Wouldn’t you know it…

I recently put up the money for one of WordPress’s good hosting plans to gussy up this blog as well as my new True Crime Wire. And wouldn’t you know it? I get so much work I don’t have time for my own blogging at all.

Which, thing is, I really want to do. But I have to admit that sometimes I get done with writing a post for my regular gig with Maxim or for one of my freelance gigs (there are a couple, including Vice’s tech vertical, Motherboard) and my brain is too drained to do much else. I’m trying to change that. 

We’ll see how that goes.

#blogging, #true-crime-wire, #work, #writing

True Crime Wire

In part to honor the memory of my friend, brilliant True Crime Diary author Michelle McNamara, I have created a new crime blog:

truecrimewire.com.

True Crime Wire will be modeled after Michelle’s work in many ways. Especially in taking a deliberate and measured approach to cases, not chasing clicks by covering high profile crimes or breaking crime news just because. I fell into that trap in the distant past as a crime blogger and don’t want to again.

I’ll try and update this blog more often now, with non-crime posts, but many posts will be directing readers to True Crime Wire.

I burned out on true crime six years ago. But re-reading my friend’s work, I realized I felt a compulsion to dive back in. I’d probably been feeling it for a while, but found it easy to set aside.

Not setting it aside anymore.

I am, gladly, a working writer, so I won’t update any personal project blogs daily — but I will update, and I’ll take time with what I write.

If you follow this blog and are interested in true crime, please follow True Crime Wire.

Let’s get it started.

 

#blogging, #michelle-mcnamara, #true-crime, #truecrimediary

Huh…

I’m always meaning to update more. Recently I got a freelance gig writing for Maxim Magazine, though, the last week and a half has been about adjusting to that.

I haven’t had a blogging gig in a while (if you’ve only read this site recently, my bio will tell you they aren’t new for me) and realized I may have even missed it. My specialties, if I have them, have been crime and tech, but I’m re-discovering pop culture blogging with Maxim and it’s fun.

In fact it’s sort of made me re-think my old ‘writing is blogging is writing’ philosophy. On the one hand, that’s correct. Writing is a skill. If people pay you to do it in any capacity, you should work hard to be good at it. But I’m remembering how the pace of blogging is so different, compared to, say, drafting and then polishing a short story, essay or a long piece of reportage. A lot of conventional writing wisdom says you draft sloppy first, then re-draft, refine and so on. You can do a truncated version of this when blogging, but for me at least, it won’t go fast enough unless I edit on the fly. And I can do that. It doesn’t always end up in a perfect product, but it’s often one I can live with and don’t feel dumb directing friends to read.

What I’ve begun to realize is I think I had an idea that blogging might be bad for other writing. It’s not. In fact, it might be excellent practice, and a route to instilling something too many writers lack: versatility.

I can’t promise I’ll do this–I’m also a dad and since I work from home the main housekeeper/cook most weeks (my wife is a better cook than I am but we tend to save her wicked skills for holidays)–but I could see how my gig with Maxim might actually lead to me updating this blog even more. I see stuff every day that I consider pitching to post for Maxim, only to see it doesn’t quite fit what they’re going for. But I think I may start popping that stuff here–which would actually make this blog what I intended it to be when I made it: one guy’s curated newsfeed of the weird shit that interests him.

Posting more stuff here, writing about a broader range of stuff than I’ve covered so far, will only feed and add to what I do for Maxim. Blogging is writing, sure, but after doing it for the better part of 15 years I’ve come to see it is its own particular skill, and there is no shame in my mind in making a conscious effort to get better at doing it.

#blah-blah, #blogging, #maxim-magazine, #thinking-out-loud, #writing

The Unbearable Writeness of Blogging

I have, for a long time, hated blogging. What I hate about blogging is not the act of writing for public consumption. It’s the heavy load the words “blog” and “blogging” have carried for a few years now. In my mind, and I suspect the minds of others as well, the moment something you’ve researched, edited, and labored over moves from an “essay” or any other form of writing to a “blog post,” it feels somehow diminished. This is both a subjective attitude developed from peculiar, personal experience and something I’ve noticed in pop culture and the media. Tell someone you’re a journalist and they won’t blink–it’s a long accepted job, even if it’s one people sometimes reflexively dislike. Say you’re a blogger–even if it’s a paid gig–and watch many people try to put the brakes on a bit of a sneer.

So as other posts in this blog indicate, doing this is a frequent source of internal conflict for me. A lot of things figure into that, including the question of ‘why bother?’

After this post about my weight loss and many of the factors that led me to do it was highlighted by WordPress’s “Freshly Pressed,” I discovered something surprising: a ton of people are still happily blogging away, just because they want to. I found this out from the ongoing response to that post, and from reviewing the blogs of many who liked it and then chose to follow me.

If you listen to the nimrods who blog for popular sites (certain tech blogs, etc.) about social media, you might get the impression that tools like Twitter and Tumblr have killed old-fashioned blogging (a ridiculous term itself, since blogging isn’t even 20 years old, really) just for the heck of it.*

I think the response to my post featured on “Freshly Pressed” opened my eyes to the fact that blogging hasn’t really died out at all, and there are still plenty of people doing it because they feel compelled to. It may have begun to re-legitimize the act of blogging, in my eyes.

