I don’t expect anyone to read this except for search. And I don’t expect anyone to sympathize with my complaints, either, because this is the way the world is arranged. I’ve was raised to be a nice person but there are too many mean people to overcome. This is not something I can win. And, given my constant nightmares since 1988, not something I can cope with.
This weekend at a community picnic, I was introduced to an old cowboy who asked me what I did for work. I told him that I work part time online, at which point the conversation quickly drifted south because of him. He told me that the greatest computer was between our two ears, the human brain. And I said, I agree with that.
He then went on with a whole series of statements and questions that were aggressively going after. I think I think when I start talking about computers and what I do online, it’s so far out of reach of most people that they think that I’m trying to be smarter than them, or somehow they feel inferior. I think that’s a great deal of it. They have an inferiority complex to anybody that’s working with computers. They act as if I’m trying to prove that I’m smarter than them, when in fact, I usually don’t start the conversation at all because I’m so far out of reach with what I’m doing, with what most other people do that it’s not even worth bothering to talk about.
Like all of the work that I’m doing with AI and Chat right now. And it’s very discouraging because I had a friend say to me recently that it was possibly economic, because not everybody can afford a computer or the resources that I have, and that’s not really the case at all. I should probably stop at this point and refresh everyone’s memory that early on, before the Internet went commercial, back in about 94, 95, with the advent of Mosaic. Mosaic was the first graphical based Internet browser that you could see images with that became relatable to people. Images provided a boost to advertising, but librarians had been on computerizing, their catalog, card catalogs, for years before.
And so when personal computers came out, they started populating libraries with them. Especially, really around 84, when IBM came out with its own personal computer for the masses. There was this Charlie Chaplin advertising campaign that was hugely successful. But years before, Apple had been trying really, really hard to place computers in the school to get these lucrative contracts, and they did a good job. They started about 1980 with the Apple II.
So by the end of the 80s, computers were basically in every library and school. And so everyone’s had an opportunity since then to use computers in one way or another. Night school classes, adult education classes since really the late 80s, early ninety s. And I’ve actually been on computers since 1978. Over 40 years.
Everybody’s had a chance. But an idiot like this that I was talking to, he doesn’t want to go to the library. I’m sure he hasn’t been to the library in decades. He probably can’t remember when he checked out a library book last. I have many computers.
I think I have two desktops, two laptops, two tablets. I also have a library card from Pahrump. A library card from Goldfield and a library card from Tonopah. And I am in those libraries, actively. I’m checking out books.
All of those libraries have a computer. I think it’s just laziness on most people’s part and not having an interest. It’s easier to put down somebody for what they do than to ask about it or just say simply nothing at all. These are the people that drive me crazy. There’s so much amazing stuff going on and I don’t mind if they’re not interested, but it’s the librarians that I’m infuriated with.
They’re the gatekeepers in education and they don’t want to know about Chat or AI. So it’s not really economic. It is a deliberate decision on many people’s part not to engage, not to learn, to let the things go by. And people that are actually interested, that are burning to create, that are trying new things, that are experimenting with new things, those are people that are something to be put down on because I think it might remind them of how little they want to know, how content they are with their own little world. And that’s fine as long as you don’t go out and bully people or put people down.
This is the way I can make some money. I can make this money part time. I’m doing a good service and yet I have people people commenting who don’t even know the basics of writing and business writing.
Self-sustaining freelance writers are maybe four or 5% of the population. That’s it. Everybody else is doing a second 3rd, 4th job to enable their hobby or their passion the and as far as nonfiction writing goes, nobody understands that. As far as business SEO, there’s nobody that I know, haven’t known for a couple of decades that has any idea of what I’m doing. But if they ask, if I try to explain, it’s just an immediate putting down of what I do.
It’s just this prejudice against the unknown, which is really the root cause. If you don’t know something, if somebody knows something you don’t, you don’t want to hear it. Instead of asking questions about it or letting it go, they want to put it down because they’re bullies. That’s all they can do. They’re trolls.
And maybe it reminds them of the fact that they’re dead to the world, that they have no interest in inquiry.
Anyway, I just wanted to put down what I have to deal with almost every day in my effort to be creative. I really have to keep it hidden. Can’t discuss it because it’s like we’re going back to the Dark Ages. One idiot, in fact, who’s in charge of something historical, he was talking about computer literacy, computer literacy in such a way that I asked him this:
You’re not holding out computer illiteracy as a point of pride, are you? And this guy’s a former engineer and he thought about it and said, that’s a good question, actually. I am. This is a living, breathing, talking luddite. He doesn’t want to learn.
He wants to put down people for learning. We’re going to go back 300 years into the Dark Ages when people were prosecuted and killed for trying to learn things, for trying to advance science. We’re going to try to discredit them. Or Mao’s Cultural Revolution, in which anybody with higher learning or higher ambition was killed. That’s what we’re going to get.
