Sibilance. Sibilance.

This is my blog. (Check one-two. Sibilance. Is it on?)

How come? Why now?

I know I’m eight or nine years late starting one. All this time I had the only outlet I ever needed, writing for the Washington Post’s Style section about darn near anything I wanted, for 700,000 or so paying customers who get the print edition and millions of unpaying, deadbeat customers online. When the Post was starting far too many blogs in the mid-‘00s, I carped in an in-house memo that none of the paper’s writers should be blogging at all; we should be writing stories that are blogged about. I also have enormous issues about writing for free.

Well, some things have changed. I still work at the Post (last I checked), but I feel like now I have some reasons to blog. (As for writing for free, well, it’s a fucking renaissance out there, isn’t it? So long, six centuries of the printed word! Hello, crapola!)

The big reason is pretty shameless – I’d like to get people to buy and read my book, Tinsel, which comes out in November.

The other reason is it’s nice to be able to type the word “fucking” and just hit publish. I need the sort of valve so many others have discovered on the great grassy bloglands of the new frontier – a quasi-space of my own to write whatever else I’m not being paid to write.

We’ll see how it goes. I have no idea if my employer even allows me to blog. I think I’m just supposed to take it easy on tales of internecine warfare in the Post newsroom and that I should not, like, endorse candidates for public office and that sort of thing. I can only hope this blog brings trouble, because trouble means it’s being read.

What I’ll do here:

Whack off every other day or so on matters pop-cultural. Stuff I’m reading, stuff I’m crazy for.

  1. Talk a lot about the making of Tinsel, which is a nonfiction narrative about Christmas, America, baby Jesus, the economy, three families, and a modern-day exurb outside of Dallas called Frisco. When I was down in the dumps writing Tinsel, I loved to read other authors’ blogs about process – down to things like word counts, what font people type their manuscripts in, how the editing is going, galley proofs, debates over the cover art, how to get inspired, all the highs and lows. Between now and the release date, I’ll slowly recount the story of how I pitched, reported, wrote and edited the book. And when you’re good and bored and Christmas is at our throats again, I’ll file dispatches from the skirt-hitching phase, as I try to attract customers and do readings in bookstores, etc.
  2. Muse often about the pitfalls and joys of writing creative nonfiction – working so hard to get everything exactly right, and yet also trying to make art out of journalism.
  3. Write about stuff I see and do – other people’s book parties, trips to the mall to watch the shopocalypse, etc.
  4. Link to stuff that pertains to #2, especially as the Christmas season approaches and the shopping malls struggle to lure the consumer species back to its natural habitat.
  5. Share feedback I’m getting about the book, even if it’s unkind or runs counter to the story I’ve told. Also, answer questions.

If I could be any blogger in the whole world, I would be Nancy Nall. I’ve read her every day for five or six years and you should too. Nancy, who found life beyond newsprint, treats her blog like a morning stretch before her real work begins, but seems always sharp. It will take me a long time to do it with the agility and smarts that she does – but that’s my hope.

Now it’s launched. Have a look around the rest of and tell me anything you think I should know.


  1. blathering on July 14, 2009 at 11:12 pm

    Welcome to the blogosphere. My only Christmas contribution is
    another blog but it features “a cavalcade of bad nativities.”

  2. Jolene on July 15, 2009 at 9:55 am

    Three tecnical suggestions.

    1. Your blog needs a favicon. You can find favicon generators
    online. I’ve never used one, so I can’t recommend anything, but it
    appears that there are several you could try. Am not sure whether
    it would work to use something with as much detail as your book
    cover, but perhaps you could work w/ your cover designer to create
    something that used the T from the title and the squiggle
    surrounding it. Or whatever.

    2. You need to do whatever needs to be done to make the text wrap
    in this comment box. I’m having to hit return to see what I’m
    typing because, without returns, the text disappears under the edge
    of the comment box.

    3. Consider adding a preview or edit function of some sort.

    Am looking forward to being a regular reader. I’ve missed you
    since you became an editor, so this will be fun.

    And, by the way, you’re right about Nancy. She’s the best.

  3. MichaelG on July 15, 2009 at 10:09 am

    Welcome. I’ve enjoyed your columns immensely. There are too few really good writers and I’ve always thought you were one. I have to admit I’ve mooched your stuff on line rather than buying the WaPo but then I live in CA. I’ll be following along and oh, yes, Nancy sent me.

  4. The Subtle Rudder on July 15, 2009 at 10:15 am

    Welcome, and glad you’re here. I loved Off-ramp and I read Nancy Nall, so it’s a pleasure that those 2 things have collided.

  5. pato' on July 15, 2009 at 10:37 pm

    Also a big fan over the years, Hank, and yeah, a daily Nancy Naller, too. Looking forward to your take from the blogosphere.

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