Thursday, September 24, 2009

Charting the Course

I've been doing a lot of thinking about my writing and what I want it to be in my life. When I think about Joyce's comment in Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, where Stephen Daedalus explains that writing is "the mode of art whereby I express myself most freely", I find myself wondering about the necessities of that value. I have no doubts about the importance of writing to me, but I do wonder about the qualitative nature of what I produce. Take all these blog summaries of books by academics I've been producing. I understand what ontology and phemenology are, but I certainly couldn't give you a lecture on them or even really advance the theory work of people like Ian Bogost and Alexander Galloway. As I look at the revised version of the half-real post that is going up next week I'm reminded of an analogy Stephen King once used to describe himself. The deep and complex theoretical work I'm mucking about in is the equivalent of a steak dinner for your brain. I am a cheeseburger.

Actually, I think I'll give myself more credit, I'm a Philly Cheesesteak.

Such confessions are important for me to write as I reconcile myself with the legal profession(provided I can find a damn job) and the balance I am going to need between work and my wonderful hobby. I enjoy my particular brand of retrospective looks at older games and they are by far my most popular essays, but I have reservations about staking an entire career on it. Nor could I look someone in the eye and guarantee that all of the creative risks I engage with at Popmatters pan out, many of them flop in terms of page views. And yet I would not take back a single one.

Taking responsibility for my writing, taking the direction it moves in and ensuring that the expression always remains free, to me means making sure that I am always saying something that I actually want to write. It means avoiding being pigeonholed or getting stuck producing something because it is expected of me instead of actually being worth saying.

The blog sections at Popmatters are open to any writer on staff regardless of what category they work in. I'm also pushing through several Features that break away from video games. I highly doubt I'll ever quit writing about video games, they are far too fascinating, but it's best to establish now that as the months go by I intend to write about a wide variety of things.

For example, a fantastic bluegrass tribute album for Modest Mouse.


Ben Abraham said...

I hope you continue to maintain this blog as a kind of overall-wrapper for everything you write.

I follow authors rather than any particular blog, so it's valuable to have somewhere that points to all your stuff all over the place.

L.B. Jeffries said...

Definitely will do, though honestly it'll mostly be staying as video game jabber for a long while yet.

Michael Abbott said...

Most days I prefer a tasty Philly cheese steak to filet mignon, and since I'm an American I'll go ahead and wear that as a badge of honor. ;-)

My roommate in college was a theater major like me, but he decided to attend law school, and he worked in a law firm for about 10 years. During that time he took roles on the side, mostly small character parts in community theater productions with actors nowhere near his skill level. Gradually, he started working at some of the better professional companies in the area, and his stature as an actor continued to grow.

During all this time he worked as an attorney, but a couple of years ago he finally cut the cord, turned professional, and is living happier than he's ever been. He makes less money (way less, probably), but he found the right time in his life to make a transition to what he loves. I don't think he ever really planned it, but that's how it happened. Most things seem to happen that way. Who knows what L.B. Jeffries will do...but even if you did know, it probably doesn't mean much in the long run anyway. :-)

L.B. Jeffries said...

I hope you're right. I've dumped so much money and time into this that I feel like I need to give it a chance before I walk away.

Still, the ghost of my highschool guidance counselor urging me, "If you're willing to do it for free, find a way to make a living off it" is always ringing in my ear when I submit an article.