We’re going to go back to the Dark Ages and then we’re going to take 300 years to come back again. At the end of the Dark Ages, they had to reinvent all the math that the Greeks had done, what, 1500 or 2000 years before, because people were criticized and killed for trying to learn new things. And now we have people writing about chat and AI who don’t actually use it, haven’t experimented with it, but don’t want to learn. They just want to put it down. So it’s frustrating, but that’s the world we live in.
Commission me to produce a poster or graphic for a friend’s birthday, a wedding, life event of any kind, or a tribute to yourself, something you hide from the kids and the wife, but which you look on occasionally to try to convince yourself of your own greatness. As if that’s a bad thing. $200 for a commission and I can use any FB or Instagram quality photos.
This is the first time since starting this blog (10 years and 1,337 posts ago) that I have asked for anything from my readers but now that I have become a starving artist I must play the part. As you know, I have never carried ads on my site, asked people to register, or put a copyright down on anything I have presented here.
Indulge me. And thanks in advance for the support and for the people that have already bought my art.
Online business writing, like writing for magazines and newspapers, must be clear and straightforward. There is no reason to dive deep into a grammatical problem like these tests want you to. None. Recast the sentence. Eliminate the problem with simpler language. Don’t try to rehab it! Get rid of it.
Seven years ago I started writing and editing part-time for Infocus in Vancouver. Know what my writing test was? First, they paid me for my time, and second, my assignment took over 11 hours to complete. That’s a writing test. All this other stuff is crap.
All the employer wants is a score, any score, on a piece of paper so they can eliminate you in favor of another person who survived their made up bilge. Good luck to both of you. Not!
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Writing assessment tests have no relevance, none, to online business writing under deadline. These tests are always scraps of SAT prep materials or old college grammar questions. You should never be penalized for failing to solve a problem that should have never existed in the first place. And, an employer (or their third party contractor) will never tell you what guide they are using to make their decisions nor will they let you argue about other constructions.
Of, course, most companies hiring this way have no idea of what CMOS or AP mean. Also, much of this is the job of the editor or the person who assigned the work and not the writer. The writer’s job is to provide something in substantial compliance with the requirements given and to always make deadline. If they hand in something difficult, well, it happens. The editor fixes it. Just don’t expect the writer or the editor to be Fowler, even if these nonsensical tests want them to be.
And by the way, Fowler let people disagree with him on many things. Not so these idiots.
Overly sensitive types at the start of the Snowflake Era began substituting the word “problem” for the word “issue.” Today, “issues” is everywhere. Your car no longer has any problems but instead a number of issues to be taken care of.
Realizing that the word “issues” was far too soft for more serious problems, the word “problematic” came into being. Something like a problem, just less confrontational and direct. Which is the whole problem.
Here’s some nonsense from the Fresno Bee:
“Kern Valley State Prison is a maximum security Level IV prison that houses 4,600 male inmates, some of whom are considered the state’s most problematic inmates.”
Problematic? A writer can’t call these vicious murders and rapists problem inmates? The writer can’t follow common sense and reality enough to use the word “problem”? Who is the writer protecting with that language? Whose sensitivity are they damaging?
I wouldn’t use the word “some”, either, since Level IV means you are in for a violent crime. All of them are brutal and vicious thugs and we all know it. Everyone knows it. Everyone.
So, again, why is the writer using the word problematic?
A reporter’s whole job is to report the facts. Don’t write if you can’t write the truth.
These dangerous career criminals need their lives represented accurately to inform society of the risk these people pose. We don’t need a reporter with sensitivity issues. That’s problematic.
The most unprofessional thing a job applicant or anyone showing off their work can have on their website are ads.
It is absolutely devastating to see fine writing or photography mixed in with ads that talk about emptying your bowels every morning.
There is no money in placing ads. None. Not for the small guy or gal. None.
Belive me, I tried everything I could think of when I was actively producing privateline.com. In 2001 it had over two million hits. Those were good numbers back before everyone got online. Yet ad revenue barely registered. There is a far better solution.
Get a sponsor. Get someone who likes your work to pay for your internet hosting for one year. You can find that person, I know it. Hosting shouldn’t be more than ten to fifteen dollars a month, less when you pay a year in advance. Or rather, when your sponsor pays.
I had a business pay me $1,000 a year to be the sole advertiser on privateline. That worked out very well.
Hosting back then wasn’t more than two hundred dollars a year so I appreciated the extra money. I crafted a modest and unobtrusive image and link that appeared on each page and that was it.
All artists need patrons. Even Michelangelo and Mozart could not have produced the work that they did without their patrons. Some of you have hundreds of likes for a particular post. Find those people. Make an appeal.
Your website is your job portfolio, it has to be professional. It might be a showcase for your art, again, it has to look professional, as good as what you create. Even with this silly personal website of mine, in which I am not trying to impress anyone, I still don’t run ads. It’s out of respect for you as the reader. And ads are damned ugly.
Please, get rid of the ads. Many of you are doing fine work and it’s despoiling to see the weeds among the orchids. Get a sponsor, I know you can find one. Your art deserves it. Good luck.
Gathering images should be top of mind for any writer working under deadline.
