Writing to be Read


I had an interesting internal conflict late, last month and it led me to ask the question why do I write a blog when I could get paid by a Catholic publisher. It had to do with the recent blog entry about being a prayerful priest. As I looked it over, I realized it might be worth submitting it to one of the nation’s Catholic periodicals. I chose against it.

First, I used to write for a Catholic periodical. The Catholic Twin Circle which was the sister publication of the National Catholic Register at the time. This is how I financed my way through the seminary. I loved writing for them.

I wrote articles that really did not have a political slant, they were basically informational. I wrote about the nun on the faculty of Regis College in Wellesley who was the inspiration behind President Kennedy’s program: The Peace Corps. I wrote about the St. Paul Choir School which sits in the shadow of Harvard University in Cambridge and about Robert McBride who ran the Archdiocese of Boston’s ministry to those dying of AIDS.

What I loved most was being able to write about someone or some event and know that people all over the country could enjoy learning about it.

Eventually, I had to leave the Catholic Twin Circle because I was close to my diaconate ordination and then priesthood, I would not have the time to continue writing for them. It was a real struggle for me, I was falling in love with writing and the National Catholic Register offered me a job to write for them, they did not know I was close to ordination. I had to make the choice of either postponing my ordination a year or more to write full time or to turn from writing and become a deacon and then a priest. Needless to say, I chose ordination.

As I looked over the recent blog entry about prayerful priests, I realized before putting it on my blog I could try to publish this in one of our nation’s Catholic periodicals. I looked over the submission guidelines for one of them, which is the most prominent of them all and believe it or not, my least favorite. I consider the company’s publications to be at best mediocre, but they are quite well known and have a wide distribution.

I actually did submit an article to them a long time ago when I was in seminary college in the late 1980's Back then, I wrote on a typewriter. The editor accepted it and I received payment. It never got published. I kept asking the editor when he would publish it and he would respond 'soon' every time. Finally, I got angry with the editor and that led him to cut the article. It never got published, not that it ever was going to be.

I looked over the publication's submission process which will be typical of them all and saw that they would respond with a yes or no in two months. So after waiting two months, I could receive a rejection letter and have to do this again, then I need to find someone else. If it is a ‘yes’ then I get a check and they get the opportunity to own the article until they publish it. I would be offering First North American Serial Rights. That means the article may never be published and I can do nothing about it except enjoy my check until it was, but that is not why I wrote it in the first place.

This stopped me. Do I really write to get paid? Or do I write to offer what I can to the reader in the Catholic community to share and enjoy. It is the latter. I am paid. I am paid as a priest and I do not really need any more payment. I also published three books and although I make few sales, I did make $100 last year on royalties. I know some bloggers actually do make money off their blogs, I don’t have enough readers to do so and I really do not have the time to police the advertising either. So I offer my homilies, stories and writing at no cost to you and a minimal cost to me.

This way, I do not have to have a panel of editors in a mediocre publication tell me after two months that they do not need the article. The other option is after two months they will publish it soon, "here’s your check," only to see their definition of soon is closer to Jesus' in the Book of Revelation than my understanding.

This is the wonder of blogging. Your writing is yours and, if you do not mind not being paid, you can write for the best reason, to be read and the only one editing your work is you.

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