Where Did StinkyLulu go?

Something about tonight feels quite familiar. It's Saturday night, not quite late, but MrStinky's already gone to bed. I'm sitting in my big chair in my study, facing the television as I am wont to do, and I've got my computer in my lap. I feel ready to get on with something.

But what's different about tonight is I'm feeling no pressure. I'm not behind on either watching or timing or screencapping this or that performance. I have no idea whether this is the first or third Saturday of the month, whether this is a long month of Sundays, or whether or not I'm confident in this month's roster of Smackdowners to be on top of things. It's just a Saturday night. No deadline, no pressure...

Because tomorrow's not going to be a Supporting Actress Sunday.

Yet, even though there hasn't been a Supporting Actress Sunday for months, I still feel -- in my bones almost -- that there should be a post in preparation for tomorrow. It's a funny kind of muscle memory. I actually feel it, physically. I should be working on a post. But I'm not.

Because tomorrow's not going to be a Supporting Actress Sunday.

And that fact does make me sad.

It's not that I really miss it. I certainly don't miss the (at minimum) eight hours of work that went into each post. I don't miss the often grinding routine – week upon week upon week plus the smackdown to wrangle – I don't miss that at all. I don't even miss the supporting actressness. Other writing obligations are pulling me all kinds of exciting ways these days and the Supporting Actress Project does in fact continue (albeit on a very different schedule and far away from "public" view).

No, I am sad because I feel like StinkyLulu's Supporting Actress Sundays deserved a better finish than they got. It's like a favorite television program that gets canceled without the courtesy of a final episode. The series was chugging along (although maybe not with sparkle of early episodes) but it seemed like there was more to come and then, poof, all of a sudden “the powers that be” pulled the plug. No group hugs, no retrospective montages, no loose ends tied at last, no slow fade – just gone.

And that fact does make me sad.

Because StinkyLulu's Supporting Actress Sundays deserved better.

Which puts me in a strange position. I am perhaps the series's most diehard fan. Yet I am also "the powers that be" who so abruptly pulled the plug. And it's because I'm caught in the space between that I sometimes get so sad about this. It's not right, and I don't know how to make it right.

See, even if StinkyLulu’s Supporting Actress Sundays mattered to no one else, they did matter to me. Indeed, I have not infrequently proclaimed: "StinkyLulu saved my life." And as over the top as such a statement might sound, it is absolutely true.

Today, I am a writer – a thriving writer who treasures the opportunity to sit and to write. But in the months and years before StinkyLulu's Supporting Actress Sundays began, I was stuck in a soul-crushing writer's block. A big writing project (with big consequences) needed finishing and I found myself incapable of writing a word. And as each blocked day passed, I believed ever more wholeheartedly that I was simply not cut out to be a writer. So, not that long ago, I was a writer who had very nearly stopped writing altogether. A writer who was as frozen and as still as this blog has been these last eight months. A writer who might have remained stuck forever had StinkyLulu's Supporting Actress Sundays not jolted me out of my panic/block/funk and into writing again.

Indeed, StinkyLulu schooled me as a writer in a way no teacher ever did. The weekly routine of composing a performance profile disciplined my process, stripped me of my perfectionist paralysis, and forced me share my work with readers on a regular, ongoing basis. And I had generous readers – smart, funny, inquisitive readers who challenged me each week to do my best to deserve their attention. What’s more, with each week's profile, I developed a sense of technique, even as I simultaneously cultivated an exacting ear for my own writerly voice. And, for the first time, I came to appreciate the sustaining power of writing in community. I loved the dialogue among posts on different blogs and the conversations that would simmer in comments. Plus the sense of community that manifested around the monthly Supporting Actress Smackdowns was an always astonishing thing to be a part of.

So why – if I valued StinkyLulu’s Supporting Actress Sundays so – why did I stop?

In a word? Smackdowns. The very thing that built my sense of purpose and cultivated a broad (though never vast) readership was the thing that killed my passion for the project. See, the Smackdowns were always work – extra formatting and editing with the additional variable of collaborating with an ever-shifting array of contributors. At first it was fun to play hostess. The guests were a hoot and always full of surprises and you never knew who would stop by. (I will forever be grateful for the real world friends I made through the Smackdowns.) Somewhere along the way, though, The Smackdowns stopped being fun for me. I felt compelled to keep them going, because everyone seemed to be having a good time and it seemed like the Smackdowns were what StinkyLulu was best known for. But then, over the period of about half a year, some intermittent “behind the scenes” incidents – in which invited (and uninvited) guests got a little rough with the hostess – started happening with greater frequency (and viciousness). To be sure, I was tired of doing the Smackdown anyway, but dealing with “the haters” (as I came to call them) just took that last bit of wind out of my sails. I felt it coming, and fretted over how I might bring things to an appropriate finish, but then, one day, I just stopped. And couldn't bring myself start again.

And so it came to pass that StinkyLulu – my name for the sense of writerly inspiration that had once rescued me from my darkest writer's block – StinkyLulu was blocked.

In the intervening months, I’ve become often quite sad about the loss of StinkyLulu’s Supporting Actress Sundays in my life. I felt pretty terrible about just letting the blog sit abandoned – with not a word to those readers who might care about what was going on. But then – tonight – something happened that finally stirred me from my maudlin silence.

What happened?

Tonight, I stumbled upon another blog doing the Supporting Actress Smackdown. Doing a year not yet done on StinkyLulu. And doing profiles and inviting people to sign up as Smackdowners. Basically, doing my shtick.

I figured it might happen. Over the last few years, I’ve observed the genre/style of performance profiling I had developed on Supporting Actress Sundays pop up here and there. And with regard to the Supporting Actress Smackdown, I hadn’t done much to preserve my claim to “the property” so I suspected someone might see an opportunity in my neglect and lay claim to the format. (That said, I didn’t expect them to literally lift my hearts – the little heart graphics I created – from my old Smackdowns for use in their knockoff. As a metaphor, it’s just too painful and too obvious.)

But imagining someone else running a Supporting Actress Smackdown and seeing someone actually do it are two totally different things. All this time, I’ve wondered if Supporting Actress Sundays might come back, if one day I might awake with passion renewed and spirit restored. Now, seeing those hearts on someone else’s blog, I suspect I have my final confirmation. To be absolutely clear, I’m not all that concerned that I’ve been ripped off, because – well – it’s the internet and that’s what happens. The other blogger's actions, however, did confirm that the moment has passed. I’ve moved on. You’ve moved on. Even the hearts of the Smackdown have moved on.

So, it’s only right, then, that I let StinkyLulu move on too…

This, then, is the last post you’ll see on this blog.

I have no idea what collaborations StinkyLulu and I will come up with next, nor can I promise you when you’ll see the Supporting Actress Project in its next form, but you can know that I’ll be writing. Something I wager I could not say without the gift of StinkyLulu's Supporting Actress Sundays -- and the generosity of your attention, lovely reader.


It's been quite the journey.

With affection and an undying devotion to actressing at the edges,
StinkyLulu (aka Brian Herrera)