Most publications require you to submit your own images. If you can’t produce them yourself, you need to look at stock photography or public domain photos immediately and begin the process of securing permissions while you write your article. Some permissions take months to get, some impossible to get before deadline. The race to collect images begins immediately upon acceptance of an assignment.
It is crippling that most publications will not pay for your own photographs nor will they pay for the tremendous cost of stock photography. You need to understand this before accepting a low paying assignment. If you still want to write that article, realize that it won’t be making money for you and consider the article to be resume building instead. Now, weather.
Even in the middle of summer, conditions may not be right for photography. The San Francisco Bay area is often socked in fog throughout the summer, the best time for clear photography is in the fall. Clouds can happen anytime in any season and they, too, can wreck what you have in mind.
You must think about the weather, especially if you are traveling for an article and cannot return for better conditions. If you get rain, take the best rain shots you can. Take as many photos as you can, maybe some will be picturesque despite conditions. If you return to a site a few weeks later, realize your photos may not match up with each other as the weather may be very different from your last visit.
This video shows me setting up my drone in the dramatic location of the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area close to Las Vegas. Many beautiful sandstone cliffs in layers of red. The idea here was to photograph dusk in the canyon. A fine idea, everyone loves a good sunset.
Here, though, clouds intruded on this late afternoon, gathering enough that all I had at dusk were grey clouds and dark mountains. Gloom. At the start of summer. Who knew? It was really too bad, as there was no wind at all which would have been perfect for flying. Yet, unusable footage. Another day. Don’t waste your time in post trying to improve really poor photographs. That’s a job for experts, if they can do it all. You probably don’t have those skills as a writer. I sure don’t.
You must think about forecasts and locations and get that all figured out as you work toward deadline. You do not control the weather.
As an experiment for you Word Press geeks, here’s my Instagram video taken at the time of setting up the drone. Portrait mode, of course. This unedited video resides in my media library at this website. The second video is the same but hosted at Vimeo. Can you tell any difference? Which do you prefer? Vimeo allows you to pick a thumbnail frame from your video. That becomes the image a viewer sees when deciding to watch a video. WP doesn’t let you do that.
The best marketing for a writer is their own writing, showcased at an ad-free website kept current by frequent blogging. I don’t see any value in Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook. Maybe a LinkedIn presence if you want a social media feed.
Time spent pursuing more followers on social is misdirected. What’s the hope? That your tweet on the Canadian bobsled team lands you a job? Good luck.
A better proposition is to spend time directly targeting employers with queries instead of hoping chance will bring them to you. Keep sending out article suggestions, book proposals and job applications.
Developing more followers seems a waste of time. Whether you have one hundred or one thousand followers makes little difference to a harried editor who looks at two hundred article proposals a year, only to accept twenty that meet her editorial requirements and which captures her imagination.
Time and chance happens to us all. Your query on the frogs of Borneo might elicit a spirited reply from an editor who just visited Southeast Asia, or stony silence from an editor who despises the slimy things. In either case, you have to research a publication, draft a winning query letter, and solider on past disappointment.
I understand with books that there may be a difference. Increasingly, editors want you to bring an audience to them. More followers could help. But what kind of time will this take from working on your writing? Ideally, your website writing would reflect on the book you have in mind. Let me go off on a tangent.
I get the most likes on this blog when I write about poetry. Should I, therefore, write more about verse than prose? I am not a poet but I can see why people tailor their sites to their statistics. Your call. But you may wind up far from your calling.
It may be better to forget likes and followers and continue to work toward what counts: satisfying yourself and meeting the needs of an editor. Note that I did not say pleasing the reader. Your editor comes first. After your query is accepted, then comes the reader, following the editor’s guidelines.
As to how the editor gets to know your work, that is for your query letter and your online portfolio. As to Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, I see them as time bandits and no substitute for a comprehensive writing website.
I’m experimenting with an e-mail signature line service called Wisestamp (external link). Here’s what my new sig line looks like:
I think a good looking e-mail signature line makes me look more professional. Wisestamp has a limited variety of templates and you can add your own photographs and images.
The neat trick in mine is that the sig line looks for my latest WordPress post. It is a clickable link. I think this is more compelling than a simple link to my website.
Wisestamp seems to work best with the Chrome browser and it gets complicated trying to put a sig line on a mobile browser like the iOS operating system. I haven’t, for example, yet attempted to put this sig line on my phone.
I am happy so far and I will keep trying different combination. I think there is a free offering but I have gone with a paid option that does not place ads.
In April 2014 I posted my first and only fully realized YouTube video. It was on dividing agapanthus, a popular ornamental of temperate climes. It took quite a bit of work to produce it, and its not especially meritorious, production wise, but people like it. Here’s the question: should I do more gardening videos?
For context, click throughs from the video to my blog have been few. Perhaps twenty clicks over three years. Making money from videos doesn’t appeal; I’d be chasing pennies. Yet the videos are ten times more popular than my blog site, if you count hits. Still, what would be the goal if I were to do more?
The video was an experiment, another skill for me to develop as a freelancer. Please take the poll if you would like to advise me.