfully honest:

    I handled this soul-crushing, whorish job like anyone else would: I attempted to set some stuff in the employee restroom on fire and got canned.

    Sorry. I couldn’t resist. I realize you’re talking about some serious ennui, but that’s a far better solution to ennui than most would have. If it had read that you attempted to burn the actual bar down, I wouldn’t laugh. As it is, though, you can’t help but find the O’Rourkian (I think I just made that up) humor in burnout. Same with the intro regarding your fishing license. And the analogy to the knitting aunt’s birthday party. Positively, breathtakingly, and not in a “I’m disregarding your advice and waiting on the novel, O’Rourkian.

    Keep up teh awesome, even if said awesome is not poured into a keyboard, CLT.


    • Well said Ulysses!!


    • Thanks, Ulysses. I’m not sure I had any real idea what I was doing when I took a lighter to some posted notices in the restroom, but I think it had something to do with wanting out but needing someone else to make that final step. It’s not as fulfilling as leaving on your own terms but it does have the added benefit of adding a layer of WTF-ness to your sudden exit.

      I’ll take O’Rourkian. There aren’t to many writers out there who have morphed from sex/drug humour into vaunted political antagonist.

      I will keep up with stabs at teh awesome. I can’t stop now. Despite recent setbacks (as the pols say), I can’t even imagine not doing this (blog, possible book, writing in general).

      @Elizabeth – Ulysses says a lot of things well. You should really check out his blog. He’s been on a tear lately.


  3. Here’s the problem as I see it: I don’t know how much longer Christopher Hitchens will be able to hang in there. I adore Hitchens since he is one of the most brilliant men to walk the face of the earth. He makes me think. Deeply. I relish all of his work, But…you do better. You make me think (deeply), AND you make me laugh (hysterically)…often simultaneously.

    It would be terrific if you posted links to your work on techdirt so we can keep up. Take a break. Write your novel. I’m confidant you’ll be back (eventually)…hopefully sporadically since you will be too busy writing for remuneration. WE WANT YOU TO SUCCEED!!

    Here’s hoping 1) you’re launched or 2) return to Fancy Plans before we lose one of the greatest writers the world has known (I could not bear to lose two).

    P.S. Jesus, I hope you are not a smoker.


    • Once again, your compliments are damn near overwhelming. It’s tough to keep perspective and an unswelled head when being compared to the favorite writers of others.

      At the very least, I can provide links to where else I’m appearing. I’ll do a quick roundup of recent efforts and post that tomorrow.

      Even if I get launched, I’m pretty sure that I’ll still keep this thing running, no matter how much it stares at me accusingly when nothing appears under “Recent Posts.” This would be my “hood,” internetically-speaking and I aim to keep it real.

      I plan on sticking around for awhile. No comment on the last part (meaning “yes, obviously”). Part of my 50-year “not dying” plan includes kicking the habit. I’ve got a change in jobs/schedule coming up which might help me make the switch to non-life threatening habits.


  4. Writer’s block? You’ve already overcome it, in writing this post! In fact this is the best post I’ve read here so far! I generally think of this as a music blog–and I do enjoy listening to so much music I’ve never encountered before. And your comments about the music are as interesting as the music–sometimes even moreso! But this is the first post I’ve read here in which you cover blogging itself, and in which you share personal opinions and experiences primarily! And I love it! From looking at your writing, I can honestly say you can write a novel, a very good novel! And there’s no need to feel that you don’t post more often–all bloggers feel that way! What matters is consistency–staying with it. Sometimes a blogger goes a month or more without posting–but as long as the blogger resumes posting, however long it’s been, his/her blog is still active! And this is the first time I’ve looked at Techdirt (first time I’ve heard of it)–you have a very good thing going there, I understand why it may seem to take away time from this blog, but I definitely encourage you to keep it going! You’re doing very well, writing (and sharing music) primarily for your own self expression–and that’s what matters most! Our enjoyment in reading your blog is just a bonus!


