“No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money.” - Samuel Johnson, April 1776James Boswell noted Dr. Johnson's remark during a conversation in which Johnson was explaining why he would not be writing about his upcoming trip to Italy. Why go to all that trouble if you are not getting paid for it?
I have often asked that question of myself in the course of writing the previous 599 entries of this blog. I confess there are many days I am in complete agreement with Johnson.
When I began writing "Gillette on Hillsborough" for the Courier News in 2007, I thought of this enterprise as a bit of an adventure. A chance to try something new. The newspaper showed me how to get started on Blogger - on a page with no ads that would be linked to from the newspaper's website. This seemed reasonable enough to me. I wasn't getting paid - and neither were they. The blog was purely a public service with no cost to the newspaper.
Over the course of the first two years, the blog also appeared 175 times on the Courier News editorial page. This pleased me as it allowed many more readers to come into contact with the blog than would ever look for it on the computer. During the second year, the Courier News switched from Blogger to a proprietary blog format - on a page filled with ads. In the third year they switched again - to a proprietary blog format based on WordPress, also filled with ads that I did not control. Then editorial page changes at the Courier News and Home News Tribune eliminated the revolving "Local Voices" section from the page.
During these past two years then, I have kept up BOTH versions - "Gillette on Hillsborough" at the original Blogger site, and "The View From Hillsborough", as it is now called, at MyCentralJersey.com. I even experimented with putting ads on the Blogger site - but there just isn't enough traffic to generate any income of note. (I have yet to reach the $100 threshold where they will actually send you a check!) Since the original Blogger site has about four times as many visits each week as the MyCentralJersey.com site, I would assume that the newspaper isn't making any money from me either.
So here I am back at Johnson's question - why go through all the trouble? I get little enjoyment from it, and it takes a fair amount of time. Still, I derive satisfaction from having written these posts. I can look back on the 600, and state that the vast majority of them are unique to this blog. In other words - no one else is writing about Hillsborough's past and present the way I am.
The Courier News surely no longer recognizes my work on this blog as having any sort of value - indeed they have valued it at $0.00. No matter. When I quit or move the blog to another newspaper all they will be losing is one blockhead, they've still got a boatload.