Evaluating and re-evaluating

I’m having one of those days. Somehow it’s already 3:33, and I haven’t done much of anything. I did a bit of this and a bit of that, and started another thing or two. But nothing of any real substance.

I find that most days are like this for me. It doesn’t matter what time I get up, what time I go to bed, what I work on first. I just end the day feeling like there way no point to it.

There are days that are different, but always for different reasons.

Back to today, though. Today I’ve sat here, as the hours go past. I’ve read a few things and it’s made me question what it is that I’m doing.

My writing breaks down into three major categories:

1. Academic. My thesis, conference papers, etc., all of which are concerned with sitcom, television, comedy, or some moderately tangential subject.

2. Journalistic. Reviews, interviews, and news stories of varying hardness.

3. Fluff and fiction. Blog posts, stories, essays, etc. Not overly researched, expository, and with varying levels of emotional investment.

The first two pay the bills, though barely. The third is harder t0 do, and I fear negative judgement of it at all times.

So today’s reading was things that fall into category two. I started wondering why I do that sort of writing. Right now, it isn’t paying the bills. (It can’t, legally. As a foreigner, I have strict rules about what sort of paid work I can take on.) I’ve had ideas about branching out into new areas, but I start to wonder if there are any new areas left.

How many times can an artist be asked the same fucking questions? Is it worth doing interviews with people if they’re going to give processed answers to processed questions? As the interviewer, I’ve noticed that some people (artists I’ve interviewed included) give the same answers over and over again. They figure out their answer to the inevitable questions and there’s no variety to the final published pieces.

If there’s no difference between the interviews, why bother doing them?

I suppose one solution is to ask different questions, but there’s usually no time for that, no call for it. Everyone is there to promote something, so the questions have to cover the basic shit. Who are you? What do you do? How did you start? What do you like? What don’t you like? Blah blah fucking blah. I get bored asking the questions and I know people get bored of answering.

Most people aren’t comfortable with questions outside this line, anyway. I’ve tried doing interviews where I don’t even ask about the thing they’re promoting. But then it’s not worth their time. It’s all about promotion, after all.

I don’t want to be part of a pathetic pack of pseudo-journos pestering the more talented artists and performers for answers to the same questions they’ve just answered for somebody else. I don’t want to cut and paste questions, and I’m pretty sure they don’t want to cut and paste answers.

So what do I do? I enjoy some interviews. I’m looking forward to doing academic interviews, where I can ask questions that the interviewees haven’t been asked a thousand times before.

Maybe that’s where I need to take inspiration. In my academic work, I have to fight to make sure that I’m producing something new and different, and that what I write is a unique contribution to the scholarly discourse. Maybe that’s what I need to do with the journo work, too. If someone else could come up with something just like what I write, it isn’t worth me writing it.

The problem always comes in the publishing, though. There’s not much call for the unique these days. Media sources blur together, and nobody has a niche left. It all gets gobbled up and mashed together and retweeted and shared and pretty soon it’s just a vacuum of the same words in a different order.

Maybe I have to accept that I have to write some stuff and allow nobody to read it. Maybe that’s the sacrifice that needs to be made to keep me from having days like this.


About jeninher30s

A writer and procrastinator.

2 responses to “Evaluating and re-evaluating”

  1. vivisunoriginal says :

    As far as the third type of writing goes I can’t imagine anyone ever judging anything you write in a negative way.

    Interviewing, I can’t imagine ever having the confidence to interview anyone about anything, be it recycled questions or brand new ones, if I ever have to do it, and I guess I will when I start my degree course, then they will spend most of the interview asking me not to mumble and to repeat the question.

    Academic writing, I am finding my own work far harder this year than last, but obviously my academic level is at a very basic level compared to yours. I’m still finding answers from other peoples’ work rather than writing original source material. You have such a passion for your topic, and you are going to feel so fabulous when we are all calling you Doctor Jennifer Marie Barnett, (or Barnett-Mclevey, or Mclevey, or whatever name/combination of names you choose to use).

    You are never going to be part of any pack, you are probably the most individual person I know, and that’s just one of the things that makes your writing so good. I’m quite sure I’m not the only person who regularly checks your blog in the hope that there will be a new post, because I know that whenever you do post something new it will be interesting, thought provoking and extremely well written.

  2. stumblingupwards says :

    You are really suffering from a hatred of conforming aren’t you? Well thank god for people/journo’s like you!
    For every ten or twenty Alan Carrs or Piers Morgans’ there is one Michael Parkinson. They are successful because they ask the right questions, or, more often, they don’t. It’s not the asking, it’s the listening and letting the interviewee talk. If you ask the prescribed question,expect the predicted answer. If readers want to read those sort of interviews, then either give it to them or quit.
    There is the other alternative (which I am in favour of BTW) and that is to offer the alternative yourself.
    Going independent and starting your own publication isn’t as difficult as it used to be.People will want to read some truth, maybe the same answers but wrapped up differently, or even not wrapped at all. I don’t know what you should do but I do believe you should kill your soul just to pay the bills.

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