Friday, April 9, 2010
The Pwn Collector, or My Uncollectible Works
The idea behind this little sitelet is, in the abstract, practical. You see the other writers out there, and what have they got that I don't have? For the most part, the answer is a Tumblr, although often "good clothes," "health insurance," and "better professional stories than my 'Turns out Hilton Armstrong is a total gentleman'" offerings. But for the most part -- because some of my shirts are okay, and my sister is a doctor and can usually consult on should-I-get-this-lanced questions, and because there will thankfully always be a market for Hilton Armstrong anecdotes -- the answer is a Tumblr with their name on it.
And it's a good thing to have. You can plug your work and link to things you like (and presumably host videos of your parents' dog) and it's all very current. It just always seemed to me like Tumblrs weren't for writing, and I am about using lots of words. I'll leave the x-treme short form prose to the experts. There may be a time when I get a Tumblr, and then I'll post links to Jeff the Brotherhood songs (because they're excellent) and three hyperlinked sentences from an article somewhere, but considering how 2006 Blogspot is, I wouldn't expect that for at least another few years. Anyway I just wanted to say that those are the reasons why I do not have a Tumblr and that argument is what this website is here to communicate and so I thank you for your time. No, wait.
Actually, salient as all that was, the purpose of this post was to kind of flesh out the purpose of this website, and what kind of feels like the impossibility of it actually fulfilling that. All those Other Writers have Tumblrs because it's good to have something on the internet with your name on it. The idea of the site being to have someplace where people can go to check out your work, and the internet of course being a A Terrifying Mall Of Screaming And Pornography That Is Inside Your Computer.
And so while I'm aware that all this is a good idea, it's strange -- in putting it together and trying to go back and put my best writing stuff together -- to note how much of that work is either not for sale in The Terrifying Mall or was dated seemingly the moment it went up. Over the last couple of years alone, to take one saddening instance, I've had my name on probably a couple hundred thousand words of prose in various venues, and yet you wouldn't necessarily know that to look at the feature links on the right. And yet most of those 200,000-odd words -- fucking ouch, there, by the way, because it's not like I have crappy shirts because I can afford better shirts and choose not to buy them -- are not exactly the sort of thing one can link to on one's personal living-resume internet website.
The not-available stuff isn't any great loss, necessarily; I wish there were links to some of the articles I wrote for the now defunct Fly Magazine (which was run by this excellent lady and could've been pretty cool if it hadn't run out of money), but I suppose I could scan some stuff. The 3,000 word pieces I wrote for a trade magazine called Dermatology Business Management -- on topics like picking the right aesthetician for your (dermatology) practice -- paid well and were surprisingly enjoyable but also feel like a dream, were never available on the internet, and would almost certainly be so dull as to induce vertigo in anyone who didn't 1) write them or 2) need advice on hiring an aesthetician for his/her dermatology practice. So those are lost and gone forever, dreadful sorry. But they're a very small part of my uncollected and seemingly uncollectible work.
I sort of don't know where to start with this stuff. I write the Wall Street Journal's Daily Fix sports blog/column three or so days a week, every week, and have for over a year. There's even an unflattering WSJ-style stipple portrait of me on the site:
Which on the one hand "Good Evening Ladies And Please Check Out My Stipple Portrait" and on the other hand Jesus Christ look at the size of my jaw in that thing. But that image aside, this is a huge part of my typing life (if an oddly small part of my financial earnings) and it's essentially dated a day after I put it all together. Like, I think I did a good job rounding up the coverage on those non-allegation allegations of steroid use by Raul Ibanez last year, but at the same time, the non-what what of what by whom? And the Daily Fix I wrote about those creepy peephole pictures of Erin Andrews is apparently the most-read Daily Fix in history ever by a factor of a million, but that's because people on the internet are just living nightmares (the comments section had to be shut down less than an hour after the post went up). And I am doing these a hundred-plus times a year. I really like some of them a lot, and may someday put together a greatest-hits thing -- again, for professional purposes, not because I think anyone needs to read about The Crisis of Officiating in the 2009 UEFA Champions League Semifinals -- but they're not evergreen.
The same can be said of my writing at the sports blog Can't Stop The Bleeding, which is really just an awesomely wonderful site run by the insanely smart and impressive and gracious Gerard Cosloy, but which I increasingly use for writing that's both more passionate and personal and more hilariously dated than anything else I've written. It's good if you want to see how pissed I was about Jorge Sosa blowing a late-season Mets game during their 2007 flame-out, but... yeah, that sentence kind of concludes itself.
Even leaving out all the baseball and basketball cards I've written -- the most literally collectible and literarily transient writing I've ever done -- a great deal of what I write is explicitly built not to last. I worked until 3am or later for MLB.com last year, typing furiously about things happening in baseball games that were notionally of significance to fantasy baseball owners, and almost drove myself insane doing it, and now every single one of those (unbylined) words is gone forever: Juan Pierre's 2-for-4, two run, two steal game of May 15, 2009 is the very definition of old, and the very definition of not-news. But, again, a great many hours were spent on all that.
Sic transit everything, I guess. The whole post could've been those last few words and some hyperlinks, but then I wouldn't have had a chance to address The Tumblr Issue and put up that Everything Is Terrible link. Actual professional stuff -- that is, stuff that actually aids in this site's ostensible purpose, rather than turning it into a Livejournal called "l i v i n g i n w o r d s" -- is coming soon, I promise.