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Online Therapy

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Monday, May 30, 2011

Online Therapy

We're on, like, Day Three of the Great Selling Out Experiment.  Don't know how well it's going, but the post "Selling Out" has cracked the Top Ten.  For those of you who weren't around on Friday (and who are too lazy to scroll down two posts), I decided to put ads on my blog, less for the revenue and more for the principle (God, I love a good early morning double entendre).  I am firmly committed to the prospect of selling out, and I'd like any potential publishers out there to know this.  I am not one of those artist-types disillusioned by sacred vision.  Dear Little Brown, you want to change my gritty street memoir into a sitcom staring six nuns and a cat named Mr. Whiskers?  No fucking problem on this end.  Sign me up.  All those writers appalled at the prospect of editorial suggestions to change their work? Starbucks down the street is hiring.  Best seller is not a bad word(s), and if she hadn't retired I'd be happy to be a frumpy housewife Book o' the Month selection (although Jonathan Franzen is sort of my hero).  Screw integrity.  You know where integrity gets you?  To misquote Lou Reed: the the garbage heap over there.

So, yeah, I placed ads.  And it's been funny to see what AdSense has been putting up.  As you may know, these ads are selected by alien computer robots (it's true) based on words that frequently appear in one's posts.  For instance, I wrote last week how I'd just finished a short story called The Exterminator, so I've been seeing a lot of ads for dust mites and videos about women with lice.  I also mentioned having gone to see "Tales of the City," so there are ads for that show.  Stuff like that. But far and away, most of the ads are for therapy.

Justine asked me the other day what the day's post was about.  I said, "Neurosis." She said, "You write that post a lot."  I guess I do.  Rule #1 of writing: write what you know, right?  And it's not like it isn't a lucrative...milieu.

I'm just about done with Jason Mulgrew's Everything is Wrong with Me, a mildly amusing memoir about his mildly eventful childhood in Philadelphia.  Not much happened to Mulgrew, really.  His parents were divorced.  A cousin made him eat a very hot pepper.  The writing itself is decent enough, easy to read.  It's also taken me almost three months to finish, because I only read a few pages at a time.  Which isn't an indictment as much as...OK.  It's an indictment.  But I still would put the book under "I like" as opposed to "I hate," and there was a bit about Little League baseball that made me LOL.  Literally.  I mean, I laughed out loud.  Can't remember the last time a book actually made me do that.  And part of my problem getting through the book concerns that it's harder for me to do mainstream mainstream (for the record, I do what's called "fringe mainstream."  Slight difference).

I picked the book up in Borders, originally, because the back cover, which boasted that the book was born out of his blog, which got, get this, over 200 million hits. Two hundred million hits (make sure to say "million" in the voice of Dr. Evil for full effect).  That's, like, about 200 million more than mine (when we're talking 200 million, 13K doesn't really factor).  I wanted to see what Mulgrew did that garnered so much attention.  In a word: neurosis.  The guy is neurotic about eating breakfast. His memoir tagline is "a childhood gone, well, wrong."  And the dude is fucked up. But he's not Joe fucked up.  He's bi-polar.  (Bi-polar?  Oh, the good ol' days...)  He's high-strung, anxious, what my friend Mike calls 21st Century paranoia.  Still it's not like he's buying packages of razor blades and walking into the ocean with a pint of whiskey.  It's "cute" neurosis.  And I could learn a lot from a guy like Mulgrew about how to package mental shortcomings, and present them in Yahoo-type (i.e., easily digestible) nuggets.

What I really respect about Mulgrew is his willingness to hawk his neurosis for professional gain, to put his weirdness and perpetual oddball status on the page (or computer screen) for all to see, no shame, no modesty.  It's pretty obvious why I'd appreciate that (just ask AdSense).  I do the same thing.  Just for a lot less money.

But with your help, AdSense's revenue, and about 200 million more hits that could all change...


At May 30, 2011 at 8:49 AM , Blogger troubledwaters said...

See, the thing is that people think that neurosis adorable, when it's a little exaggeration of what they feel inside, not when it's scary lunacy run-for-cover, "that's the pervert that's been following me in the park" type. So to summarize: Quirky sells, junkie smells.

At May 30, 2011 at 9:02 AM , Blogger Joe Clifford said...

That might be the most astute thing you've ever said, Idan. Nice job!


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