On Blogging

typewriter

“A blog?  What is a blog?”

A co-worker asked this question.  He is a real writer, an old-school journalist who made his bones in the newsrooms of two of Alabama’s largest newspapers, back in the day when there were print newspapers.

“Well, uh, um, it’s an internet thing where people write about stuff.”

I am a silver-tongued devil.  A published author I met once told me “You are smarter than you look, and you write a whole lot better than you talk.”

My friend’s response to blogging was derisive.  “What’s the point of that?”

Indeed, sir.

The point of blogging, at least for me, is that I simply like to write.  It takes a lot of time (more than you would believe), and I am rarely satisfied with the final result.  I certainly do not do it for money, because there isn’t any to be made as far as I can tell.  There are a few writers who have figured out a way to turn blogging into an occupation, mostly through ad sales, but I don’t see a market for the little homespun “aw-shucks” essays that I write.  I simply do not have enough readers to justify advertising dollars.

I have written a few pieces that actually made it to print.  Several in a trade magazine, and a couple of others in a small town weekly newspaper.  But I have never been paid for a single word.

Just once I would like get a check in the mail, and just once I was really close.

A few years ago I ran across an advertisement for free-lance writers for a quarterly magazine.  I would describe this publication as “hotsy totsy,” because it caters to rich lake house owners.  Sort of a small-scale imitation of Southern Living or Garden and Gun.

I sent the editor an email and received an immediate response.  She hired me sight unseen (or writing unseen, as it were).  My assignment was to write a 5,000 word story about a local Vietnam veteran whose valor had earned the Medal of Honor.  I had a five-day deadline to conduct an interview and submit the story.

The pay was a whopping $50, but I eagerly accepted.

The interview took about four hours of a Saturday, and I spent about 20 more writing and re-writing  to “get it right.”  The finished result was a high-gloss feature story.  One sentence was edited in my final draft.

I was pleased and proud to actually hold something I had written in my hand, but I never got that $50.  The publisher’s response to my telephone inquiries were the equivalent of the old “the check is in the mail” line.

That editor called me about a month later with another assignment.  This one had a 48 hour deadline.  I politely passed.  I have a day job that actually pays the bills.

Thus ended my brief career as a freelance writer.

Still, I have not given up the dream of getting paid for something I wrote some sunny day.

Maybe I just need to ask for a $25 advance.

 

13 thoughts on “On Blogging

  1. That was really nasty not to pay for your work. I feel so bad for you that I’m going to make things right. Your check is in the mail. Might take a while, my being in Mexico and all, but it’s on the way. I promise. Keep your eye peeled. I doubled the amount due to your pain and suffering.

    As for blogging (a dreadful word), I find it quite fun and have never expected a dime, which is likely a good thing. You can amaze people, and you can really piss them off.

  2. I like your blog and your writing…and that editor is pond scum! That is totally unexceptable and unprofessional. You definitely could sell pieces like this; however, you are correct. At first you might give them away for practically nothing. On the other hand, you are drafting a collection that you may be able to publish someday. And you are honing your craft and having fun with it—all “valuable!” Keep up the good work. You are a gifted writer.

    1. It will have to be pesos since I do not have dollars anymore.

      I just remembered that I wrote an op-ed piece back in the early 1990s about the Paraguayan dictator Alfredo Stroessner. My own paper, the Houston Chronicle, refused to run it for some reason. It would have been free. So I farmed it out, and two other major papers ran it. One was the San Diego Union-Tribune. They promised cash — I forget how much — but after publishing my piece, they did not send the dough. I played the devil getting my money. It wasn’t due to the huge quantity. It was the principle of the thing. They finally mailed me a check, grudgingly. Jeez.

  3. Oh how I feel your disappointment, Ray. A promised monetary exchange for your writing efforts but the promise was not. So unethical. It happened to me as well but with a recipe years back, and with a well known magazine. And in your part of the world as well. I had entered a food contest and was in the top 5 of the winning category and should have received an award of $250. Nope, nada, no. The monetary award never reached my mailbox. But….. it was printed in their magazine so I held no grudges. Things happen as they say and an inquirer got me nowhere.

    I have to chuckle a bit at your expense because I can only guess at the hours it took to turn out a 5,000 word story and how it all ended. The lessons we learn in the name of being published.

    Be watchful for that doubled payment from Mexico. Senor Zapata is a man of honor and will not trick you. Frame it and hang it!

    1. I’m beginning to realize that I’m not the only one stiffed by a publisher.

      I wasn’t all that disappointed with the money thing other than just saying I sold something. The piece turned-out well, and I met a Medal of Honor recipient. He was a frail little old man, but quite the badass back in the day. His story was absolutely amazing.

  4. I have a self-published book I’ve made about $100 on… does that count? On blogging, I think all writers, first and foremost, want to be read. Writing is art, and we hope to share our art with the world. Really no different from the painter who spends 80 hours
    creating a mural on the side of a building. Personally, when I write a post and I get a half dozen comments, that’s more rewarding than $25. So much so, that I’ve published my ‘new’ book on a platform where I can give it away for free. Now if I could only get someone to download it… Nice post.

    1. Thank you, Jeff. I appreciate the read, and the comment.

      As far as readers go, like you, I’m very satisfied when I get a half-dozen comments. But I find that those comments almost always come from the same few people. I appreciate them, because for whatever reason what I write appeals to them. On the other hand, WordPress metrics indicate that somewhere between 35 and 50 people read my average post. Sometimes this number spikes to 70 or so, which usually happens on a piece that I don’t think is very good. The most I ever had was around 1800, when I managed to piss-off an entire Alabama county.

      As I browse other blogs I’m often baffled to see that some are very poorly-written, yet have dozens of comments and hundreds of “likes.” It’s perplexing — and certainly not a motivation to keep writing on this platform. But as I said, I like to write, so I keep going,

      You write well, so keep the faith.

Leave a Reply to Shelley Burbank Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s