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The New New(ish) Thing

Categories: This Writer's Life.
The weather in Boston has finally re-arrived at cold, a situation that always feels like it’s right around the corner, even in July when I’m writing outside in my sports bra and cut off jean shorts summer bathrobe. As I type, I can almost see my breath, and I have no idea how to work the heating system in my apartment other than yelling at my roommate, who is not here. Perhaps I should rummage for firewood, like they (probably) do in Ansel Adams photos.  

Moving on, I get mediabistro.com’s Revolving Door newsletter partially because I like to know the gossip about who is moving around in the small, small world of journalism, and partially because I feel like I need to get mediabistro’s newsletter, to stay “in the know” when other people ask me about who is moving around in the small, small world of journalism.

Here is a semi-related convo I had this week with my friend Casey:
Me:You see the dude from Valleywag got canned, and is now just writing for Gawker?
Casey: No.
Me: Oh. But that sucks, right?
Casey: (long pause) Is this the reason you called me?

Anyway, more of my point is aimed at the fact that the traditional media world is a sad sight to behold right now. Every newsletter talks of tons and tons of cuts, and most of the quotes sound exactly like this example from the last letter, but with less religious holiday references:  “CondeNet, Conde Nast’s Internet division, let go “dozens.” The parent company also cancelled Christmas.”

I had no idea companies could even give a thumbs up or down or holidayz! But in this sad climate, with traditional jobs being hacked and tightened and squeezed down into moderately difficult yoga poses, one has to look on the bright side or one could stay down in that position forever, and that can’t be great for your back.

I, for one, realize I’m extremely lucky to have found a writing job with a company that utilizes the World Wide Netz and is actually growing, and also lucky enough to be able to complain about these things in my own blog, and complain about my own pieces in the dying art of the long form magazine. In fact, I probably shouldn’t complain ever, but it would be boring if I was always so upbeat and cheerful and full of positive emoticons, and you wouldn’t read my work, or my fake poems, or occasionally participate in Commenting Adventures;) And since you asked, my feeling on the changing world of writing and journalism is this: there are always going to be people who love reading, and there will always be people needed to put those words in front of them, and we just need to understand that–like any job– adapting with the technology is part of the game, baby. More jobs are going to move to the ‘Net. Big expensive magazines with big expensive ad buys to fill their pages just won’t make sense, like purchasing a super-nice VCR to play your Blu-Ray discs. And the magazines that do stay afloat and remain financially viable will figure out ways to deliver info that people don’t want to get on the web, like thoughtful step-back analysis and clever, semi-reported narratives about high school… 

And please, don’t mistake my candor for some sort of gleeful repositioning. This sucks for me. I love magazines and newspapers and other paper-based readery. I have 14 subscriptions that I know about, and that doesn’t count the Blender that gets shoved into my mailbox every so often, piggybacking onto my real mags like an annoying, spoiled preschooler. But just because I love something doesn’t mean that I can’t see it changing. And it’d be stupid and pointless to just wax on about the good ol’ dayz… and not only because I’m 27.  I just think we’re going through a painful correction, and it’s going to get worse before it gets better, but in the end we’re all clever, adaptable creatures, and we’ll figure something out. And if we don’t, we can probably just join Kim Kardashian over at Tom’s place and start work on next years pumpkins. After all, I’m pretty sure he mentioned something about sodas and snacks.

Apologies for the elephantine ramble. Drop your name in the Comments to be entered into a drawing for the safe return of my ephemerality.

I find it hard,
to concentrate

Red Hot Chili Peppers

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20 Responses to The New New(ish) Thing

  1. Coursework says:

    I was on my shopping spree last weekend and I have no idea what stuffs to give to my friends. Until I remember a friend of mine told me that books are the best gift.. So I just bought books for them.. I just hope they’d read ‘em.. (but i’m sure they’ll do)

  2. Christine says:

    Just did all my Christmas shopping at the bookstore as a matter of fact. Did get in a little book fondling and sniffing, Olivia. I love how the salespeople don’t even question it or look at me funny when I’m caressing a book and making happy noises. They must see it all the time from the true booklovers.

  3. Olivia says:

    Yesterday I went to my favorite bookstore and actually bought some books this time, instead of just pretending I was going to buy them, sitting in the comfy leather chair, reading the book cover to cover, and then slipping it back on the shelf — most likely in the wrong spot…and the wrong shelf altogether. The atmosphere of a bookstore is one of the reasons why I never buy books online. You have an entire library of perfectly scented pages right at your fingertips. You can flip through them, feel the embossing of the title on the cover, check out the ending and see if it’s worth reading (don’t deny it, we all do that from time to time), and in the case of cookbooks, see if you would actually eat that stuff, let alone put forth the time and effort to cook it.

