On not paying writers (again)

by Veronica on March 18, 2014

in Sending You Elsewhere, Soapbox

Around the time Evelyn was born, I began turning down PR requests left right and centre. I’m sure I burned a lot of bridges, and all I did was politely ask to be paid for my time.

Amazing how the PR requests dropped off after that.

But they didn’t stop entirely, and each time I politely ask to be paid, I am politely told in return “We don’t have a budget” or “We don’t pay for comment.”

People, you’re paying me for my time. For the time I take out of my life to write about your product. For the time I spend ignoring other things in order to focus on YOU and your product.

Now, let’s be clear – I’m not talking about the work I did for The Shake, which was unpaid, and enjoyable. This is because I KNOW The Shake didn’t have a budget to pay me. There was no one person sitting at the top of the pile making money from our work and refusing to pay.

But other publications, other companies, they’re different.

When a large multi-national company tries to tell you they don’t have a budget to pay you, you’re left laughing maniacally in the corner. Because REALLY? REALLY?


There’s money somewhere, but it sure as hell isn’t being spent on the bloggers doing actual work for you. Which is crap, frankly.

In any case, I wrote about this for Money Circle this week, and it is something which makes me a bit ranty. You wouldn’t refuse to pay your plumber, or your electrician, so why refuse to pay your writers?

money circle logo

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walk towards the light

Everywhere I go, people keep imploring me to be nice. Just be nice at the BBQ, be nice online, keep yourself nice in public. For gods sake, just be nice Veronica, okay? Surely you can manage that?

I am tired of just being nice, for the sake of everyone else’s comfort. Doesn’t my comfort matter too? Did anyone worry about how nice they were being the last time my reputation was dragged over the coals? Hey, how about that. I bet no one worried about how nice they were being when they bitched me out publicly, blocked me on twitter and refused to ever speak to me again.

I don’t do silent well. I don’t do nice for the sake of public propriety well either.

Nice is such a boring word. It’s bland. It’s inoffensive. Nice doesn’t make you think, or make you feel. Nice sex doesn’t give you a spine melting orgasm that makes your legs shake for minutes afterwards. Nice books are the ones they send home in Amy’s home reader, about Marcus sharing his toys and getting a cookie.

Nice. It’s warm milk. It is white walls. It is something that I won’t remember five minutes from now because fuck me, but nice is boring.

I am a kind person. I have empathy. I worry about how people will feel, about how my actions will be received. I want to be kind, and caring, and opinionated. These things are not mutually exclusive.

I say fuck a lot. Fuck is not a nice word. It isn’t bland, and it doesn’t leave any doubt in your mind about how I feel. I throw things. I shout, and I wave my arms in the air. I loudly used “because VAGINAS” as an argument to my husband in the supermarket, much to the shock of the lady walking past. It was a reasonable response when you consider that the question was why mothers wanted fluffy pink socks for Mother’s Day.

Being nice will get you nowhere. I don’t want someone to remember me as vaguely nice when I die. “Oh, her. Yes, she was nice.

There’s no point to niceness. People will hate you no matter what you do. Maybe your hair offends them. Or the way you laugh. Maybe the way you capitalise your sentences sets their teeth on edge. No matter how nice you are, someone out there somewhere imagines punching you in the face, and it makes them feel better.

Nice gets you nowhere.

I am a strong person. I have opinions and I like things the way I like them. My sense of humour is kind of fucked up. I frequently daydream about poking some people in the eye repeatedly with a blunt stick. I rescue small starving kittens and I cuddle small sad children.

I don’t want to be nice. I want to be smart, funny and kind. I want to be interesting and colourful and compelling.

You can keep your warm milk.

I’m aiming to be top shelf liquor.

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Yesterday morning I was on the phone to Frogpondsrock. We were bemoaning the fact that the #convoyofcleavage had sparked such disparaging language, that some feminist circles were angry about the terminology used, and the “slacktivism” of the whole thing.

I can’t remember who said it first, but one of us stated that we obviously weren’t proper feminists because we don’t know the secret feminist language/we like our husbands/don’t think feminism should be an exclusive club.

Then we got the giggles, because we think we’re hilarious. Suddenly, we had a twitter hashtag on our hands.

Thus is began with both of us tweeting on the #Iamnotaproperfeminist hashtag and amusing ourselves.

We wanted to poke gentle fun at the idea of there being a “right” way to be a feminist. Sometimes, people in the know get so hung up on the terminology used that they forget women all over the world are coming at feminism from a perspective unique to themselves. We’re not all the same person, with the same circumstances. To state unequivocally that feminism is THIS THING and not THAT THING is to discount the experience of women different to you.

