Monday, March 12, 2018

There are lots of writing scams out there

I need a job.

The place I had been working for two years closed its doors and I'm not getting paid. The trouble is, I'm older and I don't want just any ole job. I see there are pet groomer positions available, dishwashing, sales, front desk, maintenance, door-to-door solar peddling, and et cetera. But my love is English. Words. AP style. Specifically, fixing up strings of words to make them stronger.

And, if I do say so myself, I'm pretty good.

So of course I've been looking for editing positions. On craigslist, there are an amazing amount of ... well, I don't want to call them scams because I'm sure they will pay, but ... yeah, scams. There is one particular type of ad that's really getting under my skin:

Wanted: Staff writer / editor

Sounds good at first glance, until you read what's in the ad. They want one person, not two. This person is expected to write and edit their own work.

Well, no shit.

Look, that's a writer's job—at least, any writer who gives a hoot about how their stuff looks. By the time it hits the editor, which is supposed to be a second person with an entirely different skill set, the work is normally expected to be as polished as the writer can get it, whether he or she is writing articles, stories, opinion pieces, recipes, jokes, or instruction manuals.

The point is that these companies are getting away with paying one offensively low price for one person who is expected to do the job of two. And a good editor isn't cheap (nor is a good writer, for that matter, or they shouldn't be) so these people really have a racket going.

The biggest issue? Well, besides the fact that this poor writer is getting the shaft and that the company is completely ripping them off, the content won't be as strong as it could be. Likely, not even close.

There's a reason editors exist. It's because, although we as writers may make 10, 12, 20 passes at our own work, we are too close to it and therefore won't see a lot of issues we'd otherwise catch.

I guarantee you Stephen King, top New York Times columnists, recipe book writers and instruction manual writers all get edited before they go to final print.  OK, scratch the instruction manual writers; we've all seen how terrible most of those are.

But you get the point. The people placing these ads aren't looking for quality content. They aren't looking for stuff they can be proud of, and they aren't looking to pay a whole lot, trust me. They want a one-stop-shop where they can get wonderful research and great writing skills, and then they want to publish the piece directly because that writer also wears the editor's hat—and all for pennies on the word.

Oh, good grief no!

Don't do it. Don't even think about doing it. Please!

I know, I know, I can hear you saying that it'll look good on the resume, adds a notch to the ole writer's belt, gains you valuable experience.

No. It won't.

A future prospective employer is going to see all these content mills, these fly by night operations you've written for, and figure you just don't have the good sense to realize what the heck you are doing or what is going on.

Think of a mechanic who has a chest full of China tools from Harbor Freight and is willing to show them off to anyone and everyone. He'd say how shiny they are, how hard he'd worked to pick out just the right ones, and how he's all set to go.

But he isn't. He has what amounts to several hundred pounds of trash, and a good mechanic will know this and, furthermore, might even wonder what mental capacity issues the guy has.

It isn’t worth it.

We all have to start somewhere, I realize this. Did I ever write for content mills? Oh, you'd better believe I did. Am I proud of any of it? Not really.

And, by the way, my resume now says that I have had hundreds of articles in print online, mostly through now-defunct companies. I'm not trying to sticker my car windows with the fact I worked for Associated Content, Demand Studios, or Examiner. I'm just not.

If you are a writer, and you think you are a good one, skip these ads. Just move on and wait. You might need the money but honestly, is two or three cents per word worth your reputation?

Not even a little bit.

Write on!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Jobs, man, what the hell?

You know, I got to thinking the other day, a lot of jobs today kind of suck. I remember when I was a boy, it seemed people got jobs and then stuck with them until they retired. That isn’t so any longer, for the vast majority of us, is it?

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I'll start right off by admitting that no, I'm do not have a Master's degree, and I'm not particularly talented in anything except for writing and event then, once the blinders come off, I'm seeing I'm likely mediocre at best when compared to the hard-hitters like Stephen King or Ray Bradbury or Clive Barker.

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As my new favorite saying goes, "I'm just smart enough to know I'm not smart enough."

