Last weekend was the annual seminar for American Horse Publications. I’ve gone in the past [AHP 0,1,2]. Not this year. Too many horse shows to justify the time away :). Not enough magazine work to justify the expense :(.
One of my goals for 2014 was to get more paying work [7th Day]. I’ve approached it with the same intensity that I have used for horse hunting – a general willingness to be open to anything that falls into my lap. This has worked as well as you would expect.
On the other hand, my magazine career was never white hot in my best years. I probably could have used the profits to keep the cats in kibble. I never came anywhere close to supporting myself, or even paying my share to support the household.
So why bother? Why not write Off Topic posts to entertain myself? I came up with ten reasons:
Writing for equine magazines does not generate much money. However, some beats none. Paychecks of all sizes spend just fine.
There is an undeniable element of ego. Try these two sentences: I write for The New Yorker. I write for a blog read by a handful of lovely folks. Which gets more respect?
The most fun I ever had during an interview was with a bug control dude for an article on mosquitoes. Just one of many ideas of which I never would have thought. Or if I did think, never would have pursued on my own.
Here’s another exercise: Please let me trail about taking notes on your every move so I can write an article for Horses R Us. Please let me trail about taking notes on your every move because I’m insatiably curious. Which one is going to give me access?
The downside of being good on a deadline is being bad without one.
When I first started posting on my own [Back To Riding], I felt the lack of an editor, the way a trapeze artist feels the lack of a net. Whose gonna catch me if I do something stupid?
Good text becomes a great article with good page design and real photographs.
A bigger audience. Less of the shouting-down-the-well feeling.
Text can go wandering on the Internet. My favorite illicit reuse of an article was as a post in a forum wherein the entire article was posted as if I was a member for the forum supporting a particular point of view. I did not have to mount my own defense. I emailed the editor & pointed her at them. Problem solved.
Writing for one’s self has a long and noble tradition. Journalism for one’s self feels aimless.