Saturday, January 9, 2010

What's it worth to you?

I wrote the following as a response to Remittance Girl's impassioned essay entitled New Valuations: Erotica and What It's Worth. Please go read it. And then tell her what you think. It's the least you can do. And while you're there, take some time to read a few of her stories. She is a brilliant, intelligent writer.

Thank you so much for tying together the two issues of money and comments. I never would have thought of it like that, but of course you are right. These are different methods by which a reader parts with something (a few dollars, a few seconds, a few words) to indicate that what you gave was of some value, whether potential in the case of purchase or after the fact with a comment.

In some ways, the greatest reward is a really thoughtful comment, one which adds something to my mind's conversation with itself as I wrote. A bit of payment in kind.

Your words are especially apt for me right now as I try to write a story specifically in hopes of getting it published. In an anthology. In print. On paper. Something I can hold in my hand, if not show to my mother, and say look, I did this, someone thought my thoughts worthy of memorializing in a probably disappearing tangible form. And wouldn't it be nice, since I do write and can't live on what I make at my more respectable job, to receive a few dollars for my efforts?

I was stunned to find out exactly how few those dollars might be. Especially as I remember the $100 I received 10 years ago for a fairly short magazine article.

Still, I'm proceeding with the project. Maybe it's the submissive in me, longing to be tossed a monetary "Good girl."

Right after I read your post, and while contemplating what to respond, I took a quick look at my stats. They were fairly low for last night - I haven't put anything up in over 2 days. But someone had been there who really liked my stuff. Liked my stuff enough to spend 23 minutes yesterday evening looking at 169 pages, and then returning very early this morning to spend 57 minutes on 201 pages.

And what did I get for this?

Bupkes. Goat dung. Less than nothing. Without the electronic surveillance cameras of site meter I would not even know this person had been there.

It would have killed you to have left your calling card on the silver tray by the door? With a little note, maybe to say hi, you moved me, I came 5 times, the butterflies were pretty...

I feel raped.

This comment is too long. I am tempted to delete it and publish it over at my place, but you deserve to know how much your writing affected me. As it always does. The comments section is your tip jar and I'm stuffing in a wad of twenties.

As always, thank you.


Manda said...

So I read your comment about comments and was moved to comment...

Sometimes it is difficult to know what to say, to avoid saying 'what she said', to eschew trite or even to say something positive. The old advice about not saying anything if you can't say anything good is really a principle that should be better observed on the web, there is far too much thoughtless and offensive comment out there as it is.

It is nice to know that people have stopped by but I'd rather have lots of people stopping, reading and saying nothing than mindless or repetitive words of acknowledgement without feeling.

Do we write for ourselves or for reward? Isn't the writing reward enough? If it isn't then blogging probably isn't the best place to be publishing.

That said, I'm a regular reader, intrigued, horrified, mildly titillated and I hope to continue as such, please keep writing.

Paul said...

OG, I'm an admirer of RG, your post reminded me that it's a while since I visited.
So I visited, read her post and commented.
Thank you for the reminder.
How does Manda know that s/he commenter's are using, "mindless or repetitive words of acknowledgment without feeling."
Not all readers have the skill with words to meet Manda's requirements,
I think s/he might be happier if s/he were less judgmental.
"If s/he hasn't anything nice to say, stay silent," just my $0.02 worth.
Love and warm hugs,

nancy said...

Grin.. you know me, I stop and generally say something vapid and redundant.. but I do commment~~ for whatever that is worth!

It is hard to know what to say when you are so eloquent.. sometimes a "wow" is all that comes to mind.

sin said...

It occurs to me reading your post and the comments that some bloggers like to know that SOMEONE is out there, and ideally who they are and what they think.

Others only want to know if they have something valuable to add to the discussion.

I think you and I both come down on the side of wanting to know who and when and why.

So hi, I was here, and was encouraged to say so even though it's not profound. And I think I need to write more about this at my place.

Thanks for posting.

oatmeal girl said...

Manda - thank you so much for being moved to comment. To you and the rest of the gang, here is a clarification of my feelings about comments.

I appreciate both kinds. It's true that a repeated "Wow, that was hot!" doesn't do that much for me I know it was hot. I love knowing what about it was hot, or in what way it connected with you or what would have made it better for you on any level. I might not change how I write but I might also learn something.

If you are new, or rarely let me know that you're here, than I'm positively thrilled to get a simple: "Hi, I was here." Really.

And yes, my real favorites are the thoughtful words, whether few or many, that start or continue a conversation. Or make me laugh.

Paul, I'm glad you popped back over to read RG again. I am a huge admirer (not meant as a comment on the weight I gained this fall).

I wouldn't be so hard on Manda. Not here, of course, but on other blogs there are indeed comments that don't seem to add much. Still, maybe it is just a need on the reader's part to reach out and say hi, I was here.

AS for why we write? Yes, there is a huge reward in the writing itself. I also like to see it published, whether or not anyone sees it. I've started a completely private blog where I am posting pieces written for the sadist, and some that are published here. It's like a big scrapbook in a way, or a photo gallery, with each picture cleanly matted and framed and hung on the wall so I can admire what I've done. There is a certain solidity to see them published, eve if for my eyes alone.

nancy - rest assured, I've left the occasional "wow" myself. It can be the most honest response.

sin - I love the idea of this conversation being picked up elsewhere! It raises a lot of issues and can lead an inter-blog discussion. But we should all be sure to link back to RG.

Again, to everyone, I do love knowing you are there, I love knowing what you think, I love when it gets to be a real discussion, and I really love the sense of community. Thanks for all of it.

Anonymous said...

sometimes your writing is so pure and honest that while I am tempted to leave my entire wallet, credit cards and even my own ID as a sacrifice on your altar of literary genius...even that seems paltry compared to what its all worth. sometimes all I can do is sit back in silence, think and work on my own writing in some vain hope that it will come close to shining as brightly as yours. sometimes its just painful reading how well your readers love everything you write, even when horrified, and seeing how I have but 1 dedicated fan to my poetry (at least one who comments) I am jealous.

TFP said...

*Reads the delightful words of the little chained poet, leaves with a smile once again...