In my world the year is divided into two, and the split is the kids’ summer holidays. Like many parents I look forward to spending fun times with my children. But it’s not a holiday for me. It’s a study in loss of time, exercising my patience muscle and trying to dream up new exciting yet educational activities. Rewarding and challenging. Full of love and frustration. During this time I’ve reflected on the fact that I’m still dependent on small hand outs via patreon, from those few who also believe in sustainability enough to put their hands in their pockets. Yet the patreon model means that my content remains free as I hold out my begging bowl. It’s a bowl which is easily ignored because free writing is ubiquitous.
In blog terms, I’m 7 years old. Ancient. In the time I’ve been blogging, I’ve written for Huffington post, and Technorati (remember when they were hot?) and been fantastically grateful for the external validation. I’ve seen the blogosphere explode so that our voices got angrier but smaller. Or maybe we got more angry because we got more and more invisible. That external validation leaked out of the cracks like water because it was not sustainable. Running like a hamster on a wheel to churn out more and better content. And I’m tired of it. I write for pleasure. To help others. To help myself. To educate. To analyse. To advise. To empower. There’s millions out there who are hoping to make a living from their writing, to make a large enough impression so that people contribute pennies to their livelihood. Enough.
I step up and say I write for a living, not in the hope of making a living. Even if it was once a hobby, that time has passed. What I do is work. Even if I love my work.
When I consulted other authors, they thought me crazy. Authors need blogs. It’s drummed into us by the big publishing houses (you know those who give you 50p per book if you’re lucky). All in the name of free publicity. But as a parent, I teach my kids that generosity is beautiful, but not if it comes at the expense of their own sense of self. I teach self-care because I value them as I want them to value themselves. And yet why should they take care of themselves if they see I do not?
I pay for quality. I pay for what makes it special. So what makes my writing special and worth paying for? The answer is simple.
It’s special because it’s written by me. The unique selling proposition of my writing rests only in the fact that I am unique (like everyone else, but still uniquely me). I can write about abuse, because I’ve lived it. Erased identity, because I’m adopted. Polyamorous parenting because I’m doing it. Shame, because it’s woven in the context of my childhood. Cultural quirks because of my mixed heritage.
I believe it’s a measure of self-esteem to believe what you produce is worthwhile; but it’s a whole other level to demand money for it when so much writing out there is free. Yet last year I stopped writing for Huffington Post because they exploited millions of bloggers for their own gain. I don’t believe in exploiting others, so why would I let myself be exploited? I will not sacrifice my livelihood any more just because other people choose to. I am worthy. My writing is worthy. And I will gladly sell it to others who recognise its worth for themselves.
If you’re reading this, then I’m talking to you. Change starts with us. The blog is dead, long live the blog.