A new found friend, a Mr. Dan Harris, has nominated me for a versatility award. As I told Mr. Harris, I am honored by the nomination. It’s nice to know that someone out there is paying attention to what I’ve been doing lo these many years, but the question that must be asked what does versatility do for a writer?
The Negatives: Versatility, is defined as “capable of doing many things competently“ by the Free Dictionary. The versatile writer, in other words, is not an expert on anything. Those seeking a blogger on writing, will know to seek out, David Gaughan; those seeking political writing seek out a Charles Krauthammer; and those looking for the latest information on dinosaur rockers will go to a blog on Rollingstone.com. Most people, these days, aren’t looking for writers that write, they want specific expertise on a specific product.
You don’t look at me as an expert on any one subject, but you have come to appreciate the fact that I know a little something about a wide variety of subjects. Being versatile is a natural characteristic of those with Attention Deficit Disorder. I don’t have such a disorder, but I do get bored easily with categories.
The reason I feel compelled to write on any given subject is that I get obsessed, but I’ve always had this problem. I’ve always wanted to know more about a subject than that which I was being told. The difference is I now have an arena in which I can relay this knowledge to those that might find it enlightening or entertaining. Those that know me well may find such a thing a little frightening, but they should think of it this way … at least I no longer feel compelled to share it with you. That’s right, even if no one ever reads my blog I feel that I have substantiated my thoughts by writing them here, and I don’t feel compelled to have you hear them anymore.
With that said, I don’t know how those popular, niche bloggers can remain so passionate about their niche topic on a week to week, or month to month, basis. All the power to them and their loyal readers for doing so, but I get burned out quickly. I’ve had a ton of jobs, a lot of girlfriends, a lot of favorite bands of the moment, and movies that I absolutely love one day and get bored talking about two days later. This all leads to a fascinating life, as far as I’m concerned, but it doesn’t do much in the way of building a loyal fan base. The negative to this, as I said, is that people won’t go to Rilaly.com to find out the latest on such and such a topic that they’re particularly interested in, because they know that I’m not devoted to that topic I wrote about yesterday. They know that a bee will be bugging my bonnet about something entirely different tomorrow. I hate to sound like a complicated artiste, but if you come to Rilaly.com regularly, you’ll discover that I get focused (see obsessed) with a variety of topics that change depending on the day.
I need answers, I search for answers, but once I achieve what I believe to be a satisfactory answer, I move on. I do get obsessed with that particular topic, and I may spend days and weeks researching that topic, but when I publish a blog on that topic, I move onto another, entirely different obsession.
I was hired, and I’m still on staff, with a major online periodical. My job for them is to write in a very specific category. I’m required to write local articles for Omaha, Republicans. I’m not saying I can’t do this. I’ve written 180 articles for them thus far. I do stray, however. My philosophy is that while one particular article does not specifically fall into the specific category they hired me for, it kind of does. If you flip it to the left, and tilt your head right, and focus your eyes in just such a manner to make it … all right it probably still doesn’t fit, but a great article is a great article right? This majoy, online periodical used to send me emails when I strayed from the specific category they hired me for, saying: “Remember, Republican Omaha! This particular article that you’ve sent does not meet the criteria that we hired you for.” While I understand the need to constrain writers to the specific categories that their readers want to read about, I find it hard to remain passionate about that specific topic for days and weeks and months and years on end…No matter what that topic is. I could have a “Mike Patton is God, and Mr. Bungle is the greatest band of all time!” obsession one day and get sick of it the next. It’s my nature. I need diversity if I’m going to continue to write. They don’t need diversity, they don’t want versatile writers. They recently tightened the restrictions even more, and I am no longer permitted to have the articles that display my versatility published. Versatility and diversity are both a blessing and a curse.
I also think that my work in the areas of creative fiction could attract an audience, but that audience would probably get ticked off by my political blogs. Those fans of my political blogs would, in turn, get ticked off by the material in my creative fiction. I’ve dug quite a hole for myself in this regard, and I’m sure that if I ever got famous there would be someone, somewhere devising a theory that suggested that there are more than one writers at Rilaly.com. It’s a problem, but it’s a problem for future Rilaly to worry about. If Rilaly.com gets big, future Rilaly may have a lot of problems to deal with, but present Rilaly.com writers (1) are living in anonymity, so why would they worry about it. Do what you feel, we writer(s) at Rilaly.com say, let your freak flag fly!
The Positives: I am always entertained. While my major online periodical articles may not be diverse anymore, Rilaly.com is, was, and always will be. This is the world I have created for myself. It is the arena through which I will tell you about the politics I believe in, the nefarious, violent books that I read, the immoral movies that I watch, and the obscure, complicated music that I listen to through a creative blog that I have designed to entertain me. If you are entertained by anything I write here that’s gravy, but I am the most important audience sitting before, beyond, and around the klieg lights.
Versatility is also a compliment in that it means that at least one person has recognized that I have a little bit more than a passing knowledge of a given subject. The opposite of this is usually sad in that a person feels trapped by their area of expertise, and they want to branch out. So, they send out a post on politics, and it’s usually juvenile and not well thought out. It’s usually some sort of “scandalous” scribbling that they heard on some “scandalous” TV show that everyone agrees is scandalous. It’s usually not an individualistic take that says anything about the individual. It’s usually a righteous, “diverse”, and safe proclamation designed to offend those that are deemed safe to offend. It’s usually a cliché, it’s usually boring, and it’s usually a sad, safe statement that suggests that the writer should’ve stayed in his area of expertise.
The Conclusion: While I am extremely honored by Mr. Dan Harris’ designation, I take it with a grain of salt. My first question regarding this nomination was isn’t diversity a better word? Diverse material is what I have. Why not call it a diversity award? Versatility describes the competence of the creator rather than the material itself. ‘Diversity’ is a word that has been co-opted by the politically correct. It is a term that is used to describe those that follow a very specific ‘diverse’ code of diversity, and if you read any of my articles you’ll discover that I don’t follow codes. But I don’t follow your code either, you say, and yours is a codeless code that is pleasing to all. On behalf of future Rilaly.com, I apologize to all those codes that I offend. I also send a cringe out to those that can’t follow me, because half of my blogs are diametrically opposed to your codes and your way of thinking. Sorry to disappoint you, but I’m me.