Journey to a Thousand Hubs. (Only 780 to go!)
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How I became a Hubber
Don't smoke, don't drink; I'm a word-addict.
For those readers who are now thinking, “poor old fart, he’s not got long to go,” let me hasten to reassure them I am not the ripe old age of 100, but this hub article is the one to complete this desired milestone of nearly 200 published hubs. Although I fall way short when measured against dynamic contributors with more than 500 hubs to their record, and those who seem to churn out a hub a day, or more, with consummate ease, 200 does have a nice, solid sound to it and generates a feeling of no little satisfaction in this weary old breast…Ah, me!
When I think about it, I have been a “hubber” for the last 20 or more years, before our beloved Hubpages was even a gleam in the creator’s eye; before, in fact, computers were in general use in the publishing business. In fact, I began my humble newspaper career writing on an old Brother word-processor; printing out the hard copy and taking it into the News office in Mexico City for the type-setters to make it into a printable article. Thankfully, computers replaced this time-consuming process soon after I started, in 1992 in fact. By then, computers had been in use in the United States for ten years.
I could then move away from the world’s biggest “smoke;” makes London seem like a village in comparison (about 28 million people in Mexico City if you take the real figure the government won’t reveal). So I moved into a ranch in the mountains near Valle de Bravo, the other side of Toluca, and set up my little office with the view of travelling in once a week to take my copy - now on the old floppy discs - into the News. This was before email took over and we could send everything in the easy, electronic way. That wasn’t available to my fellow journos and me until about 1998. What a difference it made to all our lives!
By then I had moved back to Mexico City at the insistence of my editor, Patricia Nelson; she who must be obeyed, (“he” actually if you get my drift). Pat didn’t like me being way out in the boonies where I wasn’t at her beck and call. She sweetened the pain of my having to leave my beloved rancho by offering me a proper staff contract - I had been a lowly stringer before. This meant a wage I could almost live on - laughable by UK standards, but I was in Mexico where everything was about 4 times cheaper - even then - than in Britain. There’s no need for secrets between us: my salary worked out to about $800 dollars, US, per month - only £400, approximately, in Stirling. But my decent flat was only £75/month, utilities were pennies, food was good and cheap; so inexpensive, nutritious and delicious, in fact, it was much more convenient and cheaper to eat out 99% of the time. Just like London, right? Ha!
I also got a FM3 working visa which made my writing endeavours and residency legal for once, free medical, free taxis when I needed to use one, and lots of great social life as journalists are well respected in Mexico and get invited everywhere. But with all that and more, my salary wasn’t real money, even there, and it was very much living for the moment and the devil take tomorrow when I am broke again.
The point I am laboriously trying to return to was that I was actually writing the equivalent of about one hub article a day - the ’paper wanted 1000 to 1500 words a day, five days a week. An easy assignment, and far less than is demanded by British newspapers where reporters regularly have to turn in 3,000 words a day, or more. I had 3 main areas, which I have written about in another hub, so won’t go through it all again. As you can read, the subjects were Mexican sports.
Unfortunately, I was fired from the News after nearly 5 years of fun, interspersed with some creative input. For once in my life, I was innocent of any malfeasance as well. It was a hatchet job contrived by the odious ’Trisha Margolis and the then new editor, the gay Dan Dial (who died from AIDS shortly after doing the devil’s work). Margolis, sadly, fuxon in Mexico City: a nasty, viperous piece of shite! What? You don’t care? OK, sorry.
What to do with myself now I had the habit? Because as all regular hubbers will tell you - especially those who still (or once did) make a serious living with the quill -writing becomes a habit, just like anything else you do regularly for years and years: you love it and hate it in about equal proportions. So I found work producing a column for the Union de Morelos , Cuernavaca , (after a disastrous adventure into the pottery business…stick to what you know is my advice). This was what every reporter dreams about. I had my own page in English in a successful Spanish-language newspaper; I could write about anything that took my fancy that would appeal to the roughly 3,000 Gringos living in Cuernavaca, and the millions of visitors who came to this lovely town regularly. So I waxed loquacious about things I knew absolutely nothing about on an academic level: science, nature, psychology, philosophy, etc., and my colleagues knew nothing of what I was raving about! It took don Mario Estrada, the publisher, (who spoke excellent English), five years to catch on that I was playing all ends to the middle and having an easy ride on his buck. But I never once cheated by cutting and pasting stuff from the internet. And all the English speaking residents bought the paper daily to read “Inner Circle,” my column. Each day saw a fresh story of 1000, plus, words and pics, and I slept happily at night. I still think “soft” plagiarism is the most shameful and self-destructive thing a writer can do, unless this information is for reference only and completely rewritten. (Some hubbers note, it’s a one-way-street to nowhere and it's stealing).
I continued as a journalist until 2003, finally moving to my favourite place in the world, La Paz in Baja California Sur (South). Unfortunately, the rag I finally wrote for, delivered papers for, sold ads for, was the Gringo Gazette, owned by a nasty piece of work called Carrie Duncan (Boy, I’m blaming and shaming ‘em today!). Carrie and I finally got tired of one another and I returned to the UK to hook up with an old girl friend (also lasted 5 years, seems to be kind of a time limit for me in every facet of life).
So I did nothing for 6 years until I found Hubpages and began my (almost) daily slog, ingrained in my psyche, of producing about 1000 printable words a day. It’s definitely not for the money this time; Google clicks would make a laughing hyena die in tears. Ah, me! Couldn’t I have met a heiress, become a doctor, won the lottery? Would it have really upset the scheme of things, Lord?
Well, Diogenes, if no one else tells you, Congratulations on your 200,000 words and nearly 200 Hubs. Now shut up, make your breakfast - this ain’t Mexico - and search for material for the next 800!.
Note: One huge advantage of contributing to a website like Hupages, or manning your own site, is that your work has a much longer shelf-life. Not like newspaper journalism, where someone is eating greasy chips from it, or wiping their nether regions with your work the next day; it's gone and forgotten.
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