Professional Writing 101
[Admin] We are doing a chat on professional writing right now. Halcyon will return to it's regularly scheduled goofiness in 30 min.
[Girl] Is Web writing Lucrative?
[Halcyon] HEH. HARDLY. IT'S MORE ABOUT GETTING YOUR WORK SEEN.
[Halcyon] I PRODUCED PREHENSILE.COM FOR
[Halcyon] 2 YEARS FOR FREE WHILE I WORKED AS A WEBMASTER FOR AN E-COMMERCE MALL.
[Halcyon] I STILL DO IT FOR FREE
[Halcyon] I *HOPED*, BUT NEVER EXPECTED TO GET PAID FOR IT.
[Halcyon] I WRITE BECAUSE I LOVE TELLING STORIES.
[Halcyon] I HAVE SOLD A *FEW* STORIES TO WEBSITES.
[Halcyon] BUT WRITTEN FOR FREE TO DOZENS MORE. PLUS I'VE BEEN WRITING A WEEKLY TALE FOR 3 YEARS NOW.
[Halcyon] THE WEB IS A *GREAT* PLACE TO GET PUBLISHED...BUT FAR TOUGHER TO MAKE MONEY AT IT.
[Halcyon] I ONLY MADE MONEY WHEN I BECAME A STAFF EMPLOYEE FOR A WEBSITE (COLLEGECLUB.COM)
[Halcyon] OH, IF YOU MISSED MY FIRST APOLOGY...SORRY ABOUT MY TYPING.
[Halcyon] i'M DRUNK.
[Anonymous4780] i think you can get a good reputation for writng and that can translate into the 'real' print world
[Halcyon] I AGREE, 4780
[Halcyon] THROUGH WRITING FOR THE WEB,
[Halcyon] AND JUST GETTING MY STUFF ALL OVER THE PLACE
[Halcyon] I WAS OFFERED FREELANCE WORK AND
[Halcyon] THE FULL TIME EDITING GIG I HAVE NOW.
[Halcyon] BUT IF YOU WAIT FOR THE MONEY BEFORE YOU WRITE...YOU'RE MISSING OUT.
[Girl] have you thought about quitting the web industry and working for a publication?
[Halcyon] GIRL, I *LOVE* THE WEB
[Halcyon] THE WEB IS TOTALLY DIFFERENT THAN TRADITIONAL WRITING
[Halcyon] IN FACT I CONSIDER MYSELF MORE OF A
[Halcyon] DIGITAL STORYTELLER THAN A "WRITER"
[Halcyon] BECAUSE THE WEB ALLOWS FOR ANYTHING.
[Halcyon] THE BIGGEST DIFFERECE, I THINK, IN WEB WRITING IS THAT THE WALL
[Halcyon] BETWEEN CREATOR AND CONTENT IS BULLDOZED
[Halcyon] IF YOU READ AN ARTICLE IN HARPERS AND WANT TO SCREAM AT THE AUTHOR
[Halcyon] IT MIGHT BE MONTHS BEFORE THEY GET YOUR LETTER.
[Halcyon] BUT I PUT UP A STORY
[Halcyon] AND I GET FEEBACK MINUTES LATER
[Halcyon] AND IF , AFTER READING THE STORY,
[Halcyon] THEY WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THE PERSON TELLING THE STORY
[Halcyon] *I* AM AT THEIR FINGERTIPS.
[Anonymous4780] instant gradification or kick in the pants
[Halcyon] EXACTLY, 4780
[Halcyon] I THNK IT CHANGES THE CONTEXT OF THE STORY DRAMATICALLY.
[Halcyon] LIKE A STORY TOLD BY A STRANGER
[Halcyon] VS. ONE TOLD BY THE SAME PERSON AFTER YOU'VE GOTTEN TO KNOW THEM OVER DINNER.
[Girl] Is the lewd sort of web industry luctrative?
[Halcyon] THE LEWD SORT?
[Halcyon] NOT ESPECIALLY.
[Shawn] Do you ever entertain ideas of more traditional jobs?
[Halcyon] I HOPE I NEVER HAVE A TRADITIONAL JOB.
[Halcyon] IF I CAN TELL STORIES FOREVER, THAT WOULD BE A DREAM.
[Halcyon] I TOOK A PAY CUT TO BE THE SENIOR EDITOR,
[Halcyon] BECAUSE I WOULD RATHER WRITE THAN DO ANYTHING ELSE. IF SOMEONE WILL ACTUALLY *PAY* ME TO WRITE GOOFY STUFF, WELL, THAT'S A DREAM COME TRUE.
