Friday, July 30, 2010

About that news site...

You'll undoubtedly recall (having followed my posts here in detail) that a while back I proudly proclaimed the creation and premiere of a new journalism site, NewsTilt. Don't worry if you get a blank page on that link, I'm about to explain: Poor thing didn't last two months.

The guys who ran it were very nice, and I think had a great idea: Find journalists who produce good product but don't know how to market and distribute it, build a syndication site, and voilá: everybody wins! But building a market is harder to do than to say. Personally, I think they gave up too quickly -- USA Today planned to lose money for ten years when it began -- but you can't force people to do things. I hope to transfer all the material I had there to a new site of my own soon. However, that takes time, and as my last post explained, that's a rather precious commodity in my life right now.

Welcome to my hectic world...

FOOTNOTE: On the subject of links that don't show anything, I've discovered that a lot of my links in earlier posts -- the ones to stories on the WDBJ site -- just take you to the front page now. The station went to a new host for its website, and I guess that is one of the defaults. I'll try to see if I can get them so they'll take you to the stories again, but I'm afraid that's also way down on the priority list. Like, after I move the NewsTilt stuff. That far down...

Monday, July 26, 2010

Selling Out ...

I just checked the date on my last entry, only to discover it was in MAY! May? Really? That's embarrassing. Actually, it's worse than embarrassing. It's humiliating.

For one thing, I'm one of those people who gets frustrated when a website -- any website, but especially a blog -- is left idle for extended periods of time. The ease of use, not to mention the rapid pace of the internet, all but demands constant updates and changes. If a blog I follow doesn't update regularly (ideally daily), I get frustrated. If it sits idle for two months, odds are I'll get bored and move on. (You don't want me to have the TV remote control, either.)

Now I have had a couple of excuses. For example, while I have several entries I want to put in (and will put in immediately after this one), they have photos that go with them. And it has been a while since I got into the darkroom as well. Now I have the negatives, and just need to scan them.

Also, it's not like I have a lot of idle time these days. I'm full time now at WDBJ, which consumes a remarkable amount of time and (to my surprise, actually) energy, both physical and mental. I'm lucky if I get home and have the time to read some blogs, let alone write one. However, I have resolved that that is going to change. And my life is all about change these days.

You see, the biggest reason I haven't had the time or concentration or, frankly, creative heart to produce this stuff is that I'm bankrupt. Literally.

That's why I chose the title above, a phrase that strikes me as having a useful meaning (if counter to its commonly used one). We're selling out of our overwhelming debt. The bank is taking back our house -- a particularly poignant aspect of the whole thing, as we built the place with plans to never leave. I used to joke that, one of the great pleasures of moving in there was that I'd never have the chaotic agony of moving again. And that's just one small part of it.

We now live in a cash economy. I'd read about this -- usually about poor people and illegal immigrants (and I realize that is often redundant) -- but never thought I'd experience it. (If you're curious, it's because the credit card companies will go into your account to get payments, even though a declaration of bankruptcy is supposed to stop that. And it simply became absurd; the account was more often than not overdrawn at the end.) I simply cash my paycheck the day I get it on the way home, and we dole out the money on gas and groceries, etc., through the two weeks in anticipation of the next check. Happily, the check cashing place also sells gas and fried chicken. (Welcome to the American South.) So everyone gets a treat on Friday.

Needless to say, there's much legal activity involved. And it is surprisingly expensive. Why does a process to declare to the world you have no money require a fairly substantial chunk of money? Where exactly do they expect us to get it? It's not like we have thousands of dollars laying about; don't they think we would use it to pay our bills to, oh I don't know, keep our house?

However, I've got to say, the legal process is sort of confessional. You have to delineate all your debts -- and thus face what you've done -- and all your assets. It's a good thing to do, placing yourself in terms of exactly where you are in the physical world ... and in my case, causing me to ask how we got there. And where we go from here.

I don't mean to make excuses. This is no one's fault but my own. I can see where I could have done better, how I've had a pretty comfortable life. After all, I'm a photographer and writer. It's not like these are real jobs. I get to do what I like ... and I plan to continue, but with a wiser eye to money and monetizing the process, and with a firmer hand on self-indulgence.

So now we're moving -- a smaller rental house, but big enough for the traveling circus that's my household, and it's kind of cute. We're painting this week, and have to be in soon, because the bank's goon squad will be at the door in about a month. But I'm gonna' get on this blog thing. You'll see...