Richard Rushfield quit his job as an editor at LAT to be a blogger. Not just any blog but Gawker. He’s the West Coast editor. But its still a blog. Lateral move? Upgrade? Downshift?
He sat down with us for a little Q & A about his career move and his new book:
FBLA: So how is the switch from traditional media to new media?
RR: Ah yes. The switch is invigorating. This is where the conversation is.
FBLA: New media is where the conversation is?
RR: There were so many times when you’d write a wonderful article for the LATimes, or break some news and it would just be met by the sound of crickets. When you are at the LAT you’re at a place where even the website isn’t in the central flow of the nation’s cultural conversation. But at Gawker one is very much in and a part of that conversation and as one who is writing, in part at least to communicate, that’s where you want to be.
FBLA: Do you think the struggle is with reporters who enjoy the sound of crickets?
RR: Yes, I mean, you are writing not just for the fun of hearing your own voice – although that’s at least 2/3 the thrill, but because you want to be read and to make some sort of impression…
FBLA: Way to make blogging sound sexy.
RR: I’ll be considered a supermodel in 700 years.
FBLA: So you wrote this book…advising people to not follow you, as you are strangely, the first few in what is sure to be a larger trend in newspapers – reporters becoming pro-bloggers.
RR: Come again?
FBLA: Your memoir – it’s title is Don’t Follow Me, I’m Lost and you’re the tip of a trend in media. This wasn’t on purpose?
RR: Ah, yes, it all comes full circle doesn’t it. I suppose that in the book I demonstrate how my trend of making bizarre and self-destructive decisions was well established in my youth, long before taking your career in insane directions became cool. You could, I suppose say, I invented the Internet. Metaphorically.
FBLA: Ha! Look how deep that question turned out to be.
RR: Don’t blame me! I’m just typing stuff.
FBLA: We heard your book is hilarious, could you confirm this?
RR: Yes, absolutely, my book is certified to be hilarious by the humor writing authorities at the Keillor Institute. It contains at least two side-splitting episodes of youthfully misguided hi-jinx and a cast of wacky, impossible to believe characters that will have you laughing through your tears. And if anyone reads and does not get their guaranteed two laughs a chapter, I will be them a cup of regular coffee or a single latte and sit quietly for 20 minutes while they tell me how much funnier I could have made it if I had followed their advice.
FBLA: That is, perhaps the funniest thing we’ve ever heard.
RR: Damn, its too late to put it in the book then!
FBLA: Do you read memoir genre a lot?
RR: I do read a lot of them, yes. I like life stories, biographies, memoirs, you name it. People’s lives have such unwieldy chaotic arcs that I often find more satisfying than the tidiness of fiction.
FBLA: Did you always think you’d write this book?
RR: No…never actually. the idea of writing a memoir myself was actually horrifyingly invasive. But I wrote first a fictional version of this…or get about 300 pages into one, and then I realized that trying to make such crazy times that had no clear resolution or structure or apotheosis fit into a fictional book was just beyond my powers. And it was also sounding much more maudlin and sentimental than I could bear. So when I started trying to write it as non-fiction, just to write what happened and not try to impose much on it, it finally just clicked. I wish it hadn’t.
FBLA: You just made at least a dozen struggling novelists head’s explode.
RR: I’m sure, but I’m not saying fiction can’t handle that. I’m saying my own powers as a fiction writer weren’t up to the task. Being a journalist and all i turn out to be much more comfortable writing in the non.
FBLA: Thanks for your time Richard. We’re looking forward to reading the book!