Season of Writing III: "Internet Writing"
What is Internet Writing? Your guess is as good as mine.
To my regular readers, all eight of you: I'm restating and continuing to hone the premise for my Seasons of Writing project, so if you just want to see what I'm doing for Season III, you can skip down to that section.
Up until last summer, my writing output was inconsistent and my form was scattered. I wanted to approach my writing practice with more vigor and intention even though — especially because — it's just 30 minutes each morning. But to achieve those qualities, I had to know what to write.
I imagined a Venn diagram showing the overlap between:
Things I'm interested in writing
Things I'm capable of writing
Things people want to read
Unfortunately, I couldn't say with confidence what kinds of writing would go within those three circles.
So, in an effort to find a niche, I shared in May 2022 that I would be writing in "seasons" indefinitely. That is, I would pick a form, a length of time, and an output goal, work solely within those confines, then report on the results and move on to another season — another type of writing.
In my first Season of Writing, I wrote personal essays for a few months (overshooting my deadline a bit) and published five stories.
5/17/22 — “Tales of a Kid Entrepreneur”
6/1/22 — “What Would Happen if the Patriots Played Football Against the Cast of Remember the Titans? and Other Imagined Scenarios”
7/27/22 — “Going to the Dump With My Grandfather” (published by Seacoast Online)
9/20/22 — “Adventures in Love and Student Journalism” (published by Seacoast Online)
Season II Recap
For my second season, I aimed to post three pieces of humor between mid-November and the end of the year. I hit my goal, and had two bonus stories that I wrote before December 31, and were published later by McSweeney’s:
11/29/22 — “Trade Schools Are a Fantastic Option for Many High School Graduates (But Not My Son)”
12/14/22 — “Let's Drop the Whole JFK Assassination Thing, OK? By a 1960s CIA Operative”
12/20/22 — “I Bet I'm Not Looking So Bad Right About Now, Am I? By Mark Zuckerberg”
1/11/23 — “A Memo From MTV's VP of Programming Regarding 1,004 Episodes of "Ridiculousness” (published on McSweeney’s)
1/30/23 — “I’m About to Relate to Your Story by Telling My Own Semi-Related Story” (published on McSweeney’s)
With humor, the reader's attention somehow felt more precious, so any sentence that didn't move things along or hit a funny beat had to go. A good lesson to heed for other forms, too.
In future seasons, I want to read more of the form I'm trying, and then put aside my favorite examples for study. I started to do that for humor, and found it a humbling practice — there's nothing like reading others' work to remind you of how much further you have to go with your own. But Ira Glass's words on taste vs. ability come to mind:
Season III Preview
For my third Season of Writing, I'm going to zag a little bit, and focus on what I call "Internet writing." The trouble is defining it.
I recently heard someone describe reporting as "what happened," analysis as "why it happened," and opinion as "what should happen next." I think "Internet writing" blurs lines and encompasses all of those things. It’s about sharing ideas — ideally in a way that’s useful for the reader.
With personal essays and humor, the process was the point — if the finished work had only ended up in my Documents folder, that would've been OK. "Internet writing," which I'm sure I'll stop putting in quotations soon, is meant to be seen, which means that distribution has to play a key part in this experiment.
My goal is to publish four pieces of "Internet writing" by March 30th, 2023. The first of these stories will be out next week. Thanks for reading!
2/13/23 — “The Journal That Everyone Has Time For”
3/20/23 — “The Right to Reset on Social Media”