Hey guys, ever since my graduation a few weeks ago, people have asked about setting up a tip jar or similar. So I’ve set up another GoFundMe, which will fund a UHaul and some various moving expenses for my upcoming move to parts unknown at the end of June.
I’ve been a bit reluctant to do another funding drive. First, because whenever I do, it really brings the boo birds out of the woodwork, and they’re not exactly shy to begin with. Asking people for help is always a type of vulnerability. But second, because I’m really not sure how much longer I’ll be doing this, and I don’t want to solicit donations and then stop and have people feel tricked. This hasn’t been fun for some time. Well, I guess it’s never really been fun. But it seems less productive than ever, and to be frank with you, I just don’t think the online world is set up for stuff like this to be useful anymore. It’s not like I’ve ever mistaken my blogging for Doing Something. I’m not that naive. It’s just that I can’t fulfill the basic function of “the world’s messed up and here’s why and what do you think about that?” I like arguing and always have, but I like arguing about what I’m actually saying, and right now you spend tons more time insisting that you aren’t saying what others claim you are, and that’s just no fun and no good for anybody. I hear this basic complaint from all kinds of writers I know.
This might sound like another of my complaints about left-wing communicative practice, but it isn’t; this is a non-ideological phenomenon. I try never to look back on the good old days (mostly because they weren’t that good) but as someone who’s done this for too long, I’m not afraid to say that things have never been less charitable out there. I don’t mean that in the sense of people having sympathy for your actual argument, but in the sense of people just trying to understand what your argument is in the first place. My default assumption now is that many people will look for the most unflattering, damning reading of anything I write, so I write everything as this tedious lockbox of doubling back and self-protective asides and constant explicit statements of what I’m not saying. It’s just so ugly, aesthetically, stylistically. But the alternative is being harangued for days about a position I don’t hold. Not worth it anymore. The deal right now seems to be: OK, you can put your words out here, but the crowd is going to sift through it for the absolute least charitable reading of those words, and that’ll become the default way they’re read– so do you still want to do it?
I don’t mean to complain so much. This has always been a privilege. Really. My great privilege. And maybe this is just a classic case of an old guy who’s been left behind in an always-changing culture! I wouldn’t bet against that. Either way.
I never, ever say never. I stopped at my old blog and started again and people thought that was really goofy. And as you know I am moved to write only by compulsion. It wouldn’t surprise me if I kept going, and this won’t be the last post. But I can’t tell you there’s much more to come. So I’m just saying that if you’re interested in donating, you have to do so with the understanding that it’s an attaboy for what I’ve done in the past, and not payment for future work. I don’t want anybody to donate under a false pretense.
I won’t stop writing. I do have a bunch of freelance works in the pike. It’s great, but I gotta tell you, I don’t know how freelancers do it. In particular, the need to develop and redevelop pieces without knowing if they’ll ever be published, and thus paid for, is tough. It’s particularly difficult because it often takes a long time to get paid after your work is published. It’s taken me a long time to realize that from agreement to payment is a matter of months rather than weeks. The conditions are rough out there in an online world full of people who just want to write and who are constantly undercutting each other. I have a couple of pieces going in big-deal print publications, and the difference in labor conditions is so stark. It’s not just how much better the money is. It’s the fact that I’ve got contracts, which include kill fees that obligate them to pay me something should they decide they don’t want to run what I’ve written. Extensive edits of writing that you’re getting paid for are part of the deal, it’s natural and perfectly fair. The problem is that with online stuff now you’re stacking your original work on top of revisions and edits and yet you have no guarantees that it’s going to turn into something at all. I’ve been working on a bunch of stuff lately, but I’m still just a part-timer. I’m genuinely in awe of people who can pull it off as full-time freelancers.
Anyway: if you can donate and want to, I would really appreciate it. Here’s the link. If you can’t or don’t want to, I understand that, too. And if you want to throw a little shade, I’m open to that too. I have always seen this as a vaguely ridiculous enterprise that I take very, very seriously. If I wasn’t open to being made fun of, I would be some kind of hypocrite. It’s all love, you guys, it’s all love.
If you want an endorsement to motivate your donation, well, let me share this wonderful comment from longtime reader Dillards Homecoming Dress:
“Hiya, I am really glad I have found this information. Today bloggers publish just about gossips and internet and this is really annoying. A good web site with interesting content, that’s what I need. Thanks for keeping this site, I will be visiting it. Do you do newsletters? Cant find it.
I couldn’t have said it better myself!