Reading two authors recently has made me reassess a few things about my writing.
First, Chuck Klosterman. A few weeks back, a friend said my writing reminded her of him, and I finally got access to one his books from the library. It was eye-opening, akin to some guy finding out that The Beatles had been what he was doing for years previous. In particular, one of his books features an essay by him in which he just watched VH1 Classic for a day and commented on all the videos. I've been doing the same thing, although at a much more sophomoric and shitty level. (Also, Klosterman looks like a skinny Bruce Vilanch, and I bet he just loves that comparison.)
Still, it's to be expected, since Klosterman is a professional writer and all... But then again, aren't I a professional writer? After all, I get paid to write, whether it be sports coverage, video game reviews or news stories. It is an odd sort of feeling to realize, "Hey I kind of do what this guy does, maybe it's not so far-fetched that I could make a career out of writing." Klosterman also started out as a conventional journalist.
I guess the main thing preventing me from just launching headlong into writing a novel is the whole, you know, lack of money thing. It would be one thing if I thought I had some great story to sell to a publishing house for a nice advance that could support me. Instead, I'd rather muse about random aspects of pop culture; reviewing past journal entries reveals a hodgepodge of advanced baseball statistics, professional wrestling, personal posts about being a 17-year-old to 22-year-old trying to get laid, pop culture analysis and music cataloging.
I'm narcissistic enough to think that people would buy this from me if it was marketed to them, or if I had a proper forum to advertise it. My reign as entertainment editor at the Cigar and just general compliments on my writing have fed my hungry ego quite satisfactorily. (I blame all of you for this.) But, I don't really have enough of an audience to just quit looking for a 9-to-5 job and to just write all day long.
Now, moving on to the second author as a way to explain my biggest failing as a potential writer - interest level, motivation, commitment. In the past, I've tried things like a wrestling blog, a sports blog, only to get disinterested and move on to other projects.
Toby Young also has this struggle, which he writes about in The Sound Of No Hands Clapping, his book about trying to become a screenwriter in Hollywood. He mentions about how unless he is forced to do something, he will just dawdle and dawdle. I realize that in my case, this was part of the appeal of journalism - the deadline forced me to produce *something*. In Toby's case, the stability of his wife led him to stop boozing and to actually hold a steady job. I'm hoping being self-aware of my problems with just effing writing something will force me to write more.
To link to yet another thing, I think this Slate article details my problem pretty well. It's not that I'm ever really "blocked" and can't write, it's more that I will find 50 million other things to distract myself with before actually sitting down and spitting something out. The few times I've had consistency in volume is when I've forced myself to write (driving range days) or when I've been paid for it.