Bentusi, my new surrogate mother and former editor used to tell me not to accept mechanical writing jobs like those that require search engine optimized article writing. In her words, she said that I am not trained for word crunching tasks that are repetitive in nature, and whose pay demeans what I am capable of as a storyteller. I did take her warning lightly, assured that I won't accept gigs that would drain whatever remains of my artistry. But then, an income opportunity came and when I passed the evaluation, the warning was ditched in favor of earning extra cash.
Two months into the job and I am beginning to feel the strain of my work.
For the uninstructed, search engine optimization is a technique of inserting unique and appropriate words that make an article easy to find on search engines like Google. The tricky part is placing "fresh keywords" within sentences that Google actually "reads." As far as I know, SEO experts guess these words placements as Google has this habit of changing their system algorithms from time to time. Web traffic affects as well as the pages where the articles are placed should have very high credibility. It means the website needs to have an active readership, has no malicious ads, and has been in existence for at least a year. These are the rudiments of an industry that I have successfully evaded.
But now, it is eating so much of my time that I have lost interest in other pursuits.
Given that I am bound by a non-disclosure agreement, what I can tell about my other job is that I am required to write short blurbs, around two sentences, summarizing what the service user does as a profession. The work itself is easy at first glance, but when you begin writing descriptions that have similar offerings, the activity becomes tedious that I have to stop frequently, or suffer the risk of having headaches should I press on. There is a required number of blurbs to be written in a week, and if this is not enough, keywords should be hooked in the summaries so they would appear on search engines' page rankings.
I was paid handsomely for the sideline - the biggest so far - since I started doing freelancing jobs under Bentusi. But it also tears me from within, that sometimes the emptiness makes me question the essence of this soulless pursuit. I tempted fate last week by deciding not to hit the required number of blurbs to be written, and as a result, I was asked to write an explanation for my defiance.
Defending my action to my superiors is easy, what I find challenging is drawing motivation: The reason to go on beyond the monetary gains, which when I ponder deeply, don't fulfill my yearning for sublime accomplishments.
The present arrangement at the raket could afford me a little more time to do other activities - like paying close attention to my real work, and spending time doing my routines. But when the new manager announced this morning an increase in the number of blurbs to be submitted after the end of the week, I am tempted to send a copy of my resignation letter to express my disapproval.
I'll give myself a single try, and should it fail, I'd rather walk the path of poverty (and freedom) than stick to an activity I find no joy anymore.