The Internet: Allowing people to publicly whine about not being noticed since 1995.

Suite101.com declined my deathless prose. I am not as surprised by this as I would have been had they not posted their ’10 Golden Rules of Internet Writing’ on the confirmation page for the application — evidently their idea of a little gag. Ten seconds past confirming that sucker, and I knew I was screwed. Turns out those little dry sticks of articles that *ahem* convinced me I was a shoo-in are actually the house style. Oopsie.

So once again the search for an appropriate home for my writing aspirations has foundered. The ‘am I good enough for publication’ hurdle has been well and truly breached, and my horizons are all set to be broadened; the trouble is that what I write seems to fall, messily, between several different cracks.

I can write on specific subjects, but am hampered by the conviction that most everybody I’m writing for already knows more about whatever-it-is than me. I have no university education, no way to claim expertise. Besides, I can only prattle on for so long before getting deadly bored with myself and deciding to liven up the joint.
So instead I’ve honed a knack for what you might call comic appreciation. To put it another way, I can review things fine, but it always seems to turn out funny… look, you in the back, this is where you just go with me, ‘kay? OK.

I can pick out the odd and irrelevant and downright strange and turn it to at least some kind of account. Which I had figured would make me a natural negotiator through the pop-cult wilderness, but the one time I proposed a column on those lines to PopMatters, it was turned down as not focussed enough. Apparently you need to be a certified expert even in celebrity gossip, which raises the disturbing spectre of Perez Hilton: Career Counselor. I’m too wholesome to be slapped! …but I’m also a bit sick of being asked when the tea and cookies show up.

All told I still think of myself as a would-be humourist, anyway, as the closest thing to a category I’d fall under. In various unofficial fora I have recapped, ranted and mused, and people have laughed in turn. So far, so good. Thing is, I have no idea where one goes to become an official Humour Writer. There doesn’t seem to be any online application labeled ‘Future Erma Bombecks needed here!’ Unless I just haven’t been looking in the right places, in which case, any direction available would be most welcome.

The simplest route to recognition would likely be to pick a popular show and start recapping again, but that would mean dealing with fan wank. And I really, really don’t wanna do that… to either myself or the fans in question. You have to sincerely buy into the machine to at least some degree, in fandom (see note about quickly getting bored and deciding to do something about it, above, and shudder).

So the search continues. Just by way of convincing myself that I’m not totally delusional, I will point out that my writing style has been dubbed ‘unusual and nice’ by a commenter on WordPress.

And then I will go over to Suite101.com, read their ‘golden’ articles, and snicker quietly to myself.

At least, we know I’m an expert on *one* subject…

So Facebook continues to expand my horizons in new and odd ways, and I’m looking at this application for Suite101.com.

It’s evidently one of those online zines where they collect lots of random people to write articles on subjects they know stuff about, so the whole thing’s got a kind of charming Family Circle-meets-Wikipedia vibe. You fill out an application and send a writing sample, and they assign you an editor and expect you to crank out ten articles every three months. Then they pay you out of petty cash, aka whatever the GoogleAds bring in.

I could do this, obviously. I mean, not to be pretentious here, but I have done this, and well. And I admit the prospect of actually getting payback out of those nigh-inescapable ‘Secret of a flat stomach? Obey!’ ads… well, it’s not zapping through the monitor down the lines to shock the hell out of certain sensitive marketer body parts, but it’s something.

The one rub isthe contract. It has a clause whereby everything you write for Suite101 becomes theirs. Absolutely. In perpetuity. Were you to send the link to your weird inventor uncle, and were he to escape to another dimension that had interstellar travel and start publishing the material deep in the heart of their version of the Andromeda galaxy, this contract leaves the distinct impression that Suite101’s lawyers would not be happy.

I dunno. Seven million (claimed) readers, some of whom might be pro editors trolling for talent, that’s something to think about. Maybe I could just write the ten articles, and if anything looks *really* good I wouldn’t give it to them but save it for the ol’portfolio. Or PopMatters.

Or maybe I’m just desperate and weird and about to be taken for a ride. I dunno. But I’m still thinking.

Or maybe you think I’m lucky/to have something to do

So yeah, updating. Sorry about that. Jasmine has since discovered the delights of sitting on human laps, albeit not the fine points. It’s kind of hard to type and keep her from tumbling off at the same time.

It’s not that I’ve been suffering for topics, either. For one thing, the kitten cuteness level around here has been off the charts. Work has been off the rails. And the geekiness has been right off the scale. It’s just that somehow I’ve gotten out of the habit of recording it on – uh – what do they call it if it’s not paper, anyway?
I remember how my first word processor — something like, oh gosh, Office 10,000 BC or so — had a ‘parchment’ background option. It could also do Comic Sans MS in teal. I was over the moon…

[short pause to rummage around in My Documents]

Ah, here we are. *chuckles gently to self* I remember now, what they call it.

