On being a “professional” blogger

I talked with an editor from Religion Dispatches last week. It seems they are interested in paying me money to write two blog posts a week for their site. (I’m on trial for the first month or so.) So far I have submitted two posts that have not (yet?) been published. We’ll see how it goes.

I had to force myself to say yes. It’s not that I wasn’t excited about it; it’s more that I was terrified of trying to produce two posts a week that are worthy of publication. Moreover, it seems like being a glutton for punishment; i.e. I’m just providing more opportunities for people to criticize me, despite the fact that I really hate being criticized.

I can ignore the trolls by simply not reading the comments. (Too little payoff, too much pain.) What I can’t ignore are well-educated friends who know stuff, who write to correct me on mistakes in my writings. I misused the term “pre-emptive war,” for example; a political science friend let me know I should have said “preventive.” And I misused the term “neo-orthodox” in another; a theologian friend let me know that it meant the precise opposite of what I was using it to mean. I have also mis-represented Catholicism, according to some Catholic friends (though I would say what I did was offer a deliberate Protestant interpretation that called their view into question). Folks like these are what I think of as “knowers” – people whose brains seem naturally fit to retain terms, dates, detailed information. The scholarly world is full of knowers, but I’m not one of them. (Though not all of what knowers know is trivial, this quirk in my brain makes me terrible at trivial pursuit.)

It’s not that I think I’m an idiot. I have a quick enough mind, which often jumps around more than I would like but which also makes lots of interesting (to me) connections. I’m a decent writer, and I have fairly high emotional intelligence compared to a lot of academics. But I am rather terrible at the stuff I am supposed to know, despite having a Ph.D. – I can’t remember what Augustine said when, or even necessarily what was in that ethics article I just read yesterday. I would guess I am like most people, in that either something makes an impression on me and sticks, or it flies “in one ear and out the other.” Even my desire to look smart isn’t motivation enough to memorize all the stuff I’m supposed to know.

So look out, RD readers and FB friends. Be prepared for lots of blog posts that may require you to look past my sloppy use of terms. And if you can’t look past them, I will do my best to be gracious in the face of your critiques.

UPDATE: On a related note, I rather liked this “disapproval matrix” by Ann Friedman, of the “Low-maintenance ladyswagger.”

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6 thoughts on “On being a “professional” blogger

  1. Bring on the slop!!! 😉

    Kristin A. Olbertson, J.D., Ph.D. Associate Professor of History Alma College 614 W. Superior St. Alma, MI 48801

  2. Kate, I love your writing, love you connections, love that you are bad at trivia. (I am too!). I am ECSTATIC that your writing is being recognized and that you had the courage to say YES! So admiring……you go woman!!

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