"So you've stopped doing the Monday-Wednesday-Friday updating thing, huh?"
I shot back a quick answer, about how busy I've been lately with the upcoming LCP fiesta/show and how work has been really busy lately, but there was still a nagging part of me that wondered if it that was all just a nice way of saying that doing Terribly Happy feels like a lot of work sometimes and that lately it was just easier to stay up late watching TiVo'd episodes of The Simpsons and Powerpuff Girls than figuring out what to write for the site, and then digging through files to find suitable stuff for Clip Art Corner, sending out a notify e-mail, and (eyes getting droopy now) the rest of it.
Because it's not always a magical, lovely process.
I still love doing it. It's still a cool little rush to get e-mails and to see the site linked to in other places and to be part of the awesome and intimidating heirarchy of Damn Hell Ass Kings.
All that stuff still rocks.
But things are changing. I feel that.
Mostly it is work, but not in an awful way like what's happened to other journallers -- I haven't been laid off. I'm not pulling double shifts or being spied on at my desk or being tranferred to a salt mine where instead of a parrot, they use an already salted pretzel to determine whether the air has become poisonous.
My job just got really good lately. A lot of the troubles that came along have disappeared and what I am left with is a really nice job title, and work that takes me back to what I wanted to do in the first place -- write good stories that I get to pick myself.
Suddenly, as if the blue fairie from A.I. waved her magic wand, I like my job again. In the last two weeks, I've done a front-page story about "Majestic," a story about messy Inboxes, a story running Friday about NTN bar trivia and I'm working on something about St. Isidore, the Patron Saint of the Internet. In a few weeks, I'll start writing an Internet/digital music column for our entertainment section.
They're fun stories, stuff I want to write about. And somehow, all that bliss at my day job has made Terribly Happy begin to seem like work.
It's weird. I know. Bizarro World shit.
Writing is this strange alchemy of your mind and your hands and your ideas and your imagination, but also your literal brain language skills and the mathematics of words in the right order unlocking meaning. And damned if I know where it comes from or how much is available. It's like having a grain mill in your head, but you're not exactly sure how much grain is supposed to go in there, or exactly what's supposed to come out (flour? maple syrup?) or what quantities are available before the mill just runs dry. (Please nominate me for a Diarist.Net "Worst Metaphor" award, would you?)
Sometimes it feels like if I write too much for work, there won't be any juicy goodness left for this place. Or vice versa. I think the last year (it's been almost a year, can you believe it?) of this site has happened because I didn't have a very good outlet for my writing at work. I was writing mostly game reviews, the occasional technology piece and maybe the odd news story.
Now I'm writing for features, and it's this big scary blank canvas. I can write about almost anything. Be silly and goofy, insert pop culture references, whatever and not only do they not chop it to Hell, they encourage me to try different styles.
It's refreshing. It's frightening, like that blank moment before dropping down the first vertical thrill of a roller coaster.
This isn't a goodbye, I swear. I'm not going anywhere.
But I'm watching close friends work on big exciting projects. I'm close to beginning one myself. And with everything going on at work, I keep thinking about the grain mill, wondering how much is there. I wonder how dangerous it is to keep taking little bags of grain out, a few times a week, instead of letting it things build into something bigger.
The good news is I'm writing. A lot.
It's still a thrill. It still means something to me.
And there's still something to be said about having a writing space that's all my own, a place where every word is a sandy grain, a tiny piece that I hope and wish and pray comes from an infinite store.
Dale Peterson: Keeping America solid, one spot-weld at a time.