Monday, March 31, 2008

This Is Why Writers Have Editors


Before he died, Hunter S. Thompson published two massive books of his collected letters, and, love him or hate him, he was able to do so because his correspondence was written in the same fierce style that characterized the work he was actually paid for.

Bohemian Adventures reminds me that Mr. Thompson was singular in more ways than just his, ahem, heroic drug intake.

Wendee Holtcamp is, according to her bio, a "freelance writer, photographer, scientist, educator, bohemian, mover-n-shaker", and her blog reflects everything in the above sentence...except that "writer" bit. Okay, so the fact that she has a blog proves that she is capable of writing words into her computer, but that’s sort of like saying that I’m a mathematician because I was able to count-out exact-change for the coffee-dude this morning.

Her professional writing is, well, professional writing; it’s a shame she doesn’t apply the same standard to her own blog, because if I see that a professional-writer is on the verge of "live-blogging" the spectacle of sharks being hauled from the waters of Australia so that their tracking-devices can be retrieved, I’m not expecting to read this. Or this. Or this.

These are hastily-written emails, Twitter-posts with no character-impediment to adhere to, and I’m completely disappointed. Yes, there are photos, but a huge percentage of them are just groups of people in various social-settings; if I’m going to the moon and the vast majority of pictures I post are of the spaceship bathroom, well, I think I’ve got to wonder why I’m posting anything at all.

In fact, this whole blog reads like she posts when she’s bored, or when she wants to record something for posterity. This is why people hate blogs: this is an online-journal in which the author puts no effort into the quality of her work, and I would go so far as to say that she doesn’t even look these things over before she posts. No, Ms. Holtcamp, you’re not getting paid to blog here (as far as I can tell), but neither do I; nothing I’ve posted reads like this:

"The kids are watching some ridiculous reality TV show about child TV stars. At one point Savie wanted to be famous, wanted to be on TV, and I was like you know what? No. Way. Not gonna happen. I said, you can act in theatre in school, but I have never seen anything good coming out of child stars."

I beg to differ: what about Doogie Howser’s reintroduction to the televised-arts? Or maybe she’s talking, like, physically; all Todd Bridges expels is literal shit, not rainbows and sunshine like most experienced actors.

Oh, but I digress.

Look, you need to OWN this shit, Wendee, and to do so you have to customize more than just your header: you need to stop writing in txt-msg shorthand and put some effort into the posts themselves. Usually, when I read a blog as abhorrently-boring as this one, I assume it’s because the author doesn’t have the capacity to write themselves a note on a post-it pad, much less capture their thoughts and feelings in a captivating way; you, Ms. Holtcamp, have no fucking excuse whatsoever for your blog’s incredible tedium, and, frankly, it’s appalling.

Yes, it’s an unfair comparison, pitting Wendee Holtcamp against Hunter S. Thompson in my above analogy, but my point was less acumen and more outlook: Thompson wrote the way he wrote regardless of whether it was work to be published or a note faxed to his wife; Holtcamp saves her best for the paying-gigs, and, I guess, expects the blogosphere to be amazed that she links to it from her blog.

I might check out the "live-blogging" of her Australian Shark-Capturing Adventure, but there’s no way I need to struggle through another morning of trying to read this blog.



It’s an angry meh.

9 comments:

  1. Couldn't agree more, Nut.

    Right off the bat it struck me that she defines "bohemian" as: "A nonconformist writer or artist who lives an unconventional life." But she's chosen to use the standard Blogger template. That doesn't wash with a bohemian in my dictionary. Find something that actually expresses your individuality, your uniqueness, your artistic self.

    Sigh.

    I had high hopes for this, but it seems to be another of those blogs that's not really meant for an audience. In which case, why open it to the public?

    This could be a really interesting blog full of experiences and insights that most of us don't come close to getting. If she's a professional writer, attach this blog to a professional website and take it seriously, consider the audience, make it interesting and engaging.

