Saturday, March 29, 2014

Significance and Power of Profession Part 1

Pax et bonum

Dust settles - for now

The situation at work has settled for the moment. My job is relatively secure until June - but there is no guarantee of a job for next year.

It's all put a scare in me, so I'm continuing to explore other options.

My wife has been very supportive, but she did have one general observation.

She thought it was a mistake for me to go back to teaching. She thought I was a better writer/journalist than a teacher. She was not discrediting me as a teacher, just pointing out that she thought I was better at reporting and editing. She noted that writing better suited my more introverted personality, that writing allowed my creative (and sometimes quirky sense of humor) side to come out, and that it gave me more time to act and write plays.

I have to admit she has a point. Objectively speaking, I am a better writer than I am a teacher. I had good reasons to go back to teaching - the young people energize me and force me to be creative in other ways. But my personality and talents do tend more toward the writer's life.

Alas, given the direction of journalism these days, and given my age, a return to that life is unlikely. The online opportunities like Hubpages offer one possible path - but not for a full-time job at this point.

Of course, if I don't get a contract this June I may have to look more in the writing direction.  

Pax et bonum

Monday, March 24, 2014

More on Hubpages and income

I did a bit more research about Hubpages - trying to be realistic.

As I had understood, income is based on the popularity of posts - or "Hubs." So one has to write about things that interest enough people. Writing about haiku, or clerihews, or even G. K. Chesterton would be of interest to me and a few other people, but certainly not enough to generate a lot of visits and income. That doesn't mean I can't or shouldn't write about them, just that they would be low-income earners.

Of course, if I have a whole lot of them each generating a small amount eventually it could add up. Not immediately, though.

Some topics might garner more interest and income. A review of John Green's "The Fault in Our Stars" might succeed for a while, given the current popularity of the book and the fact that there is a soon-to-be-released movie. But that will pass. I'd have to keep up with the latest trends. I'll have to think outside my normal interests and consider what other people would enjoy reading.

And some broader pieces might also have some success - jumping off from Green's book to talk more about the teen fiction genre that deals with sicknesses of various sorts, for example. But that would also require broad reading on my part beforehand. Or I could write an advice column about taking children to visit Santa; I have knowledge and plenty of anecdotes to help me write such a piece.

That's just two or three articles. I'd need to come up with 100 or more to really build a presence.

Moreover, the articles have to be much longer and much more detailed than blog posts. My "longer" blog posts tend to be in the 400-500 range. (Added: I did a word count on this post after I finished it - just 482 words.) Hubs should be closer to 1,000 words - more like magazine articles. Of course, back in my weekly newspaper days I'd turn out a couple of articles that length (or more) each week. That experience tells me how much work is involved, however, and if I'm working full-time in another job an article a week would be pushing it. Building up a larger collection of hubs would take months or years.

If I do get a contract for next year, I can generate a number of articles over the summer. If I don't have a position, and don't get another job for a while, I'd have time to generate even more. With unemployment and savings, and with my wife having a job with health insurance, I  would have a little more time. Plus I'd be looking for free-lancing assignments and other jobs - I could put in more shifts at the mall and as a Santa for parties!

One good thing is that I now have a decent camera, so I'll be able to add pictures. There are also free picture sites that will help.

So many possibilities. So many uncertainties.

Pax et bonum

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Posting for Dollars

Money. Money. Money.

I had a job scare this week - and it's not fully over. I may still have a job for the rest of the school year, but might not have one for next.

Which will mean that at 59 I'll have to find a new job. I don't like the odds of finding one in either of my fields - education or journalism - or at my current income level.

Hopefully the dust will settle at the school and it won't be an issue.

But it's got me thinking about other avenues of making money. Free lance writing is an option, though the income is iffy. Finishing that blasted horror novel I've been working on forever is another, though then I'd have to sell it.

One other option is paid blogging. There's a site called Hubpage. It's a place where you can generate income through reviews, advice/how-to-do pieces, information articles, photos and travel posts, and more. I have done many of those things, on this blog and others. I can revise and expand some of my posts to start, and give it a shot.

In terms of money, it won't be much. The "best" of them generate $10,000-12,000 a year. I seriously doubt what I have to write would get anywhere close to that amount. But if I could have a steady stream of a hundred or two a month that would help. The nice thing is that once a post is up it is there for years, continuing to generate income.

I need to investigate the site more to see what kinds of posts work. Or if it will work for me.

Pax et bonum

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Quotes from Pope Francis

Father Tom, over at A Friar's Life, published this list of quotations from Pope Francis. Some wonderful words.

“How I would like a church that is poor and for the poor!”

“Priests must be shepherds with the smell of the sheep.”

“The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! Even the atheists. Everyone!”

“We have fallen into a “globalization of indifference.”

“Who am I to judge?”

“I want things messy and stirred up in the church. I want the church to take to the streets!”

“I am a sinner whom the Lord has looked upon.”

“The papal apartment is like an inverted funnel. It is big and spacious, but the entrance is really tight.”

“I see the Church as a field hospital after battle.”

