Each week I receive email messages asking if I’d be willing to promote another blog on my website. The requests are sometimes humble:
I’m just starting out and would be so grateful if you would add my blog to your blogroll.
I don’t have a blogroll, which means they didn’t thoroughly check out the website, but I appreciate the tone of the message.
Sometimes they’re presumptuous:
I have a new blog and am willing to cross-promote yours on my site if you’ll do the same.
Um, let’s see, you have a new blog which means you’ll “promote” mine with your current followers—your ten closest friends and lonely Aunt Edna. Thanks?
Occasionally, they’re downright rude:
I haven’t had a chance to read all of your blog but I just started my own about online dating from a younger person’s perspective and mine is really funny. Would love a plug.
OK, I’m all over that, especially since you’ve told me three things: you’ve not read any of my blog (don’t bullshit), you think I’m old, and not the slightest bit funny. I’d be crazy not to help!
I do always check out their blogs. It’s not that I’m opposed to helping someone who’s just getting started, but I’m not about to stick my endorsement on mediocre anything, and that’s a kind assessment in most instances. I know many literati look down their noses at what I do. In their world, blogs are to writing what Velvet Elvis is to art.
That’s rapidly changing, but there are the holdouts smugly clutching The New Yorker magazine while refusing to share a seat at the Algonquin Round Table they’ve created in their minds.
That same highbrow group would gasp if I told them I could hardly stomach Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking.
BUT, I’m not snoot-free, either. I want writing that grabs me and takes me along for the experience. My standards are the same for books, newspapers, magazines, and, yes, blogs. Sure, it’s fantastic to have material such as a man pinching a woman’s breast on a first date, but if the writer can’t tell the story properly it’s irrelevant. I work hard on my posts and have yet to be approached by anyone asking for an endorsement whose writing’s kept me reading.
That is until recently.
Last week my inbox was bombarded with requests–ten to be precise. The first few I politely declined, but by the last several the responses grew terse. This was message number ten:
I’m not sure how this is done, or what the etiquette is, but I was wondering if you’d allow a link on your blog to my blog, which I just started two months ago. I would of course reciprocate. Thanks, Amy
The newbie was going to pay for the other nine that came before her. I decided I was taking off the gloves. I would be brutally honest—suggest she take writing classes, join a writing group, or give up on blogging completely since not everyone is cut out for writing. I actually created a disclaimer in my mind that I’d add to my website. It went like this:
Please don’t contact me to suggest I share your blog with my followers in exchange for reciprocation on yours. A quid pro quo-based endorsement of your work shows zero integrity.
Pompous, party of one, your table is ready.
Then I smugly clicked on Amy’s link and read:
I thought I was there. Paradise. At the least, it was within my reach. The man of my dreams–literary, brilliant, a trifle kinky–turned out to be an insecure, compulsive porn addict with bipolar disorder and pretensions to spare.
Well, knock me over with a quill pen!
I read on.
And so I was pitched back into the purgatory of single womanhood by this yellow-fanged, shaggy goat of a self-anointed god.
Amy grabbed me with, “literary, brilliant, a trifle kinky,” and HAD ME at “goat.”
I quickly replied:
Beautiful writing, Amy. I’d be happy to recommend the blog. If you’re game I might be interested in interviewing you and writing a blog post, too. I get many requests to add blogs to my website but I’ve always declined because the writing, well, sucks. Yours does not and I think others should know about it.
So Amy and I chatted on the phone a few days ago. I learned more about the goat, whom she met online, by the way. He’s a well-respected writer of fiction. His latest book, however, is a nonfiction accounting of his sexual escapades with middle-aged women. Amy thinks her less than flattering portrayal in the book (yep, he wrote about her) is probably in retaliation for her many faked orgasms. Facts that are shared during a breakup can be devastating, especially with a man who’s a sexual legend in his own mind.
Hell hath no fury like a lousy lover scorned!
Amy thinks his motivation for the current book is to get laid and why not? What’s wrong with a man writing a book about the joys of being with middle-aged women and satisfying all their sexual needs in order to entice more middle-aged women into bed? Seems like a perfectly reasonable goal and there’s nothing lascivious or mercenary about it, right?
Amy’s blog, The Post Menopausal Paradise, is a beautifully written chronicle of her dating experiences now that she’s single again. I would highly recommend it and will be following along as she navigates the choppy waters of dating after fifty.
I hope you’ll give it a look.
When something can be read without effort, great effort has gone into its writing. -Enrique Jardiel Poncela