Oh well, boo-hoo, whoa as me. This isn't a pity party, folks, I'm just being a little realistic. Take me out of the equation for a minute; I still don't know anyone but one guy who might retire from his actual job. One motherfucking guy. Do you realize how many people I know?  I'm sure more of my buddies have jobs they will or can retire from, but there's only one that I know for sure.

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Now, that being said, most my friends are fuckups and drunks, because that's the way I like it. But still, I know a lot of people who aren't and they struggle just the same as I do.

Each time I get a new gig I think to myself, oh boy, milk this one for all it's worth because I just know it's not going to be there long. And I'm always correct. 

AutoZone broke my heart, I'm not above admitting that. I saw a career there, even though the work itself wasn't necessarily glorious or always fun. I was good at what I did and they knew it. But reality sets in when I'm not even making one fucking dollar more than a brand new hire who may or may not know what a fuckin' battery is and I'd been there two years and was ASE certified. Get my drift? I had keys to the store and the combo to the safe, y'all, and I wasn't even a buck over minimum wage.

Jesus H. Pumpernickel Christ.

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I have another buddy who got his JD for law and then passed the bar and couldn't find work, literally for years. He finally gave up and went into business for himself. It took a long time, but he's finally making a respectable wage. But still, does this man have a retirement? Only the one he makes for himself. Another friend is a high-tech computer programmer web guy and, although he makes a hell of a living, he's not sure where he'll be working in five years I guarantee that.

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I finally found a wonderful gig editing full-time but they refused to hire me on and instead, kept me as freelance. This means I'm a 1099 employee, I pay taxes up the ass and am responsible for figuring all that out on my own. Which means you can take three to four dollars off my current rate and that's more like what I see come paycheck time.

Well, fuck.

Now the place has cut my hours by more than half, so I'm scrambling for work. I jumped through a thousand hoops and replaced the windshield in my F-150 and paid for a background check to get hired on by one driving/delivery place, who told me: You did it! You're in. Now sit tight and wait for us to announce that the Inland Empire program has been set in motion.

Well, fuck.

That was about $200 I didn’t need to spend on a job I can't fuckin' work.

I applied for an editing gig for a semi-local auto magazine, and I actually heard back! The ad said bennies, full-time, a Macbook, paid time off, the works. Know what I'm offered?  A few freelance articles. I just signed my W9 yesterday so that I can do more fucking taxes for another damn place. And it's slower than molasses, I haven't heard back from them at all and he said on the phone I'd be receiving a 1,500 word article.

Well, shit.

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What happened to the days when a company picked up employees, quality employees, with the full intention of taking them to the end of the race? Today, good writers get bumped in favor of ESL East Indians willing to whore themselves out for pennies. Today, good managers don't get paid for shit and completely incompetent, problem-creating employees stay on and on and on for decades.

Today, I think most of us had better become familiar with IRA and 401(k) accounts, and use them, because nobody is looking out for us. Our Golden Years happiness is solely up to us. More and more folks are being let loose one year, two years, three years from their retirement dates and that's bullshit, y'all. That's straight-up bullshit.

I encourage you to get a job with a big company and keep your head down for the duration. Don't stand out for any reason, be it good or otherwise. Do your time, look at the ground, collect your pay and slowly move through the ranks and, God willing, hopefully one day retire.

Stater Brothers is good, UPS and the USPS are probably great, and I imagine being a teacher is probably by far the best bang for the buck out there, but ya gotta be educated. I mean, what a gig! Three months off per year on top of your regularly scheduled vacation time, off work by like 3:30, don't work a single holiday no matter how miniscule and ridiculous, and once you get tenure, you'd have to show up naked and burn the school down to get fired.

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Shit. Gotta go, I have to clock in for 3.5 hours of editing writers who do not know that punctuation goes inside fucking quotation marks or that the word "president" isn't constantly capitalized, no matter what.

Well, fuck. 

Saturday, December 23, 2017

People Suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck

Today's rant, I believe, is going to be about how society seems to enjoy building morons up to the point of fame, but doesn't seem to care, by and large, about real talent. While I do understand this at some dim level, it's mostly a mystery to me and I'm not sure I'll ever fully process or accept this phenomenon.

