And it’s me and my machine


And it’s me and my machine for the rest of the morning/ And the rest of the evening/ And the rest of my life.

Every once in a while, someone will introduce me as a blogger. I’m shocked if people even know who I am (or know what blogging is, for that matter), because really, I just sit in my living room and write stuff late at night, or early in the morning when normal people are still asleep. Come to think of it, I’m pretty much hunched over a computer for an average of 18 hours a day.

And I wonder why people think this is glamorous. Dear God, why?

I’m sitting here with one of those “As Seen On TV” compression socks on my right arm, because the nerves are so shot in my right arm. (I cut holes in the end for my fingers.) I don’t think it’s so much the typing, because I did that for more than 15 years as a full-time journalist and the damage wasn’t this bad. It’s the damned cutting and pasting that does it, I think. Sometimes the pain is so bad, it makes me cry.

I have an ergonomic mouse, an ergonomic chair. Thank God I have an articulating keyboard tray that one of you readers paid for, because the pain got so bad, I finally had to take a week off.

I’m plugged in most of the time. If I’m not home, I’m checking my smartphone. I have the TV on in the background with the sound turned off, because you never know what you might miss. It’s like any assembly line job – you have to feed the content machine.

When I’m not writing, I’m reading. Looking for story leads on Twitter, on blogs, on news sites. I always prided myself on how much I read, but now my idea of heaven would be six months without reading any news at all. I suspect (although I can’t be sure) that most of my blogging colleagues feel the same way, at least the ones who turn out this kind of volume.

Because while readers get to skip over anything that’s just too upsetting, we don’t. It’s our job. We immerse ourselves in the muck, and we swim through it pretty much 24/7, 365 days. While you guys have the option of walking away when it gets to be too much, we don’t. And we’re still here when you decide to come back.

It’s depressing as hell, diving into the dark side all the time.

And while you might say, “Hey, then go get a regular job,” it’s not that easy. (Besides the major recession, I mean.) Because you know what HR people do now? They Google your name. So bloggers’ reward for the many years we’ve spent blogging, the years we’ve sifted through the news and the politics chaff for you, is to frequently get screened out as a potential employee. So here we are, delivering up a heapin’ fresh platter of news and opinion because hey, it’s apparently what we do.

As someone once said to me, “Aren’t you getting a little too old to beg for a living?” Every time I hold a fund drive, there is always at least one person who says, “I don’t believe in fund drives. Why should I have to pay for your hobby?”

“Hobby.” See, I think it’s more of a calling, one that many progressives do little to support. We’re trying to make a difference here. Your support would make a difference, too.

There is no progressive equivalent to the wingnuts’ welfare system. George Soros won’t send bloggers money, no one wants to hire the old guard bloggers like me for think tanks or high-falutin’ magazines. The funny thing is, as bloggers continue to do this soul-searing, butt- and cardiac busting work, we are still relentlessly criticized for our many shortcomings by our own readers (many of whom are notoriously absent during our fund drives).

No matter what else you can say about conservatives, they do take care of their own. Progressives expect us to do our work as a public service, but we still have to pay rent – and medical expenses. Look at some of the bloggers we’ve lost on our side – people like Steve Gilliard (The News Blog), Jim Capozzola (Rittenhouse Review), Melanie Mattson (Just A Bump In The Beltway) and Jon Swift, who just didn’t have the money to pay for medical bills and died as a result.

Our smart, informed, hardworking liberal bloggers aren’t the ones who get those nice CNN jobs. It’s wingnut morons like Erick Erickson.

Why do so many readers think nothing of riding for free on our hard work and yes, sacrifice? No, I’m not talking about the people who are out of work themselves, or otherwise hurting. Hell, no. I mean the people with jobs and some level of security who turn to blogs like this several times a day for the news they need to know, but never even think to contribute. (Believe me, I’m very grateful to those who do donate.)

I think of that old line from sportswriter Red Smith, when asked if it was hard to write a daily column. “Why, no,” he said. “You simply sit down at the typewriter, open your veins, and bleed.”

Support your favorite blogs. It’s going to be a long election season.





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4 Responses to And it’s me and my machine

  1. quixote April 20, 2012 at 11:23 am #

    Yup. You’re one of my primary news sources. There’s the BBC, and then there’s Susie Madrak. I mean that entirely literally. Then there’s the LATimes.

    And the funny thing is, some story will break into the public consciousness, and I don’t get what took them so long. “Suburban Guerrilla has been following that for a while. Here are the details your news missed.” (My friends probably think I’m obnoxious, but so far they’ve been too polite to say so.)

    Donation on its way after the paycheck comes in. Hang in there. Keep going to the gym. You’re essential.

  2. Imhotep April 20, 2012 at 1:35 pm #

    Speaking about news and the machine. The Right is fighting like hell for Mark J. Sullivan. They want him to be retained as the Director of the Secret Service. That alone is reason enough to demand that he resign. In addition to that Sullivan, a Bush appointee, seems to have about as much control over the Secret Service as “You’re doing a heck of a job Brownie,” had over FEMA. Sullivan should be fired immediately.

  3. Izquierdo April 20, 2012 at 6:38 pm #

    I just sit in my living room and write stuff late at night, or early in the morning when normal people are still asleep. Come to think of it, I’m pretty much hunched over a computer for an average of 18 hours a day.

    Susie, 18 hours a day can’t be good for you.
    It might be a good idea to ease off a bit and give yourself a break.

  4. Nate Whilk April 24, 2012 at 8:37 pm #

    “There is no progressive equivalent to the wingnuts’ welfare system.”

    If you think independent conservative bloggers get paid by the Koch brothers or anybody else, you’re far crazier than you think they are.

    “The funny thing is, as bloggers continue to do this soul-searing, butt- and cardiac busting work, we are still relentlessly criticized for our many shortcomings by our own readers (many of whom are notoriously absent during our fund drives).”

    Boo-frickin’-hoo. Would you like some cheese with your whine? You now see what people are really like and why your leftist utopia daydreams WILL NOT WORK.

    “Why do so many readers think nothing of riding for free on our hard work and yes, sacrifice?”

    Leftists expect the taxpayers to pay for everything they want. Why should they pay you?

    Samuel Johnson: “No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money.”

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