Behind The Curtain
With 2006 freshly upon us, I thought now would be a good time to offer some bold predictions for the New Year! And I swear upon this jar of homemade strawberry jam, that if any of my predictions are wrong I will shave off my bea "… I'm sorry, what? "… Who did?! "… Certis? No! He never writes articles! "… A duck? Well, what the hell am I supposed to talk about? I mean these people have no idea how difficult it is to write for a site like Gamers With Jobs. My pain is so underappreciated, unrecognized, and largely undocumented.
Say, wait a minute"…
Ahem! With 2006 freshly upon us, I thought now would be a good time to share with you a brief look behind the scenes here at GWJ, and show you a bit of what it's like to run and write for this moderately successful work-productivity leech. So, I offer this glimpse into the work behind producing the content that more than a quarter of you read, or at least skim for pornography links, on a semi-regular basis. As we approach our festive third anniversary next week, traditionally the Leather Anniversary, which is certain to open its own troubling can or worms , I find my mind's eye turned a bit inward "… which is pretty painful. *rim shot* Thank you. I'll be here all decade.
Too rarely, particularly as a writer, do I consider how remarkably fortunate I am to have hundreds and thousands of people read these dashed out words every week. I know writers who work months at a time with a readership measured in numbers that could be counted by your average toddler. It occurs to me from time to time how mortified I'd be were I to personally issue one of these articles in physical form to a room full of a thousand or two individuals, and yet how casually I post to the site for no fewer numbers of readers. But I think all our writers share the burning desire to put our thoughts in front of as many eyes as possible, which goes some length to explaining why they put forth so much effort for little recognition and no pay. And yet, when it actually comes down to penning these missives we are, as writers, isolated, one man or woman, one keyboard, one beverage, and one two-year-old screaming in the next room to provide atmosphere (note: not all elements apply to all writers).
There are no hard and fast rules about what we write for you, which is both intensely liberating and intensely overwhelming. The front page has seen content as diverse as drunken poems, recipes, and documentation on the perversions of people using Google. Most of us have a pile of half-written articles stuffed into a folder on our hard-drive that never managed to take shape -- it remains to be seen if this article falls into that pile -- either because the passion to write the thing fades, or our thought process never materializes, or it just flatly turns out that we have nothing productive to say about Leeroy Jenkinks. I can't speak to how each writer devise their topics, but as to my own method: I've created a kind of virtual filter in my mind through which every experience is sieved, a vast cognitive net that waits for some wandering element to become entangled, thrash violently toward an exhaustive death, and fester like an open wound so that I'm forced either to write on that topic or die of a horrible flesh-eating infection. It's not an ideal writing method, but it does manage fairly consistent output.
And behind all this creative agony is Certis, badgering all of us like an ill-tempered drill sergeant at revelry. You think forum moderator Certis is bad, try a Certis that feels it his solemn duty to drive you like a herd of Bison toward a jagged cliff. Though Certis and I are relatively equal partners in this effort, we have an unwritten understanding that I will play the part of the flaky, unreliable creative type, and he will play the part of the overbearing, officious managerial type. It's taken some time to fine tune this relationship, for example he used to make the woeful error of asking if I would have an article prepared for Thursday. This would open the door for my making excuses not to write like, "˜I would, but the joints in my fingers have fused', or "˜I would, but the creative hemishpere of my brain was damaged while rocking way too hard in Guitar Hero', or "˜who are you?' Smartly, he no longer asks, and merely assumes there will be words, perhaps in sentence format, on the page every Thursday.
Similarly, I used to make the exact same mistake of asking him when he would have an article ready, which is really just a silly concept altogether.
We have great writers here, and the professional level of collaboration in which they participate is unparalleled. Entirely hidden from view for most of you is a private area of the site where our writers dig down deep into the extreme levels of writing detail to fine tune their craft and polish their word. Also, we make fun of the vast majority of you in clever, well-written ways. This is an inescapable part of the writing process, and it's best not to think too hard on the extreme slander done upon many of you. Particularly Edwin.
I've said too much.
Truly, though, this writer's forum, the brain child of one Fletcher, has raised the standard of output on the front page ten-fold. So engaging is the collaboration that our writers, and I'm not exaggerating, spent two days discussing and standardizing the use of em dashes -- which, I've incorrectly used here to indicate that em dashes are used to inject a separate clause in the middle of a sentence -- in articles, coming to the conclusion that they are the crutch of lazy writers, which is also why I now abuse and misuse ellipses instead. What I'm saying is that, unless you're up for the highlights of grammatical nitpicking, it's pretty dry stuff. Except the stuff about Edwin. Juicy.
But, along with being a little dry, it's raised the quality of the front page time and again!
What I'm saying here, in a very round about way, is that we all go through a great deal of effort here to produce regular content above what you've come to expect, and as we go into this next year, I wanted to give a little nod to the work done by all our writers. I'm going to have a lot to talk about in next week's anniversary article, and one thing that might have otherwise been glossed over is the work all of our contributors put in. Last year, Certis and I made improving the consistency and quality of the front page a priority, and upon the talented back of this crew with whom we're fortunate enough to work, I think we all have accomplished that goal.
Thanks to all the GWJ writers for your words.