Getting paid

I don’t get paid for this blog. Even Matt Welch barely makes any money from his blog. I know John Scalzi has managed to get a paying blog gig, but he still keeps a much better “free” personal blog as well.

It’s thankless. It’s relentless. So why do we do it? Well, I don’t know why those million or so other bloggers do it, but I do it because it keeps me writing. I’m working on other (paying) things at the same time, but these are long-term projects, requiring me to sustain an effort over months, up to even a year at a time. Blogging a bit every day (okay, it hasn’t been quite every day the past couple weeks) helps limber up the writing muscles for those other efforts that require a bit more concentration. Also I have this pie-in-the-sky dream that suddenly someday my blog will become incredibly popular, and that will somehow drive a truckload of book sales my way, but mainly it’s the limbering up thing.

Now Steven Krause is pointing out that some teachers are balking at providing online materials for free, the way bloggers do. Krause isn’t complaining, mind you, he’s just saying. I’ve done a little online teaching, and my brother in law does a lot of it. Krause is right — for many people, it’s more work than teaching a “regular” course. Personally I think that when you develop materials for an online course, what you’re doing is making your course more structured, more rigorous, than what you can do more “easily” by “winging it” in the classroom. Should you be payed more for this? In that you are becoming a better, more disciplined teacher, yes. In that you are somehow going “beyond the call of duty,” absolutely not.

If you’re worried that other teachers will “use” the materials you’ve created, you’re being (a) selfish and (b) naive. There are plenty of places for lazy teachers to crib their lessons from. More than once I’ve heard of a teacher saying “I can’t use Textbook A for my course — that’s where I get all my lectures.” A teacher who develops online courses from scratch should be paid more than a teacher who teaches from materials others have created. But a teacher who relies solely on third-party materials is not a true professional. If that was all there was to teaching, we could just hand the kids the books and be done with it.

The same goes for writers. I think I’m a better writer because I blog. Should I get paid for my blogging? Probably not. Should I be rewarded with better paying gigs? If the world is just, I should be. Time will tell if the world can become the way I want it to be.

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4 Responses to Getting paid

  1. Pat says:

    You would like to get paid. How about a few more satire posts/columns?
    Upon the reawakening of WordMunger, I was hopeful that the satirical content would return, perhaps as part of a broader portfolio of writings, but that it would be there for the WM army (whose membership ranks among the natural numbers).
    After all, I had heartily endorsed the previous WM incarnation to my mother-in-law, who in turn bookmarked the site and said that she enjoyed the content and looked forward to new posts.
    But now, there is only about one satiric post a month. I’d happily pay for more, in US dollars or fractions thereof (or perhaps in beverage equivalents) for some additional humor.
    Enjoyed the school post. School is starting already? Labor Day is still roughly 2.7 weeks away.

  2. Dave says:

    Isn’t that just like you economists? You think everyone has his price. You imply that the Word Munger is some sort of satire drone who’ll crank out the laughs if you throw a few coins his way. Well, I’m telling you, buddy, it’s going to take a lot more than money to make the Word Munger increase the ratio of satirical posts.

    Just out of curiosity, however, how much would you be willing to pay to see more satire? And how much more satire would you like to see? The question is purely hypothetical, of course. The Word Munger cannot be bought. Unless we’re really talking serious money, that is.

  3. Pat says:

    Hey now. I wasn’t the one complaining about (not) getting paid. I’m just providing you some free market research, so to speak. You may have things properly quantified when you mention “a few coins,” but your drone comment is way off. I know that the Munger of Word is an artiste wit skeelz!! (and I’ve been quietly enjoying them for a few weeks now). Before we start talking about hypothetical drachmae, let me know if the rewrite of Jack and the Beanstalk set in a post-inflationary future is available. That could be interesting.

  4. dave says:

    I knew it would come down to that. Let me tell you a little story about “Jack and Me.” When I was in the fifth grade, I won a writing contest that enabled me attend the “Young Writers’ Conference” at Seattle Pacific University. One of the “perks” was supposed to be that we could deposit our works of literature in the SPU library, where they would be protected for posterity. Naively, I handed my work over to them, only to find, years later, that “Dave Munger” is nowhere to be found in the SPU library catalog. Now I find this deception has bitten me back, as I see it is the gateway to untold wealth publishing satire on the Information Superhighway!

    Alas! Alack! I must continue to toil without compensation, a slave to the Internet Gods! Withal, I withdraw.

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