    Not sure what our grandchildren will be doing when bound pages don’t exist anymore, but one thing’s for sure — as long as I’m alive, I’ll be writing on and reading from paper and ink.

  4. Shelly says:

    I, too, like most of the commenters love books. I love wondering through the super-mart bookstores looking for my next novel to read, or a magazine I haven’t seen before. I find satification in watching my bookmarker make its way through the sea of pages eventually popping out with only a faction left to go.

    But like photographs, which most of us don’t even print these days, (we only view them on Flickr, Facebook or one of hundreds photo printing sites like Photoworks, Shutterfly, Snapfish or Kodakgallery, ironically only printing a holiday postcard from the hundreds of images) I can see the Kindle like technology taking over. Just give it time and few more competitors.

    But happily, there will still be us, the folks that like to hold the printed pages in our hands, wandering around the bookstore or the web looking for the next magazine, novel, or newspaper. Either way, let’s be happy that people are still interested in reading.

    Good luck to the NaMo’ers. I didn’t get off to a good started but hope to finish strong. I think next year I’ll have to plan a bit better and find a writing group.

  5. Veronica says:

    I’m a mix of things: a technology pro (former thank goodness), a writer, a reader, a philanthropist and a web entrepreneur. Sometimes my "tech self" feels like it’s inevitable – print media should step aside and make way for the future. Then my "reader, writer self" smacks the other self aside and irrationally clutches her books and magazines to her chest and dares the techno self to do something about it.

    In the end, I hope that print books and magazines survive, but the person who used to work from a…gasp… C prompt, that now toys around with Linux knows that the future may have something else in store for me.

  6. Tom Harold says:

    Oh wow:

    "Erin wrote: I currently am a paid writer for an entertainment blog. I got this job because I was noticed by the editors for leaving good comments on other stories I read on that blog."

    You mean this s*** really happens?!?!?!? Wow, that makes it even more difficult to work on WriMo instead of reading blogs. It’s awesome and troublesome all at the same time.

    As an odd side note, now that I think of it, I was asked to guess blog on another writer’s site because I dropped a comment there. He’s no million-seller, but it’s still cool, you know?

    I am 56 thousand words and then some,
    T-shirt

  7. Paige says:

    Paperless and all that is well is good, but just what are we supposed to read in the "library"
    sitting with a laptop on your lap on the throne may be fine but what about those long soaking bubble baths
    paper will dry but an e-reader will short out and would it electrocute me like a radio would?
    those are BIG issues that truly need to be addressed! And I think you Kevin are just the person to do it.

  8. Pat Marin says:

    Love books myself. I read some of the over and over again.

    Hi NaNoWriMos out there. I’m at 30,000 and wrote no words today. I have two writer meetings so I did some writing work just not on my NaNo project.

    Tom, I have to say I am so jealous of your word count. I hope to have 60,000 words and a finished novel by Mov 30. Well, I am off to discover how to catch my killer.

    Kev, why did you have a running story in November. Bad move, Dude, bad move. I didn’t get to write or follow it.

    Pat

  9. Erin says:

    To echo what some people on here are saying, I will forever and love books and hate the idea of the a device like the kindle ever taking the place of the overcrowded book shelves in my room.

    But, I do have to tell this story in defense of technology. I currently am a paid writer for an entertainment blog. I got this job because I was noticed by the editors for leaving good comments on other stories I read on that blog. The contacted me (via email) and invited me to become a writer for their site. I never would’ve gotten this opportunity from sitting in my house reading a print magazine and making comments out loud to myself…

  10. Olivia says:

    do you think people were this worked up when we went from cave drawings to papyrus?

    hmmm….

  11. Tom says:

    Kristan,

    NaNo shout out! (Are we buddied yet?)
    Actually, I hit 50K yesterday. Sadly, there is no way in hell I’ll be finished anytime soon. Now, not only am I not done, I don’t know how to gauge my progress.

    Magazines on wounds? Huh.

    I’ll get on this pumpkin book thing. It’ll be huge.

    L8RZ,
    T-bzl

  12. Kristan C. says:

    "with the arrival of New England’s colder temps (like, I finally needed a scarf today–about damn time!), that folks will be buying MORE books."

