Writing: 59 Weeks, 64 Essays

Since 3/11/2015, about 59 weeks from today, I have published 64 essays. Most of them were at mainstream media sites. About 95% were paid (I haven’t written outside unpaid work in a long time now, but sometimes, rarely, I send someone a blog post that might resonate with their audience. If they edit it and make it an independent essay, I might put it in my publication list, just for record keeping).

I often wonder how many different humans those 62 essays represent. My most viral piece was published almost two years ago now (May 2013 – on my daughter’s “Best Dressed” award and gender norming in pre-school). I really started writing for public audiences in February of 2013, and wrote about 30 pieces over the course of that year. In March 2014, though, I decided to really dedicate myself to public writing, and this last year is the result.

This morning on Twitter, I’ve been having a wide-ranging conversation about the economics of writing. It’s based on this article that lists only one in ten writers as being able to make a living as writers. I fall well into that 90%. I have a day job as a history professor that includes time and the expectation to write among its perks, and enough flexibility within my institution for my public work to count. It’s a problem, though, that it’s increasingly hard for writers to make a living as writers. Freelance rates have fallen or are stagnant.

At the same time, we are in a hyperscribal and hyperlexic golden age of text. Probably a few million, maybe two? – people have actually read my work. Thousands of you come to my blog – my blog! – every week. These numbers boggle the mind. There is no way that I could write enough at my current rates to make a living (it would take about 450 essays a year), but I do seem to be able to sustain one a week. Thank you all for reading.

Lately, I’ve been branching out into media criticism (Marco Polo, Game of Thrones, Daredevil, the historical fiction of Bruce Holsinger, and more to come). I do this because I think representation matters, I enjoy it, but also as a break from all the pieces about violence and death. There was a good piece in TNR on how writing about trauma causes trauma. I don’t do the kind of close journalism – interviewing families, living in war zones, seeing bodies and bruises – that would cause trauma, but I do get very upset when I just read horrible story after horrible story. Breaks are vital.

I have a lot more to say on academics and public writing. You could bring me to your campus to talk about it! More on that later. For now, it’s back to work.

Here are the 64 essays from the last year+.

