How it all began
Writer’s wife Tina gives us the lowdown.
I suppose it was inevitable. Mark forgot he wrote for a living, you know, got paid for tapping the keyboard, and became addicted to writing (virtually) for free.
He accepted requests to write one guest blog post after another (contributing free work) and I could see his attraction to pay-per-view writing sites was unhealthy too.
He wrote stories, poems, and opinion pieces in return for peanuts. And I said to him, “what good are peanuts Mark? They won’t pay our bills.” I told him, “those sites are for self-promotion and hobby writers. You can’t depend on them to make a living.”
The problem was, he wouldn’t stop. Maybe he couldn’t. After all, by the time I thought to stage an intervention he was completely hooked, and wouldn’t eat anything other than peanuts. He enjoyed the freedom to write about absolutely anything he wanted.
He said he didn’t like paid writing jobs. He was fed-up of inserting too many keywords for clients who hadn’t worked out Google don’t like that anymore, and often, the topics he wrote about were boring.
Last December, before he was addicted to working for peanuts, he had a contract to write 40 long articles about modular refrigeration. He doesn’t know anything about modular refrigeration. Correction. He does now, because he did a lot of research. But at the time, the task was challenging, yet led to boredom.
Then he discovered guest blogging and peanut work. He enjoyed writing guest posts because, naturally, owners of those websites were nice to him. They told him he was a super writer, and all writers are pushovers for flattery. They are putty in the hands of anyone who likes their work.
He spent his days writing guest posts and sharing them on social media sites like Facebook, and evenings indulging in peanut work.
Mark showed ape-like signs
I asked Tina when she noticed Mark was on the turn.
It happened gradually, so it’s hard to pinpoint when he grew into a monkey. This is why it’s important for other writers out there to heed my words: When you’re paid peanuts, you can’t help but gain even more primate-type characteristics than usual.
I became suspicious when the hair on the back of his hands and neck got thick. I recall we were due to go out with friends for dinner, and I said, “Mark, tuck your neck hair into your shirt.” It was sticking out.
Also, he frequently left our bed to write for peanuts at night. But on one particular occasion, he leaped. I mean actually bounded from the bed. Then he swung around the bedposts for a minute before lolloping off to the spare room to switch on the computer.
I didn’t really know what to say to him at breakfast time. He sat shelling his nuts while I made myself porridge, and I tentatively broached the subject. I said “Mark, I think you’re turning into an ape.”
He took offense, and said my behavior wasn’t always perfect either, and bounded off toward his keyboard, scraping his knuckles on the floor.
Tina wanted to stage an intervention
At first, I contacted the local zoo for advice. It was too late to take him to the GP. Besides, I’d heard there was an epidemic of writers developing monkey-like tendencies, so I knew the surgery would be overstretched.
The head primate zookeeper suggested I take away Mark’s peanuts, so he had to look in the fridge for food like normal writers. But that didn’t work. He just wrapped his left leg around his head and pined for peanuts.
The zookeeper said “offer him a whiskey and cigarettes.” He was under the impression non-monkey writers drink and chain smoke and thought carrying out normal behaviors might save Mark.
The thing is, Mark was a non-smoker and a teetotaler. I offered him ciggies and whiskey, and he accepted them. Now he’s addicted to peanuts, smokes, and is drunk.
Unfortunately, the zoo said they couldn’t even offer him accommodation, a nice cozy nook in the monkey house, because his bad habits might upset the other primates.
I’ve had to put branches for Mark to swing on in the spare room. And I’ve spread out a little hay bale, because I imagine that’s what a monkey sleeps on.
Tina accepts Mark’s a monkey now
Everything’s gotten easier since I accepted Mark is an actual monkey. I’ve told our friends, and some have been very nice about it. His bridge club still invite him to attend bridge evenings, every Tuesday. He hops along, sits in a chair, and scratches himself. But no one minds he can’t play the game anymore. It’s just lovely they include him, don’t you think?
Advice for writers paid peanuts
Tina has a few suggestions to help those writers who are on their way to a working for peanuts addiction.
My advice is to have strict writing rules. Make sure you write for real clients and genuine pay for a set number of hours a day. Keep writing for peanuts as a hobby.
Accept the life of a writer who gets paid is tough. Some days, you will have to write about modular refrigeration, economy heating systems, or other topics that don’t make you jump for joy. But that’s your career choice. Not every writer can sit in a coffee shop on the dole and pen a bestseller.
And there we have it. If you write for peanuts all day and night, you might become a monkey. If you don’t want to sleep on hay in the spare room, make sure you are paid cash for most of your work. Not nuts.
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Copyright © 2019 Bridget Webber. All rights reserved