    Also, edit! Most of these paragraphs are entirely too long and full of needless information.

    I'd love for her to refocus her blog and resubmit in a few months, because it has potential.

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  2. Ay yi yi! I'm not sure there are words to describe how painful reading this "blog" is. My daughter has more literate and entertaining IM conversations.

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  3. You guys are completely full of shit. Why don't you actually go back and read some of the earlier posts like you claim you do in your FAQ. You obviously did not do anything more than read some of the latest posts. Sheesh. Whatever. I lost all respect for what you claim to do. Obvious total hogwash. I thought you would actually have read from the BEGINNING like your FAQ says. The template is my own photos and not everyone knows how to do HTML just because we're writers and bohemians. So get off your high fallutin high horse and do something worth writing about. Meh meh meh meh to you. That's an angry MEH to you.

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  4. Wish someone would point out the interesting posts... save me time looking for them.

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  5. Is this we've devolved into? "Meh meh meh meh to you"?

    Whatever happened to "I know you are but what am I"?

    Ms. Holtcamp: read what's on your blog RIGHT NOW with an unbiased eye and tell me that there's something for a reader other than yourself; there isn't. If there was, I'd have found it.

    Did you not WANT a critique? Or were you more expecting to be feted upon as the "professional writer" that you are? You got your review, it SHOULD'VE been helpful had it been heeded, but instead you're going whine that, because I found tripe on the front page, that I should've kept digging until I found a nugget worth mentioning?

    You must have some ties in the writing business: have another writer look at your blog HONESTLY and tell you what they think.

    Dun dun DUNNNN!

    [scary-music interlude]

    They'll say the same thing as I did, just probably not as humourously.

    Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got to figure out a way to get some sleep now that I know you've "lost all respect for what [I] claim to do"...

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  6. I don't begin to consider myself any sort of expert on blogs. I only know that I love reading them. I love all kinds and read them religiously. Because I know that I'm not the world's greatest blogger myself, I can overlook almost anything.

    However, there are a few things I just can't deal with on any blog. If it takes a template more than a few seconds to load, I'm closing that blog before it's ever finished getting to me.

    AND writing in text talk. That makes me want to stab someone in the heart with a ballpoint pen. I can't deal with it. No matter how wonderful a blog promises to be I cannot force myself to read beyond the first abbreviated word.

    I will never know if I like this chick's blog because I didn't get past the first two posts. You should never read a blog that makes you want to feed the author to the sharks she's writing about. I know it's extreme, but yes, my hatred for text message typing is just that strong. (I don't even use it for my own text messages on my phone.)

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  7. I agree about the text message typing... I don't use it either. And I don't chat with people on IM who use it. LOL

    But seems to me that the main problem here is not understanding the difference between a personal diary/journal and a blog. This reads like a diary. I get a list of what pretty much everything she did today, which (sorry Wendee) really doesn't interest me.
    Now, there's nothing wrong with using your blog as a personal diary. And perhaps your friends enjoy reading what you did, and that's fine. But sorry, you can't expect anyone who doesn't know you to be interested.

    Now, if you'd pick ONE thing you did and write about that... give some humor, some sarcasm, some ANYTHING... just something besides a diary entry... then perhaps it'd be something I'd enjoy reading. But unless I know someone, I really don't want to fight my way through their daily diary.

    As a writer, Wendee should know to write for her audience. I'm just not sure who her intended audience is in this case.

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  8. You know when a good band, instead of releasing a new record, puts out a compilation of B-sides and outtakes? That's what this seems like to me. She does write well, but this is like scraps and leftovers. The quad "meh" is the only rating that fits. Good one, nutter.

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  9. You know, one would think that a professional writer would be a little bit less of a whiny bitch, and would be used to being read critically.

    Your blog is boring, I don't care how exciting your life is.

    A good writer can make changing a poopy diaper interesting. A crap writer can make shark trapping mundane and boring.

    I think you know which category we think you're in, Wendee.

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Grow a pair.