  1. Daredevil and Scenes of Ordinary Disability (Vice.com, 4/20/15)
  2. “The Net is the Meat:” Bruce Holsinger’s Medieval Fiction (Tor.com, 4/20/15)
  3. Autism and RFK Jr. RFK owes a lot of people an apology. (CNN.com, 4/16/15)The
  4. Telescoping History of Game of Thrones (Vice.com, 4/14/15) 
  5. Sheehan vs SF: A Chance to Reduce Police Killings of People with Disabilities (Al Jazeera America, 3/22/15) 
  6. Bruce Rauner: Picking on Society’s Most Vulnerable (CNN.com, 3/18/15) 
  7. “Daddy, What’s Down Syndrome?” (Yahoo! Parenting, 3/17/15) 
  8. Dear Student? How about Dear Provost? (Chronicle Vitae, 3/11/15) 
  9. Why Write a Book? (Chronicle Vitae, 3/3/15) 
  10. To assess LAPD shooting, look past the moment of gunfire. (CNN.com, 3/2/15) 
  11. Information, Not Inspiration: How to work against the fear of Down syndrome (CNN.com, 2/18/15) 
  12. Conservatives want to rewrite the history of the Crusades (The Guardian, 2/7/15) 
  13. Kristiana Coignard Did Not Have to Die (CNN.com, 2/2/15) 
  14. Airlines Break Too Many Wheelchairs – But We can Fix It (Al Jazeera America, 1/31/15) 
  15. Associate Dean of What? (Chronicle.com, 1/26/15) 
  16. Anti-Choice Legislators Try to Force Wedge Between Reproductive, Disability Rights Activists(Reproductive Health Reality Check, 1/16/15) 
  17. Who Will Teach All the Free Community College Students? (Chronicle.com, 1/15/15) 
  18. Harsh Critics in Public Spaces, Judging Only What They See (NYTimes.com, 1/12/15) 
  19. Police Violence Sparks Disability Rights Movement (Al Jazeera America, 12/22/14) 
  20. University Presidents and Public Engagement (Chronicle.com, 12/18/2014) 
  21. Academic Freedom and Repellent Speech (Chronicle.com, 12/15/2014) 
  22. Marco Polo Would Be Better Without Marco Polo (Vice.com, 12/11/14) 
  23. Should I Let my Boss Friend Me on Facebook? (Chronicle Vitae, 12/9/14) 
  24. Eric Garner: The Intersections of Race and Disability (CNN.com 12/4/14) 
  25. Playing Politics with the Disabled (Al Jazeera America, 11/26/2014) 
  26. #FergusonSyllabus (Chronicle.com, 11/25/2014) 
  27. For Parents of Children With Down Syndrome, ‘Abortion vs. Hardship’ Is a False Binary (Reproductive Health Reality Check, 11/18/2014) 
  28. No Longer “Falling off the Cliff” – College for People with Intellectual Disabilities (Chronicle of Higher Education, 11/11/14) 
  29. The Death of London McCabe: Child Murder & Discourse of Disability (CNN.com 11/10/2014) 
  30. Save the NEH (from itself) (Chronicle Vitae, 10/16/2014) 
  31. Down Syndrome – Getting Beyond “Cute” (Al Jazeera America, 10/15/2014) 
  32. Fictionalizing Your Scholarship (Chronicle of Higher Education, 10/13/2014) 
  33. What To Tell Your Kids About Columbus (CNN.com, 10/10/2014) 
  34. Fix the Hiring Process (Chronicle Vitae, 10/6/2014) 
  35. End the Conference Interview (Chronicle Vitae, 9/23/2014) 
  36. Kanye West and Questioning Disability (CNN.com, 9/16/2014) 
  37. Review: Disability and Technology in John Scalzi’s Lock In (Huffington Post, 8/29/14) 
  38. Fighting Gender Norming One Backpack at a Time (Huffington Post, 8/26/14) 
  39. Psychiatric Disability & the Police: The search for reasonable accommodations (CNN.com, 8/26/14) 
  40. Save the Dissertation! (It saved me) (Chronicle Vitae, 8/25/14) 
  41. Don’t Speak Out: The Message of the Salaita Affair (Chronicle.com, 8/21/14) 
  42. Pope Francis did NOT call for a Crusade against Isis (CNN.com, 8/20/14) 
  43. Ferguson and the Cult of Compliance (Al Jazeera America, 8/15/2014) 
  44. The problems with telling jokes about Down Syndrome (CNN.com, 8/6/2014) 
  45. Why John Walsh’s Plagiarism Matters – It’s not what you think (Chronicle Vitae, 7/25/14) 
  46. Never Alone – Our Story of Down Syndrome Diagnosis” (BLOOM Magazine, 7/21/14). 
  47. Catholic Universities and Undocumented Students (Chronicle.com, 7/21/14) 
  48. A Thousand Neil deGrasse Tysons! (Chronicle Vitae, 7/21/2014) 
  49. Eden Foods – Ethics, not Politics (CNN.com, 7/11/2014) 
  50. A Medievalist on CNN (Inside Higher Ed, 7/2/2014) 
  51. The Learning-Centered University (Chronicle Vitae, 7/1/2014) 
  52. Sustained Public Engagement – “But Does it Count?” (Chronicle.com, 6/23/2014) 
  53. College, One Latte at a Time? No thanks. (CNN.com, 6/17/14) 
  54. The Most Interesting Adjunct in the World (Chronicle Vitae, 6/11/14) 
  55. All Faculty are Labor (Chronicle Vitae, 5/22/2014) 
  56. Do we need Trigger Warnings in the Classroom? (CNN.com, 5/20/2014) 
  57. An Academic “Working Dad” (Chronicle.com, 5/19/2014) 
  58. Police Violence and Disability, with Lawrence Carter-Long (TheAtlantic.com, 5/6/14) 
  59. Forced Baptism, Blood Libel, and Sarah Palin’s Militant Christianity (CNN.com, 5/1/2014) 
  60. Why Should Secular People Care About Saints? (CNN.com, 4/27/2014) 
  61. Adjuncts and the Language of Labor: Part I (Chronicle Vitae, 4/24/14) 
  62. Frozen vs Little Mermaid – Two Anthems for Two Generations: (Good Men Project and Business Insider 4/13/14) 
  63. Faculty Members Are Not Cashiers: Why the ‘customer service’ lingo in academe is bad for students (Chronicle.com, 3/18/2014) 
  64. Rape Culture and Disability Intersect in Georgia (CNN.com, 3/11/2014)

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