Selling Out

We went out to an interesting and fun dinner last night. A surprise 40th birthday party for a new friend who works at the Embassy in a pretty big job, and we met a lot of new people, interesting folks. There were two guests there who read my column regularly and I had interesting conversations with each of them.

One woman said, “Oh, you’re the guy who writes that column? Alan something, huh? Listen, do yourself a favor and get a better picture. The one you have is not flattering to the real thing.” I thought that was pretty funny, and true. I’ve never liked the picture, which was used in desperation, taken at the camera place in Millburn the day my first column was running after I was told the image I had sent hem was too low res. I’ve intended to change it all along, but have not gotten around to it.

Another guy said to me, “You should do a blog now that you are building your brand name.”

I said, “Well, I have a blog actually, but I don’t advertise it. In fact, when I write back to readers, I delete the address from the signature because I don’t really want everyone looking at it.”

And it’s true. I don’t feel strongly enough to put a password protection on or anything and I’m happy for word of this to be passed around to friends of friends etc. I know that it is public and anyone can find it and I’m sure some do, but in my mind I am writing for my friends and family and it gives me tremendous freedom. That’s why I ‘ve never even instialled a counter to tell me how many people view this thing. I have no idea, but I know that Susan Price and Aunt Judy and Joan and Ben and mom and dad and sister Laura are reading and I write with them in mind.

He said, “You know, some people are making an awful lot of money now from blogs.”

I told him I knew but I couldn’t even bring myself to sign up for the Google ads. He understood, and noted that t e minute I received a $1 check from Google for this blog, everything would change. It would become commercial, a job. And I really feel that way. And I also feel a sense of loyalty to the purity of the blog, a feeling that I can’t sell it out, as crazy as that sounds.

When I arrived here lat year, I didn’t have all that much going on workwise and I was finding my way in day to day life. And writing for this blog – and for all of you became my job. After so many years of writing everything with omnipresent commercial considerations, it felt wonderful to just let ‘er rip. To express myself freely and fully and not worry about where I was headed or what I was trying to say, or sticking to a talking point or a subject matter or worry about giving an editor what he/she wanted.

And I feel like the process of doing it, of writing these entries, really freed me up, improved my writing, greatly eased my transition and increased my self confidence. It certainly made the transition to writing the columns much, much easier and maybe even made it possible at all. So I owe a lot to this blog. And I still really value this forum where I can sit and write and not think terribly much about the implications.. only trying to express thoughts or experiences, and thinking only of what the people I care about would want to know.

I’ve already allowed myself to realize that I have become a tiny bit of a public figure and need to be somewhat cognizant of that in terms of what I write here and I just can’t see trying to turn this is not a business opportunity. Maybe I’m foolish in this regard but I don’t think so. Any thoughts on this matter?

5 replies
  1. alan de zon
    alan de zon says:

    I’m the kind of person who would rather watch Lithuanian folk dance on PBS than almost ANYTHING with commercials. Your blogs express and elicit some strong emotions; having a Google banner for “Low prices on China travel” would kill that quickly.
    …and thanks for the rocksbackpages link. Brought back some great memories.

    Reply
  2. alanpaul
    alanpaul says:

    Thanks Alan. That’s th ekind of feedback I am looking for.

    Carrie, the names mentioned were representative. Your readership speaks for itself, as you are by far the most prolific commenter.

    Reply

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