Clawing to escape the belly of the beast here in Hollywood. To commiserate, email my name assistantatlas at yahoo.

Monday, August 22, 2005

How Blogging Is Influencing the Next Generation of Writers: 3.09

I meant to post this yesterday as sort of a weekend rumination, but I didn't quite get it done so I had to post it today from a cyber cafe on my lunch break. See how dedicated I am to you, my faithful readers?

You may be wondering what took me so long to post. Let's just say I spent pretty much the entire weekend at Famke's looking something like this:
That's sex-bed head.
How anyone could possibly think a show about Jennifer Love Hewitt talking to ghosts is buzzworthy is either insane, or Les Moonves' lackey.

In news, Maureen Ryan of the Chicago Tribune chats up the GF's pilot writer, John Rogers. [scroll past her diatribe on "Six Feet Under"] The money quote pertaining to today's topic is from Rogers:

"Fans are not just a metric for us to use to get money out of advertisers. We in the entertainment industry have to change our relationship with the people who watch our shows. To have a successful show with the current model [of advertiser-supported TV], you need 7 to 10 million viewers. To have a successful DVD, you need 1 million. That's a big difference."

Which is a nice segue into today's topic on how today's writers are affected by the phenomenon that is blogging. It goes without debate that writers like writing. And since blogging is essentially a new medium for writing, it's important to examine how it is beginning to affect the writers that are coming to maturation in its heady glow. Rogers is right that the dynamics of the entertainment industry are changing. Oddly, television is already the big money-maker for movies. But what's the biggest money-maker for television shows? DVDs.

But, except for very exceptional circumstances, the newbie writer writes for neither film nor television. In the past, most writers would go from self-absorbed poetry to novels, hoping against hope for the book deal that is likely never to come, perhaps writing short stories in hopes of working up to the publication of a novel. Other writers would go the journalism route, working up from cub reporter to veteran, hopefully winning a Peabody [the Oscars of journalism] in the process. Still others would whore themselves, I mean, uh . . . build a career as an assistant and try to make enough connections to get his/her film/tv scripts read by the right people.

But to a large extent, blogging side-steps the entire process, for better or worse, taking a writer's work directly to his/her audience. There aren't editors to heed, script-readers to impress, or executive producers to blow. There's no more ladder, we can fly, just like Atlas, directly to our readers.

Fewer bjs for Harvey.
So with blogging, there's a kind of an instantaneous 'success' in publication. And as soon as we get some success, noting, "Hey, I have readers. Awesome!", it becomes: "Oh man, I've gotta keep them reading!" The good writers learn how to reach into their bag of hook-y tricks, not just once a year for a novel, a few times a year for screenplays, or once a week for a column, but every single day. Whether this will make for better, more creative writers, or just ones who exhaust their ideas more quickly for less money, remains to be seen.

But there is a monetary angle to blogs, no matter what kind of ads you have. [btw-I don't think I'd recommend GoogleAds, even though I currently use them] On web ads, we think "The system--it's showing me money! SWEET!" Of course, unless you're an A-lister, it's probably just pennies/day, but it's more than I got for the self-involved poetry I wrote in high school. And it represents a big incentive for each writer to do their utmost to grow their audience, attract attention, and generally-speaking, write better. It's why I used my lunch hour to post this today. [and of course, because I love you all]

And the instant gratification nature of blogging means that writers are even more likely to believe that they don't have to be a dead writer to be a famous one. In my experience, it fosters a 'get-out-there-and-just-do-it' sort of attitude. The world is my oyster / the road is my home.

But whether or not blogging actually makes for better writers is less important than the fact that it has revolutionized the relationship between writer and reader. Bloggers get instant feedback from comments and emails, they get tips and links that can back up or discredit what they're saying. And readers generally feel more empowered-- anonymous commenters can say the nasty things they're thinking directly to the writer. And good comments, too, go directly to the writer.

And when I sometimes think: "Argh, I don't want to write today. I'm a bad, bad boy writer."
Of course, you like it when I'm bad.
I still know I should post something--there may be dozens of you out there just holding your breath for the next episode of Assistant/Atlas. And since I can see you reading, and I hear your comments about my work, I know there's an audience out there waiting for me.

As a writer, I couldn't ask for anything more.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know, I never realized that doing this would probably take up a lot of your time. For some reason, I guess I thought you just pulled all of this stuff out of your asst.

Haha. Asst.

5:47 PM

Anonymous Enrique said...

I wholeheartedly agree with the entire article. I don't have even half the readership you have I'm sure, but I do enjoy the instant feedback and knowing someone somewhere is interested in what little nonsense I have to share.

5:50 PM

Blogger london cokehead said...

We hear ya !!

6:30 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're definitely more entertaining when bad, Atlas. It's like vicarious nefariousness.

7:30 PM


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