...to explain something in the last post.
Those who commented, bless 'em all, had eminently sensible suggestions to make about how I should, as Gen. Jack D Ripper so famously said in the movie Dr Strangelove, "withhold my essence" from those who treat me with less than the respect I have earned.
Each of them was, of course, 100% right. If what I'm doing resembled a normal business, that is.
In my business, circa AD 2008, their ideas would get you tossed aside like a used Kleenex.
Let's go back, for a moment, to 1986. Which I wish I could do for many reasons, not the least of which is that I hadn't met a few female persons who were to have rather destructive effects on me. But we're talking about work here.
After I had completed my very first articles -- for two major publications, I might add -- work was offered almost faster than I could deal with it. I was good, and that meant work. When checks didn't arrive, a phone call mentioning this unfortunate fact was usually enough to get same in my mailbox within a couple of days. With apologies.
And then the rot began to set in. I don't know exactly when, but it did.
Today, any form of complaint is more than likely to bring a reply mentioning that Hack Writer X doesn't bitch about payment -- why should he? He has a well-off wife/girlfriend/mother -- and even if his stuff is crap, it fits the same pages as my good work does.
Those of you who have noticed and bemoaned the appalling decline in English-language skill in other publications, online and otherwise, will understand part of this.
At some point, the "big" magazines began to realize that the nickel-and-dime operations were making nice profits, and decided they need not pay their writers any more than the word-chewers get from those cheesy books.
We writers and photographers are the people who fill the spaces between ads. And since readers are gradually losing the ability to tell quality research, writing and/or photographic talent from uneducated drivel, that's the way it seems destined to remain.
Any freelance "content provider" -- to use a phrase I loathe -- knows what I'm talking about.
My first big failing was not seeing what was going on soon enough. As in soon enough to get a gig at WallyMart. My second big failing was thinking that quality would always mean something. As soon as some enterprising sort in Mumbai opens a "Writing Center" to deliver doggerel to magazines at a drastically reduced rate, I'm totally doomed.
If you could talk to a dinosaur, you'd find him as puzzled as I am. It's the old "I used to have plenty of vegetation to nibble on, and now I have this damn tar underfoot, and it's making it difficult to walk" routine.
But the worst aspect is that when the nasty side of the biz began to make itself apparent, I had some fine, fine lovin' going on, and it was easy to turn my back on reality when naughty/nice escapades beckoned. That made me more determined to keep the whole dreary act afloat, too.
It's worse when what you're losing is all you have, Jim.
Okay, so this wasn't exactly what you'd call brief. So sue me.
And it still doesn't explain the whole thing, does it?
2 hours ago