(UN)POPULAR CULTURE

The home of writer & author A. J. BLACK

Howdy, y’all.

Eagle eyed among you may have noticed my written output has been less precipitous this month as, in truth, I’ve been experiencing something of a block when it comes to my critical analysis & cultural commentary.

The words haven’t been flowing.

I feel a genuine sense of guilt about this. I know there are people who read this blog and enjoy my pieces and while I don’t always communicate directly with you, I still feel a sense that if I’m not writing then I *should* be, and not necessarily just to appease an audience. I’ve always held to the adage that “writers *write*” and every day, otherwise they’re not doing it right.

Lately I’ve parlayed a significant amount of these creative juices into podcasting, which I’ve felt quite enriching over the summer as I’ve been devising new ventures for We Made This and recording with new folk as well as my trusted old podcast mates. I feel the podcasting is going somewhere, and with it comes a sense of community and interaction you don’t often get with writing. Writing is more of a solitary, lonely business, even when you enjoy writing just for yourself.

Then again, I’m not sure any writer truly believes that when they say it. Any writing is about putting yourself on the line, whether it’s with your analysis or research or fiction, and with it comes a need, a craving, for some level of personal validation. Writers tell stories or talk about their favourite media or hobbies because they want to engage with others through that medium. Even something as basic as personal blogging, such as what I do on Cultural Conversation, comes with a desire to *say* something, and develop a voice people will want to hear.

A problem I’ve grappled with lately is whether I *have* that voice or that what I’m saying truly penetrates what is a tidal wave online of ‘takes’. Do I really have anything of note to add about Annabelle Comes Home or Men in Black that others haven’t already thought or covered? Is the passion lacking when attempting to cover the broad spectrum of popular culture? Should I be trying to square my focus elsewhere, in corners that aren’t as well mined? I often find myself reading certain other writers or commentators online who have written a piece that I know I’d considered elements of, but I know I just wouldn’t have brought to bear as skilfully. Under the weight of that, making the effort to put pen to paper becomes a harder proposition.

There are no easy answers to this. I don’t feel in any way ‘burned out’, as some writers get. I am itching to soon try and write fiction in prose form (or even go back to script maybe) and tell stories again. A second non-fiction book looks like it is going to happen and will start to pull my focus as we head into the Autumn, which is really exciting and will certainly galvanise me as the release of Myth Building in Modern Media hovers on the horizon. Yet I don’t know what I want to do with this blog at this stage, and quite where I’m going to take more of my casual writing at this stage.

Right now I don’t want to start writing for other sites. That would be nice down the line if I can get in with some of those of quality that I read, and last summer I pitched to a couple of well-known magazines and while nothing came of that, I live in hope that could change. But as it stands, I feel like I’m not at the level I need to be, or could be, to truly stand out and feel as though what I’m putting out there has merit, and until that starts to change then I may ease off writing more long-form pieces on here in the near future.

I’m not one to court needless praise but any kind words right now or indeed suggestions about my path or destination, should you be a reader of my work, would be hugely appreciated as I wade through an unseemly level of writerly self-doubt.

Have a great weekend

T

x

4 thoughts on “Tony Talks #12: Tony’s Block

  1. hazalse says:

    Hi Tony. This is something you probably already thought about but writing a long form of text that requires extensive work and editing of any kind (like your book) will usually cause a burn out. I wanted to pop in and say that I read your blog regularly and you always have great ideas. They are not inadequate but rather, too much for a platform like WordPress. (It has inspired me to change the direction of my writing). I see diligent writing (like yours) on platforms like Medium and The Artifice. I think, though, you’d be highly appreciated in the scholarly world of Media Studies. Even if you leave this platform, I hope we get to read your work elsewhere. I’ll leave with something a friend of mine said to me when I doubted myself— You are a good writer simply because you continue writing (it is hard work after all).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A J. Black says:

      Thank you so much for this. Your words are very kind and, for sure, wise. I remember toying with Medium years ago but I’ve not been back lately, maybe I should consider it. I hadn’t heard of The Artifice but it looks excellent, so I appreciate you signalling that to me. I’m going to take some time and post a little less while I ponder directions, but it’s great to hear from someone who appreciates my scribblings. Thanks again & take care.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. hazalse says:

    Likewise, Tony. Glad to help. Please let us know about your next stop in writing.

    Liked by 1 person

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