Tuesday, March 26, 2002

Charles sent me back a message about my last post (“Back to the Blog”). I haven’t responded to him, yet, but I want to pull out one of his paragraphs to write about here:

“Anyway, between the people of whose blogs I read, I think that we generate enough content, such that if it were revised, reviewed, paired down such that the irrelevant crap were eliminated, that we should have our own publication. I dunno how it would look, etc… but now that I’ve been blogging for awhile, I’ve gotten interested in increasing both the quality of my posts and readership. but to do this, one needs to have a steady stream of content, but after looking at how much shit we spew., I’m sure it’s there. it’s alot easier to keep the content flowing between 5 people than 1, becaues let’s face it: writing something creative takes a lot of energy. I may be a loser, but I find that writing 2 pages of good prose is exhausting, but you get my point…. which is why don’t we band together to make something worthwhile instead of wanking ourselves individually.”

My first reaction: “Wow, yeah, that would be cool!”

But, you know, on second thought, the zine idea has been brought up so often (in my world, at least) — and I always think it’s a great idea. It never works out, though. Never. Coté and a couple other friends have managed to put together one- or two-off publications, but only since weblogging has been the trend have any of my friends posted new thoughts to the web (or anywhere, for that matter) with any regularity.

So, sitting here now, I find myself highly skeptical towards the idea of putting together a zine. I fear that my excitement over making something worthwhile — something that people might enjoy enough to, say, pay money to read — stems from arrogance and will actually become disappointment as I realize that, no matter how high-minded my intentions may be, I’m still just wanking. Except spending a lot more time and energy doing it. And, to be completely honest, I’m rather busy right now. You are too, I’m sure. I hardly have time to get a wank in before I go to bed. I must wank with purpose.

Plus, I worry that spending time and effort on the planning stages of zines or websites or content management software (or whatever) actually detracts from the intended activity: writing. I’m much less interested in the organizational side and much more interested in the words themselves. One of the great things about Blogger is that it lets you forget about having to manually update HTML or create your own management system: you set the sucker up and go. It’s easy to do and that’s why people do it.

Keeping that last sentence in mind, I still like the idea of creating a zine — sort of.

Let me describe my ideas for how I would change my weblogging habits, first. I came up with this last week, before hearing from Charles. (Evidence that we’re thinking along the same lines, here.)

1) I will write one weblog post per week …

Instead of allowing my brain to spazz out in ten different directions every week, I’ll channel that weblogging urge into a single post. About one thing. Creating long, organized chunks of text can be difficult (and frustrating), I know quite well. But that’s usually because the ideas are foggy. If I spend a couple hours over the course of a week hammering my way through a piece of writing, I almost always enjoy the feeling I at the end of having created something and of having understood something new.

(Whoa — bikini-clad lesbians fistfighting on the Jerry Springer show. The terrorists have not yet won. Um…)

2) … to be published on Tuesday at 2 p.m.

I first chose this time rather arbitrarily, thinking it’d be nice for anyone who regularly reads my posts to know when to expect new material. Saves them time having to go to my site, see nothing new, think “god damn, why doesn’t Josh write something new?,” think “Josh sucks,” and then repeat the process fifteen minutes later. (You know you do it.)

Another healthy side effect of this post-time, though, is that I can sleep on my post for a couple nights and come back to it fresh to make sure it says what I want it to. I totally overhauled this post this morning, for example, because when I came back and looked at it I realized that it did not say what I wanted it to.


But my one weekly post doesn’t a zine make. Aren’t we talking about zines here? Right. But what if you also did this? What if, say, Coté took Monday at 9 a.m., Charles took Friday at 3 p.m., Zane took Sunday at noon, etc? (I pick these times and names somewhat randomly.) And then what if someone made a page that just listed all the participants and when their new posts would show up? Poof! Zine, essentially. And wouldn’t it be kind of cool to go through the work day thinking, “Wow, I can’t wait until Charles’ new post gets published at 3!” It’d be a nice predictable break in your afternoon.

I think it sounds like a good idea, and anyone can participate by just doing it. You could even still run your regular weblog, if you liked having a raw-thought dumping ground. In fact, in the past twenty-four hours I’ve come back into appreciating weblogging that happens at 2 a.m. after four beers — weblogging that has to happen right then, without editing, when the feelings are real. But that doesn’t preclude also having an outlet for more organized writing.

So there you have it.

Thank you Kim and Charles for sending me e-mail about my last post! I’m glad people pay attention to what I write. And the deal still holds: Pay me by responding to my posts with your own thoughts (in whatever form is most convenient).

And let me know if you want to try out this one-post-per-week-at-a-specific-time scheme.

Shut up, Josh.