[flood] how does the blurring of the personal/public thing affect you?
[Halcyon] GOOD QUESTION, FLOOD
[Halcyon] IT'S A VERY ODD LIFE I LEAD.
[flood] You've got a friggin camera on you 14 hours a day.
[Halcyon] BECAUSE MY WORK DOESN'T END AT 5 O'CLOCK.
[Halcyon] MY WORK AND LIFE AND TOTALLY INTERTWINED.
[Halcyon] IT FORCES ME TO BE COURAGEOUS.
[Halcyon] I THINK THAT IS SOOOO IMPORTANT TO A WRITER
[Halcyon] YOU HAVE TO LOVE YOUR WORK.
[Halcyon] YOU HAVE TO BELIEVE IN IT
[Halcyon] BECAUSE PEOPLE *WILL* TRY TO KNOCK YOU DOWN.
[Halcyon] AND IT'S ESPECIALLY TOUGH WHEN THAT "WORK" IS ALSO YOUR LIFE.
[Shawn] What is the first step for us potentials?
[Halcyon] OOOH, THESE ARE ALL SUCH GOOD QUESTIONS!
[Halcyon] (IN REAL LIFE, I TALK BETTER...IT'S THE TYPING THAT KILLS ME.)
[Halcyon] FIGURES...A PRO WRITER THAT CAN'T TYPE. :)
[Anonymous4780] paul mc cartney can't read music
[Halcyon] FIRST STEP: START SUBMITTING STUFF TO SITES.
[Girl] which sites do you recommend?
[Halcyon] THE BEST SITES ARE THE ONES I DON'T KNOW.
[Halcyon] TOUGH ANSWER, I KNOW.
[Halcyon] BUT I WOULD SAY,
[Halcyon] TRY TO FIND SMALLER COMMUNITIES.
[Halcyon] FIND SITES THAT YOU ENJOY.
[Halcyon] FOLOW THEIR LINKS.
[Halcyon] OFFER TO WRITE.
[Halcyon] THERE ARE LOTS OF COLLABORATIVE SITES LISTED AT GLASSDOG.NET
[Halcyon] FROM PERSONAL EXPERIENCE, SUBMITTING FOR FREE HAS WORKED FOR ME.
[Halcyon] BUT, THERE IS NO AMOUNT OF MONEY
[Halcyon] THAT COULD EVER BE WORTH MORE THAN AN EMAIL THAT SAYS, "WOW...YOU REALLY TOUCHED ME."
[flood] what would you recommend doing whilst in college to get on this track?
[Halcyon] WHILE IN COLLEGE, I WOULD SAY, START A JOURNAL SITE FOR SURE.
[Halcyon] THERE ARE AMAZING COMMUNITIES FOR PEOPLE WRITING JOURNAL SITES.
[Adrienne] You mean like just a bunch of your random thoughts?
[Halcyon] WRITE WHATEVER.
[Halcyon] JUST GET IN THE HABIT OF PUTTING YOUR WORDS OUT THERE.
[Halcyon] EVEN IF MILLIONS DON'T READ THEM,
[Halcyon] THE FACT THAT YOU'VE COMMITTED TO YOUR WORDS
[Halcyon] IS IMPORTANT.
[flood] what are the implications for the way we think about the web? thoughts Halcyon?
[Halcyon] WE ARE SHIFTING FROM WEB AS AN INDUSTRY TO WEB AS
[Halcyon] AN ELEMENT OF ALL THINGS.
[Halcyon] YOU *WILL NOT* BE ABLE TO SAY,
[Halcyon] "OH, I DON'T REALLY DO COMPUTERS."
[Halcyon] THE WEB MAKES ALL THINGS INTERCONNECTED
[Halcyon] IN A NON-LINEAR FASHION.
[Halcyon] THE WRITER HAS TO BE VERY AWARE OF WHAT HYPERTEXT MEANS.
[Halcyon] THE IDEA THAT A STORY DOESN'T HAVE A BEGINNING, MIDDLE, AND END IS TOUGH TO GET.
[Halcyon] INSTEAD, YOU HAVE TO SET A
[Halcyon] PREFERRED FLOW
[Halcyon] AND UNDERSTAND THAT CLICKING AWAY IS A PART OF IT.
