Thursday, October 01, 2015
Respect my personal independence, please (because "It's hard out here for a pimp" anyway)
Just a personal checkpoint as, here we are again, in the last quarter of the year. And with the possibility of something like another Sandy on the horizon.
I became a “professional amateur journalist” starting about 18 years ago, with the self-publication of my first book, while an individual contributor in an IT workplace (through the end of 2001).
It has gradually become less credible to do “anything else” with the rest of my life (I’m 72 now anyway), largely because of the accretion of the “online reputation issue”. It is simply impossible to go out and “pimp” someone else’s cause or product and be paid to do so publicly.
I do get hounded about why I don’t become more aggressive selling physical copies of books, or ad space – a few of the calls are actually rude. I realize I am benefiting somewhat from the left-wing no-no (and that doesn’t mean a Max Scherzer or MadBum no-hitter) of “inherited wealth”. So the “morality” of my setup could be challenged, and, due to some ambiguities regarding trusts and various documents, maybe the “legality” although that’s remote. As far as the SEC is concerned, I’m using my own money, and don’t have to produce for investors in the usual sense.
I would actually like that to change in the future, if I were to get money for a film.
But I also often field challenges. I’m a long way now from the mainframe IT job market that used to pay my way, and given the way W-2 consulting works, my publicity would be problematic. I’ve talked about why becoming a teacher “failed”.
But I do get calls and entreats (some unwelcome and even disruptive) about why I won’t go out and sell life insurance, financial services, do tax preparation, etc. The calls can be combined in a “Frankenstorm” manner with the idea that I am in a quasi-inherited house, and could morally be expected to help support those in need, an idea that is likely to grow with the publicity over the Syrian (and Central American and even LGBT) refugee and asylum crises. If I spent twelve years earning a good income in IT in the life and financial services business (from 1990-2001) and credit business (1981-1988) and even health care (other times), shouldn’t I be expected to go out and prove I can sell it?
There’s another thing, solidarity. In fact, maybe sometimes “radical solidarity” (like “radical hospitality”) is necessary. I don’t "join in" by giving others a lot of emotional empathy, directly. I don’t want to use Donald Trump’s words too much here (I’m not concerned about copyright or trademark either), but you can see where I’m heading. A lot of people deal with practical hardships and bad luck (as well as the results of bad choices – it can be hard to parse these) by skill in fitting in to social hierarchies. So I get pestered (in various incidents) as to why I won’t do the same, as to why I can't be bargained with. No, “turning it over to God” and getting “born again” doesn’t cover personal failure, even some misfortune or happenstance contributed to the bad end result. I can't honor playing victim for its own sake, and I can't make "you" all right. I can't find meaning in just any unconditional grace. My father used to say, "To obey is better than to sacrifice", because he saw sacrifice as just that, not really honorable.
As I’ve said before, I need to “finish my own work” before I can negotiate social expectations – which could become considerable in the near future for good reason, some having to do with external, even international events. I have to ask people to respect my independence. That’s all.