Wednesday, May 06, 2009

What’s Your Pleasure?

by Marcus Sakey

We’re coming up on three years of running the Outfit, and as you know, adding some excellent new members. I for one am excited to have them come aboard. They're all good folk, and more important here, each will bring something new.

To be honest, when we first started this blog, I thought that after a year or so it would peter out, if for no other reason than sheer redundancy. But while there are certainly topics to which we frequently return—politics, crime, media, writing—I’ve been delighted to see that by and large we haven’t been dishing up leftovers.

Now, my other Outfitters are smarter than me, so I’m not surprised that they’re able to bring the fresh every time. But I’m willing to admit that there are weeks when I feel like I don’t have anything to say.

At that point, what I usually do is write something lightweight. I talk about a book I read and loved, or what I’m listening to, or I rant about something. Doing that has two interesting results. First, by the time I’m done with the piece, I usually find that I did have something to say after all. And second, those posts often generate the most discussion.

Which got me to wondering—as we head into our third year, is there anything you, our readers, would like to see? Anything you wish we talked about less, or anything you wish we’d spend more time on?

Do you want to read more about writing and publishing? More about what moves us? Greater political detail? Excerpts from our work in progress? Backhanded slaps at our half-articulate blog trolls?

Do you want this to be a discussion you take an active part in? Or would you prefer to lurk?

Honestly—what would you like?


Kevin Smith said...

I'd be interested in hearing more on the writing process, thoughts on character versus plot, dialogue versus internal thoughts, and on how you work into your copy the jackasses you meet in everyday life without finding yourself on the receiving end of a lawsuit.

Musings on agents, publishers and the point at which someone can reasonably consider writing fulltime and fleeing the aforementioned jackasses also would be appreciated.

jnantz said...

I usually lurk, but love it when I can take part in the discussion. I don't mind politics (I won't change anyone else's mind, and they won't change mine), but I usually come to you guys to learn about what makes each of you tick as writers, plus to get some feel of Chicago, a place I've never really spent any time. Other than that, I only blog once a week (plus a rescue animal feature), and I never feel like I have much to say, but I still get a little conversation, so you guys go right ahead and speak whatever's on your minds and we'll chat right back atcha.

David said...

I usually just lurk, but I'll share here. I really like it when you get into how your life in Chicago intersects with your writing. Which, after all, is the unique thing you guys have to offer.

Also, I like it when writers talk about how what they've done in their life informs their writing. And how that manifests in unexpected ways. We all know that no, you aren't exactly the characters you write about. But something that's happened to you has made it possible for your characters to be as interesting as they are. (And they are or we wouldn't keep coming back here. There's other things to read on the Internet, you know.)


Anonymous said...

I regularly read this blog for two reasons: 1) I love cime fiction, love to read reviews anything related to the genre, and 2) interested in writing, so I like hearing authors thoughts on the process, the industry, etc.

Ultimately, the blog should be for whatever you want to write about. After all, it is YOUR blog. However, if the subject matter isn't one of the above two topics, I generally skip reading it.

Darwyn said...

Okay, under the topic of "writing process", I'd like to specifically hear about times when you wrote yourselves into a corner and how you got out of it. (Basically, when you realize the story or character isn't "working" and what was involved in fixing it.)

Take us on that path.

abbourgoin said...

I'd like to see more on the writing/publishing process but also love the political/social rants. Maybe if you alternated.

Now that you are having a post a day, maybe it could be one day-writing. The next day-reading. The next day-politics. Sort of put things into a pitching rotation if you will that way no one topic gets too tired out.

Anonymous said...

Lurker here.

I have read at least one book from all of you. Mostly because of things you've said here. But things about writing or reading, not the political stuff.

I skip the blog when there's a rant or a political post, or some local Chicago thing. But I live here. I imagine someone not from Chicago might find it interesting.

For me there's hundreds of blogs out there to chose from. I have this one book-marked because I'm interested in writing and books and the life of professional authors. I don't come here to hear rants about politics or other such stuff. I can get that at hundreds of non-writing blogs.

If I were in charge of this blog, what I'd do over the next few weeks is pick one writing topic each week and have all of you chime in on it. Like, one week you all discuss how you deal with writer's block, another week you all talk about your own opinions of character vs. plot, another week it's story vs. language, etc.

I wouldn't do this forever, but I think a "series" or a special "Process month" or something would be really fascinating to read about.

As far as being involved or it being more interactive, I don't care. I'm not really interested in hearing from people like myself. As I said, I'm here to learn about professional authors and their lives.

Ted Harbert

Judy Alter said...

Because I lived on the South Side of Chicago the first twenty years of my life but have since been gone--mostly in Texas--I like reading the pieces about Chicago and its politics and problems. Seems like not a lot has changed since I was young. And yet on visits back I found the city really alive and vital and fun.

Dana King said...

It's rare for The Outfit not to interest me, so I'm not advocating major changes, but I'm also interested in your thoughts on writing, process, other books, movies, etc. This is such a diverse and talented group--and I've already learned quite a bit from you along these lines--I think that's an important function you serve.

The Chicago stuff is also nice. I lived there for about three years (Woodridge, actually; worked in The Loop), and I miss it. It's my second favorite city (after Pittsburgh, where I grew up), and I still set a fair amount of my writing there.

Marcus Sakey said...

Wow, interesting stuff! I would have guessed that folks would be interested in more writing oriented material, but not that it would be such a distinct preference. Okay, noted--for myself at least, I'll put a little more focus on that.

And if anyone else has thoughts, please, keep 'em coming--we're listening.

Sean Chercover said...

Thanks for blogging this, Marcus, and thanks especially to all for the thoughtful comments. Would love to hear more.

Guyot said...

I know my vote doesn't count as much as others, but...

As a professional writer, and one who almost never reads any blogs anymore, I still check in here once a week or so. I think this blog has one of the VERY FEW combinations of contributors that really have something interesting to say.

Now, I don't give a damn what anyone has to say politically. I don't read it here or anywhere else. If you're not actively involved in politics - meaning actually DOING something instead of just ranting or raving - then keep your mouth shut. But that's just me, and I know I'm in the minority.

What I don't count as talking about politics is the stuff you guys share about what's going on in your city politically. That is fascinating.

I love all the Chicago stuff. I'm only 300 hundred miles away, but I love hearing about the city from insiders. But not just the politics and trials. I love hearing ABOUT the city. The type of stuff you don't find in a Frommer's.

And the writing stuff... well, this is the gold, my friends. Not only are you all pro writers, but you're VERY GOOD pro writers. Again, a rarity in the blogosphere. So my favorite posts on The Outfit are when you talk craft or process or art or business. You are all very different writers with very different careers, and so to hear the differing POV's is gold.

Seacrest out

Stacey Cochran said...

Lurker here.

Bethany K. Warner said...

The writing stuff is what interests me. The political stuff is OK, but as a non-Chicagoan, it just doesn't hold my attention as much.

Maryann Mercer said...

I'm both lurking and posting...more lurking these days since my schedule is so crazy (and I'm waiting to hear from two agents and trying to keep writing)but I like your diversity. I was one of the few people here who did a happy dance when Drew was finally arrested(wouldn't have known too much except for your posts) and I like hearing about your favorites and dislikes as well. Keep writing on writing helps us 'guppies'! Happy third!