Artists Pay Back (The Blog)

September 28, 2012

I Suck At Blogging

Filed under: Writing — artistspayback @ 7:58 pm
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Defeat by Computer

Nothing like head trauma to fire up the creative juices.

Wow! Provocative title, right? Now, I know what you’re thinking. “This is going to be one of those falsely modest posts where you really go on to describe your awesomeness with loads of insincere deprecation.” Or maybe, “ah yes, the pity post designed to get people to build you up and say, ‘hey guy, you’re wonderful.'”

Nope. I really mean it. I truly suck at this. Now, this isn’t so much of critique of my actual writing. I’m pleased overall with what I have put out, as minimal as that output has been. And therein lies the crux of my suckitude. I’ve had this blog for years and have posted maybe a dozen entries. And really, when it comes to blogging the most egregious error one can make – greater than bad writing, worse than sloppy writing, far more not as good as repetitive, poor writing – is just not posting. There are a lot of bad blogs out there (I know, I’ve seen them on Freshly Pressed) but they’re better than mine because as subjectively bad, or maybe just insipid, as the content may be, at least they’re posting something. Anything. And it’s getting noticed. Good for them for not sucking.

So, as I lay in bed last night after a long day of not writing a blog post, I started trying to suss out just why I don’t do it more. One note: “time” will not be one of the reasons. Yes, I am ridiculously busy with the several jobs and family obligations that account for much of my time, but that’s not really a valid excuse for not devoting two or three hours over the course of one week to getting something posted. I may use it as an excuse, but I’ll tell you right now, it’s utter crap. I have the time, it’s other things that cause me problems, such as:

1. Trying to hard to be perfect

Though ‘perfect’ may not be the best word, it’s good enough to cover the concept. I want my stuff to be GOOD. If it’s supposed to be funny, I want it to be hilarious. If it’s intended to be clever, I want it to be mind-bending. If thought-provoking is my goal, I want your brain jostling in your cranium from my fresh revelations. So, I agonize over it and put way too much effort into something that really was just designed as a method to ultimately draw attention to my screenwriting. I worry that if my blog isn’t REALLY good then no one will bother to read my scripts (which, to be fair, isn’t entirely untrue). But really, I just need to relax and get my thoughts out. I have my moments of humor and profundity and insight and I need to trust it will come through in what I do without letting it paralyze me into not even trying. Of course, I do need to watch out for typos and the sort of mechanical errors that will ultimately reflect worse than anything else, but I need to let it go and just put stuff up there (and I definitely miss many, but that’s what editors and the comment section is for). Sure a bad post may leave someone with a negative feeling and not get them to read anything else, but not posting anything won’t even get me in the game.

2. Trying to hard to be funny

Everyone on the internet wants to be funny. Especially social media. And much like open mic night at the Chuckle Hut, most of them aren’t. But still we try. I’m one of those who try. The bloggers I admire are great humorists and I really want to write something as fresh and crackling with delightful prose as some of the posts that I imagine they toss off with ease, composing at traffic stops on their way home. People like Zombie Fights Shark (R.I.P.), Listful Thinking and The Typing Makes Me Sound Busy (also R.I.P. – I should probably find some new blogs to follow). So, I try to write stuff as funny as some of what they did. Great observational, situational humor that I know I’m capable of if I just push a little harder and keep revising and revising and revising and, ah screw it – I’ll just play SongPop instead. I have succeeded from time to time. Sure I’m no Shelby Fero, but I’ve had my moments where I’m quite proud of what has come out. But too often I just abandon an idea because it’s too dry or I’m trying too hard or it’ just not funny enough.

3. Not moving fast enough on a timely idea

This one is directly related to number one and two. It’s when something in the news cycle catches my attention and I think, “hey, I should blog about that because that’s what people who blog do!” So I’ll tap out some notes on my iPhone (ahem, that’s some free product placement Apple, pay attention and send me an iPad3) with every intention of using those for a full-fledged post later. And damned if I don’t. Well, no, actually I don’t. Damn. What I do is let it sit for a few days and then it becomes rotting fruit. For instance, I saw Prometheus on opening weekend and thought, “wow that really sucked for myriad reasons. I could elaborate on some of those reasons (hint: the name Lindelof was featured prominently) and it would make a wonderful timely blog post that would garner much attention.” And then I didn’t write it. And then a thousand blog posts came out covering pretty much the same bases I was going to – and some in much better fashion. Now, I’m not saying I shouldn’t write stuff just because others will cover the same ground and will do it better; redundancy and the internet are inextricably linked. But I do need to get it out in a timely manner so it doesn’t seem like so much of a retread. As for that Prometheus story, well there’s always the DVD release date to target.

