I have a confession to make: My blog has not always been my own. Oh, the words are written entirely by me and the events and my reactions really happened, but I have been paid to write it. Eight columns a month.
More than five years ago, I was approached by an online business and asked to become a contributor to its website. In exchange for a small honorarium, I was to write about my life, experiences and observations of living in Collingwood.
The company I wrote for had only one request: that I avoid local politics. The owners felt no matter what side of any issue I took, the result would be divisive and unhelpful to the work they were doing. I was to be light and funny and thoughtful, but not political.
I imposed a limit of my own, too, figuring it is just smart to avoid trashing any businesses represented on the site where my writing would appear.
For the most part, I have avoided politics and trashing. I have tried in my musings to be witty when possible, and when I couldn't come up with witty, I tried to be self-deprecating. When I can't manage witty or self-deprecating, I have aimed for gently thought-provoking.
At the end of last year, my deal with the business came to an end, which leaves me with a conundrum: do I keep writing when I'm not being paid to do it?
I have developed two lists:
Reasons to Quit Blogging:
I would never ever have started a blog were it not for the money. Like many women, I keep a journal wherein I can and do pour my complaints about my sometimes fractious family and any disappointments in my spouse (hardly any, honey, honest!), so if I'm writing for free, I can do it there.
I have a strong aversion to narcissists and blowhards, both traits which seem rather prevalent in the blogosphere, (local examples excepted, of course!) and I try not to become that which I despise.
I already have a perfectly good outlet for public self-expression in the form of a weekday morning radio show.
Reasons to Continue Blogging:
I am a better writer and a clearer thinker after five years of trying to be succinct in my observations.
I enjoy knowing there are people who seek out what I write. Some of you aren't even related to me! (OK, so that anti-narcissism thing might not be working out as well as I had hoped...)
Now that the writing is my own, I can perhaps write more often and less gently about local politics, which would be a relief, as I have opinions to spare.
Now that the writing is solely my own, I can spill any stories of crappy service and inflated prices at local stores and address why I will never darken the door of some local establishments ever again.
What to do, what to do...
My sweetheart says as long as I don't get us sued and avoid getting us kicked out of restaurants, he has no opinion on the matter.
I read somewhere that the mark of a true writer is that they can't not write; that a true artist can't not produce art, paycheque notwithstanding. I guess I'll soon find out whether I'm the real thing.
I guess I might have mentioned the no politics proviso in my defence during a very short enounter with a town councillor some time ago, but I never got the chance.
After introducing myself, shaking his hand and saying what media outlet I work for, I said, "We have something in common, you and I. I write a blog, too."
"Yes, but mine is about politics." and he walked away.
Since this guy is a self-professed expert in media relations, and this was the first (and so far only) time he had met this particular member of the local media, I remain confused at his sneering brush-off. I don't expect to be fawned over, but there is something to be said for basic courtesy. If nothing else, perhaps in hopes of a vote.