Writing

It’s been a lot of fun, writing here for the Nation family of sites .

(Tosses aside flagrant attempt to get page views with a sentence oddly suggestive of quitting.)

It has been a lot of fun. I get to spout off about the Oilers and hockey with minimal editorial control, rub shoulders with bona fide mainstream media guys – one of which I’ve respected ever since I started reading his work as a teenager – and engage with Oilers fans from all around the world. How often would a fan like me get a chance to ask a guy like Jason Gregor a question, and see Gregor bring that question to a player or coach? Not often.

I open with this to make it clear I’m not complaining – this experience has been a blast, and I wouldn’t trade it.

That said, I’m curious what people think the motivation of a writer here is. Getting beyond the obvious – the things I just pointed to, and the bag of tarnished gold coins a disreputable man drops off at my home once a month – there’s a much bigger factor that keeps me popping out articles: I like to write about things I like to write about. If I didn’t get to grab whatever topic popped into my head and run as far and fast with it as I wanted to, none of those other things would matter; it’s too much work to write if you don’t genuinely enjoy it.

That’s why I’m always amused by comments like the one Ducey made to Robin Brownlee yesterday:

As usual Brownlee you miss the point. Everything you write is about the media. But this is a hockey blog. Who gives a hoot about how he is treated in the media? The question is whether he is playing well…

Ducey went on to discuss Khabibulin, but it’s the first few lines I wanted to key in on. The suggestion there is that because Oilers Nation is primarily about hockey, the readers have the right to demand that Brownlee not discuss a related issue (how it plays in the media) and instead limit himself to the actual hockey being played.

The truth is that neither Ducey, nor any of the other readers here, have the right to dictate content. It’s something that seems to happen a fair bit, when Person X’s pet peeve isn’t getting the play he feels it deserves, or something he likes is (in his view) getting an unfairly rough go of it.

The main reason for that is that it wouldn’t work – people write about what they’re passionate about, what they’re interested in, what they feel they can do justice to (at least on blogs; I’m sure the MSM guys have written a thing or two that bored them for their more high-paying gigs). If anyone started having the power to dictate what I wrote, I’d pack my bags and wander someplace else. The primary motivation, the thing that got me started blogging, was the joy I took in it, and as long as writing is a sideline to a demanding full-time job, the fun of it is what keeps me going.

So by all means, keep tossing out suggestions (as many of you have) and keep critiquing the work itself. That’s part of the fun.

Just don’t expect to be able to dictate what other people write. If you feel strongly that something needs to be said, or need that kind of control, do what I did: go do it yourself.

  • @ Dodd:

    Definitely. We all have a right to opinions. And we all have a right to comment on coverage.

    We just don’t have the ability to change what someone else writes about, or the authority to decide what the point of someone else’s article is or should be.

    • O.C.

      Hmmm… Had to fly in and out of Ft St J yesterday… Small world.

      Yes, this is a nice blog site. We need Lawrence Welk to strike up the band and bubbles,

      Ana one,
      Ana two,
      Ana… “Kumbaya….”

  • I’ll start by saying that I love this site, and the “Wild West” style of writing anything you want, and if the readers don’t like it, fine.

    I regularly overlook the typos and other crap that we don’t see with higher profile media because I know I’m getting raw opinion, straight, no chaser.

    Trouble is, it’s a 2-way street. I think you may be wrong, JW, in assuming that because an ON poster takes issue with writing content or style that they want to dictate what is written here.

    I highly doubt that anyone who disagrees with a point or suggests that a writer here is looking at something from the wrong angle wants to “dictate” or censor what the author says. We throw dirtlumps at each other here all the time. They’re called opinions. You get yours and we get ours.

    Telling readers to “write it yourself if you don’t like it” is like me saying “stop writing here if you don’t like the responses”. Makes no sense.

  • Jon: As you can appreciate, the numbers say a helluva lot of people read what we write here.

    I don’t even need to look at those numbers (there’s a surprise) to know that. I get a lot of feedback in the rink, around town and beyond about this website. The vast majority of it is positive and most of it is based on the diversity of what can be found here. We don’t need to be patting each other on the back all the time. We don’t need to be of like minds or interests as writers to make it work.

    We are what we are because of the different approaches we take. That’s a good thing.

  • Do you take suggestions for topics? We had a discussion at work about the Oilers of the 80s. Paul Coffey’s offensive stats aside, how good was the Oiler’s defense? I would be intersted in your take. I am long in the tooth and short in memory.

  • Wanyes bastard child

    ~This article has nothing to do with hockey, im disappointed with you Willis and will forever more boycott anything non-hockey related … for shame, for SHAME!~

  • I love the fact that every writer here is vastly different. Willis throws out stats like nobody else, Lowetide knows more about baseball than anyone else in the universe, Gregor likes ice girls, Brownlee has the perspective of a beat writer that travelled with the team, Wanye posts drunk, etc etc etc.

    That’s what makes this place so awesome.

    A+++ blog, would read again!

  • The thing I like best about this site is that each writer’s pieces are painted with the brush of that writer’s experiences, interests and backgrounds.

    I can’t imgaine why anyone would want all the articles to have the same flavor and perspective.