I used to write for a content mill site, dreaming about getting hit after hit and some nice money from writing humor in addition to articles about Italian street festivals, teaching music to autistic children, American Idol and Clay Aiken’s favorite charity. Unfortunately, my page view count hovered in the top level of dismal and, in a good month, I might earn as much as a few dollars.
I stopped writing for those people when they let me know in pretty non-subtle ways that they thought my fellow humor writers and I were a waste of time. That satirical piece that I posted ridiculing the new policies and the staff didn’t help my reputation there, either. They pulled it down really fast and I got a personal message to the effect that criticizing the staff in such a way was not allowed and I had to be nice from then on and follow proper procedures for bitching and whining. I figured it would be more fun to leave than to try to be nice, so I did – leave, that is.
Actually, it made me feel good to have my piece pulled down like that. It meant that people were paying me some attention, no matter how negative. It was an honor, in a way. With one stroke of the computer, a piece that I wrote had been banned. I had something in common with J.D. Salinger and D.H. Lawrence,* and I didn’t even have to write anything remarkable like The Catcher in the Rye to get that distinction.
When I found out about HumorOutcasts and checked it out, I was hesitant at first. Would they want me? Was my writing good enough? Was I funny enough? Did they like my hair? My shoes? Me? Would anyone ever want to read anything that came out of my brain and through my fingers, or should I just reconcile myself to being a literary loser?
Well, that wasn’t getting me anywhere, so one day I sat at the computer and sent a message asking if I could write for HumorOutcasts. Donna Cavanagh was familiar with my work from the Site-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named.** I was accepted, and went to work.
Writing funny stuff is hard work, but it’s also fun and downright addictive. Besides that, you get better at it the more you write.
So thank you, everyone who is running and maintaining HumorOutcasts. Humorists are real writers, too, even if we don’t make much money at it and are treated as third-class panderers by “serious” writers. Encouragement is sweet, and you are putting all of us in some really great company, including yours. I feel honored to be here.
*No, I don’t think I’m anywhere near their level as a writer, so please don’t accuse me of having a swelled head. I already know I have a swelled head, and it’s very annoying to be reminded of it.
**Yes, I got that from the Harry Potter books. As long as I admit that J.K. Rowling came up with the idea first, I’m not plagiarizing. I’m just borrowing.