Tuesday, October 16, 2007

I, Guest Lecturer

A friend of mine is an adjunct professor at a local-ish university, and he invited me to speak to his journalism class about blogging and criticism this afternoon. Another friend who addressed a class last year warned that my greatest fear should be the ravages of time. "You think you're basically the same person you were when you were 21," he wrote. "You are in for a rude awakening."

True enough. The students didn't seem like kids (they were upperclassmen), but they did have a bit of what Tom Wolfe once described as "the rude animal health of youth."

I spent about 15 or 20 minutes speaking -- too hurriedly, I'm sure -- about how I started the blog (more or less accidentally), what I hoped it to be (still not entirely sure), and what I get out of it (carpal tunnel?). As one perplexed student asked during the Q&A session that followed, "So, you don't get any money from the blog?"

During the lecture, if it can be called that, I said that after the first few months of the blog's existence, I came to see it as the equivalent of a general interest magazine. Choosing just one of my subjects (mascots, neuroses, what have you) and covering it exclusively would be more likely to result in increased traffic, maybe even some advertising revenue, and a general sense of "success." But I figure enough people are pushing success on college students. I wanted something to distinguish myself, so I figured I would peddle failure.

My friend picked up on the "general interest" notion during the Q&A and said it does seem a bit odd to be going in that direction when narrowcasting is all the rage. He didn't mean "odd" in a negative way, just in the traditional "you're a different kind of cat" way. I said it was just a natural result of sharing my enthusiasm for a bunch of things -- books, movies, music, and sure, mascots. On my way home from the class, I had occasion to stop in Grand Central Station and browse at a large magazine store. Silver plates over various shelves had category titles like "Entertainment," "Sports," "Computers," "Literary." Up in a remote corner, I saw a plate that read "General Interest." Several magazines were proudly perched beneath, though the only one that afforded me a clear view of its title was Pet Food Report. So. See? I'm in good company.


Blogger Katy said...

i love you and it feels like you are always expressing my fears, failures and optimism more fluidly, while bringing a bit more focus and age (just a wee bit!).
you share a special way of being...
a mind reader!

keep doing what you do,
"success" has found you, and will continue to find you in a most sustainable, organic way~ thed best way, to be sure.

as ever,
thank you



12:23 AM  

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