You can get paid for it?

While enjoying Jenny Diski’s post on paying speakers and the accompanying Twitter conversation, I discovered that a Guardian “Comment is Free” post is worth almost exactly two-and-a-half of xoJane‘s “It Happened to Me” articles–that is, about $135 as of today. Of course, this varies with the exchange rate and with the solvency of either publication, but still.

I was shocked and appalled–well, no, really, but I was slightly surprised. I always assumed that someone who was published in the online arm of a broadsheet would receive a fee much larger than someone who was published in an online-only mag like xoJane. Why? Because it’s easy enough to make up some nonsense about your vag, slap a fake name on it if you’re feeling particularly shy, and make $50, but presumably someone who moves in the rarefied circles of the Guardian wants the only finest writing, vagina-themed or otherwise. Or maybe because one publication is aimed towards women alone, and therefore it’s supposed to be cheap and exploitative, but anything with university-educated men involved must have money involved as well. But–I was wrong! Oh, the horrors of the world.

Most of my life I’ve worked on salary, so this must be the equivalent of a 40-year-old figuring out that the earth is round and the sun shines to anyone who’s worked freelance. I do wonder if there are differences in who gets paid what outside of standardized “piecework” blogging, though, and who’s pressured to do things for free because they’re supposed to be grateful just to be seen or heard.

Postscript: If anyone stumbles on this page and wants to take the time to explain–why would the Guardian pay in “expenses” rather than in fees? The obvious reason is so that they can shift the cost upwards or downwards depending on the speaker (and get out of paying altogether in a lot of cases), but perhaps I’m missing something.

Happy Chakra Vibes Graphic Novel Roundup #1: The Love Circle

Without going into the gory details, it’s been a negative time both in Book World and Life World in a lot of ways, so instead of bringing the sadness today, I’ll bring the smiles and rainbows and white light beams of positive healing energy and whatnot instead. I’ll get back to hating on various things, I promise. But for now, graphic novel recommends! Share the love and the oms and all that shit. Really.

Megahex—Simon Hanselmann’s chronicle of the (mostly housebound) adventures of Megg, a stoner witch; Mogg, her cat familiar/boyfriend; Owl, their roommate, who is always attempting to defuck his life and always manages to refuck it again; and Werewolf Jones, who is a werewolf and who will stick his dick in your ear. A lot of Megahex involves really stupid, mean, stoned antics—characters falling over, characters throwing shit at each other, characters pulling dumb pranks with their genitalia or asses or nasty feet—but I laughed stone sober, which is no mean feat. And the book takes a turn for the deeper at the end with the “Silver Sequin Miniskirt” story and the death of Megg’s mom. Hanselmann doesn’t draw Megg as the victim of sexy depression that can totally be fixed with a pep talk/dick/sunshine, but as the real deal, and for that I thank him.

These are super fucked up, seedy characters, but I feel for them, I want them to stay exactly as they are and yet make it out alive, two contradictory goals. I always want them to be seeing that dick-slash-ice cream cone in the sky, you know?

Other recommendations: Life Zone, the “Megg’s Coven” strips online (trigger warning: harsh)

Beauty—Coddie is a poor servant in an inn. She’s plain, and it doesn’t help that she smells like, well, cod from scaling fish all day. The village children tease her. The innkeeper’s son would be her sweetheart, but the innkeeper tells Coddie in no uncertain terms that an ugly girl like her isn’t good enough for her precious son… Unhappy and alone, Coddie runs off to the woods, where her tears accidentally free a powerful fairy. Coddie wishes for beauty, and the fairy grants her the appearance of beauty. In spades. Nothing can mar this enchantment—not injury, not illness, not age. Is it really for the best when your wishes come true?

Beauty is truly an epic fantasy story, but not from the point of view of the usual epic hero. Coddie (now Beauty) drives men mad—they see her as a prize, attack her, and attack each other for her. Women are less immediately dangerous, but they fear her and turn on her. A lesser story might end with Beauty “properly” punished for daring to want more for herself, but Beauty evolves from possession to schemer to powerful wielder of glamour. Beauty herself isn’t a saint, thank god—at first, she behaves just like you probably would, if your most naive wish came true at the age of 14 or so, but the story allows her to learn from her mistakes. The art is beautiful from the first page to the last, and there’s even a coda at the end that shows that beauty is really in the eye of the beholder.

Other recommendations: anything by Kerascoet because their art is beautiful and inspiring. The Miss Don’t Touch Me books are from the Hubert/Kerascoet team that did Beauty and they are great if you like 30’s Paris/mysteries/kink, and who doesn’t like at least one of those things?

Shoplifter—The story of Corinna Park, a twenty-something woman who works in advertising to pay the bills while yearning for/avoiding making human connections and art. To add interest to her life holding pattern, she shoplifts magazines for fun. Park really gets across that feeling of professional and personal exhaustion—wanting more out of life, yet so disengaged that nothing seems like a worthwhile attempt. This is a short story and pretty simple, plot-wise, but it’s still affecting. Shoplifter is also remarkable for having a female protagonist who wants romance—but gets a genuinely happy ending without the traditional “happily ever after.”

Other recommendations: You know, I haven’t read anything else from Cho. I’m not sure if he’s done anything else book-length? So I’ll throw this open to all-author recommendations, if anyone wants to give one.

Game of Nice and Fire: Time for a New Sansa Chapter!

Oh my god, you guys, there’s a new Song of Ice and Fire scene out! Which means that I have to work out my sick obsession for midgrade fantasy writing all over it. This time it’s a Alayne viewpoint scene, which is… oh man. I like the Sansa/Alayne character. Maybe I’m the only one, but I do I like that she’s not overpowered (Arya) or a dimbulb (Arianne) or a once-interesting character turned into a boring evil-queen stereotype (Cersei–why did the Cersei viewpoint have to happen at all? Why?) There are still some cool things that can happen with Sansa/Alayne, as long as the character is allowed to grow. Which… well, it’s George R.R. Martin. So yeah.

Warning: There are a lot of Petyr Baelish-related digressions up ahead. If you can’t handle the Baelish and his smoove moves, you might want to skip this one. Continue reading →