How I Killed Dave Barry and Made Jonathan Ames My New Master

I’ve flitted here recently with some regularity, but after a few posts in a row I lost steam. Again, it’s not that I was at a loss for ideas, I’ve got PLENTY of those, but at a loss for a desire to express those ideas here. No, that’s not even right. I was at a loss for a compelling reason to overcome my laziness long enough to string those thoughts together in a witty and insightful enough fashion to justify posting them here.

Many times when I get those thoughts it’s easier to head to Twitter or Facebook to scratch the itch. But every once in a while a bigger idea takes hold (like my thoughts on the demise of Borders or my thoughts on superhero movies) and the only way to expel it from my system is a longer form post here. I’ve never really taken to this place as a day-to-day diary of my thoughts and activities, rather I saw it as an outlet for the journalism career I really always wanted: columnist. But as I’ve grown older, wiser, busier, and less focused, I’ve lost that desire to be a regular columnist here, but wasn’t really sure what other form my activity here would take. So I continued posting at will when those longer thoughts took root and demanded an outlet.

Recently though, I think I’ve nailed down what it is I’m looking for. As a writer and person, I’ve always been one to consistently self-reflect to put my life, my thoughts, my activities and everything else swirling around me in some sort of context and structure. I can’t just post about what I’m having for lunch, I need to put it in the context of what else I’ve had for lunch my entire life, my general thoughts on lunch as a whole, and why this particular lunch deserves long-form documentation. So it was only natural that I would look to categorize what it was that I was doing here. And I think I found it in Jonathan Ames.

I started with BORED TO DEATH and then went to WAKE UP, SIR and then spiraled into a gluttonous frenzy of Ames reading. I see a lot of myself in him and his style, though I’m less focused on sex and boxing than he, and more focused on aspects of being a writer. But after reading the fiction in THE DOUBLE LIFE IS TWICE AS GOOD, I moved on to the non-fiction. I didn’t care to read most of his long-form journalism, and the stories were neat but nothing extrodinary, but what really got me was his essay section. Now, I’d always had a rather limited view of what an essay was.

In my mind an essay had to be the equivalent of a good, long, short story. A lot of depth, very structured, and long. But these Ames essays were on the short side, probably 1000 words if I had to guess, and more in an off-the-cuff style that I enjoyed. That’s when it hit me, I’m not a columnist anymore, I’m an essayist. My posts lately have run between 700 and 1000 words and tend to be more developed (relatively of course) than my other posts. An essay is nice because it doesn’t have to conform to a time frame like a column does. An essay just brews and sizzles until it’s ready to explode. This also helped me solve the riddle of how to turn this blog into an e-book.

I’ve long felt that this blog, rather than any of my unpublished novels, provided a good long form offering for e-books, but could never really figure out how to curate it. Now, with this whole essay idea, I can go back through my archives and just pull the longer, more essay-like posts and collect them. I tend to stick to the same sorts of themes on a regular basis which will make organizing the collection easier.

So there you have it. Nearly 700 words of what to expect from me in this spot for the foreseeable future. I’m sure you will all rest easier now. You’re welcome.