the circular runner

Posts Tagged ‘Social Media’

play is the new work…if you’re an artist, at least

In career, life, observations, writers & books, writing on October 22, 2012 at 4:30 am

I recently attended Story World 2012. I’m happy to report that it was well attended, well organized, and the talks were, for the most part, thoughtful and thought provoking, which is a lot of thought when you get right down to it.

If I had to describe the main theme of the event, I’d say it was play. There was a lot of talk of play and the importance of allowing yourself as a storyteller to create experiences (we don’t just create stories anymore according to the panelists I heard) that allow us to be kids at heart, and that allow our readers (experiencers, I guess would be the right word) to be child-like as well.

Usually, I get a little annoyed when people start talking about permission to be a child, about the need to release our inner child—I hear these phrases and think psycho-jargon from a time long since past, a time when bell bottoms and free love were the rage.  (I’m not talking about the 2000’s by the way.)  It’s not just that it sounds dated, I also think that language hides a certain hypocrisy.  It’s like the people saying these things need to take their own advice and not take themselves so seriously. I don’t know, but no child I know sets out to be child-like.  They just are what they are.  Shouldn’t we just be who we are?

Damon Lindelof, creator of Lost

The panelists who I saw at Story World—each and everyone—all seemed to answer this question.  They made me realize that that is the point: people do not act as they really are; they act as they think others expect them to be, and hence, they need to be reminded to allow themselves to be child-like when the occasion calls for it.  According to speakers like Damon Lindelof (creator of Lost), Sean Bailey, the President of Disney, and Brian Clark (Transmedia guru), one such occasion is when creating narrative.

I already knew that as a writer/creative/storyteller/experience maker, I had to get my child on.  I mean, what is storytelling if it isn’t make-believe?  But at some point, I felt guilty for letting myself be that child who likes to revel in stories.  Sadly, make-believe is believed by many to be only for children.  After some time at Story World,  I realize that that is BS. Play is good and it’s nothing to be ashamed of.  In fact, I think if I’d let myself explore that inner child a bit more, my writing and my art would be all the more strong.  And I think the same is probably true for anyone who has to be creative.

What do you all think?  Does art require a childlike appreciation of play?  And if art does require an inner-child, does this mean I have to get out my bell bottoms?


9 Months & Out: Is It Better to Be Open or Focussed When Looking for a New Career?

In career, media on September 8, 2012 at 6:20 am


After too much deliberation, I am going to the motherland (Los Angeles where my mother does live, btw) in October, so I can join a lot of other writers/programmers/social media people for what I hope will be a learning experience.  Story World is not cheap, though it is not as expensive as some other professional conferences.  I’d tell you more about what the convention entails except that I’m not sure–not exactly.  The event is for storytellers who want to work across media and incorporate gaming aspects and social media into their narratives.  It’s not really about how to tell stories, as far as I can tell.  It’s more about how to use different media to create new ways to experience stories.

Apart from that, I imagine there will be a lot of trading of the biz cards.

In general, I’m of two minds about conferences. One part of me thinks they are a waste of time and money. I’ve gone to a couple for writers.  And it was fun to be around other members of the tribe, but I didn’t really get anything out of them, professionally or artistically.  How many times can you attend workshops like, “How to Sell Your Novel” or “How to get an Editor’s Attention”?  If it were all so easy, then there would be as many bad books published as there are crazy people writing them.

I’m hopeful that since Story World has a more technical component to it that the workshops will be a little more useful.  I also hope that since this kind of storytelling is mor collaborative than book writing that networking will be fruitful.

Still, I have my concerns.  If writer conferences are just a little too closed, a little too predictable, this kind of conference might be a little too open.  Story World is about new media and new media is so new and untested that it’s hard to know crazy from brilliant.  I think I can tell when a writer is being crazy: that 3,000 page tome about identity with detailed disembodied descriptions of the emotional lint is probably going to never see the light of day.  But who’s to say that some app that allows a person to put on goggles and see that lint for himself will not be the next great thing?