Fun.

Wondering where the lions are

Kitteh has finally collapsed on the bed behind me, having tried for a good  ten minutes to figure out how to work the keyboard. As near as I can make out, this is the message she wanted to send: mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmMMMMMMMMMMMMmmmmmmmmm [crash browser].

If I don’t update for a while, send help.

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Meanwhile. Bob & Ray biography – or at least, expansion of my article to include deeper motivations, and broader perspectives. Definitely beats markdown credits on the Points to Ponder scale. Not least because more plausible; as noted previously many of the Goulding family at least are on Facebook, and belong to a Bob & Ray fan group.

I am something hesitant about going on and finding out about the Elliott family, because it’s all a bit scarily plausible, to be honest. They seem like nice people, and I have a policy about pestering nice people. This policy has been under serious refinement over the last few weeks checking in on my own Facebook account, in which I have rec’d no less than three Friend requests from ‘lonely’ African men (plus one woman) and one from a Ponzi scheme. I do have a legitimate article to back me up, at least, but not much more.

Besides…given the research I did end up doing, I’m not completely sure whether I even should. As I’ve mentioned before, their genius has a weirdly impenetrable intimacy, rather like those twins who develop a private language. With very rare exceptions, when cornered by the media their modus operandi was to talk to each other, instead.

If the interviewer went along with it (as did Roger Ebert, interestingly) he was treated to a private, if wholly impersonal, performance; if he persisted in trying to actually interview them… they would simply continue the routine. Only more so. One poor sap from the Los Angeles Times, having sat through twenty minutes of such responses as "Gee, I wonder how they get those windows clean [on the highrise opposite]?" was driven to inform them that they were the absolute dullest celebrities he’d ever encountered. "Yeah, a lot of people tell us that," Ray responded calmly. "Can’t imagine why."

Somehow, I am not totally shocked and amazed that for many years after Ray’s death in 1990, Bob Elliott refused all interviews.

So I’m driven to the same conclusion I was before Facebook: much as I’d love to, trying to pry into this setup just feels wrong – like I’m not only intruding but spoiling the performance somehow. They were the exact same Average Americans they were spoofing, save for the self-awareness, and as a survival mechanism they turned it into part of the gag…

…either that, or to them, it was really just as simple as making each other laugh.

Frustrating as either option is, they compel respect.

You don’t say…

Witness services involve frequent question-and-answer discussions. Since my ability to sit quietly and listen is on a par with an ADD toddler just post-Froot Loops, I tend to participate in these discussions a lot. Using much the same style as I do in print, in fact [insert ‘Not now Shoe, there’s a time limit’ gag here].

So after services tonight, a friend comes up to me. "I enjoyed your comments."

I smile and say thanks.

"No, really…you should write a novel. I would totally sit there enthralled for hours, reading it."

Truth in Flattery: Friend and wife are moving this Friday, meaning friend is currently exhausted, not to mention has been huffing fresh paint fumes for the past week.

But still.
 

Fiction, part II

The story I posted last week, it continues. Usual caveats about first time I’ve done this, rough draft, please be nice, yadda-yadda-any more whining I haven’t thought of yet-cakes.

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In which there is much discussion of comic books, for some reason…

In which I actually finally post some original fiction.

After due consideration, I am thinking that it might be wiser to get this going now, before the cold medication wears off.

It’s interesting, what an afternoon home sick trying to entertain yourself will do to your authorial morale. I’ve been skimming the Wikipedia ‘Articles For Deletion’ discussions – fascinating little mini-sagas of the effort to be neutral and altruistic on the Net – and have been encouraged not to worry, because comparatively speaking, I don’t HAVE any readers. Thus, there’s little-to-no chance thousands will gather and jeer and eventually make an Internet-wide fetish of my incompetence.

….Still, it might just be worth pointing out that I can spell, OK? I can spell REALLY REALLY WELL, as a matter of fact. Except the parts that I deliberately misspelled, for effect. That is…oh, the hell with it.

To confuse the issue further, this isn’t the same saga I was on about a few weeks ago; it has roots in a few of the same places, though. I actually started this one ‘way back on the old forum, but got sidetracked – hard – when it became evident that I’d have to introduce some actual plot at some point. The idea now is, I post the setup chapters over a few weeks, by which point I will have made a decent start on the plot part and be posting that.

If anyone wants to follow along, feedback is welcome as usual. Just realise that this is still a very rough draft, ‘kay? And overlong, and probably embarrassingly naiive if not derivative. But it is – I cannot stress this enough – very well-spelled. (Also, on the off-chance, copyright asserted etc.)

Either way, fun starts here…

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