[flood] is your "cockybastard" site a sort of resume? (were looking at more traditional types of resumes and examined yours as a type of new proto-resume)
[Halcyon] I ALWAYS CONSIDERED PREHENSILE.COM TO BE A LIVING RESUME.
[Halcyon] I HOPED THAT IF ENOUGH PEOPLE SAW IT,
[Halcyon] SOMEONE MIGHT SAY,
[Halcyon] "HEY, WE'RE LOOKING FOR SOMEONE WITH THAT VOICE/PERSPECTIVE."
[flood] have you had any job inquiries/offers from it directly?
[Halcyon] I ACTUALLY GET MORE OFFERS FOR DESIGN WORK.
[Halcyon] THE LESSON *I* LEARNED ABOUT WRITING
[Halcyon] FROM THE WEB
[Halcyon] IS THAT THERE IS NO FORMULA.
[Halcyon] THERE IS NO "CORRECT" WAY TO WRITE FOR THE WEB
[Halcyon] I AM *NOT* A TRADITIONAL WRITER
[Halcyon] PRE-WEB, MY STYLE WOULD NEVER BE PUT IN A MAGAZINE
[Halcyon] BUT I *KNEW* THAT IT WAS GOOD.
[Halcyon] IT WAS FUNNY.
[Halcyon] IT WAS THE KIND OF WRITING THAT *I* LIKE TO READ
[Halcyon] THE AMAZING THING ABOUT THE WEB
[Halcyon] IS THAT IT ALLOWS YOU TO FIND YOUR PEOPLE.
[Shawn] Is that enough...what each person likes?
[Halcyon] I BELIEVE SO, SHAWN.
[flood] Halcyon, can you nutshell the thing that made Prehensile successful?
[Halcyon] TOUGH QUESTION, FLOOD.
[Halcyon] 1ST OFF, WHEN I STARTED, THE WEB WAS SMALLER.
[Halcyon] We are doing a chat on professional writing right now. Halcyon will return to it's regularly scheduled goofiness in 30 min.
[Halcyon] SO IT WAS EASIER TO BE NOTICED.
[Halcyon] IF YOU DID GOOD WORK, PEOPLE WOULD FIND OUT.
[Halcyon] BUT ONE OF THE KEY THINGS I DID, WAS DEVOUR THE WEB.
[Halcyon] I CONTACTED EVERYONE THAT IMPRESSED ME.
[Halcyon] I TOLD THEM WHAT I THOUGHT OF THEIR WORK, AND ASKED THEIR FEEDBACK ON MINE.
[Halcyon] I FOLLOWED THEIR LINKS
[Halcyon] AND FOUND MORE AND MORE PEOPLE THAT I RESPECTED.
[Halcyon] LUCKILY, THEY RESPECTED MY WORK, TOO.
[Atalk] who impressed you?
[Halcyon] FRAY.COM, GLASSDOG.COM
[Halcyon] ONION.COM (BUT THEY NEVER RETURNED MY EMAILS)
[flood] how did the FOTL thing (Fruit of the Loom) work to your advantage? Was it the maverick persona of the early web that helped you in that situation? Sort of like circling the wagons?
[Halcyon] THE FOTL WAS HUGE FOR ME.
[Halcyon] I WAS ON A PANEL AT THE SXSW CONFERENCE ABOUT SUCESSFULL WEBZINES
[Halcyon] AND 3 OUT OF 5 PEOPLE ON THE PANEL HAD RECIEVED
[Halcyon] CEASE AND DESISTS ORDERS.
[Halcyon] WHAT THE FRUIT OF THE LOOM THING
[Halcyon] SHOWED ME
[Halcyon] WAS THAT THE POWER OF COMMUNITY AND COLLECTIVE ACTION ON THE WEB IS REAL.
[flood] you even made it to the holy land of "Wired" mag.
[Halcyon] OF COURSE, THE FACT THAT IT WAS ABOUT UNDERWEAR MADE FOR READY-TO-RUN FUNNY HEADLINES.
[Atalk] what kind of hours do you work?
[Halcyon] I WORK ABOUT 12 HOURS/DAY IN THE OFFICE
[Halcyon] THEN TRY TO WORK ON MY PERSONAL SITES AFTER HOURS AND ON WEEKENDS.
[Halcyon] I WORK TOOO MUCH.
[Halcyon] BUT I LOVE IT.
