Why I had a very good weekend

I wrote earlier today that something good had happened.  I won’t go into too much detail, because I don’t want to ill wish myself at this stage in the game, but I can tell you a little.

I’m trained as a lawyer, and I’ve worked as a lawyer — writing and researching — for more than a quarter of a century now.  During my first four years as a lawyer, I just hated it.  I had no idea what I was doing, and did not find mentors to help me out.  To make it worse, imbued as I was with a whiny mid-1980s feminism, I was not a cheerful employee.  Despite the fact that they were paying me ridiculous amounts of money for my negligible skill level, I felt that they owed me something, rather than the other way around.

After those first four years, I found a mentor (who, incidentally, helped pave my way intellectually for becoming conservative) and began to enjoy the intellectual chase.  Finding  just the right case law to help a client, and then writing a compelling, elegant brief was very satisfying.  Eventually, though, I got jaded.  Bay Area judges are moved as much by liberal navel gazing as they are by the law itself.  Eventually, I didn’t want to keep banging my head against that wall.

Meanwhile, I had children, and my energies first dissipated and, when they returned, they had shifted.  As my children grew up, I discovered that I was fascinated by politics and that I love writing about politics and social issues.  Honestly, it’s an incredible pleasure to write when the worst that can happen is that someone points out that you made a mistake.  In all my years as a lawyer, I’ve never gotten over the fear that I may make a mistake that results in my client being terribly damaged and in me being sued for malpractice.  The fact that I never have made such a mistake has not taken the edge away. In fact, in some ways it makes things worse, because I fear complacency.

Once I started my blog, and certainly after I’d honed this craft for a while, I figured out what I wanted to do when I grew up:  become a paid writer.  Not a paid legal writer, but just a paid writer.  Probably to your great irritation, I’ve been trying to monetize this blog for years, but if I make enough to pay for one airplane ticket to the East Coast per year, I’m doing exceptionally well with my writing.

Things changed for me Friday.  I got an email out of the blue asking me if I wanted to provide content for someone’s blog.  I’m embarrassed to say that I didn’t remember this guy’s  name, even though we’d been in touch a couple of times several years back. Embarrassed, but not surprised.  I have a chiaroscuro memory, dappled light and dark. I remember the copyright year of almost all the books I’ve read, I can list all the kings and queens of England from Edward III to the present day, I know the lyrics to an insane number of songs from the 30s and 40s, I’ll remember if you have children and what they do, but I won’t remember your name.  I’ve humiliated myself on more than one occasion with this gaping hole in my memory, and my response to this man’s email was no different.  “Excuse me, but who are you?”  Fortunately, he wasn’t offended by my memory failing or, if he was, he didn’t let it get in the way.

He has an up-and-coming website and, as he said, he needs help with content.  He’s a truly gifted salesman with a wide and deep understanding of how money flows in the blogosphere.  He’s been able to create crazy traffic levels, but writing is not his thing, and he’s exhausting himself trying to keep up with traffic flow.

This weekend was by way of an experiment. I wrote stuff for him to see if I could match my style to his needs, and he posted my work to see if it kept his readers happy.  So far, all is good.

My husband was a bit worried that I was providing all this content for free (asking, with reason, “How do you know that he won’t stiff you?”), but I explained (a) that I didn’t think this man would stiff me and (b) that my work was a loss leader and those can be risky.  Since I like writing, it was a financial risk, but not a painful one.  Here’s the irony:  After my husband and I finished this discussion, I opened my email to find out that the man had sent money, nice money, to my PayPal account.  I like it when my gut is right and my risks (which are usually small, because I’m not a gambler) are rewarded.

This weekend ended up being a bit chaotic, because I was fulfilling both the new blog’s needs and my family’s needs (which were very time-consuming this weekend).  Weekdays will be smoother because, in a way and for the first time in years, I’ll have a real job.  (That is, assuming this grand experiment works for both me and the other guy.)

Don’t worry, though, that I’ll give up this blog.  I may do some cross-posting (the posts I do for him cross-posted here, not vice versa), but mostly I want to keep Bookworm Room going because I’m so happy here.  The work I do for him is news reporting type stuff.  The work I do here is a conversation between me and you about wonky political issues, hot news topics, foreign policy, national security, social issues, education, etc.  Leaving here would be like walking away from my life’s party while I’m still having fun.