There’s an analog to my career quest. A year ago, I decided I would not pigeon hole myself about the kind of writer I would try to be.  I had tried to write a novel for 6 years because without much thought, I concluded that the novel was the only way to go as a writer.  But then I realized I had other interests: film, graphic novels, blogs, children’s books.  Hell, I even thought about trying to write for video games, which I still think would be frickin’ awesome.  Trying my hand at many different types of writing since then has freed me up enormously, and I think it has made me better.  I learned that I love to collaborate, that in the end, if I do get a book out and if it were to be read by any amount of people that I’d love that book to be a children’s book–one of those children’s books that adults could read, too.  But I also learned that I love to tell stories more than I love to write fiction books of a certain kind for a certain reader in a certain format known as a book.

Of course, there’s a downside to all of this: namely, it can leave you a little directionless, as with Story World, all this possibility leaves me not sure if what I’m producing is crazy crap or crazy good, or worse yet, not crazy enough to be either good or bad.

So, in October, I’m going to a conference to learn what I don’t know.  Am I a fool?  Maybe.  But maybe, that’s all you can do when you’re starting out on a new path.  Keep taking steps and hoping that if you drop enough business cards along the way, someone will find you and tell you where home is.

cause it’s hard out here for a p…, i mean, reader

In career, life, media, Uncategorized, writers & books, writing on August 20, 2012 at 5:11 am

It’s a chilly night here in San Francisco, and I spent the evening catching up on some good old blogging-goodness.  Specifically, I came across a lovely post at Blood Ink Diary about books, owning them, reading them, not lending them–basically, loving them.  So if you love books, too,  I suggest you read the post.

As for me, I should’ve just enjoyed the prose and the message.  But I often do not do what I should do, and as I snuggled against my fleece blanket (I think San Francisco thinks it’s in the southern hemisphere), and read the post, I felt a shiver that was not caused by the fact that I live in a town that summer forgot.  Part shame, part remembrance of things lost would be the best way to describe what I was feeling.  The first because at some point as I’ve tried to write and write and get that writing out there, I’ve forgotten the power of great words, of slow-moving words for words’ sake.  It’s been months that I’ve read a book for joy.  A good half-year since I’ve read a long work of fiction.  Why?  It’s like I’ve become some kind of puritan who pooh-poohs the novel for its lack of “usefulness”.  Sure, my pilgrim brethren didn’t read books about branding and social media campaigns instead of reading fiction, but they dismissed the novel and the poem because they could not see the point to reading anything that didn’t build the soul–aka, scriptures.  Idle hands are bad enough, but an idle mind taking in words over the novel-version of the boob-tube, that was just too much.

It’s cliche, and I’ve already said a million times in this blog, but the Catch-22 of loving words enough that you actually want to string some along in new and weird ways for some imagined group of readers demands that you not do that creating very often.  It demands that you do a lot of selling, of yourself, of your concepts, and maybe, your body, which wouldn’t be bad except that I’m married–sorry ladies.

It’s an impossible situation.  That’s right, Joseph Heller, your little war book is nothing compared to the dilemma of the modern writer.  I was going to say that we writers trade our creative time for money so that we can write more words.  But the truth is that it’s not only the time; it’s also the head space.  To create, to dig the foundation of our imaginary worlds, one has to be kind of pure-minded.  You gotta be focused on the story, not on what that book might do for your wallet after it’s done.

I think that’s why the post I referred to above shamed me a little bit.  Its author is devoted to the words inside all those lovely books on her shelf.  She doesn’t care if they are useful or practical or if they fit the world and its ideas about utility.  A great book focuses the mind, and if you allow me a moment of operatic hyperbole, it focuses the soul.  The same is true of the writing process, of course.  And that’s what I have to remind myself of.  No matter what happens with career or my lack thereof, I cannot forget.  I cannot.

middle-aged and seeking a new line of work…AGAIN? REALLY?