By yesterday evening, our hashtag had taken off, grown wings and flown far away from where it started.

All across twitter, women and men were joining in to promote feminism without borders. And not just cis women, but trans women too. I count this as an extra success, because if their tweets are anything to go by, trans women are told they’re not able to feminist properly more often than I am.

Feminism has become something quite narrowly defined in recent years. Women who study feminism at Uni bristle at those of us who didn’t complete a degree calling ourselves feminists.

It’s all a bit ridiculous.

How do you define feminism anyway?

With all the drama and terminology complaints, it’s no wonder that young girls have been stepping back from calling themselves feminist. Who can be bothered when you have to always make sure you’re using the perfect word for the job, and inevitably, we all end up “doing it wrong” anyway.

Young women want to be feminists. We want equality. We just don’t want to have to constantly talk about what feminism is and isn’t – and I’m pretty sure that we don’t want women who are further along the paths of education (self, or otherwise) to be pointing out how we’re not being the perfect feminist.

I am not a proper feminist hit back at the stereotypes, at the exclusionary language, and it showcased the discomfort a lot of us were feeling at being told there was only one true way to do this feminism thing.

I am not a proper feminist, because there is no such thing.

And that’s why it’s awesome.

* Because VAGINAS reference from here.

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I wrote an article at The Shake about beauty, and the power of Amanda Palmer’s tweets today. In order to properly illustrate my point and not look like a hypocrite, I took a photo of myself with the words “Photoshop This” written on my chest.

Amanda Palmer then used my photo in her collage, which was then reblogged by Neil Gaiman.

And there is is. Internet fame achieved. My breasts on Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman’s tumblrs.

screenshot neil gaiman tumblr my boobs

The geek in me is suitably thrilled. The feminist is just pleased that the message about body acceptance is getting out there. Love your body. It’s the only one you’ve got and you can’t make it different by hating it.

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seagull Kim Foale

My son has gone out with his Daddy, my big girl is at school and my baby is asleep. I’ve just written three articles for The Shake, edited some others, eaten four chocolate biscuits and made a poached egg. My kitchen is semi-tidy, the cat litter is scooped and I’ve had a cup of tea. I watered the greenhouse and strung new lines for the beans. I snipped away the dying pumpkins, infected with plague, and I’ve eaten all the red cherry tomatoes, feeling vaguely guilty that I wasn’t saving them for everyone else.

I didn’t realise how stressed I was until I spent some time in silence, without anyone shouting at me. Isaac shouts because he is FOUR and FOUR YEAR OLDS have trouble with voice modulation. Amy shouts because her classroom is loud and it turns into a habit, trying to be louder than everything else. Evelyn shouts because she is frustrated to be almost nine months old with no body control. And Nathan and I shout because we’re dramatic, and even though our shouting often ends in laughter, it’s still loud.

So. Silence.


It’s nice. Not that it’s actually silent, of course. The kittens are playing and I can hear the scritch scritch scritch of kitten paws through the house. Evelyn sighs occasionally, and there is music quietly running in the background, making sure it’s not so silent that the sound of my fingers on the keys will wake her up.

I’ve been annoyed at the Internet, frankly. The list of blogs I enjoy reading is steadily shrinking, as blogs I enjoy fall off the radar and stop updating and good blogs are failing to pop up in their place. Maybe I’m a snob, but frankly, when I click on a blog and there are eight typos in the first two paragraphs, I’m going to spend the next few days shitty about it. Because REALLY? THAT’S THE STANDARD I’M MEANT TO ASPIRE TO?

Sorry Internet, but I just can’t do it. I’m aspiring to be something better than pretty and whimsical. I want to read writing, and reality, and truth-telling, not housewives with nothing better to do than post photos of themselves wearing whimsical tutus and stupid looking flowers in their hair.

I just want more from you. Is that too much to ask?

Partly, this is Zoey and Kate’s fault.  They made me Editor at The Shake and now I can’t read anything without my Editor cap on, quietly picking up the run-on sentences needing commas and finding myself lying in a pool of blood when there’s a loose/lose error and someone’s fucked up there/their/they’re. I mean JESUS PEOPLE, READ YOUR SHIT BACK. It’s like you ENJOY watching me stab out my own eyes.

Their fault.

You can blame them.

Now my baby has woken up. I was stabbing my keys too hard.

I blame you.



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