Ya gotta have friends

Last night I managed to injure my hand. I’ll spare you the details, because they’d make you cringe, and me look stupid. Suffice it to say that today I have a couple of stitches and some soreness and just a little swelling, but my typing is no worse than it was before the stupidity accident.I credit my friends at Art Therapy Day, who made me go and get those stitches. I didn’t think I needed them. I didn’t want them. (Needles in the hand? Yikes!) But Pauline, Rhea and Ali made it quite clear that if I didn’t do something under my own steam, I’d be having it done under theirs.

I’m happy about that, because this weekend is the Labour Day writing retreat, which we call “the binge”. I discovered a few days ago that the 30,000 words I’d written on “Here be Dragons” is actually 30,000 words of backstory, and I’m starting over. I’d like to get 15,000 words written this weekend, to get me more or less within spitting distance of the 30,000.

I had another opportunity to make a bad career move this week. I’d applied to do a blog in response to a call-out from a long-established magazine, one I, at least, was aware of in the seventies. I got the info about the gig today and, guess what? It doesn’t pay. (They put it “we pay in visibility, promotional links and (sometimes) sheer fame. As much as we might like to pay bloggers, we don’t have the budget to do so. We do believe that the prestige of having a blog [with us] and the potential visibility it can bring to your work, book, product, workshops, cause, passion, etc., is significant compensation.”)

Part of the deal is that the magazine can use my blog in the print edition, too. That means they are getting magazine content as well as web content, without paying the writer. Now, this magazine charges for advertising, and for subscriptions. I understand that there are costs involved in maintaining a website and in printing and distributing a magazine. I just feel strongly that paying one’s content writers should be part of that cost. Because they said that the website got about two million hits a month, I hesitated before I said “no”. Maybe that exposure would be good for me, I thought. I consulted with some friends, both the aforesaid Art therapy buddies, and some online people.

Guess what? Not one of the people I asked said that exposure was sufficient payment. They all recommended that I give it a pass. So I did. Hey, I’d already tried to take my hand off. I didn’t need another problem.

And in both cases, it was so great to have my friends firmly in my camp. Thanks, all of you. You’re the best.

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10 Responses to Ya gotta have friends

  1. Angie Gallop says:

    Which magazine? I’m dying of curiosity!
    (Glad you got some medical attention for that hand. Looking forward to writing with you at the binge.)

  2. Paula says:

    15,000 words in a weekend? I’m aiming for 2 1000-word essays…

  3. pdunning says:

    15,000 words in a weekend? I’m aiming for 2 1,000-word essays and I’ll be glad if I get there!

  4. lucinda kempe says:

    Yikes for both: the hand and that freebie blog (you gotta a book,nix that). Wish i were with you this writing binge. Next one would be grand. It is good to have good/wise friends. The other kind, well, we can use them as fodder.

  5. I heard a good one this summer: “Exposure? People die from exposure!”

    Good for sticking to your guns, Elizabeth. Professional writers get paid. In real money, not in exposure.

    I believe there are three reasons why established magazines don’t pay for content:
    * the slow-mo death spiral of the traditional publishing business model
    * the sheer greed of owners (like The Huffington Post which doesn’t pay its bloggers when they can clearly afford to)
    * the proliferation of amateur content providers who blog for free
    Together, these trends are creating a bottom-feeding publishing model that creates a tidal wave of trivial, worthless content with nothing going for it beyond SEO. I used to click on compelling headlines, only to find the articles they link to were completely worthless. After being disappointed hundreds of time, I rarely bother today.

    I hope this triumph of noise and greed over insight and payment will be temporary, and that more people abandon the trivial mush that passes for writing today.

  6. Hope your hand heals quickly. 🙂

    As for the blog thing, I find it time-consuming enough just maintaining my own blog. To do it for someone else, I’d definitely want to get paid in more than ‘exposure’, so I believe you did the right thing by refusing.

    Good luck and have fun on your ‘binge’ weekend. 🙂

  7. ecreith says:

    Thanks, all – for validating my decision and for the good wishes for my poor hand. “People die from exposure!” – great!
    The magazine in question is Mother Earth News. When I told them I couldn’t give away my work, they said they competely understood and hoped sometime to have the budget to pay bloggers.

  8. Grrrr. They all hope someday to have so much money they could throw it away on things they consider trivial. I’ve been there. It is a double-edged sword that lops off heads and leaves us feeling, umm, sort of unfriended. Unneeded. Unappreciated.

    Unpaid.

    They’re almost worse than the folks who say they’ll pay and then don’t–because they brag about it: “We have every intention of taking your work and not paying you. And we think we’re so big, you’ll be fine with that.”

    Ick.

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