In humor, life, observations on August 15, 2012 at 5:30 am

let’s see how long i can keep the smiles going

It’s late summer, and though I’m on “vacation” from teaching, I’m still at it.  My usual job is teaching GED classes out of community centers in the projects.  But I got hired to spend these same two weeks teaching academic workshops out of two of the hoitiest and toitiest prep schools in the Bay Area.  Since the money was good, I couldn’t turn down the work.

I don’t really feel like speaking about the obvious right now: the disconnect between the worlds I teach in.  In my usual world, I have kids who have seen more than anyone should, in this other strange one that I am visiting, I have kids who I think might benefit from seeing a bit more than just manicured lawns.  Ah, I know.  This is life and life can be unjust.  I won’t start preaching now because I’m tired and don’t want to come off as what I am: a west coast liberal.  (That said, next week, I’m going to be guest-blogging on one of Le Clown’s blogs, and since he’s Canadian, I will let out my lefty-ire there.  I’ll link here when that happens.)

For now, I will remark on the fact that it’s been almost two weeks since I started my vacation, and I’m not missing the old job–not one bit.  I’ve felt that before–when I worked a dumb office job.  People, I know, often don’t miss their jobs when they are on vacation.  But as a teacher, it’s not a good sign.  Don’t get me wrong.  It’s not like I want to teach elsewhere.  I’m sure that someone who really wanted to teach would be ecstatic to work with the high-powered kids I have these two weeks.  They actually are motivated and don’t complain.  But I’ve never liked easy things, and as a teacher, even though my GED kids are hard and complain, I feel like I’m actually teaching when I’m working with them whereas I’m just tweaking when I work with the prep school crowd.  And still, I’m not looking forward to going back to GED next week.

Sadly, I think it’s time to shift paths.

To what?  I have some ideas.  I know it’s going to have a story-telling component.  Over the next few weeks/months, this blog will record this fool’s errand I will be putting myself on.  The economy is for shit.  I have a baby boy.  My wife is a baker (read happy but not well paid).  I have a job and should be glad for it.  But I’m not.  I need a different challenge.  Fool? Yes.  Probably.  No, definitely.  But then again, remember, I said I like challenges. Eeh gad!  I did say that, didn’t I?

using blogging to let out the inner-party clown OR Ryan Holiday, you sad, sad man!

In criticism, media, Uncategorized on August 4, 2012 at 6:00 am

i’m not ryan seacrest, nor am i ryan anything!!!

As I mentioned in a previous post, this week I’m reading Ryan Holiday‘s book about manipulating social media for personal gain. I’m still not sure why I’m reading this. I’m too riddled by Catholic guilt or a strange sense of integrity to think I would actually implement some of what the author has done.  I’m just not a gamer of systems.  I make money teaching, for God’s sake, so you know I’m not that savvy.  But I guess I want to better understand this system that any of us creatives have to play (at least a little) in order to get our stuff out into the world.

That said, I think Mr. Holiday might have gamed me.  In interviews, I’ve heard him say he gives away his secrets in the book, but apart from a few general examples, he doesn’t give many details.  He does repeat himself over and over again about how bad the blog-centric world of social media is and how easy it is to manipulate it.  After 250 pages, I can say that my biggest lesson from Ryan Holiday is that he is a sad man and makes his living doing sad things that even he feels bad (and sad) about.  He feels badly, he tells us, though not bad enough that he’s going to stop doing said sad things.  BTW, if you know nothing about Ryan Holiday, he’s the guy responsible for those American Apparel ad campaigns that verge on kiddy-porn.  You know the ones.  Middle-aged men tend to congregate around them at bus stops–maybe that will give you some context as to who this guy is.

So, now, 250 pages later, $9.99 poorer, I’m still wondering about blogging.  Specifically, why I’m doing it.  What secret hopes do I have for what I write, if any.  I enjoy posting.  Let me get that out of the way.  I have some really great bloggers reading me, and whenever I get onto this pragmatic talk about utility, they always remind me that blogging should be for fun and done for the sake of fun.  I agree. I certainly don’t think blogging is my way to fame as a writer. But still, I can’t deny that I’d like to express myself to more readers. But I want the writing to be honest and I want my concerns when writing to reflect writerly craft, not the need for page views. Ryan Holiday would say that’s a fool’s errand.  Well, whatev, Ryan.  I didn’t ask you.

