Non-Striking Writers Form Attention-Getting Blog Site

TheNervousBreakdown.com Provides Readers With Articles By Successful Writers

Though there’s a writers strike going on, some Los Angeles writers are not part of a writers union. One group of successful non-striking writers belongs to the talented writing community thenervousbreakdown.com.

Now don’t get their site’s name wrong. It doesn’t relate to an out-of-control mental condition, but rather a community of self-empowered writers based in Los Angeles, though spread around America and the world.

Nick Belardes of ABC23 caught up with the brainchild of the site, LA Times best selling author of “Attention. Deficit. Disorder,” Brad Listi, and some of the writers of thenervousbreakdown.com near downtown Los Angeles to find out just what the buzz was all about.

Listi, also a professor at Santa Monica College, said, “It’s a site that features a multitude of great writers, literary writers from around the world.” He added, “What separates us from a lot of other blog sites, or whatever you’d like to call it, is that we’re featuring writing of a real literary quality, and it’s a one-stop place where readers who are enthusiastic about quality writing can come on a daily basis and hear from all these great voices.”

Listi said that writers for the site don’t get paid but donate their efforts to be a part of the group. He said that writers contribute not just for promotional purposes and a sense of community. “They do it for fun,” he said.

Writers of the site include Lauren Baratz-Logsted from Connecticut. She writes young adult fiction and historical fiction and tends to write blog articles on the feisty side. John Box, who lives in Otaka, Japan, has several published books and recently wrote a blog about learning a language through cultural submersion, illustrated by when he recently was hit by a car while bike riding. The most mysterious writer from the site lives in the Deep South and calls himself 11:59. His dark, brooding prose leaves readers constantly guessing who he is.

Rich Ferguson, an LA area spoken word poet and writer for the popular site, even played hooky from work for a day to mingle in the strike crowd for a thenervousbreakdown.com post. Ferguson’s article, “Hollywood Boulevard Hasn’t Seen This Much Action Since The Santa Parade (Or My Day Out On The Boulevard With The Striking Writers)” is partly a photo essay of his experiences with the strike. (One of the rules of the site is entries mostly have lengthy titles.)

Much of Listi’s success has come through social networking online. He joined in the fate of many authors with “Attention. Deficit. Disorder” only receiving a shoestring marketing budget for book promotion.

Listi, like others, turned to the Internet and began using MySpace as a fun and successful promotional tool. He gets hundreds of comments on blog entries, and has tens of thousands of people connected to his MySpace account. Listi said he created thenervousbreakdown.com after his success on MySpace. He wanted similar results collectively for a group of literary writers around the world.

One of writers of the site, Lenore Zion, was contacted by a literary agent for her funny articles. She said the site is a bright light in the writing world while the name reflects the feelings of many writers. “It’s indicative of how writers these days feel. With nobody buying books, and it takes so long to write a book, and then it’s unappreciated and you have to pull teeth just to get anybody to give it a chance… It’s hard work.”

She went on to say that the writers of the site are supportive, which reflects a change because members of writing groups and MFA programs often break down into opposing factions. “It’s a group of people who are all supportive of each other and who all want good things for each other,” Zion said. “It’s supportive as opposed to the little militias that form in MFA programs.”

Brenda Knight, associate publisher for Red Wheel/Weiser Press, often manages relationships with writers who are part of similar groups. She said that successful groups of writers have always banded together. “The Beat Generation might never have had success if they hadn’t formed a cohesive group. They needed members like Allen Ginsberg pounding on the doors of publishing companies,” Knight said. “They all wrote and shared works. And don’t forget C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and others in their Oxford group. They shared their works and sought one another’s confidence before even after getting published.”

“Writing is such lonely, hard work,” Knight said. “Writers need to come together to share in positive ways because they spend so much time isolated from the world. I think writing is actually harder than digging ditches.”

When asked what Knight thought of writers like Tolkien and Lewis and groups like thenervousbreakdown.com, she said, “I think if Tolkien and Lewis were around today they would have formed some kind of blog community too. They would have definitely gone public with some of their works.”