Example One: Kimbo Slice

I mean, right? I guess I have an iron in this fire because I was watching his backyard brawls long before most people knew who he was. Years and years before. My buddies and I would gather round the monitor and watch this massive man go knuckles with some real, real tough-looking guys -- some of whom were much bigger than he was -- and just pulverize them, more often than not in a matter of seconds. He'd collect his money and get the fuck out.


Then he rose to fame when he decided to enter the MMA world. No, he didn't do so hot, but this guy was a largely untrained backyard brawler. Then he began taking lessons for the groundwork that would compliment his standup game, and so on. He was never taken very seriously, but that isn't the point; the point is that he had talent, worked hard, and achieved his goals.

Then in 2016, he just up and died. He was found to have heart and liver trouble. His 15 minutes of fame was over, he was a blip on the radar. Most probably don't even know he's dead. Hell, most might not know he ever lived. But what if the same thing had happened to a POS Kardashian, or Paris Hilton? Uproar. Panic in the streets. Twitter would break due to all the morons posting about how we'd lost a great.


Example Two: Aman Hambleton
I won't bore you with the details of this kid's chess career, but suffice it to say that he's worked very, very hard, is extremely smart and talented, and has changed lives along the way for the better. He went from master to International Master and now, finally, just a day or two ago, Grandmaster, in a very short period of time. We're talking about a monster at chess here, not a guy who signs onto a chess server now and again and is pretty damned good. Monster.

His current rating is 2501 -- 2500 is mandatory for the GM title. To put that into some perspective, I've been playing for 20 years and am around 1800-1900 strength. The average USCF rating is sub-1400. A lot of nerds are really proud of his real accomplishment, something that will change his life forever. Now he can make some respectable cash giving lessons and the like, on top of tourney purses that are surely coming his way in the near future.

Point is, who the hell besides chess nerds knows his name? Nobody, that's who. And that's fine, I'm not griping about that, per se. The trouble, for me, comes when a no-talent hack reality TV star gets pregnant or President Donald Trump says something, anything, that can be remotely taken as offensive, and literally millions of people go fuckin' nuts over the news. If this doesn't prove that the average person is an idiot, I don't know what would.

I could slap examples down all day, but I won't. I don't need to. Know why? Only three motherfuckers read my blog, and they all agree with me in the first place. Preaching to the choir ran its course for me a few years ago. Now I just don't care enough about any of it. I'm not changing minds, I'm not shedding light on something a total mouth breather is going to finally see and understand, and I'm not affecting change by being angry in front of my laptop.

Fuck you very much, society. I'd send a message to the average person here, but they don't read online, anyhow. Happy holidays, bitches.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Lightening the Load...

My favorite word lately is "half," as in, "I want half this crap gone." 

I am going through a lightening process, like a snake shedding its skin. Oh, who am I kidding? It's more like a competition weightlifter throwing the bar to the ground just before it makes dust of every bone in his straining body.

I have had some of this stuff for far too long. Years. I'm not a hoarder, thankfully, but I'm still reluctant to throw a lot of stuff away. At least, I have been in the past. It's go time.

I bet this will come in handy someday! We all do it, and we all keep shit we shouldn't. The problem is that if we keep enough, the thing that will come in handy becomes buried under a hundred other things that will come in handy.

Now, after putting up with such nonsense for longer than I'm comfortable admitting, I'm going gung-ho with the trash bags. I've thrown more out in the last two weeks than I have in my lifetime.

And it feels good. Great, in fact.

I live in a small house. I do not have space to be a storage unit for crap I don’t need, don’t use, and won't need. Ever. It's one thing to actually keep a few things around that will come in handy, but some of the stuff I have held onto for years makes me question my sanity. Really.

Anyhow, I've big plans for my office, big plans for the garage (BIG!), big plans for the yard. And, unlike the old me, these plans are already in full force, happening now. Remember that old CCR song "Someday Never Comes"? 

Yeah, it doesn't. Someday is today. And today, I'd like some damned room, thanks.



Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Good Season!

How was your Christmas season? As those close to me already know, I'm really into this time of year. I love the weather (dear, how I love this weather!), I love Christmas, I love my January birthday, and I love the smell of chimneys and campfires everywhere.