“I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security.”

“God never tires of forgiving us.”

“The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent.”

“I have a dogmatic certainty: God is in every person’s life.”

“An evangelizer must never look like someone who has just come back from a funeral.”

“I am conscious of the need to promote a sound “decentralization.”

“Mercy is the greatest of all virtues.”

“The confessional must not be a torture chamber.”

“The Church is not a tollhouse.”

“I beg you bishops, avoid the scandal of being airport bishops!”

“We need to promote a culture of encounter.”

“Mary, a woman, is more important than bishops.”

“How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?”

At Lampedusa: “The culture of comfort, which makes us think only of ourselves, makes us insensitive to the cries of other people, makes us live in soap bubbles which, however lovely, are insubstantial; they offer a fleeting and empty illusion which results in indifference to others; indeed, it even leads to the globalization of indifference. In this globalized world, we have fallen into globalized indifference. We have become used to the suffering of others: it doesn’t affect me; it doesn’t concern me; it’s none of my business!”

Pax et bonum

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Music for Fraternity Meetings (and please, nothing more!)

At Council meeting yesterday, the topic of music came up.

At our fraternity gatherings, we sing hymns along with recorded music. Our minister mentioned yesterday that it's too bad we can't have live music for the hymns - and several people looked a me. I then pointed out that I am a musician. She seems to have forgotten that when the person who brings the recorded music couldn't be there for a couple of meetings I had brought my guitar and led the singing.

Then the discussion turned to whether the recorded music provider would be offended if I started leading the music. Someone suggested that we need to talk to her first - and I added that to start out maybe we could split, with me leading a song, and she playing the music for a couple.

I'm open to it. I just need to know in advance so I can pick a song or two and have the words ready for everyone else. Maybe I should just compile a "book" with lyrics that can be reused.

But let's see what happens with the woman first.

It certainly would be a way for me to serve the community, and to make use of the modest musical ability I have.

But I am still nervous about other potential calls to service. The minister has made it clear that she thinks I should be the next minister. I really don't want to be. In fact, I would prefer not to even be on the council. I'd rather serve as the doorkeeper in the way I am now.

And, to be honest, I have patience issues. The members of the council are all good, caring people, but they are up there in years, hard of hearing, slow moving, and sometimes easily confused. Our meetings often go off on tangents, complete with misunderstanding or constant calls to speak louder or repeat what was said because one or more person could not follow. Yesterday's meeting dragged on for over two hours to complete national Franciscan reports that if I were doing them on my own would have been done in half an hour. And then, because people were so confused, they wanted to start a financial document over again. I finally said I had to go home to let my dog out - which I did, as it was 5:30 by then and the dog was used to me getting home by 5. I got up and left using that excuse. The truth is that I just did not have the patience to sit there and go through all the information again.

I was good about not being sarcastic yesterday - just one small crack leaked out - but I don't want to risk my impatience leading me into saying unkind things.

Anyway, I hope I can avoid getting elected to any other office in the future. I'm happy just to take care of unlocking the building for meetings, answering the door, and, if it happens, playing music.

So at the next election I plan to decline any nominations.

That's the plan, anyway. We'll see.

Pax et bonum

Saturday, March 8, 2014

That temper thing

I got a lesson this week - thanks to haiku.

In the fall, I received noticed that a particular magazine was going to publish two of my haiku. I was excited. I had never had any haiku accepted by the magazine before, and they were accepting two!

I'd been waiting since for the next issue of the magazine to arrive, and it finally did earlier this week. I quickly opened it to search for my haiku: They were not there.

I felt a twinge of vexation. I know from past experience that all too often vexation can turn into anger, and that anger all too quickly can erupt into harsh words, sarcasm, and judgment.

It started.

Had I been bumped by some better known poet? Had they'd accepted too many poems and decided to bump mine? Did that mean mine weren't really that good? Had they changed their minds?

But then I went back to check the e-mail notification the editors sent me last fall.

They said they were accepting the poems not for this issue that just arrived, but for the next one.

Here I was ready to get all upset and resentful based on misjudging a situation. This was in terms of haiku. How often does this happen with the wife? Coworkers? My students? Business people? Store employees? Other drivers? Public officials?

And how often does the problem diminish in real importance with the passage of time?

It would be so much wiser, and less stressful, to take a step back and get all the information before responding, especially in anger.

That pause would also gives one time to say a prayer.

Maybe two.

Pax et bonum

Friday, March 7, 2014

A Santa Moment

(Just another day at the mall for me!)

Pax et bonum

Saturday, March 1, 2014

In between papers and all the school reading, a bit of lighter fare: Small Gods by Terry Pratchett.

The novel is one of his Discworld books - he has about 40 of them, I think.

The usual: Humor, good-natured satire on our world (in this case, religion and international relations, as well as digs at philosophers), DEATH TALKING ALL IN CAPITALS,  and so on.

I love that the main "god" in the book is a tortoise, a cranky one-eyed one, and that the force of reason is a man regarded by others as a fool.

Heavy reading? No. But quite enjoyable.

Pax et bonum