Metapost: 2013 Status Report

[Content Note: Unemployment, Depression, Surgery]

Captain's Log, etc. etc. 

Good morning, Ramblites! I hope you are having a lovely New Year and welcome to 2013. I don't have a flying car yet, and Lucy Liu is still not President of the United States, but I suppose these things take time. 

Today is my first day back at my real-time grown-up job since our Christmas break (which I augmented with vacation days in order to catch up on some home-things), and things are still looking pretty bleak. I managed to push most of my "nooooooo, my dream job, my facespace friends, my planned future!!" feelings to the back-burner over the holidays through a conscious effort of Not Thinking About It and reading Resident Evil novels, but now it's staring me in the face and has to be grappled with.

For those who missed the earlier updates, here is the situation as it stands: the position I had (which was pretty close to perfect for me) evaporated because of Tidal Moon Forces and Evil Comets, and there's been a scramble to find new employment for myself within the same company so that they don't have to lay me off. I've had to regretfully turn down a very good position with my bestest friend because it's a full-time 40-hour-a-week job that can't be split with telecommuting, and I haven't been able to physically put in 40 hours a week at the office for almost two full years now, and (thanks to Surgical Doctor), my condition has only gotten worse since then.

I have managed to audition for and ultimately snag a maybe-job that would be part-time work with a lovely woman manager who is a friend of a friend, and that seems like a very good position (although regrettably sans bestest friend) if we can get all the paperwork sorted out. (And that's a reasonably-sized if; my managers are running around trying to work out about eight different issues with me, paperwork-wise because I'm such a complicated case Special Butterfly.) The downside to this, besides the whole paperwork-hurdle thing, is that the work is temporary (as in, measured in single-digit months) and means that I'll only be keeping unemployment at bay for a short time. It's possible I'll luck out again with another temporary assignment when this one ends, but lately my luck hasn't been what it once was. 

As might have been expected, none of this has helped the tiny lingering vestiges of depression that blossomed after my May 2012 surgery. So that's been fun as well!

Husband and I have had several Serious Discussions about whether or not I can leverage this whole "writing stuff on the internet" into a meaningful form of alternative employment, given that the other options right now are not so good and I would additionally really hate to have to give the blog up because it's very important to me. There are not a huge number of jobs in our area for writers and/or technical writers, and relocating for a job is not an option for various reasons. My physical disabilities are pronounced enough to interfere with most out-of-the-house employment but not so pronounced that I can qualify for any government financial aid (as far as I can tell; we're looking into finding a local expert and asking questions). So that leaves casting a Meaningful Look at the internet and shaking the computer to see if any pennies fall out.

Over the next few months, I hope to explore some of the following options:

1. Freelance blog-to-book creation. This one is pretty much what it says on the tin: a lot of bloggers are looking into turning their blogs into e-books for sale on Amazon, B&N, etc., but the creation process does take time and it helps to know a little bit about HTML and ePUB formatting. This combines my hobby of creating e-books from scratch, my knowledge of the formats involved, and my extensive home e-Reader collection (for testing on different devices before release) into hopefully a nice pile of pennies. Other services exist which offer blog-to-book conversion, but most of them are "e-publishers" who then take a cut of the profits forever rather than an upfront flat-fee.

2. Freelance editing. Again, kind of what it says on the tin; picking out plot-holes, suggesting edits, and/or (depending on the level of depth desired by the client) finding grammatical and spelling errors is something that I do well and enjoy. I also have a long and rich history as a reviewer on Amazon, so it wouldn't be difficult to offer "pre-reviews" as part of the editing process, by which I mean roughly "here is how I would have reviewed your work as a reader had I actually purchased it" and which authors could use to fine-tune their product. The biggest downside to this plan is that I really hate criticizing people to their face.

3. Ad revenue. I really have no idea yet how to lace the site with non-offensive ads; we've already noticed in the past that -- thanks to the Fat Acceptance posts -- we get hit with inappropriate weight-loss ads when I use the ads served fresh from Google. I would like to somehow use only book-related ads (since this is a literary criticism site, first and foremost), a la Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, but I haven't had time to sit down and figure out what ad service they are using. I would like to adopt ads to defray costs, but I can't do that until I can come up with a way to protect the safe space here in the process.