The material stuff -- the things we receive -- come second but boy, I made out this year (again). Each season I'm surprised by the amount of good things I receive, especially because I'm not the best at giving ideas; at least, not giving reasonable ideas. Some of the things I want carry pretty hefty price tags. 

Anyhow, the point of this entry wasn’t to share what I got, but to share how I feel about it all, which is: good!

When you think about it, good is an odd word because it can mean quite a few things. Good can mean so-so, it can mean possessing a true heart, it can mean something positive, it can be a recognition of deeds done by someone else.

"I finally got my GED last year."


To me, this season is always good. As a person who runs very not naturally, the weather is good; longer nights are good, at least for a while; lights and cheery decorations are good; Christmas trees are most assuredly good -- oh, you get the idea.

I have a really good job, I have a good wife, I have good dogs and a good cat. I have a good car and a good house. I try to be a good person, but there's always room for improvement. I normally wish good on everyone, with a few notable exceptions we won't get into here.

Good. It's all good! 

I'll get it out there, right here and right now: I'm doing a resolution this year. Several, in fact.

Now it's time for change.

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Credit: Jar of Quotes

Monday, December 19, 2016

Holiday Domination

Well, folks, Christmas shopping is done. Not really. Is it ever? I still have a few things to get for the Wizzle but they'll be small, stocking-stuffer type presents because her big one is taken care of already. She went out and took care of the rest for us yesterday. Sure, on my dime. Merry Christmas!

None of the yard work is getting done, mostly because of time constraints. That being said, when I do have a few moments to get out there, I'd really rather just take a breather and unwind. I do get stuff done inside, but I love to be outdoors during wintertime. All my bio stats are low, low, which partly explains, I'm sure, my sluggishness the last few days.

I have a couple new things that I'm loving to mess about with in my precious few spare moments. The first thing is a chess program I've wanted for a good decade, and I'm not at all stretching that out. In fact, it's probably closer to 12 years than 10. I'm finding it's far superior to most I've messed with, and the engine is just exactly what I've been wanting.

The second thing is a cigar box guitar, given to me by a good friend this Christmas. It's quickly becoming my go-to, favorite instrument. It has three strings with two notes and is extremely light and versatile -- it can even be plugged into an amp! Yes, I've tried that; yes, I love it. Seriously, folks, if you haven’t heard of these things, Google or YouTube it really quick. They are downright awesome.

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I need fiction in my life. Lately, I haven’t read much, I haven’t written anything, and I haven’t edited my own last story, something which desperately needs immediate attention. Going to force myself to fiction here, pretty soon, else I'll lose touch with reality and drive my Ramcharger into a shopping mall.

Well, maybe not, but I want to read and write.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

December has been busy!

Life has been nutty lately. Go, go, go and then, when it's time to rest, go a little more. I have resorted to getting things done when it's 40 degrees and dark out, but that's OK because at least I have that option.

Just got back from Vegas with the wizzle. We were out there visiting a good friend for his 40th birthday. It was a refreshing trip, actually, as they don't 'do Vegas' the way the rest of the world might. We visited an acres-big cactus garden that was 100% decorated for the holidays, we took a gondola ride, we bought plants for the yard, and stayed in a killer suite at the top of The Mirage hotel.

I'm used to almost the opposite: Stay in the cheapest room available, safe or not, and gamble while getting shitty drunk. Like I said, it was refreshing.

Got some Christmas lights up last night in the dark and cold, as well as our 8-foot-tall Santa and Frosty inflatables, who wave at passersby and spread cheer. We're going for the Christmas tree tonight with the Ramcharger, legal or not. A guy's gotta do what he's gotta do, yanno? California isn’t going to keep me from getting a real tree this year and it's not going to force me to ask friends who own pickups, either. A man takes care of his own business.

Right now I'm jamming Debbie Gibson on Pandora, too, and you can judge if you want. I have had the notion lately that I want to go roller skating -- the four-wheeled, rink kind -- and such music puts me in the mood. Yes, I'm likely going to break a wrist and regret the notion entirely, but I'm still going skating soon.

Welp, almost clock-in time for me, so I'm going to hit the shower and get back to work. I'll be out tonight, doing what I should be doing on weekends, braving the cold and dark, and being thankful that I get to do these things at all.

Until next time, friends.