Posted on April 1, 2016
Not so frequently asked questions – #1
I get a lot of emails. Like a lot. I don’t know why since I can be contacted on basically every form of social media imaginable. I guess it’s so people can ask me things in private? I don’t know. I like getting emails, don’t get me wrong. But it’s hard to answer every email I get. I do read them all. Even the ones that are all:
OMG HOW COULD YOU SAY THAT YOU ARE THE WORST MOTHER I HOPE YOUR CHILD STABS YOU IN THE EYE WITH A FORK etc.
I’m not great at replying though I’m sorry. Because also lots of them are like “oh hey we just love your whole vibe and we would love to have you write for our tiny start up that makes $550 million a year but we can’t pay you but the exposure will be like super ace for you!” and that makes me need to shut my laptop down so I can do zen deep breathing/wine drinking exercises. Still more emails are stuff like “Hi, I was just wondering if you’d like to do a review for my product – I run an aluminium roofing company and I was just wondering if you would like to do a sponsored post?” or “I will pay you $100 if you do a post for me saying you love PRODUCT NAME PLUS SLOGAN and include the line THIS PRODUCT PLUS SLOGAN IS VALUE FOR MONEY AND AN EXCEPTIONAL PRODUCT OF HIGH QUALITY but just organically maybe six or seven times?” And also one of my fave emails from this guy who wanted to take photos of me nude for a “tasteful” series showing “the shape of a mother”. Like yeah OK mate I’m sure – more like the shape of your boner.
So sometimes I avoid my inbox.
But in between all of that stuff I get questions and I answer them and then I get the same question again and I think – I should just do a question and answer post so HERE I AM! Answering your questions. Thanks to everyone who asked me questions. I will do this again soon so if I didn’t get to your question this time I will hopefully get to it next time. And actually, most of them weren’t THAT parenting related so that’s nice. OK, ready, Go:
I love Mr B. I’m sorry if that’s a bad thing to say. But he seems like a really good dad and husband. How long have you been married and what is your origin story? Also why is he called Mr B?
Don’t feel bad. I love Mr B too. He IS a great dad and a great husband. We met as teenagers and moved in together at 18 and got married a long while after that and in November we will be married five years. Our origin story is basically that I saw him on the bus and was like OMG THAT BEEFCAKE GARDENER IS HOT. He was known as the Hot Hataitai Gardener and I was all like “I’m going to hit that”. And I went to the Realm Bar which was our local and a place of romance and I did. And the rest is history. We have been bogans in love ever since. He is called Mr B because I used to be Mrs B. But now I’m just Emily.
What three words would you use to describe yourself?
This is a hard one. Is it OK to say – Activist, Mother, Writer? I feel like those are three things I really identify as being. Like if someone said – what are you? I would probably say those things. Activism has always been a part of my life, and so has writing. And I have always wanted to be a mother, and when I became one I really enjoyed having that label. Which seems like a weird thing to say but being a mother profoundly changed me. I had been all “I’ll be a parent but I’ll just be me but with a baby” and that really didn’t happen for me. I became a mother in big bright flashing lights and it felt very comfortable. Which in turn made me question a lot of assumptions and feelings I’d had about the word mother and the “role” of mother and what it all means.
I am a writer too. How did you get NZ Herald and Women’s Weekly and other places to publish your work? And what tips do you have for me in getting paid work?