    • Scott –

      My sincerest thanks for all the compliments and advice, most of which would seem to be common sense. I wonder why I can’t see it that way. Some sort of disconnect I should probably have looked at. Lots of internal pressure that is completely disconnected from the external reality.

      And as for Techdirt, it’s big but it’s not TMZ-big. I probably oversell it because I’ve been reading it for three years, so it’s sort of become self-evident to me (if that makes sense) and so, with the powers of projection, I just assume everybody’s heard of it. It’s a terrible assumption. The internet is infinite.

      I really appreciate everything you’ve said here, Scott. And I promise to get to your multiple comments over at Clifton Tanager’s place. (I feel even worse about that now. Not your fault.)

      I will keep posting music as that’s something I’ve always loved and it’s actually an area where I rarely feel mentally blocked, so that’s a bonus. Thanks again for the comment, Scott.


  5. I can empathize with you Tim. Since I’ve moved back it’s been a nightmare trying to write. For one thing I’m in a small apartment with two obnoxious dogs, one neurotic cat and a small British woman. For another I’ve been hitting the pharmaceuticals (and then some) way too hard since I’ve been back. It’s not just a shtick. Within a week I was eating Roxy’s like M&M. Now things have gone too far, which is often the case with me. So after I chew up these last two 30’s, hopefully tomorrow, I’ma be done for a good few months, maybe forever if I have a brain cell left. I have to. Sorry, I just had to get that mini confession out being that you created an environment of self-help/loathing/enlightenment with this post.

    It has to be said though man, that you are honestly the best pure writer I’ve read who is not famous or getting paid. And you are better than most of them. You combine clear concise prose, a splendiferous vocabulary, a biting wit and perfect comedic timing into an amalgamation of Epic Win. I’m not saying this to kiss your ass, I’m saying it because it’s true and also because I’m really fucking high right now.


    • Scott,

      I can empathize with you (empathizing with me) and so on into the empathetic hall of mirrors. Environment has a lot to do with being able to write. I’ve got a dog and some kids and that pretty much means there’s very little uninterrupted writing time. Trying to maintain coherence over 200 words becomes a challenge.

      At the end of the day, I suppose the important part is that an environment of self-help/loathing/enlightenment has been created. Because I think we could all use some more of that, especially the middle part.

      Thanks very much for the compliments, Scott. You’re too kind. (You really are. I don’t think I’ve really earned those words. Maybe someday… But I’ll take them for now as inspiration.) And I also see that you’re back up and posting, and for that I am truly happy.

      Your, shall we say, “interesting”* background creates some amazing posts, some of which would lead professional moral panickers to the conclusion that the internet is nothing but sex, drugs and drug-fueled sex. Which it is, but that’s no reason to have it shut down.

      *”Interesting” = possibly arrestable, depending on local statutes of limitation.


  6. […] asked for some links so that she can keep track of where else I’ve been writing. I’m going to do a complete […]


  7. Late to the party as usual. I knew this was serious when I noticed you didn’t use the word ‘fuck’ once. WTF?

    I can’t believe its been two years since our blogging salad days (or is it halcyon days?).

    As far as all these compliments go, you deserve them all my friend. Your writing chops are sick, nay, deduncuous. Couple that with your world class wit and you have a WIN.

    Of course, if it gets to be too much, you can always do what I do…I stop writing period. BUT DON’T. Read: I guess I could post some photos or something.

    Kudos on TechDirt et al. Looking forward to more in the future. LOL (I wanted to be the first to uses LOL on your blog)


    • Holy hell. You’re right. The lack of the word ‘fuck’ should have been my first clue that there was some sort of writer’s block. If I can’t even use my go-to word, then something’s amiss.

      Thanks for the compliments, RXJ (although I am going to have to look up “deduncuous”). It has been a mostly good two years and I assume there’s a few more years in me, even if those years are bound to see several lapses into sporadic posting and occasional radio silence.

      I see your “LOL” and raise you one “ROFLMAO.” (Pronounced “roffle mao.” I have no idea what it stands for.)



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