There’s a great piece in the NY Times Sunday Review by Tim Kreider, titled “Slaves of the Internet, Unite.”. Kreider is a writer, a real writer, lauded and respected. But he is caught in the same morass that we Lowly Worm bloggers are caught in when it comes to being expected to give our work away for free. Unlike Kreider, many of us are only too happy to toss our writing out into the blogosphere, either because 1. Someone has asked us to or 2. Nobody has asked us but we have sent something in and it was a slow day and so we were accepted
Life in the Boomer Lane was thrilled out of her granny panties the first time someone reblogged one of her posts. The first time she was Freshly Pressed, she came close to needing oxygen. She had visions of her words impacting on countless others, creating a tsunami of wit and merriment across the planet that would cure all that ailed the world and have some hairdresser to the stars offer to come to her house each day and give her a free blowout.
When she was asked to contribute to other blogging websites, the tsunami took on even more force. Gradually, the idea of contributing to the Fifty section of the Huffington Post began to form in her post-menopausal addled brain. The day HuffPost accepted her was celebrated with jumping up and down and consuming an entire pint of coffee Haagen Dazs (not at the same time). Since then, virtually all of her submissions have been accepted and most have appeared on the first page of the Fifty section. The cheering could be heard from two inches away.
The truth is that, as Kreider points out, most of the avalanche of posts contained each day in online periodicals are fillers for the paid advertising. There are way too many submissions for any one of them to be unique or of great import. On any given day, one can find “The Top 10 (or 5 or 7 or whatever required number) Reasons You Should Retire to Latin America” or “The Top (pick a number of your choosing) Reasons You Shouldn’t Retire to Latin America.” Sometimes both posts appear on the same day, tossing seniors into a dizzying cycle of booking and then cancelling airfare. Let’s face it: There are a finite number of compelling boomer topics to throw out into the blogosphere. George Clooney turning 50 has already been done.
Virtually no one ever gets paid for submissions like this. It’s clear that a very tiny percentage (a number so small, it is yet to be identified by the folks who create numbers) do make money, but they are usually the ones who write about what we can place into our bodies and what we have expelled from our bodies. Preparing food and raising children both do well in the blogging world and a couple of bloggers who write about such topics have had books published and can be found mopping floors on TV commercials.
LBL never considered money when she started blogging (those of you who believed this last sentence can contact her and she will have any number of priceless items she can sell you). But it didn’t take long for her to realize that money had better not be the reason to continue. If fortune couldn’t be had, there was always fame as a fallback. It took longer for the fame thing to die a slow and painful death. But, like Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction and Cher’s career, sometimes things that seem to be dead, will rise again. Just when LBL has come to terms with a fan base of 20-25 people, she will be completely overwhelmed when she meets someone for the first time and they say “I love your blog!” The result is a renewed appreciation for the low expectations some people have.
So, in the absence of any kind of monetary or emotional compensation, LBL had to have a come-to-Moses moment with herself. If not fame or fortune, why blog? She is still working on this question.
Part of the answer is probably laziness. It’s way easier to write a blog post than to finish the manuscript she started and actually almost completed about 11 years ago. She was about 20 pages from the end when she lost interest in the characters and whatever it was that initially made them come to life in her brain. But that gives her an idea. If anyone out there is well-heeled and would like a ready-made manuscript, minus about 20 pages, she has one that’s available. Complete it, put your name to it and make a fortune. Or just blog about it and expect nothing. Either way, LBL will have gotten something for all her writing.