Saturday, November 1, 2008

Notes from a relatively new film blogger

1) Having been laid off by the local newspaper due to budget cutbacks (and having been replaced by some young vain goon who likes Adam Sandler), the local film critic reluctantly decides to start up a blog. He has never liked the word “blog.” It sounds like a cross between a bog, log, and blah, a source of verbal diarrhea, a place where people blurt out overly personal confessions, and a forum where old unsuccessful writers go to die. The film critic decides that this time, though, things will be different, even though Samuel Johnson’s ominous words keep running through his mind: “No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money.”

2) For a time, and after hitting upon the pretentious moniker of The Film Doctor, the new critic drops many reviews on to his new blog. During this early, naïve period, he also greatly enjoys tinkering with the font, design, and background color of his blog until he realizes that some of the best film critics don’t care a whit about the look of their blogs, but instead rely upon good writing instead. Also, in his innocence, the film critic writes several severe, extravagant posts making fun of other established critics in his quest to suddenly attain worldwide renown.

3) The worldwide renown does not happen right away. The film critic begins to notice that every time he writes about a contemporary release shown at the local Cineplex, about 500,000 other bloggers do the exact same thing. This sense of massive competition and redundancy gives the man pause. Every day, an exponentially growing batch of new film blogs appear, many of them writing about newly released movies. So much commentary, so few readers. One day, he learns from a blog expert, everyone will have his or her own website. Is this a good thing?

4) The new blogger also tries his hand at writing some comments. His first comment elicits an amused guffaw from the other readers of that particular post. The new blogger resolves to be more careful in the future.

5) As time goes on, the new blogger realizes that when he mentions another blogger’s post, the other blogger might respond in kind, creating a sense of being noticed. For a moment, the new blogger feels a sense of achievement.

6) That sense of achievement begins to fade as the new blogger realizes that some of his competition are not only very good writers, they also seem to have massive amounts of time to theorize about every frame of every great film. The influence of these other writers, however, remains one of the truly positive things about the film blogging universe. This constellation of critics challenges the new blogger to write better than he ever felt obliged to when working for the newspapers. Of course, he can only try, but the intimidating fact of the surrounding excellence proves one of the best, enduring benefits of blogging. In this respect, he feels particularly honored when he gets his blog listed on the blog roll of a critic he admires.

7) After six months, Google starts to include more of the new film blogger’s posts on various people’s searches. Ironically, a lightly dashed-off review of a minor horror film proves by far his most popular post according to Google. Also, just when the new blogger really gets busy with his job in the fall, that’s when his blog suddenly gets the most notice. His wife, by this point, would prefer that he never bring up his blog again in civil conversation.

8) Now, seven months later, the new blogger finds himself with enough positive reinforcement to continue, even though he still has moments of doubt. He knows more than ever the terrible truth of Samuel Johnson’s words: “No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money.

11 comments:

Ibetolis said...

It's almost as if you've read what's been going through my mind since I started this little venture back in March.

It's rather spooky that we're kind of going through a similar thing in our lives; I was made redundant from my job and started the blog to fill the time, I've just got a new job and my blog is more popular than ever. Bizarre.

Good luck with your new job and long may your blog continue. I have to admit that I love the moniker The Film Doctor and wish that I had thought of it.

Anders said...

Loved this post!
Resonates with us all I am sure.

However, I can't seem to find enough time to blog of late. I'm trying to endure through the end of year hell ride that is University. If I even get a chance to watch a film, heaven forbid I get a chance to write a review....

My own ramblings aside, keep up the great work Doc. If you keep blogging, I'll keep reading! :)

FilmDr said...

Thank you very much,Ibetolis and Anders. It's good to hear that others share the same thoughts and doubts.

a fan said...

What do you mean by "civil conversation"? The wife of the relatively new film blogger loves to read about film from the Film Doctor.

FilmDr said...

Fan--Yes, but she sure has gotten tired of talking about the blog.

Stacia said...

It is as though we are karmic twins. Or something.

I don't think I've been blogging as long as you have, but I do often wonder why I work so hard on something I actually pay (in domain names and bandwidth) to do. The rest of your list really struck home with me.

The only thing I'd add personally (and yes, you want to know this, doesn't everyone?) is the discouragement from some older film bloggers can be pretty irritating. When I first started blogging a well-known old-timer quit, saying he was sick of all us newbies showing up and posting crap that took precious attention away from his own blog.

He came back, of course, wasn't even gone very long. But it really highlighted the competition and active discouragement some people in blogging engage in, and one of the things I have to worry about is staying away from that kind of blogger.

Blogging should be simple, but it's not.

FilmDr said...

Thanks for your generous and understanding comment, Stacia. I haven't noticed the discouragement of older bloggers as much as blogging's slight air of absurdity due to the lack of pay, the amount of work, and fickle nature of the audience (when there is one). I find myself wondering--is this rational? At what point can one separate one's writerly vanity from genuine achievement? Without an editor, sometimes that's hard to tell. At times I miss the less critical mass audience of a newspaper. On the internet, as you say, things are not that simple.

MovieMan0283 said...

Great post...you forgot #9: the new blogger comments pridigously on fellow blogger's post, gets in some good discussions, but is not visited by fellow blogger. I'm not sure why it took me so long (and perhaps I've dropped in before) but this was a great post and you've been moved to the top of my bookmarks.

Which brings me to #5.

I've got a new post up on The Magnificent Ambersons which I actually labored over for once (rather than sitting down and jotting off an often grammatically obtuse missive which has to be tweaked after it's up and running). No comments yet!

Come on by and let me know what you think of the movie, my perspective, etc. That goes for your commentators, too.

FilmDr said...

Movieman0283--Thanks for your kind words. I have frequently been impressed with your work over the past few months. Thanks also for the notice about your review of The Magnificent Ambersons. I found that film painful to watch, like viewing a actual crime take place on screen.

Tom Sutpen said...

I could do a riff on point #6 (oh, could I do a riff on that one), but I'll table that and simply welcome you to the film blogosphere, where all bloggers are equal . . . and some, of course, are more equal than others.

FilmDr said...

Thanks, Tom. I enjoyed the Orwellian overtones of your comment.