4. Donation campaigns. There will probably in the future be monthly donation posts, a la Shakesville. I'm not super thrilled about this decision, because if there's one thing I dislike more than criticizing people to their face, it's asking for money, but the facts of the matter is that it costs money to run the blog and I feel even less comfortable asking my relatives and loved ones to finance my writing hobby at a loss. I don't want anyone to feel pressured to donate -- I fully realize that a good number of you are in way worse financial and/or employment situations than I am -- so I hope it will be made very, very clear that donations should not be made if the result will be personal struggle on the part of the giver.

5. Publishing. I am not yet finished with my current fictional project, and I've noticed that fictional work takes me a lot longer than non-fiction deconstructions. (Fictional work also carries a substantial upfront publishing cost -- professional editing, cover art, and so forth -- that has to be recouped before an actual profit is made.) At the same time, I cannot bundle up my deconstructions and sell them "as is" because they currently have a huge amount of quoted source material. The quoting on the blog is covered under Fair Use because the blog posts are intended as social criticism, but once money starts changing hands for access to the work in question things become more complicated.

Because of this, I am looking at a possible new project where I split the difference: published deconstructions that cover broad themes (as opposed to chapter-by-chapter analyses) within specific works without relying on the source material. Basically, something like The Philosophy of Twilight but with one author instead of twenty. My first two proposed books would be a look at 10+ different themes in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe as well as an all-new-material book that looks at feminist themes in several Studio Ghibli movies. I need, however, to talk to my lawyer about all the copyright ins-and-outs for this project.

6. More Original Work. If I end up genuinely unemployed (and therefore with a little more "free time"), and if I can manage it in spite of my disabilities, I would like to expand the site content to include frequent (ideally, daily) "reader response" posts a la Mark Reads. The candidates for these posts would need to be well-known enough that content wouldn't need massive rehashing, and so that the blog posts could instead be entirely original work in my words only. Obvious candidates include Buffy, X-Files, Harry Potter, and maybe some Xanth or Game of Thrones depending on how much pain I want to weather from the fans and/or source material.

The "Mark Reads" model has obvious benefits for readers and blogger: the model guarantees short-but-frequent content on a regular basis while providing a broad spectrum of topics (as opposed to spending eleventy-billion years on just one or two things) and the originality of the work and low-to-no quoting from the source material means that the blogger can package and sell the series in convenient e-book form pretty much as soon as it is complete without having to massively rewrite everything to yank out copyrighted material. And, of course, daily site content means more ad revenue, assuming that we work out a useful model there.

I mention all the above because I recognize that all lot of my plans mean changes around here. I hope they are good changes -- I hope people love the (hypothetical) new deconstruction books and the (hypothetical) new fast-paced reaction series -- but I know from experience that changes that seem good to the blogger do not always seem like good news to the readership.

So this post is for two reasons. (Well, three, if you count therapeutic venting because I'm actually pretty anxious and depressed and worried about some of the turmoil going on in my life right now. But that's sort of a selfish reason, so I'll pretend it's not there.) One is so that people can see my current plans up-front, have a chance to get used to them (rather than just waking up one day and having it dropped in their lap), and to hear why I feel like these changes are necessary, rather than me just being all Changey McRandomizer.

Two is so that if there are any questions, concerns, objections, and/or issues that need to be aired, I want to provide an open place to do so. This blog isn't, of course, a democracy -- but I do care about my readers, and I want all of you to be comfortable here because I consider you all to be meaningful to me. If the word "friend" can't be applied to a number of people I've never met in person and may not have even spoken to (hi, lurkers!), then perhaps the word "community" can be used instead. I care about the members of this community, and I want to be open to concerns about the directions this blog takes.

So. Here is a metapost about 2013 and some of the (hopefully good) changes that may or may not be occurring in order to keep blog-food on the blog-table.


Post a Comment