Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Shtickless in the blogosphere

I'm jealous of Ann Powers.

Make that Jayne Lytel, the blogger who created Ann (left) as the saucy alter-ego to life as a 53-year-old unemployed divorcee and mother of two.
Jayne lives in the basement in-law apartment of the family home in Washington, D.C. Her ex-husband, who's also unemployed, and the kids live upstairs.

Ann, on the other hand, contemplates a new career as a mini-skirted 30-Second Girl in Vegas, one of the bleach blondes who holds up a sign to alert the motocross pit to time ticking down before the big race. Or she makes plans to find her soul mate on MillionaireMatch.com.

As confusing as all this sounds, it's modern Americana, made more messy by the Great Recession.

I don't envy Jayne her life -- heavens no! Hers is the tale of a once-comfortable existence headed downmarket -- a future anyone who is unemployed and honest will admit to fearing. But I do envy her Ann, the gimmick that's getting her clicks on her blog.

These days, it seems, everyone has a blog -- and many of the newcomers are unemployed writers (journalists/marketing mavens/PR practitioners) cut loose by the economy. We blog because we used to make a living by writing, so continuing to write makes us feel like we're still steering the ship thrown off-course by layoffs and buyouts. (Although in blogging we no longer make a living.)

It took me awhile to start this blog because I lacked a gimmick. Early on, I had stumbled on the blog of a former newspaper reporter and editor in Chicago who wrote about his layoff and the state of journalism. But he always included factoids on corn and soybeans --"crops" this onetime Iowa farm boy was trying to grow in two planters on his condo rooftop, located near his beloved Cubbies (about which he also blogged) and Wrigley Field.

That was his shtick, which I was certain I couldn't top. Had I run into Ann Powers then... Well, let's just say I'd still be contemplating my navel.

The skinny "patio" tomato plant I had this summer yielded all of three red orbs -- hardly worth writing about. And try as I might, I can't seem to channel Ann Powers. But I'll keep an eye out for any new, original gimmicks that might bring in the clicks.

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