It’s a little wire with a mic jack at one end and rubber earpiece at the other. It came a few days ahead of schedule in a padded manila envelope with a cloying note begging for five-star Amazon feedback rating (don’t worry, Markdown Mania — I did you right.)
And it scares the crap out of me.
The little wire is an Olympus Telephone Pickup Microphone TP8, a little widget for recording phone conversations. You plug the jack into your recorder and stick the other end in your ear. The earpiece has a microphone on the non-ear end. You hold the phone against that and start talking.
It was $7.96 plus shipping and handling, an example of Markdown Mania living up to the name. It was the first purchase made with money donated through the Patreon campaign I launched in May.
This isn’t just me my pimping my Patreon. (Donate to my Patreon.) It’s the first shred of accountability I’ve had in the three years I’ve been putting these stories online.
I started this project when I had just pulled the closest to “You can’t fire me, I quit” I hope to ever see outside of a movie. I had the idea for this site for years, ever since seeing a play based on Ben Hecht’s project as an excuse to spend two silent hours with a woman I was crazy about. She saw me as a friend.
This was the idea I would talk about when loosened up. This was the idea I nattered on about at odd moments for maybe a decade.
Then, I was free. Terrifyingly, brokenly free of a job I hated and a suburban existence that drained me like no other experience in 32 years had.
In a Tinley Park apartment, I played a Colin Hay song on repeat and started dreaming how to fill the domain I had registered two years earlier.
The first story ran April 30, 2012, the same day I confirmed the movers to take me back to Chicago.
It was my dream job because there was no accountability, no one telling me readers won’t get this reference or no one cares about that issue. I relish criticism in my professional writing. It makes things better. But this is my sketchpad, my chance to try new ways of writing and to fail spectacularly if needed.
For three years now, I’ve joked that if people don’t like a story, I’ll give them their money back.
Now I’m taking their money. If people don’t like a story, do I have to give it back?
The little wire with the earpiece is a thing I’m proud of. I’m proud and grateful that people are willing to pay good American currency to support my dream job sketchpad. If I’m a little nervous, that’s a small price to pay.
Just like the small price you can pay to support this project on PATREON.COM!
Sorry. A woman I used to know called that my comedy force field — jokes protecting me from vulnerable moments. I guess what I’m saying is thank you.
For those who support the project already and for those who will, thank you. Not just for the money, not just for your trust that my new take on old journalism is a good investment, but for giving me that shred of accountability.
Your investment has given me a bar to reach, a standard to set. I have people I can let down now, something that always makes me try harder.
It has made my dream job something better than a dream. A job. And for that, I cannot thank you enough.