Betcha giving head to a movie star betcha gotta llama riding in
Your car betcha u gotta tv built in your jet skis, betcha giving
Head to a movie star betcha gotta llama riding in your car
Betcha u gotta tv built in your jet skis.
Hidee high, lowdy low, get up and go to the show.
Ain’t it funny how the money makes the honey taste like nothing
You can’t have no more? Now we know. Ain’t it funny how the
Money makes the honey taste like nothing you can’t have no
More? Now we know. Ain’t it funny how the money makes to
Honey taste just like nothing – people act like they have but
They’re bluffing now we know that it don’t mean nothing.
I try really hard not to lie to you folks. And that’s not as easy as it sounds – not because I have an instinctive love of falsehood, but because in order not to lie about stuff, you actually have to know what the truth is, and that’s hard sometimes.
After I wrote my last post, I went off to do fun things like build a buck pen (we got baby goats a’comin here and I’m forced to move my planned series on goaty obstetrics to www.sharonastyk.com (aka ye olde blogge), make lunch and dig in the dirt, and I realized that I’d kind of lied to you folks, although without intent.
In my previous post, I said that my relationship with science blogs wasn’t about the money. And I really meant it – except that I then did something (which I can’t tell you about yet) that suddenly proved to me that I was obviously shitting myself. My “It ain’t the money” is about as sincere as Macy Gray’s.
Or rather, it is totally sincere as long as my secret subsidy is intact. Or maybe it isn’t a secret. I’ve been writing a blog for almost six years now, and my work, almost all of it done for free (I’ve received less than 1K in payments from Seed, beginning this past December, and I accepted one ad on my previous website, for which I received one solar oven, for three years plus of advertising, that’s my grand total of blog profit). The reason I can spend that time doing this, the reason I have some measure of freedom in my farm, as discussed previously, the reason I can write books for a publisher that gives advances that add up to about 40 cents an hour of work is that Eric has a real job.
It helps that I grow a majority of our food. It helps that I make money writing and teaching and farming. But we live on my husband’s salary, and have relied on his benefits. And my great worry over the last few years has been that this would suddenly be taken away. We were relieved of one worry this year when Eric’s job security went up a bit (he is by intent not tenured – his primary interest is in science education, which puts him in an odd spot at his MRU). But all of the concerns are not fully relieved. And while I don’t need the money from SEED, and I do actually give it all away, I found myself, confronted with a choice that might make it impossible for me to make money off my blog, in a bit of a panic – and a sudden realization.
You see, I’m really, really fortunate – I can do a lot of bad jobs, which I know, because I’ve done them, but I don’t have to – I get to farm, I get to write. And the reason I don’t have to is because Eric’s salary (which, to be clear, is in the 30s, not exactly endless riches for a family of six, but we are more than content with it) provides us with a stable income and insurance that means I can take the kids to the doctor if I need to. And I don’t usually need to, which is even better – like I said, we’re incredibly fortunate.
But there is a real chance that at some point in the next year or two, the entire support of my family will fall on me – working for the State of New York is not a high security job right now). And if that’s the case, we bang up into the blogger’s dilemma.
The blogger’s dilemma is pretty simple – 90% of all blogs can be run on the social surplus most of us have – in our spare times, out of the goodness of our hearts. The good thing about this is that you can start a blog when you want, quit when you want, take a vacation when you want, and use only the time you want to devote to it.
But sometimes, usually without intention, the blog takes on a life of its own, and you end up with sort of a problem – you need to use your time to make money for things like dinner and taxes. This leaves you with the dull choice of either monetizing the blog – subscription content, fund drives, donations buttons, advertising, product placement, or contracting with someone who will pay you – or reducing output. And since in my case, up to December the total direct economic value of all my blogging was one $200 Global Sun Oven, this does not pay many taxes. That means that if we have to make money, the blog is the first thing to go.
The blog does produce money indirectly, in book sales, but let’s just say my book sales don’t even remotely come close to paying property taxes. As a direct money maker, its a big zero. And the other problem is that blogging is way more fun than writing books – I want to blog, whereas, frankly, I would rather not even finish the book I’m contracted for, much less any other ones. It is also more fun than teaching classes (I like teaching, but blogging is more fun), and while it isn’t more fun than farming, the problem with farming is that I only reach the people in my region farming, whereas by writing, I reach a lot of people.
Which is why I suddenly found myself hestitating at the thought of doing something that would prevent me from ever making money on the blog – because as long as my husband-subsidy holds up, I’m good. In fact, we don’t need me to make much money – we profit more from the money we don’t have to spend and the time together. The problem is that if the carpet gets pulled out from under our feet, that $200 bucks a month, small as it is, looks pretty damned good. And it scared me a little to say “I am going to always blog for free” – because honestly, I’m going to have to make some choices at some point about what I do do for money, even with the subsidy. What I want to do most is blog and farm – and that may not be doable.
I need to be able to support my kids and spouse, to do my share, if the carpet gets pulled out from under him. I can give the money away. I can say I don’t care about it. But that’s only because I have the luxury of not caring. Now I don’t have to always be as fortunate as I am now – I’ve done plenty of jobs I didn’t love to make the groceries, and I’ll do anything I have to to keep my kids fed, including bend and spread for Pepsi, if it came to that. But I admit, I’ve been revelling for a little bit in the fact that for the very first time in my whole life I was mostly doing what I wanted. It is a selfish luxury, but one I’ve delighted in.
And deep down, I’m just as worried about losing that luxury as anyone else – more, I think, because I think it will happen. I know too much, rather than too little, about the state of my state. And while I know we can live on a lot less, I have the ugly suspicion that there’s a solid gap between our best “lot less” and “what Sharon makes.”
So yeah, it is the money. Knowing that is probably good for me, and I don’t think it will be the money that decides my future – again, I may have a price, but it isn’t as cheap as SEED’s. And at least I’m not lying to y’all – or to me. Sometimes the money does make the honey taste like nothing.
Since this morning’s post we’ve lost Questionable Authority, and worst of all, Zuska and Grrl Scientist, two of my favorites, and two of the people I liked here the best. By my count we’re down almost 20 blogs in less than two weeks – about a third or more of the active bloggers.
PZ Myers, who is responsible for 42% of Science Blog’s traffic has called a strike.(Edited to add: this phrasing makes it sounds like it is all PZ Myers idea, or that I don’t approve – I do. I think labor organizing is the best possible way to deal with management, and I’m grateful that Myers, who is more deeply invested than I can ever be in Science Blogs took the role of initiating – because his is the most powerful impact.) And I still don’t know what I want to do. But Mama taught her daughter one thing – you don’t cross a picket line. So this blog will be quiet for a bit. I wish I knew what demands to make – strikes are better with demands. But I’m just sad about my colleagues and about my blogging address, and the only demands I really want to make are for a bunch of Margaritas and a night to sleep it off ;-).
Why doesn’t my food storage have Margarita mix in it?