State of Affairs

All energies are currently reserved for this deadline. I have made the assignment a bit more difficult than it needed to be. But that’s what happens when you hire me. I am not the type to tackle an assignment in any formulaic way. It must be fun. It must involve honest labor. If it does not crackle in some sense, then it’s not worth doing. But a fillip spills over to this blog, just as it always does, creating another entry that is not so much about blogging, as it is about why I am not blogging. (It is because people are paying me not to blog, or rather to devote my energies elsewhere. But this seems to be the end of these enjoyable professional endeavors for now. But I hustle, hoping to find more.)

Others might posit a simple explanation, confining the reason to a single sentence. Normal people certainly would. I was recently identified as an “acclaimed writer” in a press release, although I have yet to win an award aside from the Cracker Jack prize that is, thankfully, available to any dutiful bodega customer, and I certainly have no time right now to work on my fiction, which saddens me a bit. (A writer with a bountiful financial cushion recently complained to me that he had to spend a whole week coming up with an idea. I wonder if he truly loves his art. I certainly do, and have more ideas than time available.) But, on the whole, I remain sanguine and pro-active. The general state of affairs involves something that happens when you spend most of your time hustling. I assure you that I am merely a man trying to get by on intellectual labor. It is certainly not easy right now. And I’m far from alone. Every good and talented soul I know is hurting — including those who are better than me.

Much of this has caused me to reconsider just what I’m doing. Very few people cared about the New York Film Festival, and certainly none of the outlets I pitched were hep to the idea of detailed coverage. So I felt compelled to atone for this inadequacy, doing what I do. And this is increasingly becoming the justification for why I devote much of my energies to this site: because nobody else is doing it. Because nobody wants to do it. Nobody is willing to throw money at the arts anymore. I’m happy to carry on doing it. The landlord, however, requires rent. This is why I have spent a good deal of time scrambling for a way to make this place — Segundo and the lot — self-sustaining. I’ve even managed to get a number of potential sponsors to talk with me. 2009, they say, that’s when we’ll go with your plan.

But there are two and a half months left in 2008. Thus, the dilemma.

So, for the moment, I have frozen production on The Bat Segundo Show for 2008. For how long, I do not know. Could be weeks, could be months, could give it up completely. There are still many interviews in the can, and a few interviews I’ve yet to conduct. So it doesn’t mean that the show itself won’t continue to pump out installments. All told, we’ll probably get to Show #250 by the end of the year. (And for the record, I could easily do a hundred more of these shows and still have fun with this.)

I won’t ask for money. I don’t want to abuse this idea too much. We tried the pledge drive, fell short of the goal, and I tried to keep the thing going on my own dime as long as I could. Thanks to all those who kindly contributed. It helped more than you know. If Segundo is to carry on, I’m going to have to lock sponsorship into place. There have been talks. There has been some interest, but fish don’t wish to bite until next year. Presumably knowing the precise guy will sit in the White House next year is the bait they’re waiting for.

So that’s where we’re at. Don’t worry. I haven’t given up, but I’m trying to survive right now. So if things are sporadic or piecemeal here, well, you now know why.

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3 Comments

  1. “There has been some interest, but fish don’t wish to bite until next year. Presumably knowing the precise guy will sit in the White House next year is the bait they’re waiting for.”

    Eh, that, and it’s Q4. Gotta make the year end numbers. Reasonable (or reasonably) or not (and not).

  2. I’m just going to add my two cents and get out of the way.

    Like you, due to the current financial debacle, a lit endeavor I was hopeful about has basically been put on hold. I started The Whirligigzine (whirligigzine.com) last year as a place where writers could submit their work and (drumroll please!) actually get paid for it! What a concept, right?

    The whole idea that writers just give their stuff away, an idea that most people have (thanks to various ezines, literary quarterlies (why are they called quarterlies, when they can’t even spare a dime?) and many other venues that will remain nameless here) is hurting us all, even including you, dear Mr. Champion. It’s a perception that needs to change; while other craftspersons, artists, etc. on different levels of success “make it” with their work, it is only those writers well above midlist status that can afford to be full-time writers.

    Is there a crisis in lit and letters in America right now? Sure, it’s that its writers can’t pay their bills.

    It might be cool to maintain a lean and hungry look. But when that look is not a choice, but born of the necessity of cutting back on food purchases, we all have a problem. Perhaps PEN should cast its gaze more around its own land as well as other countries where writers’ rights are abridged. I also look forward to the next president pushing through a plan for writers based on the WPA programs of the 30’s. History doesn’t always have to repeat itself in a negative way.

    But I think it must start with writers themselves. Show some gumption and demand pay for your work. The myth of “good exposure” is absurd. Ask a contractor to build you a house for free and tell him it will be “good exposure” for him since people will drive by and look at it every day.

    Remember, if you don’t get paid writing is just a hobby. And believe me, most of the time nobody is interested in your hobby but you.

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