Just a few years ago, I thought successful writers had their work published in hard copy, either in a magazine or by a large, corporate book publisher. I had this strange food chain pushed into my head by other writers and professionals. On top were the bestselling book authors, lots of money but no respect; then the literary book authors, lots of respect but no money; and finally, the writers who churned out articles for magazines and journals. Some money, definitely no respect. Anything else, and you simply weren't a real writer trying to make a real living.
I tried to accept the fact that my dream was to be the low man on this whacked-out totem pole.
Slowly, I started getting involved in online writing communities. They were invaluable resources, and I networked with small fish and big fish. Within the last 18 months, I've jumped into the online writing scene with both feet, and I've learned so much. I've made friends and contacts of people those traditional minds could never accept. There's thousands of talented writers out there, and they write website content, newsletters, press releases, short stories, fanzines, fortune cookies, online magazines, quizzes, e-books, greeting cards, POD books, cell phone novelizations, bumper stickers, blogs, crossword puzzles, cereal boxes, horoscopes, screenplays and so much more. Most of them mix and match from the list, but they all work hard to make a living with words.
Thanks to Absolute Write, Freelance Writing Gigs, Funds for Writers, and so many other great sites, I've discovered that the food chain is actually a straight line packed with wordsmiths of all stripes. (There's always humor writers twisting around at either end, because they can never resist a straight line.)
I realize that I fall somewhere in the middle, and while I enjoy writing for magazines, it's pretty cool to sample from the rest of the list now and again. But my perspective has changed. A writer is someone who gets paid for their words, whether it's an information portal, an erotic newsletter, a television show, or a blogging gig. It's such a relief to tear down the totem pole and share experiences with so many great people. All writers deserve respect. Next time I see one of those people who push the old-school frame on me, I'll remind them of that. Online, my circle has expanded, and I'm loving the stretch marks on my brain.