Pennies From Heaven

Via Atrios, some people don’t consider blogging work.

John connects this to a general fear of money on the left. It’s not that I don’t see that, too. Being born white and middle class and raised Catholic, I of course carry around lots of ideas about what I deserve and how much obligation I have to help others, and try to balance that with the never-ending acquisitiveness that both runs in the family (everybody collects something) and runs in society.

But while John is talking about money and guilt, I think the comments he cites about how dare he take a vacation, and how can he afford a car, is something else, and it’s tied into misconceptions about blogging and writing and activism in general.

I don’t think some people consider blogging to be work. And maybe I wouldn’t either, except for that week or so I spent guestblogging for Atrios with Holden and Tena and pie. Good Christ, that was nerve-wracking. I felt like I was performing, every night, like I was doing improv and coding and political theater all at once, and man, if people hated it, they REALLY hated it, and told me so, and if I wasn’t good, this community I’d come to adore would despise me and it would all just be a disaster. There was research involved, I was trying to give people information as well as opinion and at the end of it all I could think was, “Atrios deserves as much turkee as he can carry.” And I had three other people who did most of the work!

It is work. Contrary to what most journalists think about bloggers most of us don’t just sit here and vomit out stuff. We care about what we do and want to do it well. I don’t want to turn this into a diatribe about how rough it is to be a blogger, because man, there are harder jobs out there and no way should this be a world in which I make more than a guy patrolling Fallujah. And you guys have been extraordinarily generous to us since we put up the donation link (nearly $100, which pays our domain renewal for the next year, that’s how fucking awesome you cats and kittens are), so it’s not like I don’t know you appreciate it. It means the world. Thank you.

I think the bottom line is that some blogs have proven this is something people are willing to pay for, either through advertising or donations. We’re all kind of finding our way through this, at this point, trying to figure out what our business models are. Maybe it’s a kind of reader-supported thing, like public radio, where people give because they want to. Maybe it’s solely advertising based, maybe George Soros and Al Gore come around and set us up with fellowships. Maybe a hybrid of all three.

I look at it like other writing. Not everyone who writes (especially fiction) does it professionally. For some it’s just a hobby. For others, the time comes when they strike out on their own and try to make money at it. Some of them turn out to be Stephen King and make bazillions. Others publish through small houses to critical acclaim but little financial reward.

What do you guys think?

A.