An Interview With Blogger Brit McGinnis

BritMcGinnis is a writer whose blog is dedicated to “wit, snark, And living the examined Life”. Here is a link to the site:

http://www.happilycynical.com/

 

Q:  What inspired you to start your blog?

A: My blog was actually first started as a project for school — five years ago. After the project ended, it was abandoned. But when I wanted to get into actual blogging (as a way to develop my writing in a much more open way. Basically to lose my fear of having my writing judged and to grow more as a writer overall!), I remembered this one. After MUCH revamping (including two title changes and a major design overhaul), it became a project I really loved contributing to.

Q:  How did you get into professional blogging?

A: I honestly don’t consider myself a professional blogger. I feel more like a writer who uses blogging as a writing outlet. I initially entered the world of professional blogging because I wanted to write about things that mattered to me in a way that would be entertaining or insightful to someone else. That’s the main thing: It can’t just be about me. As a contributor to the Internet, I feel a duty to anyone who may read my stuff to be entertaining in some way. I didn’t want to be a blithering-diary sort of blog. Ever.

Q:  What is the strangest thing you have ever been asked to write about?

When I wrote for a weekly newspaper, I had to cover a story about whether or not a tree outside a long-standing city monument was going to be torn down or not. It was surveyed by experts, and there were people with very strong opinions on both sides. But personally, I was bored to tears. That was one of the stories that turned me against writing “hard news” stories — I can be too immature to write well about something I genuinely don’t give a sh*t about. It’s not a good quality, but it’s something I’ve learned to work around.

Q:  What makes someone a true cynic?

A: To me, a cynic is something that doesn’t accept anything at face value. Like when the iPhone 5 came out — a cynic is someone who would have wanted to know exactly why this new model was so special before getting excited about it. So it’s the latest thing from Apple. So what? That doesn’t mean it’s good for their needs or that it’s good technology. If a cynic went to an Apple unveiling, they’d be the ones who would look back at the audience in the dark. They’d see the astonished and eager looks on the peoples’ faces and wonder, “Is it really worth all that, people?”

Q:  Do you think cynicism is more acceptable in other countries besides America?

A: Oh, absolutely! When I was traveling and working in Ireland, I encountered many more cynical people abroad than I did at home. They knew exactly what was going on in their country and usually had an opinion about it. They took most advertising with a grain of salt, which was grand. But I think having cynicism in your blood was definitely more acceptable over there because of the overall national attitude. The decisions of government and economics directly and almost automatically affected the people, who were accustomed as a people to things not going their way. But whenever things went well, I noticed the Irish were genuinely happy and relaxed. That’s the thing about being a cynic — it doesn’t have to mean you’re negative all the time. It can just mean that you’ll only accept real joy in your life. No half-a*s happiness, so to speak.

Q:  What main difference between a blogger and a journalist?

A: This is a tough thing to answer, because I’ve wrestled with it for years. I’ve been a member of the journalistic community for years, but I do not consider my blog a journalistic endeavor. Absolutely not. To me, a blogger is someone who writes an unprofessional writing blog, mostly for entertainment. They do not mean to inform, and their blog/writing outlet doesn’t have the implicit credibility that comes with writing for a news outlet. It’s sad, but it’s true. There are definitely bloggers that act as journalists, and it’s a shame that their blogs do not have the credibility they deserve. But I admit that I am a bit old-school in terms of bloggers having that kind of journalistic credibility. I’ve been a journalist, and I’ve been a blogger. And 9 times of 10, I do not mix those aspects of my writing life.

Q: Why do you think so many people have blogs?

A: Honestly, the fact that blogs are so common nowadays used to annoy me.It felt like a lot of people suddenly started yelling, “Look at what I made!” and throwing construction paper projects at everyone else. But now I somewhat understand the urge for a non-media-professional to create a blog: It’s a way of being a witness. It’s a way of stating, “I was here; I did this.” I’ve written research papers about citizens in other countries, and blogs about daily life in those countries written by citizens were invaluable. And thank goodness the blogs are getting better and better design-wise. I don’t care if people are just blogging about their cat’s dinner — if the content is clever and the design is good, I’ll give it a shot!

Q:  What sort of day job do you have and how does it effect your writing?

A: My day jobs have certainly varied — I had to work all throughout college, which entailed a lot of barely-enough-hours jobs (and a lot of filling-in-the-gaps gigs). My last day job, however, was as a commercial painter and housecleaner. I hated that job with every corner of me, but the upside of that was the abundance of emotional energy that came to my writing. But I have always filled in financial gaps by working as a model, which always helps fuel my creative energy as an equal-and-opposite artistic endeavor.

Q:  What blogs do you follow?

 

A: Most of the blogs I follow are either industry blogs (Galleycat, the Muffin, etc.) or else blogs of people I have a personal relationship with. However, there are a few notable exceptions. I adore the Postsecret blog, and the Dublin Taxi Driver blog is lovely.

Q:  Who are some of your writing influences?

 

A: My automatic answer is Elizabeth Gilbert — she has the same birthday as I do! Victor Hugo and Juliet Mariller also deeply influenced me. But more than anything, comedians and masters of the spoken word have perhaps influenced me most. To reveal my inner public radio geek, the first time I heard Studs Terkel speak was a big inspiration for me (even if it was only on an e-book). I spent much of my adult life listening to podcasts, radio shows and stand-up comedy, and I detect that in my writing more than anything.

 

 

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)

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