I did, however, ask bloggers why they wrote, and Friday Jones, a reader of my last post and a blogger in her own right, left an amazing comment.  I will quote it here:

I have been wondering the same thing, but I think you as a blogger need to understand the purpose of your blog. For instance my blog is literally about me airing all of the dirty laundry of my life out as I tread the road of self discovery. It is an all over the place blog with a central focus. However what if you are like the the Ryan Seacrest of the boggersphere? Your topics would be broad and vast. If you as a blogger have the ability to let your personality shine through, then you are selling you as a brand versus a you as an expert on a limited subject. But if your personality get’s lost, then being “all over” will not serve you in the long run.

Friday Jones, you are a genius.  I’m no Ryan Seacrest, nor am I a Ryan Holiday.  (I don’t even really like the name Ryan unless it’s for a girl or a last name–just another issue of mine.)  But I think I let my personality show through.  And maybe that’s part of why I want to blog.  I’m like that shy guy in the corner at a party who wants to join in but is too shy.  Blogging lets me let my inner-party clown out.

What about you?  What does blogging do for you?  And do you all care about getting readers?  And if so, what would you be willing to do to get those eyeballs?

should a blog be focussed or should it be all over the place?

In criticism, media, observations on August 2, 2012 at 6:28 am

I’ve been reading Ryan Holiday‘s book, Trust Me, I’m Lying, and let me tell you, the experience is depressing.  In the book, Mr, Holiday not only talks about how he’s manipulated the media countless times, he also argues over and over again that the world of social media is not based on value or truth or quality writing; it’s based on tricking readers to view more pages.  It’s worth noting that as I read this book, I started to wonder if I was part of some kind of meta-experience set up by the author.  I wondered if the book itself was just a trick in that it repeated the same basic point over and over again.  Was my buying the book–a book that promises to describe in full detail the ins and outs of the media landscape–a trick?

But the most depressing part of reading this book has more to do with where I am than where the book or its author is.  I heard Mr. Holiday interviewed on Brian Lehrer‘s public radio show, and I bought his book because he said that in it, he would give away the tools of his trade. In other words, he would teach his readers how to manipulate social media.  I’m not saying that I wanted to do anything dishonest, but I was hoping to learn something I hadn’t known before–some trick of the trade that would help my blog, my career as a writer.  Kind of sad and lame, I’ll admit.

The only thing I really learned from the book is to ask this question of myself an of all of you bloggers out there.  Mr. Holiday repeatedly quotes big-time bloggers all saying the same thing: focus on one thing and become an authority on that one thing if you want people to come read you.  As a generalist, this troubles me, but at the same time, it stands to reason.  People like to know what they are getting, so if they want spots, they go to that blog or channel or whatever, and likewise, they want to know about food or clothes or relationships.  Blogs, so Mr. Holiday argues, are all about consistency.  That sells, by which he means, that’s what readers want.  Is that so?

What do you all think?  Do you care if people read or if they comment? Do you write for yourself or are you trying to get your stuff read by as many people as possible? Do you force yourself to post about a limited amount of topics or are you all over the place?

edging towards something spiritual in the wee hours…

In life, observations, writing on June 20, 2012 at 6:15 am

It’s late and yet I blog.  I have to.

If you’ve been following me at all, you know I’ve been filling my head with nonsense about branding and career stuff.  I call this my Obsession #1.  According to the nonsense that I am reading, which makes me even more nonsensical for actually quoting it, I should try to blog every day–some books say every few hours.  I don’t know how anyone could do that, in all honesty.  I mean, I guess if I got paid to do so, which leads me back to the whole obsession with career.  Jesus.  I need to stop.

