I thought I was all caught up on my AC subscriptions. I’d read and commented on 15 AC articles in an hour-not bad. So I was ready to reward myself by eating a snack and doing some writing of my own. But then something eerie started happening in my email inbox. I went from 0 unread messages to 5 unread messages in under a minute. “Don’t tell me,” I said to myself, clicking my email tab and hoping for five quick “love” emails from my husband (uh, I don’t ever get even one of those, let alone five in one day, but I was cautiously optimistic). Instead of lovey-dovey emails from my husband, I found a block of bold AC emails, five identical subject lines: “Jimmy WritesTooMuch has been published on Associated Content.” I sighed and cussed and wondered where on earth Jimmy finds the time to write all these articles. “If I don’t start reading now, there will be five more articles by tonight,” I thought, “so I better hurry up.” And by the time I was done reading and commenting on Jimmy’s five new articles, there were three more to read; and after I finished those, there were two more; and so on…until my eyes were bloodshot and my wrist hurt, and I didn’t feel like writing anymore. The only things I felt like doing were taking a nap and/or hunting down Jimmy WritesTooMuch to destroy his computer with a baseball bat.
Now, I’m a polite, mild-mannered, quiet Midwestern girl who’s never destroyed anything with a baseball bat. Was Jimmy WritesTooMuch really to blame for my anger? Or had I simply overextended myself, and subscribed to too many AC content producers? Some I subscribe to out of gratitude (these folks read my work and leave nice comments, so I feel it’s only right that I do the same for them), some I subscribe to because I genuinely love their writing style, some I subscribe to because we share similar interests, some I subscribe to because their articles always make me laugh. But here are the facts:
1. I can’t babysit my email inbox 24 hours a day. If my inbox is cluttered with AC messages, I might overlook the really important messages from my son’s teacher or the lovey-dovey emails my husband is going to start sending me as soon as he reads this article.
2. I have young children and a house to take care of, and a job that pays a lot better than AC.
3. I like to read books more than short articles.
4. I need sleep.
5. The reason I joined AC in the first place was because I wanted to publish my own writing and make a little money. (Actually, I wanted to make a lot of money, but I know better now.)
The more AC articles I read, the less AC articles I write, the less time I devote to the novel I’m writing, the less time I spend reading good old-fashioned books, and the less time I spend smiling. I need to get rid of some of these AC subscriptions, right? I need a better system for reading/commenting and writing my own stories and articles. Here are my thoughts as I embark on the road to good AC mental health.
How do I get these AC subscriptions under control?
Maybe it IS possible to read all of Jimmy WritesTooMuch’s articles and write as much as I want! Of course it’s possible. Everything’s possible. Nothing’s impossible. But it’s time to ask myself some very important questions: Do I even like Jimmy WritesTooMuch’s articles? Does Jimmy WritesTooMuch read any of my articles? Do I have any sort of emotional bond with JimmyWritesTooMuch? Do I secretly detest JimmyWritesTooMuch because his grammar sucks, yet he still manages to garner hundreds of thousands of page views? No, no, no, yes! All right! I’m definitely clicking the “unsubscribe to this content producer” link at the bottom of the next AC email notification from Jimmy, and I don’t feel one bit guilty about it! Woo-hoo!
Most of the CPs I subscribe to, however, are nothing like Jimmy WritesTooMuch. I made up Jimmy WritesTooMuch to prove a point, and now I’ve made it, and it’s time to move on to trickier, touchier subjects.
Is it rude to not read every article written by the CPs I “follow”? What if I just quickly skim the articles that don’t interest me-is that okay? Am I a jerk if I only pretend to read the really boring articles (hey, at least I’m still giving them my page views)? Am I a monster if I delete the emails alerting me to dull articles, meaning I never bless those articles with a single page view or comment? GRRRR! RAAAWWWWWRRRRRR! Yes! I admit it! I’m a jerk and a monster because I’ve done those things. And now the AC Police are coming to arrest me!