4. Worried about getting read. And not getting read.

Here’s a little window into my psyche. As soon as I publish a blog post I think, “why did I bother. No one is going to read that.” And then I obsessively watch my stats. As as the number inevitably climb into the  (what’s the word for when things get past 4…”fives?”) mid-single digits I start to think, “why did I post that, it sucked.” And then the number stays there and I think, “why is no one else reading this, it’s great!” Basically, I’m not happy either way. I really would love to get thousands of visits, but it scares the piss out of me as well. In fact the one time I did get thousands of visitors, I was a mess for most of the day. “Did they like it? They must have liked it, right? Or maybe it was, one of those ‘jeez this sucks, you have to read it’ like making someone sniff bad milk or watch Twilight movies. They’re laughing with me. No, at me. No wait, it wasn’t supposed to be a funny post, why are they laughing at all? Why aren’t they commenting? What if the comment is negative, I hope they don’t comment.” So yeah, I’m an idiot. I truly love writing yet I have a problem with people reading my stuff. But what’s even worse than people reading it, is people not reading it. So, yeah…

5. Lazy

Sigh. Yes, guilty. I know I kind of covered this already but it needs to be called out as its own category. I would love to write more blog posts but not as much as I would love to lie motionless, or watch TV, or preferably both. While eating. Like I said, I work a lot, so I’m not exactly a lazy person but it’s also not like writing a post takes much energy. Especially since it’s pretty much the thing I like doing. But I still make excuses. Ah, my wife is using the computer, I’d write something if the laptop was working. (Then once we got the laptop fixed.) Ah, I’d write on the laptop but it’s way upstairs and I’m on the couch. I’d write something if I had an iPad. (Then we got an iPad.) Ah, I’d write something but first I need to figure out another excused while I play SongPop (seriously, that game is so awesome.) And so on.

And really, what all of these boil down to is excuses I tell myself to let myself off the hook for not writing. It’s all deflection. I’d write if I had time. If I had a great idea. If it was funnier. If it was smarter. If I had the perfect technological tool (like Dragon Dictation – ok, seriously, I would TOTALLY write more if I had that.) If this, if that. Whatever. I need to push all that out of mind and just write something. Like, you know, this post.

March 31, 2011

Tweet Reconciliation; Or How A Tweeter Got His Groove Back

Filed under: pop culture,Twitter,Writing — artistspayback @ 10:41 pm
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I recently reacquainted myself with a lost love.

We hadn’t been totally separated. I would check in now and then, you know, just to see how things were. But it was never enough to truly get me excited. And then it happened, as these things often do, with a change of heart and a moment of clarity. At that moment, I decided it was time to make a go of it again.

And this time I would do it so much better.

So, hi Twitter. I’m back.

Not that you really missed me. You’ve got your high-profile friends who clearly mean so much more to you. You say you don’t make special exceptions for them, but that means you either think I’m a fool or you’re just lying to yourself. Still, I’m not too proud to admit that I needed you more than you needed me. You can do so much for me and yet I had walked away. I was getting enough attention I suppose or it just seemed like too much work. That wasn’t your fault, those were my issues.

Not that I had forgotten the reasons I had parted before. You’re high maintenance, for one thing. You always throw so much at me that it quickly becomes noise. Badly misspelled and/or punctuated noise (which only makes it worse.) It’s not that you don’t have anything to say, it’s just that so much of it is about you, or just regurgitated nonsense, that it makes it hard sometimes to see that you do have a point of view. INteresting things are being said once you claw through the inanity.

