Spitting fire (or a little whining)

Writing for nothing is a dilemma. And that includes blogging and all forms of social network communications. Perhaps “nothing” should be defined; my definition or yours? First mine, you can give me yours in a comment. Nothing, as used in my opening sentence, means not getting paid, specifically, no monetary compensation, for your labors as a writer. For it’s money that’s needed to pay the electric bill that runs this computer I’m using, the lights for seeing in the dark, the cold for the fridge and the a/c; the heating bill, phone, car, grocery, and all the other expenses one needs if you’re “living the American dream,” or trying to live it.

Job opportunities have been far and few between for me since around 1997, when I was downsized from a pipeline company (El Paso Natural Gas). Those were the “good old days” when I was getting paid close to $20 an hour. I could afford to buy just about anything I needed or wanted. Need. Want. Two words that allow greed to flourish.

Does a college degree make any difference? One in English/Writing? Sorry, but no, it doesn’t. At least not in my chosen career field. (Tip: High school grads, don’t choose English/Writing as your major!) “Chosen career field,” I think that’s a misnomer because you rarely have the opportunity to choose your career. For those of you who’ve been able to do so, congratulations, you’re “living the American dream.” For the rest us, it’s still just that – a dream, a hope (want/need?).

I’ve been writing about gardening for around seven years, mostly in weekly articles for a couple of hometown newspapers. It pays, a little, and I really enjoy doing it. Outside of those two writing “jobs,” nothing I pursue ever materializes. I submitted an online application for a garden writing position recently. It actually paid well too. I included what I thought was one of my better pieces and my resume. Sometimes it takes a few days or even weeks for a response so I was somewhat surprised to get an email from the company after only a couple hours.

Needless to say, I was rejected. Some rejections include an explanation; the one for this particular writing job stated that since there were so many writers “out there” strict guidelines had to be used in order to filter out the good from the not-so-good. It doesn’t feel so good being not-so-good.

Anywho, I suppose I should include a report on the Nasturtium ‘Spitfire’  GROW project, since I’m a participant. I gave up on the one I had growing and trailing out of a pedestal planter, it just didn’t look good so I snipped it off without regret. I’ve not made any special climbing apparatus for this particular variety. The term “nasty” is used by some when referring to nasturtiums and in my opinion ‘Spitfire’ has lived up to that moniker. It didn’t qualify at all for a trailing or drooping vine, but since it’s supposed to climb I reckon a disqualification as a cascading or trailing plant won’t count in the final analysis. I have several other ‘Spitfire’ clumps scattered about and I’m particularly interested in three that I planted in rocky, almost hardpan, clay soil. They’re growing, but will they flower?

N. 'Spitfire'
N. Spitfire
N. 'Spitfire'

“I’m growing Nasturtium ‘Spitfire’ for the GROW project. Thanks, to Renee’s Garden for the seeds.”

Writing for nothing is a dilemma. And that includes blogging and all forms of social network communications. Perhaps “nothing”should be defined; my definition or yours? First mine, you can give me yours in a comment. Nothing, as used in my opening

sentence, means not getting paid, specifically –  no monetary compensation, for your labors as a writer. For it’s money that’s needed to

pay the electric bill that runs this computer I’m using, the lights for seeing in the dark, the cold for the fridge and the a/c; the heating

bill, phone, car, grocery, and all the other expenses one needs if you’re “living the American dream,” or trying to live it.

Job opportunities have been far and few between for me since around 1997, when I was downsized from a pipeline company (El

Paso Natural Gas). Those were the “good old days” when I was getting paid close to $20 an hour. I could afford to buy just about

anything I needed or wanted. Need. Want. Two words that allow greed to flourish.

Does a plain ol’ college degree matter anymore? One in English/Writing? Sorry, but no, it doesn’t. At least not in my chosen career

field. (Tip: High school grads, don’t choose English/Writing as your major!) “Chosen career field,” I think that’s a misnomer because

you rarely have the opportunity to choose your career. For those of you who’ve been able to do so, congratulations, you’re “living the

American dream.” For the rest us, it’s still just that, a dream, a hope (want/need?).

I’ve been writing about gardening for around seven years, mostly in weekly articles for a couple of hometown newspapers. It pays, a

little, and I really enjoy doing it. Outside of those two writing “jobs” nothing I pursue ever materializes. I submitted an online

application for a garden writing position recently. It actually paid well too. I included what I thought was one of my better pieces and

my resume. Sometimes it takes a few days or even weeks for a response so I was somewhat surprised to get an email from the

company after only a couple hours. Needless to say, I was rejected. Some rejections include an explanation; the one for this

particular writing job stated that since there were so many writers “out there” strict guidelines had to be used in order to filter out the

good from the not-so-good. It doesn’t feel so good being not-so-good.

