For a while I had comments turned off on the blog. This was mainly because they only ever caused me stress. The internet's a funny thing, offering literally everyone the ability to react immediately and be heard. In some cases, that's a good principle; it's done wonders for media and creative thought.
In other cases, it's obnoxious and destructive. If you're one of those people who's addicted to Twitter, you might get an inkling of that -- you end up hooked on a drip of irrelevant information, a sea of thought and opinion noise that you can't really explain why you're reading but can't seem to stop.
That's how it is for me and comments some of the time. Yes, I write so that I can hear what people have to say back on a given subject -- for me my work is a form of large-scale conversation -- and yet paradoxically in order to do it I need to do it in a vacuum, in a way that's for me, that could exist whether people are listening or not.
Writing for the commenters is a bad policy. This is because so few of them are ever actually useful to the writer; commenting is something that in general benefits readers more than it does writers. I turned comments back on because I feel like that's something you guys need, want and deserve, but I very carefully cultivate a state of remove from the obligation to read them all.
I wrote my latest Thought Catalog piece, "The Different Types of Commenters There Are", mainly as satire, but there's a grain of truth in all humor, right?
Coincidentally, someone asked me last night on Formspring what kinds of questions annoy or tax me, and I began the response thinking "oh, very few," and concluded it while realizing, "actually, that's kind of a lot."
People ask me a lot how I manage to "put up with" the internet. It's not particularly easy. And yet I am such an active Twitter user, such a high-volume Facebook user (sorry, friends!) and there is nothing in the world that says I need to maintain a Formspring and make myself so available, but I do.
I think because being engaged in dialog with people in general, my readers in particular, is important to me. Even when it's hyperstimulating or exhausting, it helps me feel realistic, if that descriptor makes sense. But general word of advice to anyone who's of a similar need and mind: Careful you don't let people feel entitled to you. Do it on your own terms. Be aware of how people are responding to what you put out there -- yet remember, you are not some object in need of being constantly shaped by 'constructive criticism' from the outside. You're you and at the end of the day people can listen or not, and you can detach.
I think I let myself be so available that some people became more interested in me -- and not even me-as-a-person, but me as some kind of visible entity that could be commanded to react and share herself on command from strangers -- than in my writing, even when my writing's what made me initially visible to them.
Sometimes you guys write me and say I've grown some teeth, or gotten an "edge", or that I seem angrier than when I was a friendly community blogger puttering around SVGL mostly undisturbed. I think that's because I don't always know how to deal with that feeling -- that everyone feels entitled to be heard by me or answered by me, no matter what they want to say. I mean, that people observe changes in my public personality and can talk to me about them is sometimes surreal enough.
One exciting thing about me being freelance now and having a little more free time and emotional space is I can really concentrate on shifting my focus back, away from "being a video game writer for you" and back onto "writing about video games for you," if that makes sense. Excited about that.
[Today's Good Song: Papercuts, 'Do You Really Want To Know']