Well, huh. This is a weird thing. A legitimate real paid writer took one of my ideas and put in a little hyperlink to it and used it in their legitimate paid writing, and then Karan Johar re-tweeted and appreciated it. So, a compliment? But also a bit of “I wish I could get paid for my ideas”. Oh well.
Normally I wouldn’t share this kind of thing, because it feels both like bragging and complaining at the same time. But it’s Christmas time, and no one but my faithfullest followers are reading the blog, so I might as well put up this kind of egotistical narcissistic post.
Here’s the tweet from Karan:
I saw it, thought “huh, I guess everyone’s jumping on the KHNH anniversary bandwagon”. And then a few hours later I was checking my stats and I saw I had a new referral (only one) from a new website. Clicked the link back to it, it’s this article.
So, let’s think about this a moment. This is a well-written clear article. It picks up information from a variety of sources to explain what is special about KHNH. There are links back to Reuters, Telegraph India, Box Office India. Top marks to the author for quickly finding a variety of information and pulling it together in a way that forms a definite argument. And obviously, I am very flattered that she used my idea and grateful that she linked back to me. If the author is reading this now, THANK YOU!!!! And I am touched and flattered that you thought my idea was good enough to include. And I admire you as a fellow writer, you did a very good job.
But, there’s something else. Not related to this particular article, just the way the world works. I just checked every other link in the article, and I am the only non-professional website cited. Every other link goes back to major news website. On the one hand, I am flattered to be included in this company. But on the other hand, isn’t there something a little bit broken here? When my content is good enough to be cited by a major mainstream website next to leading news sources, and yet I cannot get hired by those same places?
In the olden days, someone like me might have tenure at a university, or a regular position as a reviewer at a respected outlet. I would provide the ideas that other lessor outlets repeat. And that would be okay, because every time I was repeated or cited, it would result in an increase in my prestige and help me keep my “real” job as a professor or reviewer or whatever.
But now there are no university jobs, and no regular reviewer jobs. So someone like me who wants to come up with original thoughts and new ideas, rather than writing the “rough draft of history” kind of thing that journalists do, is left to provide her ideas for free or else keep them locked in her mind. And when my ideas are cited by a paid article, there is no real benefit to me. The “prestige” doesn’t translate into any kind of a job, and the citation gives me 1 additional view on my blog in the past 6 hours since it was published.
The only benefit would be if I were a personality that thrived on outside validation. But then, if I were that personality, I would not be spending so much time carefully considering and honestly discussing my thoughts. Being cited in an article gives me pleasure by knowing that the author of that article (who seems like a very intelligent and knowledgeable person) appreciated my thoughts. I get a similar thrill any time one of you here in the comments appreciates my thoughts. This being in a published article is not something that gives me an extra joy purely because it is in an article, that makes me feel like my thoughts and my person are more worthy because they are being talked about. In the same way that being re-tweeted by a celebrity makes me happy because that person who I admire appreciated my writing, but does not give me any thrill because of a sense of fleeting “fame” of some kind. I admire Madhavan as a person, I admire Procrastinatrix (and Angie and Molly and all the rest of you all) as a person; getting compliments from either gives me equal joy.
What I suspect is that the published world is becoming increasingly filled either with the people who are able to quickly and superficially summarize any topic, or people who go into more depth on that topic in a quest for outside validation (which also slants their opinions and thoughts). There is a no place for those who are not able to be superficial enough, and who get no thrill from fame.
And I’m not sure what the solution is. I just went through another painful attempt to get published on another site, which ended in nothing after 6 rewrites trying to get them what they want because I just cannot dumb myself down enough (normally I wouldn’t be so blunt, but like I said, no one else is really reading in November besides my stalwarts). So, if I can’t make myself dumb enough to actually find a readership and a job at one of the dumber outlets, and some idea of fleeting 15 minutes of fame has no appeal for me, why should I keep going? Especially when what I am seeing over and over again in response to my writing is “hey awesome, this person summarized a bunch of ideas for me and added on new thoughts. I will take that and get my own book deal, my own article published, my own whatever, and never think that maybe I should throw some of that her way, that maybe she is giving away something incredibly valuable for free and I am turning around and selling her gift as my own.”
But there is still that moment of happiness any time anyone, a movie star or a director or a professional writer or just a commentator here, appreciates my thoughts. That’s a reason to keep going. And I have to believe that there is some value in merely putting goodness into the world, doing the best job I can whenever I can just to be of use, that’s a reason to keep working. Even if the goodness I am putting out is being stamped with someone else’s name after I put it out there.
And most of all I have to hope. I have to have faith. I have to believe that the world is right and fair and at some point if my work is good enough, someone somewhere will say “we should hire this person” or “we should publish something she writes” or “we should give her a book deal” or “I should try to help her get that job or that book deal or whatever else because she deserves it” or at the very least “I’ll keep a good thought for her and add on to her hope and faith with my own”.