Anywho, I suppose I should include a report on the Nasturtium ‘Spitfire’ Grow Project, since I’m a participant. I gave up on the one

I had growing and trailing out of a pedestal planter, it just didn’t look good so I snipped it off without regret. I’ve not made any

special climbing apparatus for this variety of nasturtium. The term “nasty” is sometimes used by other GP participants when referring

to nasturtiums; in my opinion ‘Spitfire’ has performed nastily so far. It didn’t qualify at all for a trailing or drooping vine, but since it’s

supposed to climb I reckon a disqualification as a cascading or trailing plant won’t count in the final analysis. I have several other

‘Spitfire’ clumps scattered about. I’m particularly interested in three that I planted in rocky, almost hardpan, clay soil. They’re

growing, but will they flower?   Writing for nothing is a dilemma. And that includes blogging and all forms of social network communications. Perhaps “nothing”

should be defined; my definition or yours? First mine, you can give me yours in a comment. Nothing, as used in my opening

sentence, means not getting paid, specifically –  no monetary compensation, for your labors as a writer. For it’s money that’s needed to

pay the electric bill that runs this computer I’m using, the lights for seeing in the dark, the cold for the fridge and the a/c; the heating

bill, phone, car, grocery, and all the other expenses one needs if you’re “living the American dream,” or trying to live it.
Job opportunities have been far and few between for me since around 1997, when I was downsized from a pipeline company (El

Paso Natural Gas). Those were the “good old days” when I was getting paid close to $20 an hour. I could afford to buy just about

anything I needed or wanted. Need. Want. Two words that allow greed to flourish.
Does a plain ol’ college degree matter anymore? One in English/Writing? Sorry, but no, it doesn’t. At least not in my chosen career

field. (Tip: High school grads, don’t choose English/Writing as your major!) “Chosen career field,” I think that’s a misnomer because

you rarely have the opportunity to choose your career. For those of you who’ve been able to do so, congratulations, you’re “living the

American dream.” For the rest us, it’s still just that, a dream, a hope (want/need?).
I’ve been writing about gardening for around seven years, mostly in weekly articles for a couple of hometown newspapers. It pays, a

little, and I really enjoy doing it. Outside of those two writing “jobs” nothing I pursue ever materializes. I submitted an online

application for a garden writing position recently. It actually paid well too. I included what I thought was one of my better pieces and

my resume. Sometimes it takes a few days or even weeks for a response so I was somewhat surprised to get an email from the

company after only a couple hours. Needless to say, I was rejected. Some rejections include an explanation; the one for this

particular writing job stated that since there were so many writers “out there” strict guidelines had to be used in order to filter out the

good from the not-so-good. It doesn’t feel so good being not-so-good.
Anywho, I suppose I should include a report on the Nasturtium ‘Spitfire’ Grow Project, since I’m a participant. I gave up on the one

I had growing and trailing out of a pedestal planter, it just didn’t look good so I snipped it off without regret. I’ve not made any

special climbing apparatus for this variety of nasturtium. The term “nasty” is sometimes used by other GP participants when referring

to nasturtiums; in my opinion ‘Spitfire’ has performed nastily so far. It didn’t qualify at all for a trailing or drooping vine, but since it’s

supposed to climb I reckon a disqualification as a cascading or trailing plant won’t count in the final analysis. I have several other

‘Spitfire’ clumps scattered about. I’m particularly interested in three that I planted in rocky, almost hardpan, clay soil. They’re

growing, but will they flower?

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19 Comments

    1. I noticed a few blooms on the ground mounds Mr. BT. I also noticed a colony of aphids on one clump! That’s something growers of nasties should be aware of. I don’t usually see aphids on many things in my yarden so seeing them on the nasties was a little disconcerting.

      At times I have a tendency to sound just a tad cynical or pessimistic when my emotions start showing up in my writing. But I’m surely no doomsayer!

  1. I’ve never been paid more than $5 for my writing–a story that I got published in undergrad and am now thoroughly embarrassed of. (One of my biggest fears is that my students will google me and find it!)

    However, I can understand the dichotomy between “real” writing and writing for “nothing.” I think, though, that no writing is for nothing; it sharpens our skills, clarifies our thoughts. I think that it can always be for “something”–we give shape to ourselves when we write–but that aside, blogging and other small writing helps keep the gears from getting rusty, and I think can fertilize the “something” writing. (To use a gardening metaphor. 🙂 )

    Also sometimes people get Big Book Deals from their blogging! 😉

    I like that nasturtiums have stars on their leaves. I never noticed before; now perhaps I’ll be able to recognize them.

