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.