But I can explain, officer! You see, my daughter was sick and I was too busy cleaning up vomit to check my email for three days, and I was about to run out of storage space in my email inbox, and the AC messages kept piling up and piling up, and I had to do something…
Am I a big fat liar if I post polite, encouraging comments on AC articles that leave me groaning, brain-sick, and semi-comatose after reading them? “Liar” isn’t the right word. How about “enabler”? It feels wrong to type “Great article, yadda yadda, blah blah” on Jimmy WritesTooMuch’s poorly-written, three-page discussion of dog hotels in Poopy Springs, Wyoming. (I don’t live in Poopy Springs, Wyoming, and I don’t have a dog, so why on earth was I reading that article in the first place?) I follow the old adage, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all,” but I don’t stop there-I feel I must say something nice at all costs, even when I don’t mean it! What’s wrong with me? I’m like the girl who encourages her tone-deaf friend to try out for American Idol. Sure, Jimmy! You’re a fantastic singer! Simon will love you!
If I stop commenting on their articles, will they still like me? Well, after everyone reads this article, no one’s going to like me, anyway, so I may as well stop leaving comments on the articles I don’t enjoy. Why do we waste our precious time and finger-power typing insincere comments on articles that suck when there are genuinely good articles out there, waiting to be read? Articles that have no comments on them! Do you know how happy your kind, sincere comments will make the authors of those articles?
If someone sends me a personal message asking me to subscribe to their work, I should subscribe, right? I’ll answer that question with another question: Does Stephen King go door-to-door, begging people to buy his books? If the writing is good, and chock-full of tasty keywords, people will find it-no begging required.
If other CPs leave nice comments on my work, am I obligated to read their work as well? You have to decide that for yourself. I’m a “nice” person who feels very guilty when I don’t support all the writers who support me, but I already have a large group of favorites I follow religiously. I make it a point to always check out at least one article of anyone who leaves a comment on my AC work (unless the comment is a lone smiley, which is meaningless, if you ask me). I’m not opposed to adding more CPs to my list of favorites or adding even more subscriptions, but I have to draw the line somewhere! I’ll always be most loyal to those CPs I’ve known the longest. I would suggest, to new CPs who are struggling to find an AC audience, to look for other newbies to befriend. My closest AC friends all joined AC around the same time I did. We’ve gone from a hundred page views to thousands of page views together-and it’s been a lot of fun, even though we haven’t made much money at it.
The reading/commenting chore is killing me! If I cancel all my AC subscriptions, will the world end? I recently did cancel several AC subscriptions, and the world didn’t end. It didn’t even rain or snow! I’m still subscribed to my favorite-favorites, most of whom don’t publish articles too frequently, so I don’t have any trouble keeping up. Plus, I genuinely look forward to reading their work. I have a long list of favorites that I’m not subscribed to, some of whom I really, really love-but they publish so often, I was starting to resent them. I know they’re just trying to make a living, and they’re successful writers, and I admire their dedication, honestly! They’re not publishing tons of articles because they want to piss me off. They’re publishing tons of articles so they don’t have to work a lousy, part-time retail job like me! I try to check in on all of my favorite, super-prolific writers at least once a month, on days when I don’t feel like writing anyway, or after I’ve already published an article or worked on my novel for awhile. That way I don’t resent the time I’m spending reading. I can relax and enjoy myself…unless the articles suck, of course, but I’m no longer going to rack my brain coming up with insincere comments to add to those articles.
I don’t have to leave comments on every AC article I read. I don’t have to leave comments on every AC article I read. I don’t have to leave comments on every AC article I read. That’s my new mantra. This is crucial for me because I strive to leave creative, funny comments whenever I can. I feel that my comments are a short advertisement, promoting my work on AC. And I know how much I enjoy receiving comments on my own work, so I love to spread that joy to others. But sometimes I can’t think of anything funny to say. And sometimes I end up saying disgusting things that casual observers are likely to misinterpret, not realizing that I’m actually friends with the person who wrote the article. I spend way too much time commenting on AC articles-time that could be spent on my own writing. You know who leaves the best comments, of anyone I’ve ever known on AC? Allene Newberg Bilodeau . Allene is the Comments Queen, and I bow humbly to her. (If you don’t already read Allene’s work, please check her out. You won’t be disappointed.)
Uh-oh. The AC Executioner has arrived at my door. Apparently, a lot of CPs are complaining about me because I’m encouraging people to drop some of their AC subscriptions. Hey, I’m just trying to save people from the heartache I’ve experienced recently. The executioner is asking me if I have any “last words” before he beheads me. Yes, as a matter of fact: Don’t be afraid to boycott bad writing! You don’t HAVE to subscribe to bad writers! You don’t HAVE to read anything you don’t want to read!
Thank you. And now I can die in peace.