This is for those of you who have bookmarked this site or who have it on your blogrolls and the like. I haven’t been writing a lot over the past few months. I can’t say it’s been ripping me apart but it has been very frustrating for me not to post when I have something to say.
What’s behind this? Well there are several things. I have been quite busy in my non-blogging life, and it usually comes at the same time when I do some of my writing; in the afternoons. Other things happen at night when I also write a lot.
But of course, If being busy was the only problem it wouldn’t be too bad. I could make the time to do the writing. A bigger problem is that I seem to be undergoing some sort of massive writers block which I really haven’t been able to get around. I start writing something and start to get a good flow and then after a while I’ll read what I’ve written and quite literally get a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. What I’ve written feels like utter crap, and I give up on it. This happened earlier this week. I was writing a piece about why Smallville “worked” and became the longest lasting science fiction style show on TV (I attribute a lot of its success to it being about Superman and that it was on the right network, which is to say not one of the “Big Four”). The problem was that as I got deeper and deeper into it, the less happy I was with it, and as the time to run it became less and less my displeasure with it became greater and greater.
Finally I feel a rising sense of frustration with what effect I can have writing about TV. I love TV and I love writing about the medium. I don't recap shows because the medium seems to me to be a rich smorgasbord and there’s so much to try. The problem is that as I don’t get any of the preview materials that professional critics do – particularly screeners of network shows – I have to write my reaction after I see the show as an ordinary viewer. And really that’s too late, particularly if I don’t get my review written overnight. Even if the review of a new show is finished by the next afternoon – and remember I am sometimes busy or otherwise distracted in the afternoons – any ability I or anyone in my situation has to influence anyone who is reading this is gone. Television is a slave to the ratings numbers and those come out in the morning. Someone like Marc Berman of AdWeek – for whom I have a certain amount of respect even though his is a purely scientific measure of determining whether a show deserves to survive or not – is able to tell me that that show that I liked last night is doomed to die in a little while because the ratings say no one is watching it. It makes it all feel frustrating and pointless. Why bother analysing the dramatic qualities of a show; just print the numbers and declare that “this is a bad show.”
I can’t do anything about the whole ratings frustration. TV isn’t about art; it is about getting people in position to watch commercials, and the only way you can define if a show does that job is with ratings. And maybe that’s at least partly the source of the writers’ block – I don’t write because of the apparent futility of writing. Still, I can at least try to beat the writer’s block in the only way I know how: by forcing myself to write through it. To that end I intend to do a recap of episodes of a single season show from a few years back that intrigued me to the point where I want to share my views about it. Let’s see if I can power through my problem. In the meantime I’ve got another article that I could be writing, and upfronts are next week, so I’m going to have to write about those – if I can find the time.