Still, I’m really, really happy.  I’ve always had this feeling, irrational though it seemed for many years, that all my blogging was leading somewhere.  I wasn’t getting paid, I was writing when I should have been doing that gosh-danged laundry, I ignored my kids a bit (benign neglect, of course), but this work seemed important to me.  I’d like to think that it was preparing me for a project that is good now and has the potential to get very much better.

Wish me luck, please.  With this guy’s enormous sales, marketing, and internet talents, my writing chops, and your wishes, something good might be happening here.

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  • mcat

    Good for you!!  That’s very exciting news.  

  • http://OgBlog.net Earl

    Let me be the first to say CONGRATULATIONS!!
    I’m so thrilled for you, it makes me want to SHOUT!!
    What is better than to get paid for doing something you love and do well……
    I hope this grows and grows, BW!!
    You’re the best.

  • http://bookwormroom.com Bookworm

    From your lips, Earl, to God’s ears.  Thanks so much for your good wishes.  Long term or short term, I will have enjoyed this project and will have learned a lot.

  • bizcor

    Great news!! I wish you tons of success. You are a terrific writer….selling your content should be a walk in the park for anyone who knows how to promote.


    HUZZAH! I hope you will meet with great success, as your talents merit it!

  • Texan99

    Is there anything nicer than finding someone who’s figured out the marketing side of things, but doesn’t like the nuts and bolts of producing the written product?  I depend on lawyers who like finding and schmoozing clients, but hate cranking out the written work, especially on short notice.
    And do I ever understand what you mean about that sick feeling in the gut over whether there may have been an error in your work.  It’s nice to lay that aside.

  • Caped Crusader

    Wishing that all your dreams come true!

  • http://ritestuff.blogspot.com/ Karl

    I’m embarrassed to say that I didn’t remember this guy’s name, even though we’d been in touch a couple of times several years back. Embarrassed, but not surprised. I have a chiaroscuro memory, dappled light and dark. I remember the copyright year of almost all the books I’ve read, I can list all the kings and queens of England from Edward III to the present day, I know the lyrics to an insane number of songs from the 30s and 40s, I’ll remember if you have children and what they do, but I won’t remember your name.
    So you know the Kings of England and can quote the fights historical,
    From Marathon to Waterloo in order categorical?
    Best of luck with your writing!

  • http://bookwormroom.com Bookworm

    Thank goodness!  If the writing doesn’t pay off, I can always apply for a job as a modern Major General.


    Succe$$ – Lots of it!

  • beefrank

    Congratulations, BW!  You truly earned this opportunity to profit with your talent to communicate your intelligent observations, musings and wit via the written word.  I remember how exciting it was when your writing was read live on Rush’s show and millions heard ‘Bookworm’ probably for the first time.  I pray for the continuous success of your literary endeavors.

  • Alix

    Yay — and Congrats!

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    Here’s to economic prosperity then.

  • Charles Martel

    Book, we are a pair. I can recite all the English kings from Ethelstan through John. My favorites along the way were Sven Forkbeard, Ethelred the Unready, and Harold Harefoot. They weren’t making them like that anymore by the time you got to your Edwardses and the later Henrys.
    But this isn’t about them. It’s really about my exultation at your getting $$ and recognition for your writing chops, and my equal dread that you’re going to get taken away from us. Don’t. You. Dare.

  • http://bookwormroom.com Bookworm

    Fear not.  For one thing, this is my personal place.  The other writing, though conservative in orientation, is business.  It’s a good way for me to discipline my writing, but it’s not the same as the conversation here.  For another thing, even though it looks good now, I’m not one to put all her eggs in one basket or to count her chickens before they hatch.  And finally, you’re my friends.  I wouldn’t walk away from you guys.

  • Mike Devx

    Congratulations, Book, and best wishes for success with the new blog content.
    I’m late posting my congrats because I was away in the east Texas piney woods for a few days…
    I’m glad for all of us that you’ll continue with Bookworm blogging!  In addition to the interests you mentioned, you post a lot on arts and musical favorites.  Think of your posts here as your broader “blogging liberal arts” venue.  Over at the business site you’ll be focusing on commercial and news interests.  But you’ll always want to post your broader themes here as well!  I think we can live by bread alone, but life is a lot sweeter when all of your interests are engaged!

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