2. Book Writing vs. Column and Blog Writing
RCS: And you have had the opportunity to move up. You've now written two books about college football: Dixieland Delight, about the SEC, and most recently On Rocky Top, which chronicles the 2008 Tennessee football season. What have you found are the advantages and disadvantages to book writing compared to column writing and blog post writing?
Travis: Yeah, and some quibbled with leaving CBS for Deadspin. But I was ready for something new, I'd done the column for three years at CBS. The writing is completely different. I was a blog novice. There's an art to it, a technical aspect that I didn't know anything about. For instance, sizing photographs, you had to manually input that stuff in Gawker, getting tags right, that stuff was more complicated for me than the writing. And it was arguably more important. I'd spend hours on the technical aspects for a while.
I like writing a column or a long-form post more than writing a bunch of shorter things during the day. Why? Because I think that gives you an opportunity to really nail a subject as opposed to just commenting on someone else's content. And even worse than commenting on someone else's content is looking for good content and not being able to find it. Which you do at Deadspin quite a bit. I like the creation side of things, taking an idea and pursuing it through the stages until you end up with a completed argument. Something that didn't exist at all before.
As for books, it's a strange business to be in, particularly if you write online. Online is about immediacy; emails pouring in agreeing or disagreeing with your stance on a subject. You hit publish and it's there. I've been sitting around for six months waiting to hear what people think about On Rocky Top. I said in the book that there's a part of me that wanted to hit publish when I finished it all and see what the response was. Immediately.
I think the lag-time in books is really a challenge with remaining relevant in our world. We break news in the book and I've got to scan the sites every morning to see if the news is getting broken elsewhere. But I've always tended to write long in my columns, pieces, articles, whatever you want to call them. So long-form writing is not a challenge. Now hitting a dick joke and then getting out of a blog post, that was sometimes more of a challenge for me. Not because I wasn't good at dick jokes--I'm a penis metaphor God--but because I'd want to linger on a subject a bit instead of moving along.