I had forgotten about your arbitrary “following” rule. You know how 2000 is some magical cap number that you try to say has something to do with site performance or looking out for my best interests (which is it?). And how you couldn’t lift it if you wanted to (come on, babe, really?) If that were the case then why ever let any account go beyond this imaginary figure? You talk about these magical ratios, but won’t let us know what they are. Have you been hanging out with NFL owners? If there is a formula and it’s applied to everyone “without exception” that just make it public. You won’t, I know. Still a guy can hope. All I know is I’m stuck at 2001 even though I’ve gotten my followers up to over 550. That’s better than 4 – 1, yet still not good enough for your “ratio.” Please.

Still, I don’t want this to turn bad just as it’s starting to be good again. So I’ll play your games. I’ll work the angles and get in your good graces. I’ll try to focus on what’s good and what possibilities lie ahead and ignore the hypocrisy, the lies, the idiocy.

I’ll focus on the fun times. Hey, remember when I wrote this? Oh, that blog entry such a hit and we did it together. I’ll never forget that. Oh, and this one? See, we really were good together back in those days. Before I go jaded and frustrated.

Who knows how long we’ll last this time. I hope it sticks. Because even after all that, I think we can be good together.

(And I’m clearly so much better than that Kutcher clown you’re so infatuated with.)

Tweet dreams, mon ami…


Pop culture got you confused? Check out my handy conversion chart from Generation X to Generation LMFAO.

Want to read more of my semi-regular, semi-coherent, semi-humorous musings? Subscribe. Or check the archive. Or follow me on Twitter (that way I can follow you, uh, once I clear the MAGICAL RATIO.)

August 13, 2009

5 Reasons To Avoid* Twitter

Okay, first off a little admission. I’m on Twitter (Follow me!) and I don’t think it should be avoided.

Well, not anymore anyway. I first had to go through the requisite Seven Stages of Twitterification to arrive at the emotional state in which I currently reside:

1. Disregard (“Oh yeah, I heard about that thing. Sounds kind of silly.”)

2. Mocking (“Oh boy, I’m having eggs for breakfast. I better ‘tweet’ all my ‘followers’ so they can get through their day.” – Complete with air quotes, of course.)

3. Contempt (“I don’t care who is Tweeting. It’s pointless. LEAVE ME ALONE, YOU ZEALOT!”)

4. Hunger (Really has nothing to do with Twitter per se, but these steps take some time and a fella needs to eat.)

5. Intrigue (“Hmmm, I wonder what noted TV star John Larroquette is doing right now.”)

6. Embarrassment (“What? No, of course I’m not on twitter. It’s like all stupid and awesome, uh, I mean awful. So awful.”)

7. Acceptance (“Of course I’m on Twitter. It’s awesome. You’re not? You have to sign up, RIGHT NOW!”)

And that’s where I currently am – Acceptance. I have been baptized in the information stream and accepted Twitter as my Social Media Lord and Savior. I fully understand that it is a viable (and entertaining and fun) tool in the not-at-all-made-up field of “Social marketing.”

But that doesn’t mean it isn’t without its flaws. There were some issues I had prior to joining and others I’ve discovered as a proud member.

So what’re my problems with Twitter? I’ll break it down (and in as many damn characters as I please…actually let’s start there.)


1. The 140 Character Rule Is Further Debasing Language

I like language and I like words. They’re fun and useful. In fact, I like them so much that I have been trying to turn them into money for years.

But Twitter puts a limit on these wonderful words. Now, in and of itself, this isn’t a problem. It is entirely possible to write coherent statements on Twitter within these constraints. (And even ones which contain no numbers/symbols in place of words. I know, right?) Except a lot of people don’t do that. They compose statements that don’t just mangle language, it’s more akin to grammatical genocide.

I know this didn’t start with Twitter, it’s just the next outlet in a string of technological terrors that have slowly conspired to turn our written communications into playgrounds for ‘tards. It began to fester in quickly dashed-off emails which begat message boards which begat IM’ing which begat texting which begat Isaac which begat Jacob and so on…

Sure, @Biz would have you believe the limitation “fosters creativity” when in reality it simply 4-ces U 2 rite like a Prince song title. Or it makes people spout gems like these actual Tweets:

“live n the j…whats good with u..i might need to stay there for like a week or two…i need a apt and job n the h..”