    So what are we out in California supposed to do? I’ll be lucky if it dips below 70 degrees any time today.

    Grrrr. Argh.

    I just don’t know what to think about the industry. Print is dead! Books are dead! And yet new print magazines are being launched all the time. The shelves are lined with niche names about beer and meat and wounds and I dunnowot. I’m confuddled, is what. All I know is, I still love books. In other words, what Elizabeth said.

    !Shout-out to my NaNo peeps! We’re halfway home.)

  13. Christine says:

    Tom,

    I think we all should carve a pumpkin, send you a pix of it with where in the USA we’re from, and then on Halloween, in addition to your live pumpkins in your yard, you can have a slide show of Pumpkins ‘Round the USA.

    Then, later on, we can make a picture book out of it and just watch the millions of dollars roll in. This is how we will all save the book industry, folks. Right here, in this very blog.

    Christine

  14. Tom says:

    Oh yeah, and we’re on for the pumpkins for next year. It’s going to be at least 70, maybe 90 or 100. See you then. I’m not inviting Kim again. She was a no-show, and we just can’t have that when there’s so much orange laying around the house.

  15. Tom says:

    Elizabeth’s comments make me want to go buy a book. Now. I won’t though. I’m broke.

    I also have to say, that I’m not going to get all crazy about getting a Kindle. In fact, took me a year to start warming up to my iPod (which really rules when you can listen to Ryan Adams, Dido, Regina Spektor, and Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac all in one drive to the office without destroying half a dozen CD cases). I also still don’t like to buy CDs purely through iTunes. If I buy the whole thing, I want to hold the package-y goodliness in my hands, open the cover, read the liner notes (if the artist has so chosen to bless me with them), peruse the images, etc. I like that stuff. I like CDs, vinyl, and books.

    Having said all that, there’s no way journalism and print media is going to revert back to how it was in those crazy early 90s when taking doing your Journalism front page layout assignment in digital format versus literal cut and paste was merely an option. I still need to learn a ton of stuff if I ever hope to move forward. It’s a tough transition for me. I seem to have fallen between the cracks of people who are too old to be taught new tricks, and the new wave of youth that can sync an iPod with a Blackberry while creating a virtual slideshow of the entire process in some program I have likely not even heard of yet.

    I’m not employed currently in the writing field currently. I was told "it’s not a growing field." So, I’m writing a novel. Look for the Kindle edition any day now.

  16. Elizabeth Stahl says:

    As an older writer and reader I was pulled into the technology world screaming and kicking. I gave in and I must say it’s so much easier. I enjoy the e-zines, the blogs and the thought of saving a few trees by eliminating some paper waste. However, I balked at the lastest trend, The Kindle. I have a routine that I refuse to give up on. When my latest books arrive, I first smell the book, flipping through the pages. Next is the fondling of the spine and then reading the back cover. I love my books, piled around my house, taunting me to open one up and read. The Kindle although I’m sure is a wonderful toy for some will not find it’s way next to my I-pod, cell phone or mini pc. Nope, I will not cave in.

  17. Olivia says:

    wherever there are snacks and a few good drinks, i’m there, especially if it involves pumpkin-goo-slinging.

    don’t worry, kevin, as long as there are people living life, there will always be a story to write, and there will always be someone out there bored enough to read it.

    we’ll never be out of work, even if we’re unemployed. :)

  18. Christine says:

    I’m going to think positively and say that with the arrival of New England’s colder temps (like, I finally needed a scarf today–about damn time!), that folks will be buying MORE books. They’ll need somewhere to escape to with a cup of tea, a flannel blanket, and a roaring fire while the snow falls o’er the land. We, as the writers, must advocate for book/magazine sales in their paper copies so that one of the greatest inventions of man–the written word–will continue to thrive. While blogs and online mags/stories are fun, there is no substitute for a good, old-fashioned book.

  19. I know it’s like journalists and editors are becoming obsolete. Very sad-making.

  20. Anthony says:

    Getting canned, laid-off, fired, quitting is all part of the writing life. Someone in advertising once told me if you haven’t been fired a few times … something or other, it was a long time ago.

    But seeing all these places cut back, lay-off and buy-out certainly trims the options for writers, editors, etc., as our fall back companies are also cutting back, laying off and buying out.

    Maybe it’s time to go back to college, or take some time and write that novel or that monster book book of poetry. But what about the bills? Like they say, complications make a good story.

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