I wrote my first article for publication almost twenty years ago. It was a memoir piece that had been rattling around in my head for a while, and I had to get it out. It was picked up and published by several regional and national magazines.
And so, I was off to the races.
I next concentrated on fiction for the next several months. I enjoyed that thoroughly and won a lot of contests, and received many accolades.
Turns out, accolades aren’t legal tender in any market on the planet.
So after scoring several free magazines and one ten dollar check, I moved on to the lucrative world of non-fiction. I found many new websites that would pay me to write on a variety of subjects. It earned what I considered decent money, and more importantly, it was fun.
Until it wasn’t.
When I started getting thousand-word descriptions for four-hundred-word articles complete with dozens of awkward SEO phrases, I quit doing the work-on-demand stuff.
I finally settled on Constant Content, where I could write what I want, price it how I wanted, and hope they sold.
And they did. For many years, I made a decent income there writing on a wide variety of subjects. Subjects with which I was familiar made up the bulk of the articles. But I also discovered that if I researched any topic for personal reasons or simple curiosity, it was easy to turn that research into an article.
For reasons unknown to me, that site went downhill, and so, I was left looking for a new outlet for my writing and to replace that lost income.
That’s when I found sites like Medium News Break And Vocal Media. There, I could write on almost anything, and I only had to attract readers, not buyers, to make money. I had not only found a home, but outlets where I could diversify my writing and produce work that wasn’t historically commercial.
And so I did.
For the most part. These outlets inspired me and sparked my creativity. Ideas came at me pretty fast and regularly. I would make a note and then turn that idea and note into an article.
Except when it didn’t.
The problem is, I was enjoying writing again. It wasn’t a job; it was an adventure. And I didn’t have to join the Navy. (Some of you will get that one).
I still get and enjoy those accolades, and I’m making decent money. But it’s the pleasure that keeps me going. It’s the enjoyment of the craft that spurs me on to write every day. Every. Day. And I will continue to do so.
Until I don’t.
I don’t know what would cause me to quit. It might be a health issue. It could be time constraints because I’ve moved onto something else. Like alpaca farming.
Or, it could be because I don’t enjoy it anymore.
The thing is, though, I can control that last one. If that is the most crucial factor, it’s an easy one to fix.
All I have to do is write about things that cause me pleasure.
And not about things that don’t. Or causes me aggravation. Or even pain.
A lot of the writing pundits say you have to open a vein and bleed. Expose everything to everyone and be completely vulnerable.
Sorry, I ain’t doing that.
I’ve written a lot of work that opens me up more than I have in the past. But there are still dark recesses that I haven’t shone a light into yet.
There is one article that hit my radar about a year ago. I thought about it for a minute. But I didn’t write it.
But, it kept popping into my head, so finally, I put it on my list. Where it stayed. After months of kicking it down the road, I finally made a rough outline. Okay, that wasn’t too bad.
Then I started writing it. I think I made it into the second paragraph. But I stopped. I deleted it. It hurt too much. I’m pretty sure you will never read that one.
Because I write for pleasure, not for pain. They talk about how cathartic writing can be. But I think I’ll rely on the age-old method of stuffing my feelings down and maintaining denial. It’s easier.
So, the tough ones, the ones that would hurt to write, will likely never see the light of day.
And neither will the ones that just piss me off. Like politics. I wrote one and only one article on politics and I regretted that one. I didn’t enjoy it. No one else enjoyed it. I earned $1.56 from it. And no accolades; don’t forget the accolades.
So, I won’t do that again. I also rarely write about anything newsworthy, much to the chagrin of editors at News Break. Why? For a very simple and basic reason.
I don’t watch or read the news. When people bring up the news, I will usually reply with, “Did you hear that Nixon resigned?”
Because that’s about when I quit watching the news. I thought it was bullshit back then. I had no idea just how much bullshit it would grow into.
And writing about it would just piss me off. So, why would I do that? If I took a stand and wrote about current events, best case, I would get accolades from exactly half of the readers. Which means half the money.
Why would I do that? Why would anyone?
I’ve heard it said that to really go viral, you have to be controversial. Piss people off. Sorry, I’m just not buying it. Maybe, I’m strange, but I’ve never thought to myself, “I’m in a pretty good mood. I think I’ll find something to read to piss me off.”
So, I’m not going to get pissed off writing about something just to piss other people off. I can piss people off in my spare time. I don’t have to work at it.
If you follow me and I hope you do, look for things that bring me pleasure. And I sincerely hope they please you as well.