Best Of The Worst Of

Russ Pitts | 7 Jan 2008 17:00
Op-Ed - RSS 2.0

Listen, writing is hard. I'm not talking about the kind of writing involving logging on to an internet forum and saying "p0wned!" after someone else makes a joke. Or even making the joke, which isn't very far removed from the kind of writing frequently displayed on the bathroom walls at truck stops ("Here I sit, broken hearted …"). I'm talking about "show up to work every day, crank out thousands of words of insightful content carrying the banner of your employer and it better increase our content by XX percent over last month or you're back to flipping burgers" writing. The kind we do here at The Escapist, and the kind everybody else with a website or magazine does.

For one thing there a lot of style guidelines to follow (Rules you often forget - ed), substantive rules not to break (keep the number of times one uses the word "twat" to a minimum) and legal statues one must avoid running afoul of (you can't say George Bush was a cocaine addict and a draft dodger without proof), there's also the perennial problem of staring at that blank page and waiting for something to appear. Is it like college, where if the professor is 15 minutes late, class is canceled? I'd get a lot more time in at the gym (Xbox) if that were the case.

No, I'm afraid it's nothing like that. When you're a writer, a real, get paid to make words for somebody else and do what they say writer, you just have to stick it out until something worth writing about comes to mind. Or know how to juice the works if nothing ever comes. It's a hard knock life, but it sure beats the hell out of tarring rooftops in July. So we deal. Scotch helps.

But occasionally - just occasionally - it's a long row to hoe. Like now, for example, when all of the holiday rush titles have rushed and gone, and all the newsmakers are still leaning back in their La-Z-Boys feeling the burn from too much holiday ham. This is why so many outlets go with the annual "Best Of" list around the holidays. For one thing, making lists is easy. For another, the end of an old year and the start of a new one is the perfect time to take stock and pore over everything you've experienced the past 52 weeks, sift out the weevils and make a nice, Easybake "Happy New Year" cake.

My problem? I hate doing that. Also, if it's worth showing up in a "Best Of," I've probably taken the time to write about it during the course of the year. I don't like writing about things that suck, nor do I like doing a job twice. So for my best-of, I'd recommend going back over my editorials and feature articles for the past year. That's the best of what I've seen in 2007. The worst? Now that's a different story.

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