Brian Cook and his wife are separating, and they have kids.
That’s all I know, and all I care to know, about that situation. But what Cook wrote resonated with me–and, I’m sure, with everyone who’s ever tried to attract and hold an audience big enough to keep themselves fed:
I already wrote a column
about how my initiatives to be a different person—starting with walk more, drink less—had been obliterated by the ever-hungry maw that was football season. And she begged me. She said I should stop and try to do something else because now that we had a kid, and then kids, that the maw could no longer be sated while keeping everyone sane. I tried to feed the maw. Feeding the maw was all I knew.
In the few years I worked “full time” as an FTE permalancer at Bleacher Report, I was doing what I was born to do, how I was born to do it. Waking up later than most, helping with the kids, then settling down to a day of reading and writing Football Stuff as best I could manage for a huge national audience and a sufficient paycheck before spending the night I wasn’t on MNF deadline chilling with my family.
I didn’t say “steady paycheck,” because once Turner bought the company my bimonthly direct deposits could be anywhere from two days early to six weeks late and it would just be a fun surprise as to when they’d actually hit. But it WAS sufficient to keep food in the bellies and gas in the minivan as we went between home, school, and the ice rink/gymnastics complex about 82 times a week.
But as inevitably as it seemed the B/R content engine sucked me in its intake, it spewed me out the exhaust. I latched on to any gig I could, making money however I could, and it was neither steady nor sufficient. I was “working” every second I wasn’t sleeping, and stressing about money and my family every second I was “working.” I began to resent every word I wrote, curse every Adam Schefter tweet that sent me running back to my desk.
Every time I wrote, I had to put on a mask and pretend I was still that guy that burned for it so hard I’d wake up at 2:47 a.m., hands on the keyboard and screensaver running.
With my eldest set to enter high school, I had to make a choice: continue to Live The Dream of being a “full time writer,” or keep being a full-time husband to the love of my life, and a full-time father to our three incredible kids.
I’m not going to go into the personal lives of everyone I worked with, competed with, knew, or admired in the sports blogosphere from the mid-aughts to mid-teens. But suffice it to say that enough of them have gotten divorced at least once since then that one of them started a podcast about it
It turns out, the stodgy old union newspaper jobs were were working so hard to disrupt were the ones we were counting on landing once we got too old to grind content for digital medals
. And while some of those Old Guys frankly deserved to be pushed into different careers
, others were pushing just as hard to innovate and connect with the audience as us bloggers were. And in hindsight, plenty of us Cool Young Digital Guys were actually huge douchecanoes
who didn’t deserve their cushy jobs, either.
In the end, I went back to a dayjob, consulting for some of the people I used to work for. I got to work on only projects that pay great, only projects I’m thrilled about or intrigued by, only projects of my own heart.
Regardless of medium, #ADayOffTwitch should be a shining example for all #content creators: We make the product, we have the power, and if our platformers can’t take care of us well enough to make both art and a satisfying life for ourselves, we need to walk away.