As a result, I’ve decided, after a silly amount of hemming and hawing, to focus much more of my writing in general in this space. A problem with the wealth of choices available to anyone wanting to publish much of anything online now is that very wealth…if you’re as ADD** as me, it’s often irresistible. I want to try that new Tumblr idea. I want to give that funny Twitter parody idea a shot. I want to check out this tool and see if it’s better than WordPress, or use that other one and see if it’s got better Google search penetration than Tumblr.

I want to, but I think rather than be distracted by the “oooohhh shiny,” I’m going to remain resolute and put it here, come hell or high water. I’m committing. It’s disturbing, and makes me uncomfortable.

That will mean a wide variety of weirdness, including pointless talking to myself posts like this. Something I try to not do, but continue doing. Thanks for following along, hope it’s worth your time. And mine.

*Backtracking: in 2005 I had been blogging for 5 years ‘just for the heck of it’ and someone invited me to write for their site for pay. That was news writing, not precisely blogging, but it led ultimately to, among other things, paid blogging, including launching and anchoring a blog about crime for Village Voice Media. After that blogging was officially a job, and that probably was the main reason I underwent a huge change in attitude about this endeavor.

**Medically diagnosed ADD, dammit, not self-diagnosed based on some online tests. The internet has provided innumerable tools for allowing people to glibly determine they are impaired or dying.

#blah, #blogging, #blogging-about-blogging, #stuff, #text-only-posts-are-bad-for-reader-retention-thats-why-i-write-them, #things, #writing

Blogs are passé

I’ve read recently (honestly too lazy to look up the link, but I swear I’ve read stuff like this) that blogs are, in their way, passé. I halfway think that’s why I decided I’d start 2014 with a brand new one, clean, squeaky, shiny, dumb. I mean, I have a Tumblr, but at 46 I feel comfortable with being too old–or maybe too vain, perhaps both–for Tumblr, anymore. Not abandoning my Tumblr, of course–I have a few reasons not worth enumerating to keep it–but I doubt I’ll use it to post much beyond links or quotes after today.

So–why this site? I mean, caveat lector: I’ve started a shit-ton of blogs over the last 4 years in particular. They’ve rarely come to anything. This may be some weird and stubborn effort to re-capture some idea I once had that I’d seized a low-level form of lightning in a bottle when I started a blog geared toward crime in 2004 and almost overnight doubled my blog traffic, therefore sealing my fate of eventually going into professional journalism and blogging, writing for the likes of the Crime Library, Radar Magazine and the New York Observer, to name a few.

What I think I’m doing here, though, is starting from scratch. If there’s any intent in this blog, it’s in the name, HuffWireIn this context, “wire” still carries the journalistic flavor of that word. The fact that I’m a news junkie and at this point have been paid to commit acts of journalism is inescapable. I don’t really want to escape it. I’m too curious and too weird and maybe even too easily bored to shut down the part of me that reads this news blurb or that and says, “there has to be more to this.”

However, I also find the definition of “wire” so broad that perhaps HuffWire is the best possible name for the kind of blog I meant to keep all along–one that melded sheer stupidity, personal, diary-like entries and straight-up independent journalism, sometimes all on the same day.

Another reason for this blog, perhaps the most important–the practice of doing it. I was blogging professionally off and on for various outfits from 2005 onward. I quit at the beginning of 2013. I kept tweeting, sometimes tumbling something that just wouldn’t fit in a tweet. But I wasn’t really doing shit, in general. At some point, I concluded that I didn’t have writer’s block (all my tweeting would seem to disprove that alone) as I was making some kind of semi-conscious attempt to, for lack of a better phrase, reboot my shit.

You see, “pro” blogging practices are often (to me) horrible. They can be antithetical to decent writing. You’re having to worry about selling your shit to the casual reader. To the search engine. To the maniac who hates you based on the headline you didn’t even edit yourself alone. I sometimes think one reason I eventually accepted backing so far out of blogging/writing/whatever for a year was that I, at some point, concluded I needed some kind of change. A respite, to be precise.

Okay, I know I did.

The change was time away from that game. I had had enough.

Which is not to say I’m going to abandon everything I learned about blogging or my interest in certain news stories that also interest everyone else. I’m human. If there is a single purpose to this blog post it may be that–to evade predictions or expectations of what I’m going to post here for the rest of the year.

I’m just here to write about shit. This won’t even be the only writing I do on a daily basis.

Past that, I’m going to see if I can do what I want as a blogger without giving in to some of the grosser aspects of the “training” I’ve learned over the last few years, about search engine optimization, what’s viral-worthy, etc. You know, all that bullshit that kind of makes the internet intolerable today.

Mainly… this is part of a larger effort to do the one thing a writer is supposed to do. You know. Um, write.

So. Here goes.

#about, #blogging, #introductions, #rambling, #writing