It has been a little over a year since I picked up the metaphorical pen and began to bleed ink and personal demons onto screen. By fighting my battles publicly, I hoped to inspire. Fuck, more importantly, I hoped to win those daily battles with my self. I didn’t limit myself to sadness or funny parenting anecdotes. My blog doesn’t have parameters on it. Sure, sometimes I would publish elsewhere, hoping the place I published was a “fit” for my writing. On the road, though, I continued not to have what some would call a “theme” to Punk Rock Papa.
The theme is me, the ebb and flow of my emotions. Personal musings and stories I am too tired of keeping to myself. I don’t limit myself, I cannot always be funny or serious. I am an ocean, vast and largely uncharted.
Since the start, I have looked for badges of affirmation of my skill. To date, I have been on so many different online publications, too many to list (I will, if you ask though). My words have been stolen. It was kind of cool to me, maybe the most assuring sign that I wrote something worth reading. Something worth stealing is my favorite badge.
Through the growing pains all writers face, I have faced the gauntlet of rejections. I have been rejected from so many online publications, too many to list (I will, if you ask though). I have learned the ugly underbelly of sites, where they sit using your words to stack their money off of pop up ads attached uglily to your words.
I get it, I have been there on these sites, too mesmerized at someone wanting my words to notice they were being used for the purpose to line someone else’s pocket.
Maybe I was naive. Comfortable in an ignorant bliss and content to be used because, fuck, sometimes it just feels good to be wanted. Even when you are being used.
Maybe you don’t write. You could sit there and enjoy reading other’s stories. Identifying with people around the world and learning some feelings you have that confuse you are all too common. Blogging, or Instant Gratification Writing as I prefer to call it, has created a beautiful connection between souls all around the world.
It is important to remember the users. The people who choose to feed off these beautiful connections for profit.
The editors of sites that don’t do anything other than figure out the best placement for their ads around people’s words.
I was an editor for a short time. The Original Bunker Punks, a complete out of pocket dream of a group of friends who all gave something for it’s creation. A beautiful, bold, project created to push writers to do one thing. To better themselves. Without tooting my horn (Oh well, Toot-fucking-toot) we did that. We took writers who had NEVER been published ANYWHERE and worked one on one with them to polish their work, holding their hand along the journey. It was the most exhausting and most rewarding thing I ever did. I made so many good friends and got to watch as BOOM, publication after publication began to pick them up.
It isn’t something I take credit for. I don’t mention it to assume credit. I am not holier-than-thou enough to think my working with them made them into these writers that big sites wanted to publish. Sure, I think I definitely helped them and hopefully I did something with them that caused them to write with more confidence, knowing they had the talent to make these big sites if they sat down and tried.
The mission statement for OBP was, “Everybody has a voice,”. We believed that, to our core. We wanted content. I would often tell people, “Even Stephen King has an editor,”. The editors and myself believed in the writers and we could only pay them in our editorial skills and promotion. But we paid in full, on both parts.
We celebrated our writers and their words, not ourselves. We went as far as giving other publications essays we had worked on, in hopes of doing what was best for the writer. I spent a good portion of my free time having private conversations with editors of other sites, telling them about writers that might be a good fit for their sites. I pushed writers towards publications I felt would not only covet their work but also give it an audience it deserved.
I don’t know that I was a good editor, I assume the jury is still out on that. I can’t meet a deadline to save my life. I get overwhelmed by anything that feels like a job.
As a writer with experience as an editor, I have learned a lot about the writing world. I have also tasted the bitter pill of someone using my words for profit without giving anything back.
I am tired of these sites. I am tired of having them take my words and decorate them with crap ads while leaving my name in a tiny spot in the corner, hidden away. I have a few sites I will write happily for, free of charge, because I know the people behind the project and I know they will give back in other ways, not hide my name.
Pay or promote. One or the other. It isn’t so hard.
Here is my long winded call to writers, editors and readers. Stop supporting sites that don’t support you. There are these giant sites that take words and use them to line the pockets of a few and build the following of themselves.
The secret they don’t want you to know is they are not your masters. Without your words, without your views, they are nothing.
Stop supporting sites that treat writers like shit, so those sites stop existing.