“16xs we knew how 2 keep each other goin I thnk it was cuz it was da 1st time u knw how u try 2 impress each other “

Um, really, Biz? That’s your creativity being fostered?


2. It Makes People Want To Be Funny

I know you say funny things all the time. You are constantly cracking up the girls in Accounts Receiving with your wry take on the most recent Vanessa Hudgens nude** scandal. You’re always quick with a joke or to light up a, er, fart.

But in reality, it’s not easy to come up with comedy nuggets when you have lots of words at your disposal. But on Twitter, you have to contend with the character limit in which to promote your underappreciated comedic talents. Sorry folks, but not everyone is Stephen Colbert or Aziz Ansari or Rainn Wilson. Believe me, I know. I’ve got clunkers stinking up my stream like dead salmon.

Yet a quick perusing of self-appointed Twitter tags on tells me that there are:

• Over 8,000 people who are listed under ‘funny’

• Over 1000 ‘comedians’

• 260 who go the extra mile into ‘hilarious’ (and one trailblazer of ‘hilariosity’)

However, by my unscientific accounting (yes, I carried the one and everything) I came to approximately 347 genuinely funny Twitterers. And, no, you are not one of them. Sorry.

(On the positive side, Twitter is a tremendous resource of unintentional comedy.)


3. Let’s All Be Honest, It’s Not Revolutionary, It’s Not Even New – It’s Essentially A Message Board

When I first checked out Twitter last fall, I laughed. (Seriously, that intro video is great comedy.) Then I realized it was serious. Then Ashton Kutcher got involved and I was back to thinking it was a joke. Sadly, that too was serious.

But it wasn’t until my wife was telling me about the Tweet Up (her words, never mine) she was engaged in that I realized what Twitter really is – it’s a chat room.

Yes, the great cutting-edge social media leader that is changing how information is distributed is really just a glorified chat room. Well, I suppose it’s more like a bunch of private chat rooms that you log into at once.

So, private chats. That’s it.

Real time updates? Chat room.

Worldwide connections? Chat room.

People trying to be funny? Chat room.

People pretending to be someone else? That’s right, chat room.

So why are they getting so much credit? 


4. It’s More Masturbatory For Its Users Than YouPorn

You know what one of the hottest topics on Twitter is? (Besides AT&T which is always reappearing on the Trending Topics list.)


People on Twitter LOVE to talk about Twitter.

Twitter promotion. Twitter validation. Links to Mashable articles about Twitter. What’s wrong with Twitter? What’s right with Twitter? Who’s on Twitter? Who isn’t on Twitter? What are people saying about Twitter? How do I get more followers on Twitter? How can I use Twitter to get celebrities to give me money? What will I do if Twitter ever goes down again and I can’t talk about Twitter on Twitter?

Twitter loves itself some Twitter and if you don’t believe me, just ask someone on Twitter.


5. The God-Awful “Twitter-Speak”

This may be the most offensive for me. The words, THE HORRIBLE CUTESY WORDS!!  I’m talking about: tweet, tweeps, tweet up, twitterverse, twitmigo, twugs, twitterection, twelp, and all the other horrible “tw—-” words that have been and that ever shall be.

Though I have begrudgingly come to terms with using “tweets” (and, shamefully, I even used the phrase ‘sweet tweets’ once with utter sincerity) I really can’t bring myself to employ any of the others. I used to have a hard enough time at Wendy’s ordering a “Biggie fry” with my “Biggie Frosty” without my testicles reascending into my body. (Not fun, but really, square burgers! How can I say no?) 

This is the internets dammit, it’s serious business and we have no time for cutesy.

And no, you cannot has cheeseburger.


So there you have it. Five legitimate reasons to avoid Twitter. 

But all that pales in comparison to one fantastic reason to love Twitter.

And it can be found here.


Are you or is someone you love (and/or have incriminating photos of) a big Hollywood star? Great, then send them here.

* Full disclosure: This article was originally titled 5 Reasons to Hate Twitter but I changed it partly as a regrettable inital urge to be “confrontational” which is admittedly lame and largely because I’d rather people actually, you know, read the whole article rather than just the title before dashing off derogatory postings.  

** Yes, that was a shameless stab at SEO. Still, I’m glad you’re here, you creepy creepy bastard.

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