    1. Ms. Rosemary, I remember how proud I was the first time I got paid for an article. I thought I was king of the hill, the best pea in the pod, the cream of the crop, the butter on the bread, the biggest wave in the ocean, etc., etc. Little did I realize what was in store for the writing industry.

      I should’ve pointed out that I understand that “writing for nothing” writing (blogging, first drafts, tweets, etc.) is important. But when it seems that’s all you’re doing, it makes it difficult to accept as a necessity. And sometimes when others see you “writing for nothing” they get the impression that you’re doing nothing.

      If it sounds like I’m being cynical, I apologize. That’s not my style. But a measure of pessimism creeps in when I find myself thinking – should have, would have, could have…

  2. You’ve hit on a big rant of mine. I have a degree in written communications and have worked in technical and corporate communications–until I got burned out and quit my job with the idea of retiring now in case I never get to later. I’m NOT looking forward to finding a job again, but will have to. The whole fall-down of newspapers, and increase in blogging, means media companies want something for nothing. It’s pretty depressing and blurs the line between professional, objective journalism and personal perspective blogging. Eh yep. Oh, and the nasties look a little sad, just like mine!

    1. It “blurs the line between professional, objective journalism and personal perspective blogging.” Excellent point Ms. Monica! I should point out that I consider myself lucky to still be able to write my weekly columns for two local newspapers. Some folks blog and get paid for it, if only I could…..

  3. Rejection isn’t fun and I’m sorry to hear about this dry spell you’re in. However, I too, believe in Carolyn’s comment regarding Jeremiah 29. A person never, ever knows what’s around the corner. Hang in there TC.

  4. I sure do empathize with what you’re going through TC, and sincerely hope things will look up for you soon. We are in, by the far the worst economy and job market I’ve lived through in my life, and it sure can get discouraging.

    Walks2write’s encouraging words are so true. Hang in there buddy!

    Oh yeah, about those nasturtiums – eh. I think it’s a bad year for nasturtiums too.

    1. It seems to be a bad year for ‘Spitfire’ anyway, at least here in my yarden.

      Thanks for the encouraging words too Ms. Linda, I try to keep from sucking in water while I’m bobbing up and down on this sea of life! (Ha! Cliches are cheap!)

  5. You love to write. How can that be nothing? In my opinion, true art should not be considered a commodity. It comes from the heart and soul of an artist. It’s inspired so how can it be sent to market like a basket of produce? I’m weird, I know. You’re a gifted musician and writer, TC. Keep playing and writing to hone your gifts. It doesn’t do any good to chase success. It will find and follow your hard work. I like Carolyn’s reminder.

    1. Oh, I know the inherent benefit Ms. I. And it all depends on one’s definition of “art,” doesn’t it? A dedicated die-hard garbage man might call his job an art. ;~)

      I keep coming back to the age-old problem of growing old. Some would have me believe that it matters not the wrinkles, it’s the soft eyes. Hogwash!

      1. Okay. How’s this for landfill philosophy since you bring up the topic of garbage? The idea of “objective” journalism is hogwash in another kind of basin, and you would probably need a baseball bat to make it disappear down the drain these days. Witness the transmogrification of the various media supposedly bringing us the news each day. They’re all entertainment outlets set on making us consumers/non-thinkers. Everything is prechewed in some news mill and spit out by a few carefully chosen celebrity journalists who may have at one time actually believed that journalism was a sacred, honorable profession. All writing, unless it’s technical, comes from personal perspective, experience, soft eyes, peripheral “vision,” or whatever you want to call it. Don’t keep coming back to the age-old problem, which it isn’t. It’s an asset if you invest it in something important.

      2. I’m not a journalist Ms. I. I’m a freelance writer. I think there’s a difference. I don’t write news stories, and when I read or watch the news, I’m not seeing it as an “entertainment outlet.” Yes, there’s a cup of drama and a tablespoon or two of sensationalism added to a lot of it, but I block all that out. I see your point in “investing in something important,” but dig this: I really don’t think I “keep coming back to the age-old problem,” it’s a problem that I think you can never get away from – unless there’s a cure for aging or the fountain of youth really exists.

  6. Chin up, Write Gardener. Better days are coming, for you and for me! Remember – Jeremiah 29:11
    “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord; plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” A good one!

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