As a 31-year-old who just spent the past year dealing with breast cancer, chemo, radiation and all that jazz, I can only say: *do your check-ups*. I have always been super healthy, exercized regularly, rarely ever get even a cold or flu, and this still happened. I didn't even have a family doctor before cancer. A good friend of mine from my support group for young adults (people in their 20s and 30s) with cancer found out about her ovarian cancer through a pap when she was *22*. Everyone in the support group felt themselves to be really healthy. But sometimes through check-ups and sometimes through other casual visits to the doctor, we discovered these malign cells and tumours that have been growing inside us, sometimes on organs that we never even thought about (adrenal cancer anyone). I am, however, in Canada though, so not sure how the insurance part plays out in the US. Still, if you're insured, it's worth the peace of mind SO MUCH. Even for breast cancer, early detection can mean the difference of the size of my scar from surgery could have been smaller, or I could have been spared chemo.
Thanks for the comments here. The editorial direction of this site will always veer in the direction of what is real and honest, and these are real things that are happening in our lives right now. And what is real is sometimes uncomfortable. It is messy. And it is brave to put it out there honestly, like Logan does, and she chooses to do it as one-half of this site. It's a little upsetting to hear that people would believe that we are discussing real, deep-rooted problems for amusement. And I know that a lot of people identify with Logan, and never say anything because they fear being judged (I know that because we get emails from them). Before we post these discussions, we know what we're getting into. As the editors of this site, we know that it creates an opening for snark and criticism, but we don't have any control over what the commenters will say. But as a whole, we believe the readership here (on all the Awl sites, really) is one of the smarter, and more considerate that we've come across, and we really appreciate that. I really wish people would stop thinking of us as characters playing roles. We're real people, with real feelings having honest discussions. This isn't some storyline we're making up. In real life, people have problems. Sometimes it takes time to identify those problems. Sometimes it takes even a greater amount of time to fix those problems. And watching this unfold over a long period of time without drastic changes can feel stale, but, that's just real life. If this were fake and I were writing this storyline, Logan would have solved all her problems months ago, and we would currently be indebted to the mob or something, or maybe there would be a twist, and that twist would be that "Mike" and "Logan" never existed, but were created by some guy named Dave who lives in Ohio. On our About page, we talk about how we're not another personal finance site, that we're interested in people's lives, and that we want to create an honest conversation about difficult money issues. This is what makes us unique compared to the hundreds of PF sites out there that already delve into the nitty gritty, typical how-to stuff (plus, at the very top of our homepage, we have a how-to section you can click on that will take you to more than 50 pieces I've written giving how-tos and practical advice—everything from rolling your 401(k) into a Roth to what compound interest is). The reason why money is so difficult to talk about is because it's emotional and personal, and this site would quickly become very boring if that was taken out of the equation. And I've been completely open and honest here too. Are readers really unclear about who I am, and why I make the choices I make? Has my life not been explored enough? Earlier in the week in the post about bringing lunch to work, I wrote a long comment explaining that I bring my lunch because it allows me to reallocate that money to going out to nice dinners with my friends. I've also written about my routine a few times, which has me waking up at 5 a.m. every day, which is why I go to bed at 10 every night. I've written about how my family grew up with very little money and that our family of five once shared a one-bedroom apartment in a bad neighborhood where I wasn't allowed to play outside at night; that I supported myself throughout college by taking out loans, and that I had to pay extra interest on those loans because my parents couldn't co-sign them; that I have parents who disapprove of my career choices, and that because of that, my relationship with them is complicated; that I support them by sending home money every month, and that I have to work more than one job to do so; that there was a period in my life when I was also supporting my unemployed older brother, and that that was difficult for me and I felt conflicted over it; that my parents have no money saved up for retirement and that I worry about how I'm going to support them in their old age and feel that pressure every time I talk to them on the phone. The only way I'm supporting myself and my family is by maintaining a high level of responsibility. Has none of what I've written before explained the motivations behind the choices I make, or the "level of rigidity" in my life, or offer any sort of counterpoint to what Logan goes through? I believe that Logan and I have been equally and exceptionally open about our lives on this site. We're keeping things honest and real, and we're going to continue to do that. We also think that it'll help if she and I have some of these conversations with other people, and that's already in the works, and that'll help provide a way to mix it up. I hope you trust what we're doing as editors, and I thank you again for reading this response, and our site.
By Mike Dang on Let's Negotiate!