Before starting this post, I was reading some other blogs–as advised by the nonsense books even though I don’t think reading blogs is nonsense at all–and I came across a couple things that are sticking with me right now. The first, a blog called Diary of a Quirky Girl, was featured on the WP mainpage and I guess the blogger got tons of readers and was taken aback by the attention.  I am linking to her reaction not to the post that was featured because there was something genuine about her joy.  She writes at one point (I am paraphrasing) that her father asked her why she started the blog in the first place, and she said it was to connect.

I can relate, and hence, I blog though I’d like to sleep.

I used to live in Boston. I went to grad school there, and it was one of the sadder periods of my life.  I didn’t fit and I was angry and all assholey all the time.  But I would listen to a show on WBUR, and the intro would start with a little hip hop song and the host would do this little rap-like thing, which always ended with the phrase, “Only Connect,” an epigraph from an EM Forster novel.  In its own way, that phrase was a life line and a reminder that I was doing quite the opposite.  My motto in grad school was more like, only repel.

It’s odd how things work out, but tonight after discovering the Quirky Girl, I then came a cross a photo blog in which the blogger went out to explore his hometown at 4 am.  I love that idea and I love that time of night.  I am a night owl by nature, and in grad school, I took that tendency so far that I would’ve made any vampire proud.  Sometimes I wrote my boring (and truly nonsensical) term papers at night, but mostly, I would walk.  I didn’t go to hot spots.  I usually went to supermarkets or to a 7-11-type convenience stores called the White Hen Pantry, or to a donut shop near my apartment.  And like this photographer on the blog I just discovered, I found that 4 am was the perfect time to explore.  The party crowd was long asleep, and the hard-core business/office types were still in bed for another hour before they started their power-smoothie powered power-walks.

One thing I noticed was that the people who worked at 4 am were often disfigured.  This was especially true at the Star Market I walked around.  There were more cleft palates and people with glass eyes or mangled hands in that store than one would ever see at a more regular hour. I don’t know why I hung around.  I guess I was trying to connect with other people who felt unattractive.  Looking back, I think the impulse was condescending.  I have no idea if those people worked the third shift because they were ashamed or because their bosses were or because it was just the only job they could get and they needed the money.  Who the hell was I to create a story for them?  But at the same time, I felt like a freak and I wanted to be around people who, at least by mainstream definitions of normalcy, were a little freakish, too.   (I will admit that lurking about at 4 am is not the best way to connect with others, but I was young and Romantic and…dumb.

All these years later, I’m less young, but….It’s late and I’m tired. I don’t quite pull the same hours I used to, but I’m writing tonight for the same reason that I walked the streets of Boston ten years ago.  That need for connection is, I think, a spiritual need, and it’s a need I still feel.  I’m too tired to parse that connection between writing and spirit and connection.  I need to get there, but not tonight.

Instead, I’m thinking about the Star Market and The White Hen Pantry in Cambridge, Mass., and the donut store with the baker whose face was scarred worse than I’ve ever seen.  And I wish the people in those stores a very good night and I wish all of you the same.

Only connect.

More Talk About Branding Writers…

In humor, media, observations, writers & books, writing on May 29, 2012 at 6:20 am

So last week, I think I hit a nerve–in a good way.  I sheepishly posted about my experience trying to brand myself as a writer.  (Are sheep ever branded, by the way?) Anyway, I was sheepish because I’m lucky that some mighty fine writers read this blog on occasion–Anna Fonte, Joe Ponepinto, and Marc Schuster to name three.  As proof that I am a total novice at the branding thing, I’d tend to think that writers like them who are gifted don’t spend a lot of time reading manuals on SEO and social media campaigns.  I assume that their fans do the heavy lifting, and if not that, then these artist-writers just sit back and take it in stride.  They do not sully themselves with commerce.

It’s silly.  And some of the comments I got on the previous post are proof of that fact.  The writers above and a lot of the writers I’ve heard from recently all are struggling with the process of branding.  It’s not because they aren’t talented.  It’s because they are, and they want to get their stuff out there.

