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Journalism 1, Life 0 - click opera — LiveJournal
February 2010
 
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Tue, Dec. 2nd, 2008 09:12 pm
Journalism 1, Life 0

One day you wake up and discover you've become a journalist. It's happened to me -- an artist, do you hear! -- and I'm wondering how to make it un-happen again. It's bloody hard work.



Take this week, for instance. On Monday I had 2000 words to write about the graphic design show Forms of Inquiry, which will open soon in Stockholm. On Tuesday I wrote my column for Spanish music website Playground (the December topic is Retro Necro; so far my texts for the site have been relentlessly negative, basically telling readers I think records, record shops and innovation in music are all pretty much dead). Wednesday will be dedicated to writing up an interview I did with a jeweler last Friday for the New York Times website. Then on Thursday I have to write a column for the Opinion section of art magazine Frieze -- the title is "To Have or to Be?" and it'll basically look at the kind of experiences you can have in the art world without ever buying (or selling) a single piece.

Obviously I enjoy writing. If I'm not doing it for money, I'm doing it here for free. The kind of activities I'd be doing if I weren't writing are also, in a sense, writing. I'd be making songs, books, performances which are really nothing more than writing in real time, or acting out bits of writing I've done beforehand. It's not writing I'm getting sick of, but journalism.

Actually, it isn't even journalism. I think it should be compulsory for aging rock stars to take up journalism, just to get them engaged with the world, keep them learning, wean them off drugs and booze, give them a bit of mental discipline. That or pottery. No, what I worry about is the ratio of experience to writing. It's rapidly approaching one to one.

A 1:1 ratio of experience to writing means that you've become an efficient journalistic machine: nothing you do ever goes to waste. Every single thing you experience gets written about somewhere. It doesn't have to be experience in the real world; it almost seems like I write, now, about every website I visit too.

Now, a good writer should be able to make anything -- even his doubts about writing! -- into good grist for his mill. But warning lights should start flashing when you find you're hardly experiencing anything new because you're so busy writing entertainingly about the few things you do still have time to experience. I've had to pull out of writing for Viennese art magazine Spike, for instance, because they wanted me to make a sort of Berlin Art Diary, but I just don't get out enough to write about art -- so busy am I sitting at home writing about art! I'm also worried by my design writing, which used to consist of me harrassing design editors to let me write about designers I really admired, but has recently turned into an editor asking me to write -- at a tempting dollar a word -- about a designer I've never heard of. All too often there isn't time in my schedule or the designer's for a meeting, so I end up googling and rewriting stuff people have already said on the web.

Another thing that worries me is the puritanism that wells up in me when I'm wearing my journalist's cap. Anyone who knows my songs or my literary fiction or my performance art knows it's not in the least bit puritanical, but something about being given an opinion column to fill up brings out the John Knox in me; it's a bully pulpit, and I can't resist mounting the creaking steps and delivering a hellfire sermon. Hence my Wired column turned into a series of jeremiads against technology (cell phones were "hell phones" and so on) and advertising (which of course was biting the hand that fed me), and my New York Times pieces take a perversely anti-consumerist tone in a blog which is meant to be all about "consuming passions". But the fact is that anyone who had the money to enjoy a really passionate consumer life probably wouldn't be bashing out journalism in the first place. (Our fate as journalists is to write about experiences we'll probably never enjoy, or enjoy only as launch night freebies -- assuming we can afford the plane trip to New York, of course.)

My slot in The Moment doesn't even make that worrying 1:1 ratio; I've ended up covering the Yokohama Triennale, for instance, via blog reports and hearsay. Another day, another subject, another thousand words. There's no time to stop and actually do something. Journalism 1, Life nil.

So my resolution for 2009 is to write less journalism and do a bit more living; to boost the life side and give the writing something to get its teeth into. I'm hoping to do more traveling next year, a bit of teaching, some performance art, some singing tours and some reading tours (because I have two books coming out, and somebody somewhere may want me to read from them). I don't think I'll stop blogging, because I love writing in the heat of an enthusiasm. But I hope to have fewer weeks like this week -- another day, another deadline.

49CommentReply

ohmavie
ohmavie
meinherz
Tue, Dec. 2nd, 2008 08:48 pm (UTC)

I've been wondering if I should go into journalism myself. Part of me thinks I want to, the other part is nervous about it.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Tue, Dec. 2nd, 2008 09:14 pm (UTC)

I think the really nice thing to get into is all-expenses-paid travel journalism.


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timmccready
timmccready
Tim McCready
Tue, Dec. 2nd, 2008 08:52 pm (UTC)

I'm approaching 1:1 even though only a few hundred people are paying attention.


