Reports of My Demise Were Only Slightly Exaggerated

It’s been a week, people.

I don’t mean that in the literal sense – Well, I do, I guess; I am talking about the last five days of work, which is technically a week in the work sense if you want to be technical and all. But what I really mean is, it’s been a rough week; I got sick last weekend through what was nothing more than just overwork and overstress and exhaustion, and then that just didn’t really have a chance to go away, because I had the kinds of deadlines and workloads in front of me that I had to break my “No Work On The Weekend At All” rule in order to just keep my head above water… which meant that, robbed of the chance to destress for a couple of days, I was just under-powered and increasingly overwhelmed all the time this week.

That happened at the time when I had to go a couple of bigger-than-usual stories – interviews, really – for Wired (One about streaming video and the growth of the audience on tablet devices, and another about MonkeyBrain Comics and their new print titles) that had particular hand-in deadlines that couldn’t be switched or changed, as well as an increased workload for Newsarama because of the death of Batman’s sidekick (Instead of the one front page news story for them per week, in addition to my daily blogging duties, I had two and a half: here, here and here) and my regular Time essay, which was also connected with the deceased Boy Wonder. In almost every case, the work-as-handed-in and the work-as-published were considerably different, due to the editing process that’s almost always a good thing but also means that there’s a bunch of stuff that was written and didn’t see print this week, moreso than usual.

(For those curious about my workload: There’re also daily blog posts for Digital Trends, another handful of Wired pieces – including some that still have to run, and I think are showing up this weekend? – and the final Food or Comics for Robot 6 from this week, too. I also had to do the Comix Experience store catalog from scratch last weekend, which was a bear this month for some reason, and the Wait, What? podcast, which remains the highpoint of my work week.)

All of which is to say: I know, I know; I’ve been very quiet here lately, but it’s not by choice, I promise. Just as I owe people emails (Sorry, Adam, David and Lauren – Soon, I promise!), I owe this blog all kinds of attention. Hopefully, things will be less crazy this upcoming week, and we’ll get back to something resembling normal service. We can but hope, right…?

Braainnsssssss

A day later than usual thanks to the oddness that was Tuesday – A day which, by the way, has completely thrown off my internal clock for the entire week. Yesterday simultaneously felt like Tuesday and Thursday, and today feels like a Wednesday. God knows what tomorrow will feel like. I’m just holding on until the weekend – here’s this week’s Time essay, about zombies as romantic and sexual leads. Unusually, there was a lot cut out of this one at the last moment (Pretty much as much as made it in, to be honest), but it’s been cut in such a way that there’s not really a worthwhile chunk of “deleted material” for me to run here. When that kind of thing happens, I always wonder just how much I end up overwriting these things…

And Then There Are Those Things That Refuse To Be Said

Why, yes: I am writing about schlock and the myth of “so bad, it’s good” over at Time Entertainment today.

I was talking to a friend the other day about the problems she was having writing a paper for school; she was telling me that she kept writing things and then realizing that it was all in the wrong order, and that she wanted to keep changing everything even though she wasn’t even finished a first draft, leading to a particularly distracting, frustrating experience. That was this piece, for me; it stubbornly refused to come together, and I was tearing my metaphorical hair out trying to get it into some semblance of coherent argument (I’m not entirely sure I succeeded in the end, to be honest). There was one point where what is currently a paragraph in the first third of the piece was the final paragraph, then in the middle, then somewhere towards the end, and so on and so on. Some things just don’t want to be written, it can feel like.

On Accidentally Writing Linkbait

And then there was the time that I wrote about Star Wars and Star Trek becoming more generic science-fiction for Time Entertainment, in response to the stories about ABC potentially reviving the oft-mooted Star Wars TV show. It was another piece that I could have done with another day on, but deadlines disagreed; what really happened was that Monday, as I’ve already suggested elsewhere, was a very distracting day for reasons that’ll become apparent soon, and so writing didn’t come easy. I gave it a pretty major overhaul before submitting yesterday, but I kinda wish I could get just one more swing at it, you know…?

It strikes me now that this piece is almost definitely link/troll-bait, accidentally (No, really, I swear that wasn’t on my mind when I pitched or wrote it for once). I’m reminded of a SpinOff piece I wrote about whether or not Spider-Man’s portrayal across different media had to be consistent that, to my utter surprise, got linked on io9 soon after going live, and my mix of “It’s got to be a really slow news day” and “It’s very weird to see someone write about you as if they’ve never met you; they even use the ‘referring to person with the last name only’ thing” when I saw it. I’d initially written it thinking it was relatively throwaway.

Do You…

It’s the kind of week that’s just full of stuff – entirely work-related – which leaves me forgetting things like, Hey! It’s Wednesday, and I should link to my Time Entertainment essay! It’s all aboutChoose Your Own Adventure making a comeback in pop culture, because that’s the kind of thing that I think about. Go read.

Two Days Late, But Also Four Days Early

But what makes Downton Abbey such a guilty pleasure? What is it about watching Lady Mary and Matthew flirt and fight in secret with the sexual tension thick enough that everyone else can barely breathe that we can’t say no to, that makes the sight of Bates sitting there, glowering with moral superiority as the world falls to pieces around him so bizarrely appealing? Since Downton premiered in 2010, there have been attempts on both sides of the Atlantic to try and duplicate the show’s success – The BBC’s dour, Nazi-filled revival of Upstairs, Downstairs, which aired in the US alongside Downton as part of PBS’ Masterpiece series, and the international miniseries Titanic that aired on ABC last April, to name just a couple – but none have quite managed to get it exactly right. What is it about Downton Abbey‘s DNA that makes it quite so hard to clone?

A mostly-removed paragraph from today’s Time Entertainment piece, which proved to be a beast to write, and in a compressed time frame compared to the usual schedule due to the holidays (Traditionally, there’s a full week between pitching and the piece going live, allowing for multiple days writing/researching, then a day of edits and re-writes; this time, there were three days between pitch and the piece going live). You’re welcome, Internet.

And I Feel Fine

Appropriately enough, my final Time essay of the year is all about the end of the world. In the real world, I’m just trying to get all my deadlines hit before the holidays so that I can have something resembling some time off next week (Note: I’ll still be working on some things, just less than usual. Yes, I’m at the point where that pretty much counts as a vacation for me…).

This Week and The More Distant Future

This week’s Time piece, about Dungeons & Dragons and why it isn’t a bigger deal in pop culture, is up. While it authentically mirrors my thinking in researching/writing the piece, I’m unsure about the wisdom of the last minute reversal in the piece itself (No spoilers; it’s not that kind of thing, anyway), but I have to admit that even moreso than usual, I’m beholden to those who helped with research for this one. Especially John Rogers, who sent me a couple of emails that just blew my mind early on, in a good way.

As I start thinking about my workload in 2013, I admit that this kind of thing – Stories where I can get more in-depth and have time/space to think about them – is becoming more and more appealing to me. In part, it’s the desire to escape the insane production treadmill that I’ve been on for the last year or so, but it’s also the enjoyment I get from the surprise of discovery available in longer-form writing. Fingers crossed that the thing that I really want to happen job-wise actually falls into place, I guess…