So, for those of you not in the know, here is what this writer (maybe a little talented) is doing to get his stuff out there–DAILY, mind you:

1. Try really hard on FB to come up with some kind of update about myself that isn’t stupid or douchey.  Also, look through other people’s timelines and LIKE things that I really like. (The first is not always easy, the second is usually a breeze.)

2. I look for like-minded Tweet-peeps and follow. (Repeat this ten times daily). I struggle and struggle to tweet one witty thing a day, and share 4 other things about the friends on FB or WP or about something I read, which hopefully is not about branding but lately is.

3. Linkedin update. Check in with the groups. Link in with LINKERS who are doing what I am doing, want to be doing, will want to be doing, etc.

4. Read other people’s blogs; comment intelligently (or at least not dumbly) and then…OMG…WAIT FOR IT…I write something of my own.

Jesus Christ.  Here’s a Catch-22 that even Joseph Heller would love: in order to get paid for being a writer, the writer has to spend most of her day not writing. If the writer does choose to write, no one will ever read that writing because no one will know of it.  If she chooses to brand herself, people will know her, but for what? For her brand and not for her writing because she had no real time to write anything worthy of her amazing brand.

I’d like to go on here, but according to the branding books, I am nearing the blog danger zone. Blog entries should not go longer than 400 words. 500 words are an absolute maximum.

I have also read that this is where I might want to share a piece of good news about myself.  So here goes two pieces:

1. One of my fables just went up at Xenith.  They did a really nice job with the layout, so if you are interested, please check it out here.

2. Cherise, a short dance film I wrote and produced, is in post production now and looking promising. That said, I have an FB fan page for it,  so please like and like generously.

OK, I think that’s enough douchey self-promotion.  (I know I’m not supposed to be self-deprecating about my brand, but Jesus Christ, I can only do so much. I’ve already gone way over my word count.

Goddamn it!!

Am I a Brand?

In life, media, observations, Uncategorized, writing on May 24, 2012 at 6:08 am

Lately, I’ve been reading a book called, Branding Yourself.  Though I am reading it with a type of excitement that a once purer, less-commecially-minded me would have reserved for a novel by the Bronte sisters, the book also fills me with a little bit of dread, which is also like the Brontes come to think of it, though for a different reason.  Erik Deckers and Kyle Lacy, the authors of the book, are very clear about what they are trying to teach: that you need to go out there and get people interested in you.  Why? You ask.  Because you are your own brand.

Really?  Am I just like this?

I don’t think so, because I’m not getting paid the way Coca-Cola is.

All joking aside, it must be in the summer air (I know it’s summer because I live in San Fran, and it’s cold) but for the rest of the northern hemisphere, it’s warm and writers are ripe with a desire to get to the next spot in their carers.  I recently discovered, Livia Ellis’ blog, which I very much recommend.  I was especially taken with her post about writing as a business.  Livia has some interesting insights into this question, and I want this and a couple following posts to be a type of dialogue. For now, let me say that I’m surprisingly excited about this whole branding thing, and yet there’s also a part of me that agrees with Joe Ponepinto at the Saturday Morning Post.  He only puts up one post a week now so as not to get so caught up in the business of getting read that he neglects the business of writing.

Joe is a wise man, and I keep his thoughts in mind as I slave over my branding statement, which is making one thing clear to me: I am not a natural at branding myself.  It’s not false modesty.  Really, it’s just a mindset thing. For me, writing fiction has always been a bit abstract–not the stories I tell or the process behind them.  The abstract part was how to get my stories read by the people who like what I write.

I’ve kept that process vague out of fear, I think.  Is there a market for what I’m offering? As a brand in the making, I need to be thinking about this even if the answer might scare me.  At the same time, as a writer, marketability is probably not a good thing to obsess about because it limits the imagination.  Who the hell knows what will catch on?  Did Mr. Coca-Cola know that some syrupy, bubbly dark liquid would become a world power? I can’t imagine he could have.

