Wednesday, January 13, 2010

On Linking in ... till death do us part?

I've written before about Facebooking exes (a witty little piece that I never sold and yet may someday blog) and I once started a Facebook group devoted to convincing my husband to join. He did, and Facebook is now the avenue for us posting wedding pics, coordinating our social lives, and finding out what cute things our friends' kids have said lately.

In fact, if you're reading this now, it's statistically probable you are reading it on Facebook, which is where my blog syndicates and where most of my friends' online presences exist.

In a charming, if possibly slightly "out there" story at which my hypothetical future grandchildren may someday roll their eyes, I even used my top secret personal blog to send the following message to my now-husband:
Announcement: Open for business
With a nine-day waiting period now complete, Aliza Libman is now accepting applications for the post of boyfriend. This is an unsalaried position.

Applicants must live in Boston and possess reasonable grasp of the English language. No strange body odours or prior felony convictions allowed.

Forward resumes and letters of reference to (you get the picture).
Despite how web 2.0 I might seem, I get the separation between personal and professional life. So I was flabbergasted when I got not one but two emails from my husband, courtesy of, asking to "Link" to me. I do not perceive us to be insufficiently linked. Not only do I know most of his good stories (from our courtship), I also usually have a good sense of what he ate for breakfast and what interesting things happened in his day. That's why I don't read his Twitter feed.

And It's a professional site. What do I know about my husband's professional life? Though I know where he works, what he does, and what many of his coworkers look like, I don't possess sufficient detail about his professional life to recommend him to others. He could be a photocopy machine hog, or steal people's staplers, or take the last 'Caramel Vanilla Nut' in the Keurig machine. Or he could be employee of the year. While I'd suspect the latter (he's pretty awesome), I doubt anyone who came to me for a recommendation about my husband's many talents would find my insights about the relative organization of his sock drawer to be worth their time.

But he's my husband. So now we're linked in.


Sunday, January 10, 2010

On self-respect

Christina Katz, a writing teacher I've worked with in the past, has a great e-zine entitled "The Prosperous Writer". Her writing prompt for the week is:
On a scale of one to ten, how's your self-respect? Can you say no? Do you say yes to yield to social pressure and supposed-tos and then suffer for it? Are you catering to too many other people's needs but burning out in the process? Do you listen to and trust your instincts about what is and isn't the best way to proceed?
I have blogged previously and informally about this topic elsewhere, but with apologies for the repetition, here goes my 2010 manifesto: "I'd rather not work than work for free."

It takes a lot for me to write this, since it's considered uncouth by some to discuss money. Jewish tradition requires balancing self-respect with humility, and I humbly put forward that I must consider myself a professional in a number of spheres. By taking my work seriously, I have found a full-time job I love and developed many ancillary passions (of which one is my writing.)

There are things in life that are meant to be free. Family, friendships, and community all come to mind. I am, however, a professional teacher and writer. As a professional, I owe it to myself to demand compensation for my work. The self-respect I have requires it. The money I earn writing enables me to do things like take writing classes, purchase writing resources and invest in my future. On the same note, I refuse to call myself a beginner. A cursory look at the hundreds of pieces I've published over time confirms that assertion. I don't write just to see my name in print, and I am way beyond the stage where I am writing just to get the experience. Thus, I am declaring my refusal to write for free to be my manifesto for 2010 - because self-respect means only writing for publications who respect me.


*Like all rules, this one has a single, notable exception. The academic world does not pay writers, who contribute articles to journals strictly for academic advancement purposes. When I write for journals, I am investing in my (potential) eventual ability to get into a doctoral program.