My drug of choice is writing––writing, art, reading, inspiration, books, creativity, process, craft, blogging, grammar, linguistics, and did I mention writing?

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Why Won't You Answer My Question? (F.A.Q.)

Question: Why didn't you answer my question? Why won't you answer my question? How do I ensure that you answer my question? 

Short answer: I might still be getting to it, or it may not have made the cut. If you want to hedge your bets, make it short, sweet, something I haven't answered already, and slip me a Benny.

Long answer: Back in the day I kind of had to beg for questions. People would mention something in passing during a face-to-face conversation, and I would write it up as if they had been sent in to be answered on the blog. I would pause random conversations and say, "Do you mind if I use that question in my blog." I would make up people's names. I would mine the comment sections on FB posts for anything I could respond to as if it had been sent in as a question.

These days I'm having the opposite problem. I can write one or two answers a week, and I get a couple of questions on a slow day. I'm sure even with our Math for Liberal Arts classes, we writers can figure out how this one goes.

So first of all, your question might take a while to answer. I have a queue, but I also triage a bit too based on what seems like it fits my mood. It's not every day I'm ready to apply post-structuralist, postmodernist analysis to Ren and Stimpy, and I have to be in a mood to really fire back at some of the hate mail with panache. Sometimes I just want to tell you where the comma goes and go play some Horizon: Zero Dawn.

And some questions may never get answered.

Here's a helpful little flowchart for you if you're hoping to get your question answered on the blog.

1) Play me like an instrument. Message me. We connect and eventually meet for crepes. You seem to like me but not be starstruck or weird about it. This is, of course, a ruse. You tell me (all lies) how much you like MST3K, Netflix binges, and threesomes. I am smitten. We go on a few more dates. Things get serious. You pretend to fall for me. We move in together and you discover how little I really make from writing, but stick with me for love. (It's all part of the plan.) We get married and have a couple of kids even though I worry I'm too old to start a family. I never notice the sinister spider-like look when our second child is born. Then, one day, you turn to me and say "Hey, if I asked you a question, will you answer it on your blog THIS WEEK."

Absolutely yes!

Of course it'll be terrible when I realize this was all a long con to jump the Writing About Writing questions queue, and my life is a total sham, but that is totally one way to get your question answered...um....early.

Let's go on to number two though, just in case this isn't what you had in mind.

2) First check to see if your question has been answered before. There's The Best of The Mailbox, The Not-So-Best of the Mailbox, 20 Questions, and Rage Against the Brecheen. You should also check the FREQUENTLY asked questions both for the blog and for My Facebook Page.

I know that's a lot to slog through, but the titles are pretty well labeled.

I may occasionally answer a question again (or even more likely, revise my old answer a bit) if it's been a while or it could use some rehashing.

In a perfect world, I would have enough time to make sure everyone who asks a redundant question gets a reply with the URL to the old answer, but depending on how deep I am down the rabbit hole at any given time, I may not be able to do that. I'm overwhelmed by strangers trying to interact with me on the best of days.

3) Keep it short

I'm less likely to post a question that reads like a college essay. I know we're all writers and it takes three pages to write a question others would compose in five words, but consider brevity the soul of wit when it comes to what I'll put up on the blog. I'll still post a really great question if it's long and skip a really short question if it's not a good fit, but that's the way to hedge your bets.

4) Keep an eye out for questions LIKE yours
I get a lot of questions, but many of them are similar or almost identical. I may put up a different version or a composite version of your question, but it is still basically YOUR question. Which means your question might go to the back of the queue for some day, months from now, when half my readership has turned over and everyone who's left can't remember the earlier version.

5) Send it to my email (and label it with "Mailbox")
I will answer questions I get through the "Private Message" function of Facebook, but I get a lot of those every day, and there is no way to mark them as important. So your question is likely to get pushed down and fall out of sight and out of mind. It will be MUCH more likely to be answered if you drop it in my email (chris.brecheen@gmail.com), where I can give it a star and come back to it when I have time. Also put "MAILBOX" somewhere in the subject line, so that when I do a keyword search for questions, your question comes up.

6) Be a patron
Of course if you want to just help this artist/entertainer navigate the perils of a capitalist society, you could always go the total sellout route. It may sound crass, but I give preference to the folks keeping me flush in electricity and calm landlords. Patreon supporters or anyone who has just dropped a tip into the conspicuously placed tip jar I will happily let jump the queue.

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