I get asked this ALL THE TIME. It’s my most common question probably. And I feel a bit unqualified to answer it. I feel like I have just been really lucky with my writing. Nice people from the Herald and Women’s Weekly contacted me out of the blue and it all just kind of happened from there. I know that’s not a helpful answer really, but I can say that I know one thing won’t help – and that’s giving your writing away free. Do not believe anyone when they say they will give you “exposure”. They will not. YOU are giving them FREE CONTENT and they are doing nothing. They’re vultures who you should steer clear of. And if you give your content away for free, they won’t ever pay you. If they like your content they will pay for it. I have been contacted by so many places that have wanted me to write free for them – Huff Post, Mamamia – all of the big places (but they’re the two biggest so I feel comfortable naming them) and they were all dicks. They all acted like they were tiny businesses and I was lucky to write for them. That is shit. Don’t believe them when they say you need them. They need you. They need your content, and they want it free so they can make even more money from it. They can afford to pay you but they choose not to. They don’t respect you or care about you. I know plenty of bloggers who have been at the mercy of Huff Post and Mamamia comments sections, had thousands and thousands of comments ripping them apart and have had no ability to stop the abuse. And Huff Post and Mamamia have never ever tried to protect their writers from abuse in their comments section or by social media. Ever. So just don’t go there – you’re worth more than that. It can be a long slog, but it might also be a not that long slog. And when someone does approach you and say – I love your work and I will pay you for it – it will help you that what you’re giving them isn’t anywhere else. It will also help your traffic and your brand. So I guess my big advice to modern writers (as an absolute amateur writer who doesn’t know much) is this: Don’t sell yourself short to dickheads. Always get money. Always say Fuck You Pay Me. I will only write free for non-profits or for my friends or if it’s for pure enjoyment. Anyone else can (and they should) pay. If this is what you want to do as a job you have to treat it that way. If you’re just writing for fun or as therapy or just to share to raise awareness about something – guest post somewhere small and just see what happens. Or set up your own blog and cross post. But if a place has corporate sponsors and advertising they should pay you. ESPECIALLY if it’s a job and not a hobby (but personally I think even if it’s a hobby they should pay you). If they can earn enough through their blog to pay themselves, they should pay you. They wouldn’t expect to do their jobs free so they shouldn’t expect you or I to do our jobs for free either. There are lots of places that do pay so you should approach them! Google “places that pay for writing” and you will get heaps of lists that say how much they pay and what they’re after. Here’s just one list.
How do you find the time to write?
I don’t really know to be honest. Two things I guess: 1) My husband helps me a lot. He actively takes the kids out so I can write or will help me carve out time to write. Also 2) I used to be a journalist in another life and so I had to write a lot every day. And so I guess I’m used to writing. A lot. And I have since I was a kid. I find writing really relaxing so it doesn’t necessarily feel like work for me. But I do often free pressure to write now that I have deadlines. I spend more time worrying about what I’ve written than I do writing – I get worried that I have said something wrong, or it isn’t clear enough, that I’ll be misunderstood. I get very worried that I will hurt someone who is tired and vulnerable because I said something without thinking about it enough. So I spend more time doing that than writing. But I do sit on my posts for a while too – to make sure I’m not just puking stuff out. Which leads me to….
How do you deal with horrible comments and being called out.
Well, actually – I think of these as two very different things. If you’re talking about horrible comments as in “you are an awful mother. You’re fat. You’re a whore. I hope you die. You make me want to vomit” etc. I don’t deal with them very well. They hurt. And they make me feel angry. And they make me want to stop writing. I often think I need a thicker skin and then I think that I don’t want thick skin. I want the normal skin I have, and I want people to not abuse people online because they write things that that mean and horrible person doesn’t agree with.
Those comments – are very different to being called out. I welcome being called out. Because every time I have been called out on something I’ve learned something. It’s not a pleasant experience for the person doing the calling out – because they have to spend their time educating me, and they might not have the energy to do that. Or I might be the third or fourth person they’ve had to educate that day. And that sucks for them. And yes, often it’s uncomfortable and upsetting and confronting for me – because I don’t want to be a dick, I don’t want to hurt people. But I am human and sometimes I do – BUT that doesn’t mean I get to flounce off and ignore that person or call them a hater or say they’re bullying me. That is shitty behaviour. This is actually a very large platform – I am very lucky to have it. And I take the responsibility that comes with having a large platform very seriously. I am in debt to all of the people who come here to read what I write. And I know that for whatever reason, my writing is taken seriously by people – so I have to make sure I don’t hurt people. Particularly given that I hold a lot of privilege, and that’s another reason why I am listened to when others might not be.
When you have a big platform, you have an obligation to listen as much as you broadcast. And you have to learn and keep learning. Not enough people do that. And it’s a real shame. There is an idea that you’re exceptionally talented to have a platform, that you’re some form of special, and therefore you’re above everyone else. That’s bullshit. I really, really reject that.
So yeah – mean comments suck, call outs can suck but they lead to good things if you’re not a turd. Yes?
Why do you call Ham Ham?
I should actually put this one in the FAQs – I call him Ham because when he was born he looked like a big Ham. He still looks quite Ham-like. So forever Ham he will be.
Ok! That’s all for today! I will try to do this again in a month or so. Thanks for all of your questions and for your emails and for reading and everything else. You’re all wonderful xo