For myself, I’m not in any place to make definitive statements one way or another.  I will say that for now, I’m trying to find a way to get people aware of what I’m doing.  That’s a crazy process, and I will share it in the next post.

In the meantime, I’d love to hear from other writers about how they try to manage the needs of commerce with their own needs as writers and artists. How much time, if any, do you spend working on the business of business and how much on the business of putting words to the page?

the problem…my problem, your problem, and that guy next to you in the cafe, his problem, too…

In media, observations, Uncategorized, writers & books, writing on May 19, 2012 at 8:06 am

OK, here you go.  A way into the problem, my problem for sure, but it might be yours, too.  I’m writing this post as I listen to A Tribe Called Quest in a poorly lit cafe.  I’m surrounded by other Apple users who are working on God knows what, but I’m sure whatever IT is, IT is something that makes it possible for them to own three thousand dollar computers and not have to work in an office during a weekday.  Many of them are pasty and wearing anorexic jeans, but they are happy.  I imagine this is because they have avoided the bullet of office work. Then again, they might not know any better.  But I digress, which I probably wouldn’t be doing if I weren’t listening to Tribe and checking my email at random moments because of the amazing new app I downloaded yesterday that allows me to see who is emailing, Facebooking and Twittering me without opening a window.  Little text boxes are opening in the corner as I write these words.

On a recent post, I know I mentioned I was changing, my brain, actually, was doing the changing.  Specifically, I’m concerned with the part of my brain that comes up with stories.  I am wondering if this need for apps and the obsession I spoke about in the last post with websites themes is connected to the fact that my taste in imaginative narrative as a producer and as a consumer is changing.  Let me start this by saying that digital culture is a more visual one, by its nature.  And, as I’m going to explain in a second, I think that this connection between the digital and the visual has some deep implications for people because it has deep implications for how we tell our stories.

So here’s the problem because I kind of always believe there has to be one.

I increasingly tell stories in visual media, which is fine.  Fine except I wonder if that means that I’m giving up on staying with characters, lingering with them, finding out what they are about in the slower, more internal way that the page allows and the screen does not.  This is writerly insecurity, I’ll admit. But it’s deeper, I suspect than just a matter of aesthetics.  Different media stress different things about stories.  Or, maybe it’s better to say, different media have different weaknesses.  Some might argue with me, but generally speaking, a visual medium like film or television or even a graphic novel though to a lesser degree, cannot get you in the mind and heart of a character.  Internal conflicts have to be simplified in film because unless you have a ton of voice overs or lame-o exposition through dialogue, you have to express emotion through what one can see.  And no matter how good the script or the actor, you can’t get at the crazy twists of the human mind.  You can always use visual metaphors to help get at that craziness, but even those are up for interpretation, which mean, you might lose the viewer or confuse him.  The page is just better suited to the mazes of internal conflict.  I say this, but for the life of me, I am struggling telling stories like that.  In fact, I will admit this, I get bored with a lot of so-called literary fiction.  (By the way, I realize as I write this that I am equating literary fiction with fiction on the page, which is not cool, but let that one go for now.  I don’t know enough “genre” fiction to speak to it.)

I guess, put simply, I’m wondering if visual culture is a less human one?  Less human in the sense that its stories do not deal with what makes us most human: intention, the stuff that cannot be seen.  The stuff that one has to slow down to understand, slow down in a way that I and my apps and my compatriots here at Cafe Hipster might not have patience for.  Is that a bad thing?  Is narrative changing? I love books, but I have to say it, I’m reading a lot less fiction than ever.  As a consumer and as a producer of imaginative narrative, I’m going more and more with visual media.  And I don’t think I’m alone.

I’d be curious to have some writers/lovers of fiction discuss here.  Maybe I need some absolution for a guilty conscience over my lapsed New Yorker subscription and my new MacWorld one.  I don’t know.  Is there an absolution app?  I think someone needs to invent that. Quick.

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