This word didn’t cost you a penny.
Neither did THIS one.
Just free words. On a free blog.
I like stringing words together. Some people can spend hours in their gardens, tending, and weeding, and pruning, and picking.
I can’t imagine.
Maybe this is my gardening. I love to fuss with words on a page. Move them around like a game of three-card monte. Watch the nouns and verbs grow into sentences – or into quippy fragments. Occasionally even into coherent thoughts.
When someone comments here or tells me that they read a post, it really means a lot. Millions upon millions of words crowd into the internet each day. (Sorry for the “millions and millions” estimate, I just didn’t have time to count them all.)
That you took a minute or two out of your day to read my string of words is very kind. I really mean that.
So, I sort of cocked my head sideways (yes, like a puzzled puppy seeing a turtle for the first time) when I read something recently by one of my favorite writers. He said that if someone gives away words for free online, they make it hard for the writers trying to make a living at it.
(I’m not even going to tell you who he is … but if you’re a fan of Baltimore and groundbreaking television, then you can figure it out.)
This initially upset me.
First, I didn’t realize I was making it hard for other writers because no one paid me to hit the “publish” button on this post.
Second, and perhaps more important, I don’t like people being mad at me.
(To that point: I’m still concerned that I angered some of my friends by disparaging their Red Sox in recent posts. Like here … and here. It’s not like I keep mentioning the Curse of the Andino in every post … but maybe it did accidentally slip in once or twice. I believe I have more friends who are Red Sox fans than support any other team. I’m not sure why that is, but they are all wonderful people who don’t need to be reminded every day about woeful past seasons. Really. It’s not like they lost 90 games last year. And, anyway, as they would be quick to tell me … there’s lots of room at the bottom of the AL East … and their team didn’t just drop five games straight.)
(No charge, by the way, for the bonus baseball tangent.)
Back to topic.
I don’t want to make any real writers angry. I certainly don’t want to devalue their work.
Am I cheapening words by just typing and posting willy-nilly on here?
Or, is this blog like zucchini? (Note the clever continuation of the gardening logic.) Every summer I have gardening friends who grow way too much zucchini. (Why is it always zucchini? Why can’t they grow too much chocolate? Or, coffee?) They give their bounty away. Some of it to me.
Did they cheapen the work of farmers by growing some vegetables and giving it away?
I could go on, but let me just say this …
I’m a massage therapist. People rub each other’s shoulders for free all the time — it doesn’t devalue what I do. I just have to do it better than they do.
If you’re a professional writer and you’re worried about bloggers cheapening your writing and taking your livelihood away … write better than we do.
A sportswriter (who gets paid to write) said this weekend (on a program where he was paid to give his opinion) that baseball bloggers can say whatever they want, without worrying about anyone calling them on factual errors. Unlike professional sportswriters, baseball bloggers also can complain about a team’s performance or decisions without compromising their relationship with the team or enduring any repercussions.
Here’s what I heard:
1) I, the lowly blogger, am fortunate to be able to speak my truth because I don’t have to worry about Oriole Manager Buck Showalter ever … ever … returning my call, (wow, lucky me), and
2) When push comes to shove, apparently, this sportswriter’s going to tow the party line when it comes to covering the Orioles or Nationals (his main beats). For him, writing something negative – even if true – would compromise his relationships and sources on the team. If that’s his worry, can we actually depend on him to write the cold, hard truth when the truth is unkind?
I think he meant to say … Twitter and Facebook and blogs are unfiltered mediums.
But, fans with opinions have been yelling at umpires, smart-mouthing players, and rudely second-guessing managers since the game began. Now, there are new ways to send those rants out to the world – by just hitting the “send” button.
And, in the same way fans ignore the drunk, noisy shouters at games, we also tune out annoying, know-it-all online ranters.
To be fair, he did allow that there are “some” good baseball bloggers out there. (Please, pick me, pick me!)
And, that thing about making mistakes? I try to fact-check everything I post, but I make mistakes. I recently posted a factual error that was kindly corrected by a reader within just a couple hours of posting. So, I think the thoughtful blog world does police itself.
Some writers get paid to put their thoughts, ideas, and stories into words. I will never begrudge them a penny. Writing good, not easy. Writing well, even harder.
For the rest of us – who struggle to make sense of the world through words – we must find our compensation in other ways.
As long as I can make my Editor/Husband chuckle from time to time … and as long as I can help ensure future generations know about the Red Sox Curse of the Andino … I guess I’m gonna be good with that.