Lately I’ve been doing a lot of work for Search Engine Optimization people (who and wherever they are), and it’s not been easy. First off, in process it’s more like long division than actual writing. Second, it’s embarrassing. Even though I’m only ghostwriting boring blog posts (so my real name is never attached to such literary epics as “Why you need a licensed electrician to install your dedicated circuit” and “Geothermal heating: is it right for me?”), I still feel like such a hack. I’m wasting whole days, weeks even, writing this sludge to pay the bills. I still write creatively, more days than not; it’s frittering away four hours “researching” the least interesting information on the internet, then writing even less interesting “content” on it—all for a hefty sum of eleven dollars—that’s hard to reconcile.
We all do things we’d rather not to make money. For the unemployed, like myself, you have to cast a slightly wider net of distasteful activities for income. Or perhaps it’s just that the things are constantly changing and there are more unknown quantities involved. At a job, the worst parts are at least familiar, easily identified. Ghostwriting is perpetually new (topically, geographically, culturally), and often the sketchier situations’ assignments come without good instructions. Or any instructions at all, beyond “Target audience = golf course managers.” I don’t hate these assignments, I can get them done while listening to NPR or an astronomy podcast. They do keep my identity secret, which prevents me from ever investing more than the cheapest amount of effort required (since I’m being “paid” below minimum wage, this seems wise). I suppose I’ll continue publishing content instead of poems for the forseeable future; for some reason, there are slave wage writing jobs aplenty, and for the unemployed writer, it’s steady, albeit soul-sucking, somewhat honest work.