[Halcyon] MY WORK IS ALSO MY PASSION (FOR THE MOST PART).
[flood] What is your writing process like? Lots of revision? Stream-of-conscious? In-between?
[Halcyon] ANOTHER GOOD ONE, FLOOD
[Halcyon] I HAVE A 2 TECHNIQUES.
[Halcyon] OFTEN I KNOW RIGHT AFTER SOMETHING HAPPENS THAT I SHOULD WRITE IT DOWN.
[Halcyon] WHETHER IT'S AN EVENT OR A THOUGHT.
[Halcyon] SO I JOT IT IN A SKETCHBOOK.
[Halcyon] THEN WHEN I GET A CHANCE, I GO THROUGH AND TYPE THE STORY IN.
[Halcyon] I REVISE/EDIT AS I TYPE.
[Halcyon] THEN I TRY TO RE-READ IT MANY TIMES.
[Halcyon] I RARELY CATCH TYPOS, BUT I HAVE LEARNED TO BE MORE IN-TUNE WITH THE FLOW…
[Halcyon] THE TIMING OF THE WORDS.
[Halcyon] THE HARDEST THING TO DO IS CUT STUFF YOU'VE WRITTEN BECAUSE IT DOESN'T ADD TO THE FLOW.
[flood] are you more head or heart when it comes to material?
[Halcyon] I THINK MY WRITING IS ABOUT TRYING TO MEET HEART AND HEAD.
[Halcyon] I ASK MYSELF QUESTIONS (HEAD) AND THEN TRY TO LET THE ANSWERS COME OUT (HEART)
[Atalk] what is a typical work day like for you? There is writing involved and what else?
[Halcyon] I WRITE VERY LITTLE "POLISHED WORK" IN A DAY. LOTS OF LITTLE THINGS, EMAILS, NEWSLETTERS, TEXT FOR CONTESTS, TOURS, ETC.
[Halcyon] SOMEDAY I'D LIKE TO SLOW DOWN AND SPEND MORE TIME WITH SINGLE IDEAS.
[Halcyon] OH, ONE COMMENT.
[Halcyon] I CREATED A MONDAY UPDATE SCHEDULE FOR MYSELF.
[Halcyon] EVERY MONDAY, A NEW STORY.
[Halcyon] THAT HAS FORCED ME TO WRITE MANY TIMES WHEN I WOULD HAVE RATHER WATCHED TV.
[Halcyon] I THINK IT HAS GIVEN ME DISCIPLINE
[Halcyon] AND INTERNAL MOTIVATION.
[Halcyon] IT DRIVES ME CRAZY SOMETIMES.
[Shawn] Is that hard to balance(discipline) with your freedom?
[flood] how do you achieve balance grasshopper?
[Halcyon] I LOVE THE FEELING OF GETTING A GOOD IDEA DOWN.
[Halcyon] SO WRITING BECOMES IT'S OWN REWARD FOR ME.
[Halcyon] THEN WHEN I GET PEOPLE'S FEEDBACK ON IT...IT'S LIKE SPIRITUAL CRACK COCAINE.
[Halcyon] BALANCE FOR ME IS A QUEST.
[Halcyon] I AM OUT OF BALANCE RIGHT NOW.
[Halcyon] I WORK TOO MUCH.
[Halcyon] BUT THE MORE I CAN INCORPERATE MY LIFE VALUES INTO MY WORK EXPERIENCE,
[Halcyon] THE MORE BALANCED I FEEL.
[flood] Thanks for your time Halcyon. Everyone here is much appreciative of your time. Hope you get more crack today.
[Halcyon] DO WHAT YOU LOVE AND THE MONEY WILL FOLLOW. :)
[flood] didn't Kaya have a joke about that?
[Halcyon] :) KAYA SAW THAT BOOK ("DO WHAT YOU LOVE...") ,
[Halcyon] PICKED IT UP
[Halcyon] AND SAID,
[Halcyon] "WHO'S GONNA PAY ME TO MASTURBATE?"
[Halcyon] THANKS EVERYONE. THIS WAS A KICK IN THE PANTS.
[montefiore] thanks. It was nice to have a serious discussion :)
[Halcyon] A RARE MOMENT OF SERIOUSNESS FOR ME. I NEED TO START SAYING "PENIS" SOON OR I'LL EXPLODE.
[Halcyon] GOOD LUCK EVERYONE
[Halcyon] (and let me know when you get your personal sites up!)