Combat! blog (artist’s conception)
Loyal readers—i.e. Attempt—may have noticed that there has been very little Combat! blog for the last few weeks. I started this blog in 2008, shortly before I became a full-time freelance writer. It began as a practice; I didn’t always have enough work to fill eight hours, and when I did it was often tedious or uncreative. The blog let me start each day with a couple hours of writing that was interesting to me. Ten years later, my practice has changed. I get to do a lot more interesting work that is just as satisfying to me as writing this blog, and the tedious stuff is so remunerative that I would be irresponsible to turn it down so I could blog for free. The original purpose of Combat! was to make me exercise my craft every day. Now my career does that for me.
For example, I’m in the Outline today, writing about the moment when 2017 convinced me that we’re really doing this. Until Sean Spicer took the stage at the Emmys, he was known primarily as the White House press secretary who told outlandish lies, poorly, until he got fired. He took a job amplifying a mendacious president but couldn’t pull it off, stammering and losing his temper during press conferences until they finally replaced him with Mike Huckabee’s daughter. Spicer was bad both ethically and professionally, an incompetent who tried to sell his soul but couldn’t get the market price. When Colbert brought him onstage, though, Hollywood received him as a fun reference. He was a get; the joke was that they convinced him to come on. In this moment, the chief satirist of our age became a quisling. The former truth-teller acted like lying was just this fun thing we do at our jobs, and the audience went along with him.
That’s a corrupt politics exploiting a decadent society, right there. Three months later, Republicans in Congress passed a package of tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, and Spicer’s old boss signed it. The reasoning behind this decision is baffling. How could you look at a record Dow, inequality between investors and working people at levels not seen since the Gilded Age, and wages that have stagnated for four decades and decide that we need to make things easier for corporations and the rich? They are the only entities winning an increasingly broken economy. It’s tempting to say that’s why the GOP made cutting their taxes its number-one priority; the Republican Party serves the rich not in spite of their success but because of it. They’re bought off. But I think the answer is more nuanced. Of Montana’s three representatives in Congress, two are multimillionaires. Greg Gianforte, the richest man in the US House, hasn’t worked for a company he didn’t own since 1986. Steve Daines quit his job in 2012, two years before he reported a net worth between $9 million and $32 million. In their daily lives, how often do these men meet Americans who get paid by the hour, or even by the year? They are members of the investor class who live among members of the investor class. When they think about what Americans are like, how they suffer and what they need, they do not think of Americans with jobs. You can read all about it in this week’s column for the Missoula Independent.
I’ve been working, is what I’m saying here. The last three weeks of silence on Combat! blog haven’t been because I lost the will to write; on the contrary, I’ve brought in an extra year of writing income since Labor Day. All my time has been bought up, which is a great problem to have. It is still a problem for this blog, though, and for the novel whose first draft I finished last year and have not revised. If I had spent two hours each weekday redrafting, that thing would be accumulating polite rejection letters right now. As much as I have loved Combat! blog, and as much good as it has done for my craft and my career, it has become the least productive way I can spend two hours most days.
So I am going to change the nature of this blog in 2018. I’m not going to shut it down or anything, but I am going to allocate my two selfish/unprofitable hours each day to novel revisions. Here, I’ll keep posting links to work I’ve published elsewhere, and I’ll keep posting the weird stuff I can’t trick anyone into buying. I also plan to do some recurring features, such as my (potentially insane) plan to finish 50 books in 2018. I’m currently reading Death Wish by Brian Garfield, the novel that inspired the infamous Charles Bronson film, if you want to get in on that. What I’m not going to do, though, are daily updates. I have loved doing them for the last decade, but it’s not the best way for me to spend my time anymore.
Thank you for reading this post. Thank you for reading a handful or posts or hundreds of them. The best part of this blog is the small but select number of people who read it. I’m sorry that we can’t be roommates anymore, but I hope we can still be friends.