Friday, June 29, 2007

Oh, the Pain ... The Pain of it All!

As any of you that read my gibberish know by now, I like to fancy myself a bit of a creative soul.

I can draw ... some. And I can write ... a little. I'm not a giant in any field, naturally, but I feel that I have some creativity to offer the world and I think I tell a good story. When I can actually get someone to read what I've written, I get nothing but rave reviews.

Now, it's entirely possible that those are just polite indulgences. Most people aren't going to rudely tell you what they actually think of your stuff unless they're close to you. (I don't know, sometimes they're the ones that blow sunshine the worst.) But, even when I ask relative strangers to read and give me their thoughts, they end up telling me the things they read that I've written or drawings I've made are "good."

I don't know exactly what "good" means. Not evil, I suppose. Not bad? I don't know.

Anyway, that brings me to my point. There are certain websites where EVERYone thinks their stuff is good. Whether it is or not, they believe it is. I've written things that don't get very much public exposure. Very few people read it. But I've never written anything, and published it for public viewing, unless I was satisfied with the product. I proofread it, I ask for another set of eyes to read it (my wife's -- very good eyes indeed), and I make sure that when I finally put it out there for the world to see, it's ready for that scrutiny.

Now, to be fair, I'm a bit anal. Most people, especially on sites like the ones of which I'm speaking, are just having fun and don't necessarily obsess for perfection like I do. But, when you publish something to a massive site with millions of submissions, I've got to believe you want someone to read it. And if that's true, why wouldn't you take the time to make sure it's legible? That it flows? That there's a story to read, and the language to read it? It seems that proper punctuation and spelling are beyond most people. Typos? Of course, we all make them. I have plenty of them in my posts, I'm sure. But between the two sets of eyes, we usually find them (even if not immediately) and fix them, and that's only AFTER the piece has undergone a spelling and grammar check through my friendly neighborhood word processing program. Take your pick, they ALL have them -- even Microsoft Works. And yes, it is sufficient to catch most of them.

Instead, the sites are flooded with badly written, poorly structured and horribly misspelled "literature" (if you can call it that). In addition, the topics don't seem to change very much. It's like most of the stuff out there is written by angst-ridden teens or kids that define themselves as "emo" (I didn't even know that word existed, never mind what it meant, until I looked it up on the 'Net after seeing the Mac commercial where the PC has to go download it), is all written from that whole razors-and-mascara perspective, and just generally isn't any good.

Then, they can't figure out why no one will read their writings. It's pathetic.

Enter dorky me. I have no clue what goes on on these sites, so I happily enter and start hanging my drawings up for folks to see. I don't draw anime, and I don't animate my art. I'm only average at best, and never claimed to be anything other than that. So, I didn't get too offended when I didn't get many page views on my art. The few people that did stop by were intelligent, thoughtful and easy to talk to, and they offered me some great insight.

But then I started writing. I rather fancy myself a writer of sorts. I'm a better writer than I am an artist, and that's likely because I work at it a bit more. I decided, some time ago, that I wanted to change my style of writing a bit and start posting stories from my childhood. I had a stable of some pretty amusing stories to share, and I wanted to get them out there and see if I could emulate the style of writing of Chris Kimball. He's the editor of Cook's Illustrated magazine, and the host of the PBS show America's Test Kitchen. He's a brilliant writer though, and his writing captures a feel and a tone from a time forgotten -- a time when kids wore denim and Keds and plaid short-sleeved shirts with crew cuts, or pig tails and eyelet dresses, and they played games like stickball and kick the can, and had clubs and rode their bikes to buy trading cards.

Get it?

So, I tried to inject some of that into my writing. I felt I was pretty successful at it, too, and so I posted some of those stories on an artists site so that others who write (supposedly -- NOT suppose-of-ly) could see it and maybe offer me some direction to make the work stronger.


When I stop and think about how deeply buried in CRAP the good stuff gets (anyone's, not just mine -- there are other good writers out there), it's no wonder no one reads the literature on the site.

I got to thinking, then, that maybe sex sells. I notice that if you publish naked photos, or draw sleazy, sexy comic women, your page got loads of page hits. So I thought I'd try and experiment to see if would work for me, too.

I started an anonymous account with a pseudonym, and I wrote some erotica. What do you think happened?

Absolutely nothing, that's what.

So, no matter what I try, if I'm not writing homosexual stories of existing anime or manga characters, or "furries" (whatever the fuck THAT is), no one's interested. I mean, the erotica got more initial interest, but the same thing happens. It gets buried under a lot of garbage cranked out by horny teens who think that characters with fur, tails and unpronounceable Japanese names are "literature". And after it does, no one reads it anymore, because it would require effort to find it and cipher through the tripe to get to the gems out there.

It's really disappointing.

I don't mean to be disparaging of someone else's work; I know we all feel our creativity deserves a view by the world, and even emo teens feel they have something to say. All I ask is that you make it worth reading for the REST of us.

Anyway ... I'm finished ranting. If you like good writing, you can read my fiction on this site and others around the 'Net. If you don't like my writing, that's fine, but don't tell me it's because I'm not any good at it or that the story isn't well-structured or constructed. It's because you don't like the material or the subject or the style, but not because it isn't well written. Sounds arrogant, doesn't it? <Chuckle!>

What about any of you Internet readers? Thoughts? Ideas? Suggestions? Opinions?

Shout out and be heard -- even if only by one madman.


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