I’m not sure how I became the editorial writer for Hellnotes … the first time or this time. It’s not one of those things you plan or something that even happens as the result of some conscious effort. It’s more like one of those things that just kind of happens to you when you’re focused on something else, not really paying attention. Like slipping on an icy sidewalk, for instance, or catching a cold.
I can no longer remember everything that Dave and I envisioned when he first launched Hellnotes back in 1997 (Available by e-mail, fax and hard copy! Sign up now!), but I’m quite sure it didn’t involve me writing a weekly introductory note, and it certainly didn’t require me to come up with a full-fledged thought-provoking editorial every week. If it had, I’m sure I would have politely excused myself from the project before it even began. As someone whose day job (small-town newspaper editor) already requires him to write an editorial once a week, on deadline, there is no way I would have willingly agreed to do another one. I know how tough it is. Believe me, despite what some folks might tell you, there is no sane person in this world who actually has a new, fresh, original and insightful opinion on any topic 52 times a year, let alone on a topic as thought-about, written-about, critiqued and analyzed and dissected as the horror field.
I almost remember, I think, a conversation Dave and I had when we realized we wanted Hellnotes to move beyond market listings and news blurbs, to have a little more depth, a little more substance, a little more meat. I believe the idea may have been to dash off a few quick editorials just to get the ball rolling, to show people the possibilities and entice other writers to contribute their own guest commentaries. Not a bad idea, but apparently it didn’t work the way we thought it would. For whatever reason, we moved from those first couple teaser columns to me writing a brand new editorial once a week, every week, for the next five years. Talk about things getting out of control!
So, having escaped once, why have I agreed to do it again? As I said up top, I’m really not sure, but I have a few guesses. First, it’s been more than four years since I penned my last Hellnotes editorial, and my batteries have essentially recharged. Second, so much has changed since 2002, both in the genre and in the technology we use to deliver the genre to the public, that I now have fodder for many new columns. Third, this is no longer a weekly thing (Dave swore I could do this whenever I felt like it … once a week, once a month, a couple times a year, whatever … and I intend to hold him to it), so the whole intimidating-and-unforgiving-deadline thing is pretty much moot. And finally … well, Dave asked me, and in nearly 25 years of working together, I’ve never been very good at telling him “no.”
So here I am, befuddled as always but ready to start anew. All I ask from you is that you keep in touch as this feature develops. If you like what you see, please let me know, or drop Dave a note and tell him. Likewise, don’t hesitate to send me your questions, comments, criticisms, witticisms, suggestions and slams.
There is so much to talk about in this field, and I definitely want you to be part of the conversation.
Paul F. Olson