My Gawker Nightmare
I recently had a nightmare about Gawker.
For my day job, I blog for a relatively well known, New York centric website whose commenters are notorious assholes. They will debate your use of “grudgingly” instead of “begrudgingly,” prod you as to why you referred to a traffic agent as a cop, and seem to generally believe that their constant nagging will somehow get them hired as a copy editor. And though I am told to ignore them, this nightmare happened.
In my nightmare, Gawker ran a piece about my website, flaming us for being nothing but unwitty news aggregators who make too many typos. As an example, they then decided to pull everything I had ever written for the site as prime examples. They were filled with typos and factual errors, and the commenters had their heydey, writing that I should be fired immediately and NEVER BLOG AGAIN. They somehow even managed to band together and send an email to my office, admitting that they were generally assholes but were very serious about my being an embarrassment to the site. I got fired. And then I woke up.
On the phone with a friend a few days ago, I wondered aloud why I do this. And then he told me a story. This friend has recently written a play. A play I read and thought was brilliant, but a play which ended up getting some pretty bad reviews and had a run filled with drama and SNAFUs. It was apparently very traumatizing for him, and he entertained thoughts of giving up. He would move back east, plop himself in grad school, become an English teacher and close the book on that part of his life. But then I heard him talk about play writing, and how producing this piece is the most fulfilling thing he’s ever done, and I knew he wouldn’t quit. He couldn’t.
This is turning into a very sappy, Lifetime movie piece, which was not what I intended. But sometimes, anyone just out of college just needs a reminder that nothing is the be-all-end-all. With anything creative, there is going to be judgment. Maybe it’s from professional critics. Maybe it’s from assholes on the internet who take anonymity as an excuse to say hurtful things. Maybe that 29th rejection letter feels like the last straw. But if none of these people have the courage to judge you to your face, how much can it really mean?
Well, it can mean a lot. I’d like to leave you with some reassurance that things will be fine, but I can’t. Sometimes, the commenters are right. Sometimes you did refer to someone with the wrong title. Sometimes your work isn’t good enough. Sometimes you will get fired. There are no buts. There’s just you, left with your best effots, figuring out how to do even better. There’s no guarantee that you will, but dammit if you’re not 23 and have years and years to try.
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