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(Anonymous)
Tue, Dec. 2nd, 2008 09:10 pm (UTC)

of course, some people work joyless jobs for 8 (or more) hours out of every waking 12, making their work to life ratio a bit more drastic than yours. i don't think you've got it so bad, to be honest.

what sort of teaching are you considering?


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Tue, Dec. 2nd, 2008 09:19 pm (UTC)

My friends Alejandra and Aeron have invited me to lecture and do studio visits at the art college in Oslo for a few days at the end of March. And I've got a couple of other art school lectures lined up, including a seminar at the National Media Museum in Bradford!


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endoftheseason
endoftheseason
Tue, Dec. 2nd, 2008 09:32 pm (UTC)
Academia 1, Life 0

Or one day you wake up to discover that you've become an academic (or at least a li'l academic-in-training)--with no time to sleep, much less anything else--and no longer a musician.


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electricwitch
electricwitch
For anything, oh! she´ll bust her elastic
Tue, Dec. 2nd, 2008 09:44 pm (UTC)

That seems like a good idea, bb.

I like preachers, but only melodramatic ones like Nicky Wire and Renato whose average speech is more meandering than that of the drunkard at the pub while they wave glittery robes at me and cry.


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(Anonymous)
Tue, Dec. 2nd, 2008 09:46 pm (UTC)

Ha, wonderful!

And perhaps, once the blessed OBAMA takes office, you'll visit the US every so often again. REmember Minnesota, goddamit!


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Tue, Dec. 2nd, 2008 09:57 pm (UTC)

Actually, as soon as Obama won my US live agency got in touch and said "So, Nick, is your ban on touring the US revoked, then?" And the answer was "Yes!"

I'm just trying to decide how to do it just now. From a bed in the middle of the dancefloor, dressed as a dying Widow Twanky (with a costume change halfway into the Big Bad Wolf)?


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(Anonymous)
Tue, Dec. 2nd, 2008 11:26 pm (UTC)

thats a great idea for a gig being in a bed singing widow twanky with a costume change mid way through.please make this a reality and bring the show/review to glasgow only dont allow narrow minded sunday mail journalistic philistines access this time.


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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
imomus
imomus
imomus
Wed, Dec. 3rd, 2008 08:31 am (UTC)

There is an American publisher now for The Book of Jokes, we're at the contracts stage, I'll announce who it is when it's all signed and sealed, but I'm delighted about it, and yes, there may be some sort of promotional tour late in the year.


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(Anonymous)
Tue, Dec. 2nd, 2008 11:56 pm (UTC)



In this song Ringo´s battery is great, it sounds strong, full of colours and playful.
George´s lead is harmonious, John´voice is
beautiful and high. The chorus are much in tune with the main voice, and Paul´s bass is one of the greatest I have ever heard, it has
its own melody, you can ever sing it.
As always, it is set where it should be.
Beatles forever!!!

But to you, Momus, let me say this: who knows what love is, and thus knows that there is no self-love that is not self-deceit (since he who loves - and it he who matters - loves only the other and essentially not himself), but that without being and remaining oneself there is no love.

i like this song by your cousin very much.


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(Anonymous)
Wed, Dec. 3rd, 2008 12:40 am (UTC)

i mean i am a foreign girl who like this song by your coisin very much


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Wed, Dec. 3rd, 2008 08:36 am (UTC)

My cousin is an impressive character indeed.


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(Anonymous)
Wed, Dec. 3rd, 2008 12:48 am (UTC)


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(Anonymous)
Wed, Dec. 3rd, 2008 12:50 am (UTC)

i mean and i like thsi song very much too


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(Anonymous)
Wed, Dec. 3rd, 2008 12:56 am (UTC)

I mean I sometimes like Kenneth Anger even though I am not your cousin.


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(Anonymous)
Wed, Dec. 3rd, 2008 01:16 am (UTC)
Life 3 Writing 5 Expectation 4

December always seems to be ruined by xmas lists and hoary reflections. One needs to reflect, its our job, but to mine the curse of December is dull. Its a blizzard of Kerry Katona and Jason Donovan in a bankrupt Iceland pushing brown pastries on those in need.

We ponder choice.

One longs for January.

I rather like the second to last track on the album

maf


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pay_option07
pay_option07
Wed, Dec. 3rd, 2008 02:23 am (UTC)
I love writing

I just want to say Hisae makes great hair and variety is the mistress of the productive. There is nothing more degrading than the predictable. Also you could have been born in Wetwang! That would really suck. Tallyho!


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Wed, Dec. 3rd, 2008 09:05 am (UTC)
Re: I love writing

Wetwang sounds like a disease my rabbit might catch!


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