Laurel brings up a question goading me occasionally: If other bloggers can make $50,000 a month doing this, where’s my money and fame? Indeed, wouldn’t it be nice to make that much money at home in your pajamas.
Well, since she asks it, and I’ve heard the same from others seeking blogging tips and whatnot, here’s my own soliloquy on writing, fame, and money. Save yourself the whole read for my conclusion here: Much of the splash about “new media,” “blogging,” “the Twitter,” and such is worthless. If you read the rest, I’ll try to explain why.
I constantly browse excited directives to young writers to load up on social networking accounts like waitresses and “flair.” Get a blog! Get Twitter! Create Facebook pages! How about a Digg account? Vimeo? YouTubeGoogleShareAmazonAuthorPagesMySpaceBeeboEtsyMWAHAHAHA. Look, creating online footprints, like JCPenny’s apparently underhanded manipulation of Google results, will likely only produce so many wasted hours and energies seeking fame and money. In short: most is vanity.
[expand title="Click the arrow to continue reading."]Many of my young, talented friends have discussed with me their (our) dreams for some sort of public success: publishing a book, making it to the Washington Post’s editorial page, being seen as an expert in our respective fields, even making ridiculous amounts of money with pigtail pictures and a penchant for rants. While such ambitions can be excellent motivators for character development (perseverance, diligence, excellence, wisdom), at this stage in our lives we have much more ambition than experience and even character.
Leadership does not come from hype. Money does not prove wit or ability. This may be easier to realize when gazing at typical celebrities like Paris Hilton, but many other public figures (NYT columnists, generals, political figures) have risen on just such a celebrity combination of charisma and chance, and should be evaluated accordingly.
So should we also evaluate ourselves. Yes, I’d love to be the Washington Post’s next wunderkind Ezra Klein. But if to do it I must be equally ideologically blinded and blustering, I hope I’d have the temperance to say “No, thank you.” Some people get or snatch amazing opportunities; but most of us have to put in unseen decades of mental and craft-centered fine-tuning. No one wants to believe themselves one of the drudge-consigned “normal people,” but would we also expect to play in Carnegie Hall without decades of practice? Those who slip in early get all the press, but “See a man skilled in his work? He will stand before kings.” If I ever do “make it,” I’d like to know I earned it and have the mental strength to carry my position with gravity and honor.
This is not to say don’t blog, don’t reach out. Yes, use the tools you have to sharpen and stretch yourself. Prepare as best you can for the future ahead. But don’t focus on their ephemeral, temporal benefits. Don’t try to grasp the wind. Instead, reach for the rock.
Our culture teaches us Millenials and GenYers that we’r soo, SO special. Don’t let such vanity steal from you the honor and strength to carry out your current tasks with dedication. Great leaders, truly great leaders, usually take the low road up. It’s the mist and uncertainty of many obscure and dark nights that forge a wise, prudent soul, the soul of a man or woman able to do his or her duty with resolve. These are the intrepid spirits our world and homes need most.
Image by Peiling Tan.[/expand]