Bright Wall/Dark Room magazine’s fifth issue is now available, and it’s a Halloween spooktacular. A (vintage!) piece that I wrote about Carrie is in it, and when Chad sent me this accompanying illustration by Brianna Ashby, I got a little emotional (blame Carrie’s period). A couple of years out of college, I was floating between desk jobs, commercial auditions and retail, trying to figure out how to function as an adult; BWDR and This Recording gave me the opportunity to practice being a writer without the accompanying terrors of being thrown into a professional space where I didn’t know the ropes. I got assignments and deadlines, learned how to work with an editor, and started to build up the kind of confidence it takes to pitch to outlets that would pay me (BWDR now does just that), even if that pay was like $50. Seeing what BWDR has become makes me so proud, though I can’t take credit for any of it, because it’s a site that has always embraced its writers and their voices. It’s a warm, fuzzy corner of the internet, like a sherpa bean bag.
There’s also probably no greater cyberhug than seeing someone create art based on something you’ve written. Brianna was my IRL friend when we were stacking Juicy sweatsuits in a mall in Providence, RI, and what she’s created for BWDR makes me want to go back in time and high-five her, taking her out for the Newcastles and cheese plates we used to indulge in after our Sunday shifts. Maybe my sentimentality about these things has to do with the fact that the internet community, Tumblr in particular, seemed so tight and friendly back in the mid-late 2000’s. My slice of this site was comprised of people who were all in similar stages of life, and who have since scattered: they became TV writers, authors, actors — they went pro! — or dropped off the face of the earth, grew weird Twitter streams, did crazy drugs and revealed themselves as Catfish bait. The latter group is the minority. Being able to collaborate with old friends, and keeping in touch with the people who became part of your life wirelessly, is meaningful. Having a blog and writing as a hobby can often feel like activities void of direction, and I like to think that we’re all proof that those things are worth something, if you want them to be.
My essay originally ran years ago, and now here it is again. I hope you like it, but more than that I hope you like the rest of the pieces in this issue, because the contributors are some of my favorite internet writers around. And I hope that if you’re sizing t-shirt racks or waiting tables and penning essays at night, wondering if you should pursue writing as a career, you find the same wonderful people who encourage you that I have, and that you get to see someone take inspiration from things you’ve made and draw beautiful, bloody prom queens to go with your words. Now stop gushing, go into your closet and pray.
P.S. BWDR iTunes subscription link? Here you go!
P.P.S. The artwork for It will scar you for life. But in a good way.
Tess = the best.
She downplays it in this post, but she absolutely had a WHOLE LOT to do with both the creation and early success of Bright Wall/Dark Room. She wrote the very first essay ever to appear on the site, arguably setting the entire tone for what we started doing after, spent hours on IM with me figuring out various site-related things, and used her internet cache to bring lots of eyeballs to the site at a time when they were sorely needed. I honestly believe it wouldn’t have gotten off the ground without her — and we miss her so much now that Grantland has taken her away from everyone else!
Also, the first site Tess and I tried to start on tumblr was a blog making fun of emo (called “Emoblr”? or something like that?). We made like three total posts, basically just trying to make the other one laugh, and then realized it was the worst site ever. Total disaster.
To sum up, though, I wish every person I met on the internets was as wonderful as Tess.