It’s a bit embarrassing, looking back. I studied philosophy and history in school, read like an animal and wrote every chance I could. I was focused on thought and expression, but the role of art in all this never really occurred to me. My current interest in art grew out of a freelance assignment I had for a newsletter for financial advisors back in the summer of 2007. The article was short and dealt with investing in art. From there, I got my first art market story in Trader Monthly (RIP) – which was how I got into that magazine and which opened the door to my becoming a travel writer (I’ll get into that story some other time).
I now blog about art on Luxist more than cigars (with the latter being why Luxist hired me), and I’m really into it. I have an original hanging over my desk at day job and six paintings hanging in my apartment … with two more that I still need to pp on the walls. I was thinking about the extended version of how I got here, and my mind raced back to two college experiences. The first was more directly related to art, but the second was far more powerful (and I finally understand it).
It’s been a few months since I’ve hit the road, and I’m starting to feel the effects. For my work on Gadling, I’ve been relying on other news stories for reblog fodder, and my ol’ standby sites just aren’t delivering. It’s been pretty slow – which wouldn’t be a problem if I’d had some travel under my belt. Fortunately, I have a trip to Montreal coming on Thursday, so new material is only a few days away.
This small situation, limited to me, could indicate a future problem in the blogging world, though. As most blogs still rely heavily on reblogging to fill their pages, the decline of the traditional media space will put more pressure on people like me to originate content. Coming up with new stuff requires a significant commitment of time and resources, which would turn the existing blog business model on its head. Bloggers at sites across the market know this and are reacting to it, but a solution will take time.
I write for a lot of publications. I contribute regularly to four blogs and infrequently to a few magazines. And, I have my two personal blogs (this one and UWS Dad), both of which I’ve been neglecting lately. So, I get pitched a lot. That’s fine with me; I actually like it. I’d rather choose what I’m going to pursue than have a publicist make the choice for me (i.e., by not pitching). I like doing my job, and I really don’t need any help. I do read (or at least scan) every pitch I receive. But, the scanning becomes shorter for some publicists who just don’t get what I do. I get a surprisingly small amount of off-topic (and otherwise bad) pitches, but every now and then, someone does something stupid.
And, I realize I have a role in the process – one that I haven’t fulfilled as well as I should.
After the jump, you’ll find a few tips for pitching me. They really aren’t all that difficult. Hell, most of them are common sense. Since common sense ain’t so common, I’m spelling it out for everyone. Read the list once and you’ll be set for a long time. When in doubt, ask. I’d much rather get an e-mail from someone trying to understand what I do than just get a random pitch that has nothing to do with me. And, you’ll get the opportunity to grow the relationship a bit.
I understand what it’s like to get bad pitches; I’ve been on the receiving end of plenty. They clog up your inbox, make you feel like you have more work in front of you than you really do and generally waste your time. And, there’s the sheer anger that comes from having to deal with someone who’s stupid. It’s a pain in the ass. It sucks. So, to a certain extent, it’s no wonder that “bad pitch” blogs have arisen.
Are they punishment for shitty work … or a warning to journalists and bloggers the world over? Maybe, bad pitch blogs are nothing more than satisfaction mills, delivering a sense of superiority over one’s fellow man (which, ironically, makes journos and bloggers no better than the commenters they piss on in private). Like so much in life, bad pitch blogs make some people feel good, even if they aren’t terribly productive.
The one thing I’ve always loved about being a writer is the freedom I have to play with the language. But, for a big part of my life, that appears to be in jeopardy (though not in the blogging world). I have a gig where the literary handcuffs are tightening, and I have no room to operate. It’s a fucking nightmare.
Yesterday, as I walked home (with the feel of a cold starting to set in), I nailed the sensation. I feel like Yossarian is hanging over me. He’s the protagonist from Catch-22 (a fun read). While in the hospital, he was tasked to censor letters home written by enlistedmen. Before long, he got bored. Well, Joseph Heller tells it better …