Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Nine years, ten months, and twenty-one days on... is fast approaching its tenth birthday/anniversary (well, Classic-Horror, anyway -- the domain didn't come into the picture until a year in). It started out as a poorly coded section of an otherwise disposable personal site on Angelfire and has since mutated into the beast it is today.

I have mixed feelings associated with the occasion. Certainly, there's a sense of accomplishment. With the invaluable help of the best writing team a horror film site could want, I feel like the last couple of years have been key in solidifying what Classic-Horror is all about and where we fit in the broad landscape of horror on the Internet. Of course, the site continues to evolve. It always has and it always will, partly because I'm an inveterate tinkerer, partly because any project started at age sixteen will have identity issues built into its foundation, but mostly because that's just how the Internet works. It's part of the fun.

There's a strange melancholy mixed into the reverie, however. Ten years is a long time for anything and for a guy like me whose whims flit about like a pixie on a cocaine binge, it's occasionally rough. I am not the most organized or responsible guy on Earth. I've let down plenty of PR firms who've sent me screeners that I've proceeded to ignore. There's been correspondences I've let slide and interviews that I never transcribed. I feel that I let down Classic-Horror's readers with our entirely inconsistent posting schedule. I always refer to it as "my other job," even though I'm about to remove the ads and thus the (rather meager) revenue stream. I put about forty hours a week into the site, as well as the forty-five to fifty I clock in at my "real job."

Mind you, that's just how I am. My play is work. Always has been. I have tried the relaxing thing, but I wind up starting another project, sometimes before I'm even aware I've done so. Plus, I'm an autocrat by nature; I have the worst time delegating responsibilities (and I'm constantly thinking of new things to add or change or redesign).

Sometimes I wonder what other areas I could be applying these energies to. My cinematic knowledge is ridiculously unbalanced -- there are so many non-horror movies I have yet to see, others that I've seen but have yet to really appreciate. I've written some moderately clever things about some great horror movies in my time, but can I expand to other genres?

Even staying within the genre, there are other avenues I could explore. I'd like to write an article for Video Watchdog or Rue Morgue at some point. I'd love to have a book on horror published by McFarland. Given how often I hover around their booth at San Diego Comic-Con every year, I probably owe them something.

Also, for a variety of reasons that don't bear mentioning, I never finished college. I have just a year and a half on a Bachelor's in Cinema and Comparative Literature from the University of Iowa. I'd like very much to see that through at some point in my life, even if I'm terrified of the notion at the same time.

If you're with me so far, you're probably thinking one of two things right now:
  1. "Can't you do both Classic-Horror AND (study other cinema / write a book/ go back to school)?"
  2. "You sound miserable. Why don't you quit Classic-Horror so you can (study other cinema / write a book / go back to school)?"
The first one is easy to answer, the second one... not so much.

Can I do both the site and another project and do them sanely? No, not really.

Y'see, when I do something, I do it full-on. Everything else must fit in whatever spaces are left. It's probably a coping mechanism from the years when my severe ADHD and mild depression went undiagnosed. It's also partially a personality thing; moderation is not my strong suit. Once I stopped having a structure and a goal associated with this blog, for instance, I pretty much forgot it. When I was working on this blog regularly, however, I squeezed out all the time I needed for things like cleaning my apartment, socializing with friends, and general "staying-sane-now" downtime. My girlfriend damn near held an intervention.

So... can't I just drop the site?

...are you CRAZY? Quitting Classic-Horror at this point would be tantamount to shutting it down. That would be throwing ten years of hard work down the drain, not to mention some fantastic writing from the C-H team.

I could only conceivably drop even part of my commitment to the site if I found someone as obsessively detail-oriented as me to share in the daily duties. Preferably this person would be more interested in the business side of the website, because I completely fail there. They'd also be sensible enough to say, "Don't you think we have enough on our plate?" The major kicker, however, is that they would have to be someone that I trust implicitly and I don't come by that sort of thing easily. Plus, Classic-Horror being the major time commitment that it is, even if I did trust someone enough, they'd have to be willing to put in all that time for nothing but the satisfaction of a job well done. That's not exactly something I can put an ad out for (believe me, I've considered it).

Plus, for every occasion of angst the site has brought, I've had twice as many moments of giddy joy: meeting and interviewing genre personalities, corresponding with horror experts, having published authors contribute reviews to the site, and seeing Classic-Horror reviews quoted on DVD covers. I've been interviewed by the Chicago Tribune, had a letter column debate with Roger Ebert in the Sun-Times, high-fived Wil Wheaton while geeking about Motel Hell, and even attended an honest-to-gosh Hollywood movie premiere. These are moments I wouldn't give up for anything.

So in case you're wondering, Classic-Horror is not going anywhere anytime soon. There's still whole swaths of horror history we haven't covered and I still have things I want to say.

I occasionally wonder, though, if another ten years will be worth the effort. Something, I think, will have to give eventually. I just hope it isn't my sanity.

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