In the immortal words of our own PFTCommenter:
if your going to write 33,000 words about ANYTHING Im going to hate whatever you wrote about. You could write 33k words about cold beer and I would never want to drink again because you made it all not fun any more with all of youre words.
So. Let’s talk about #longreads and their cousins, #thinkpieces.
We’ve all read them. Whether we did on Grantland, Deadspin, on MMQB, on HuffPo, Grantland, Destructoid, The AV Club, BuzzFeed, or fucking GRANTLAND, we’re all familiar with the #longread. And some of them are even pretty good. On the face of it, there’s nothing wrong with reading a story that takes a little bit of space to tell. Hell, The Great Gatsby is technically a #longread, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a key part of American literature that is worth reading.
But that’s not what we’re talking about. We’re talking about the kind of shit that happens on a slow news day. We’re talking about those times a recruit in training camp makes an offhand statement and the entire sports media ends up penning 10,000 word essays on why the fact that Sammy Watkins made an joke to his teammate means that the state of the NFL is in disarray and the players aren’t respecting their coaches enough. We’re talking about those articles filled with so much fluff, so many filler words, that the original point of the article is completely lost while the readers, eyes glazed over with boredom, continue scrolling down as if by habit.
There is an inherent elitism in writing any sort of piece that will take longer than ten minutes for somebody to read. You are implying that this thing that you wrote is worth somebody else’s time, to the exclusion of whatever else they may want to do at the moment. Now, again, if the piece has something to say? Fine. I’ll read your article and judge if it’s worth my time to keep reading it. Some arguments take longer to make, and not every story can be told in a paragraph or two.
But when a writer pens a fucking 18-paragraph article on sabermetrics and comes to the conclusion “maybe stats are everything, but then again, maybe not!”, that writer can go get fucked with a quill pen. Above all, shit like this is an insult to the reader, who is no more informed when they finished the article than when they started reading it. People read because they’re interested in a subject, or at least interested in what a writer has to say about a subject. There are writers out there that can shit out thousands and thousands of words without saying anything at all. One in particular comes to mind. These people all have jobs that likely pay at least twice what you or I make. They are paid to do the equivalent of tightening the margins or screwing with the double space settings to make your high school paper seem longer than it is. And they expect respect for it. As if the achievement of being able to write 5,000 words without making a point or argument is something to be celebrated.
And I know that shit makes you guys angry, because you read Fun with PK. But just for a second, imagine that you dream of being a writer. That you aspire to one day get a job writing full-time because that is your passion. It’s one of the few things that you love, that fulfills you, and makes you feel proud. Imagine working hard for little pay during your lunch break at work, or after work, or before bed where you can to hone your craft. Imagine how hard it must be for someone like that to read something by Peter King and know that although a 6 year old could make a point more concisely than PK, King’s the one with the website, with the money, and with the power.
It’s fucking crushing. And it happens all the time. Writers masturbate to the point of completion and then jizz out meaningless thinkpieces all the fucking time. At best, they’re a massive waste of time, and at worst, it’s a slap in the face to anybody who dreams of writing for a living. Why learn to make a point in a concise, entertaining, and engaging way, if all these assholes are making stupid amounts of money by writing articles that have nothing to say? Why fucking bother, if all you have to look forward to is more jizz in your face?
Ernest Hemingway allegedly wrote one of the best stories ever written out to dinner with friends. It’s six words long.
For sale: Baby shoes. Never worn.