Or, how I signed up for Substack then returned to WordPress.
Author’s Note: Hey, remember when I posted that long rambling explanation of how and why I wanted to jump ship to Substack in the hopes of making money there? Yeah, that didn’t feel right. So I took back that decision. I wrote a whole other rambling explanation of my decision to return to WordPress; I originally posted it on Substack, but I really like WordPress so I’m copying that write-up, making some edits, and posting it here. Thanks for reading!
Hey folks, it’s me – a writer screaming into the void of the internet. I’ve been doing this for a long time now – almost nine years since I started blogging on WordPress, but if we count the ol’ MySpace bulletins, I suppose I’ve been putting my thoughts online for even longer.
To be totally honest, I only signed up for Substack because I wanted to read other people’s work; a few of the activists and thinkers I respect use Substack as a platform, and I want to read their analyses and thoughts when they publish them. So I signed up for Substack and I thought “Whoa, people make money on this website? Maybe I should try it!” While I believe that folks should be paid for their work in this shitty capitalist system, making folks pay for my stuff online never sat right with me; I’m proud and a little abashed to say that I like writing, and I’ll post my poems and random thoughts whether I get paid or not.
At first, I fought myself over this line of thinking. I’ve been writing for decades, it’s been a lifelong passion, and I’m pretty good at it when I want to be. Since capitalism demands money from us, shouldn’t I use my skills to get that money? Well, yes and no; while I’d love to write for a living, the naked truth is that I live for writing. I enjoy the act of writing, of using words to make something, to evoke a feeling or suggest a thought. It’s a joyful act for me, and if I suddenly felt beholden to a boss or an audience, I think it would deflate the goodness I feel when I pen something.
I also believe it’s possible to hold two (or more!) disparate thoughts in one’s head at once. I could write ads or copy or whatever other schlock a company wants and get paid for it, and then write my soulful stuff in my free time. I could do that. I might try that again. I used to freelance for mere pennies a word, and while I’d ask for more money these days, I also have to say that time is precious. I don’t like deadlines. I used to beat myself up for not applying myself to a writerly career, but Christ, I hate the whole notion of a career. I have to put in a ridiculous amount of effort and jump through a disgusting number of hoops to earn crumbs from some boss? Yeah, fuckin’ no thanks.
What does all this talk of writing careers and getting paid have to do with my Substack? Well, I thought I’d try that whole subscription feature, and it didn’t feel right, so now I’m turning off that feature. I uploaded the whole of this nine-year-old WordPress blog to that site, then locked the majority of it behind paywalls. While that may be a good business decision, my writing doesn’t come from a desire to start a business. My writing comes from a desire to have fun and challenge myself to share thoughts and feelings with words. Sometimes, words fail, and they’re not enough, or they’re too much. But I love wrangling with the damn things, despite their shortcomings. So yeah, I turned off the paywall. All the older writing I uploaded to Substack is now available to any random person who finds my site and decides to read it. But as I said earlier, the main reason I signed up for Substack was to read other people’s stuff. So going forward, I don’t know if I’m gonna post too much on Substack. What I will do is continue posting here, on my good old WordPress blog. With no paywalls. Everything I’ve ever written and shared is here, for free, and I like it that way.
I may feel inclined to double-dip and just post everything I write to WordPress and Substack. If I get lucky and someone decides my words are fit to be published for money, then I’ll talk with that person and see what we can do together. Until then, I’m gonna keep writing poems and thinking about how I can turn video game stories into anti-capitalist fables. Fuck it, it won’t all be anti-capitalist stuff, but that’s where my brain tends to go these days.
What I’m saying is, I’m gonna keep writing, and sharing my words. Thanks for bearing with me, and I hope you have a damn good day.