@Matthew Charles Davis@facebook Thank you for the thorough response. Yes, it's our intention to get to a point to where we can pay every writer, and I do stand by that. We probably won't be able to pay Conde Nast rates either, but I don't think anyone coming to this blog would expect that we can pay the rates of the big glossies, either. As mentioned in the previous post, we pay our writers who work on sponsored posts, and the rate we pay appears to be competitive with what The Atlantic pays for online stories, which is a start (and we'd like to increase that rate as we grow as well).
If we were not part of this network, and if we had not already made an agreement with The Awl not to divulge all of our proprietary information, I would be happy to share our financials with you. I will say that I've made far, far less (far, far less than half) of what I earned last year at the job I quit to start this website, and that it does not pay my bills and other obligations, and that I have to work another job and have other things going on so that I can stay afloat.
I'm not sure how your conversation with Choire went at the get-go, but we are always completely upfront with writers about whether or not we can pay the moment we get a pitch from them. This gives them the option of taking their pitch elsewhere if they want. Sometimes, writers will say they are not in a position to write for no payment, and (unlike your conversation with Logan above) I simply thank them and tell them I understand and that I hope I can work with them in the future. More often than not, writers will tell us they want to write for us anyway because they enjoy the site, or want the experience, or for whatever individual reasons they have. This is their choice—I have never approached a writer and asked him or her to write a piece for me for free. When I approach someone, it'll be because I'll have money to offer.
As writers ourselves, we understand where people are coming from. Before we started this site, we both wrote pieces for The Awl for free, as well. Personally, I did it because I loved the website, and because it gave me the creative freedom to work on something I wanted. It's not always about the money. In the previous post, Sam and Mallory both mentioned that writing for The Awl helped them land the jobs they have now at other outlets (and they are certainly not monkeys with typewriters!). And Matt, correct me if I'm wrong, but I know that you are friends with Cheryl Strayed, and were possibly going to travel to her coming out party regardless of whether or not you were going to write about it. Perhaps this also gave you the opportunity to do a published interview? My point is that writers should already know about the financial situation before working on a story because we're always up front about it—there is no trickery going on. In any case, I want this site to be successful, and I understand that the success can only be sustainable if we're paying people for their work.
@Mike Dang @sheistolerable As the writer quoted for free in the post above, I'd like to weigh in here. Not wishing to sound like a bitch, but The Awl doesn't exactly pay Conde Nast rates, either! I flew to San Francisco on my own dime and wrote this story for Choire: http://www.matthewcharlesdavis.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/%E2%80%9CDear-Sugar%E2%80%9D-Has-a-Coming-Out-Party-in-San-Francisco-_-The-Awl.pdf He liked it, I think. But I got less than $100 if my memory serves correctly, which didn't even pay my rental car. Choire and I were supposed to connect later to talk about other things I could do for the site but my attention wandered elsewhere. I must reconnect with him. On the other hand, I'm hardly eargerly incentivized to do so, knowing how limited y'all's budget seems to be over there at Dang/Sicha Towers. That said, I'm honored to write for people who are willing to have a public conversation about paying their writers. It's more than Ariana Huffington can say, for example. And I'm really glad that you and Logan have the courage to discuss fair pay for writers here on the blog. I just hope I don't get blacklisted for raising the issue! I do think that you open yourselves to considerable criticism, though, if you don't pay contributors at some point. I know you're both being paid. What's wrong with paying writers a dollar, for example, per contribution, and printing how much each writer was paid for each piece, so that you can at least show how much the posts are worth? What's wrong with printing yours and Logan's salaries, and your ad revenue, so that people know how much it costs to keep a website going, these days? I think TheAwl is in a great position to spearhead an industry-wide conversation about how much freelancers get paid and whether the internet is a sustainable source of income for journalists and bloggers in 2012. I'd be happy to spearhead that conversation further, elsewhere, of course. Somewhere that pays. But you know. If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys. That's my motto. Not that monkeys can't write. Give 'em enough typewriters. I'm all for the democratisation of communication through technology but I'm also concerned that the fact that anybody can blog these days means professional writers find their skills undervalued in the marketplace. It cost me enormously to get where I am. Both personally and professionally. I'm not saying I'm special. We're all professional at something. But professionals do expect to be paid.
By Mike Dang on Who Pays Writers?
@melis (And Sam, Blair, Jia, Jon) You guys are kind, and I am very thankful, and hopefully one day soon I can thank you guys with actual $$$ for your stories.
I like this piece and generally sympathize with you, but part of the reason you're unable to find work is because you've chosen to look in a hyper-saturated market (New York + Media) that's not very meritocratic. I think society should subsidize people's lives, but not their dreams. Maybe you should just move to Omaha and sell real estate.