Each week, Evan Peterson rounds up stories from across the Web that scribes of all stripes should check out.
The digital marketplace—at least for journalists, PR pros, and marketing people—runs on a never-ending cycle of content.
It’s nearly impossible for everyone to be paid for producing every word and image to drive more page views, brand engagement, and sales—but one writer took on the cause, anyway.
There’s also the converse situation: quitting what pays you well for doing what you really enjoy, i.e., writing. Also, why you might not want to write about yourself, along with more good advice from Stephen King.
Writing for free:
To anyone engaged in the debate over who should be paid what for creating something on the Internet, and to anyone—writers, illustrators, musicians—who has been asked to create something for free, Tim Kreider’s article, “Slaves of the Internet, Unite!” from The New York Times
is essential reading. It’s part case study, part rallying cry, and overall a great analysis of why writers sometimes aren’t paid for work, and why they should be. Even as a successful, oft-published writer, Kreider is incredulous as to how we got here:
I have to admit my empathetic imagination is failing me here. I suppose people who aren’t artists assume that being one must be fun since, after all, we do choose to do it despite the fact that no one pays us. They figure we must be flattered to have someone ask us to do our little thing we already do.
Are you making too much money?:
Lots of digital copy is spent discussing writing for free online. But what about those who are making too much to turn their back on it for a writing career? It happens. In an interview this week with Canada’s National Post
, novelist Rupert Thomson discussed always being on the cusp of more celebrity, and how he finally made the leap to full-time writing:
And yet, ever since giving up a career in advertising in the mid-’80s (“I was making too much money,” he tells an astounded uncle in his 2010 memoir, This Party’s Got to Stop), Thomson has been driven by telling stories: “I feel pointless if I don’t write.”
Do you feel pointless if you don’t write? It may come down to what you consider writing. To many, an advertising gig (and the potential pay that comes with it) is quite enough.
Writing about yourself:
When done well, memoirs can make for fascinating reading—at least in short, anecdotal bursts. The degree of difficulty is high, because the practice requires uncomfortable sincerity about one’s thoughts and experiences. In an era when success and opportunities are understood through page views, comments, and “likes,” intimate writing can be powerful personally or professionally. Having those two worlds intersect is not always a good thing, though, as Buzzfeed
writer Jessica Misener writes in this piece:
Unlike the days when you could intentionally leave a regretful published poem off your portfolio, the magic of Google means your writing—in many cases, not editable—will be forever attached to your name and thus searchable by future dates, prospective employers, and any person you dare to write about.
[RELATED: Get advanced writing and editing tips from Mark Ragan and Jim Ylisela.]
What are you afraid of?:
This column is intended to feature some of the top writing about writing from the past week. But this Paris Review interview with Stephen King from 2006 is worth an exception. Pick a reason. It's Halloween week, the Red Sox won the World Series (King is a huge fan), the Carrie remake is still playing to
crowds. King is easily one of the best writers and speakers about writing, so that’s reason enough. Here he covers what he reads, how he comes up with stories along with a lot of other great stuff. This answer to a question about fear is especially good:
What are we afraid of, as humans? Chaos. The outsider. We’re afraid of change. We’re afraid of disruption, and that is what I’m interested in. I mean, there are a lot of people whose writing I really love—one of them is the American poet Philip Booth—who write about ordinary life straight up, but I just can’t do that.
Evan Peterson is a writer based in Chicago, and the editor of OpenMarkets magazine at CME Group. He's on Twitter at @evanmpeterson.