Once upon a time I made a decent part of my living writing columns and commentaries for (mostly Canadian) newspapers and magazines. I even won some awards for writing these columns.

Then I started writing books and movies and the people who used to pay me for columns and commentaries declared that the exact same pieces they used to pay me for now qualified as “promotion for my books.” And, as all authors know, nothing buys you that dream car (or at least a couple of TimBits) faster than the royalties on a Canadian bestseller.

Not only was I suddenly expected to write for free, but as publications started running on tighter budgets I found that the editing was becoming… let’s go with sloppier.

It wasn’t non-existent. I would have been fine with non-existent.

And I thought… I’m writing commentaries for free… or sometimes writing and researching articles for a few hundred bucks… and cringing (and often publicly or privately) apologizing for some error in the published story that was added by an intern using “spellcheck.”

Like when an editor at one of Canada’s finest publications didn’t recognize a quote from Alice in Wonderland and “fixed” a line of Lewis Carroll’s so it read: “curious and more curious.”

Or when I spent weeks crafting an article that was probably the best piece of prose I’d written in a year or two and an editor of one of Canada’s most prestigious publications slapped a headline on it that was such inflammatory clickbait – perfectly engineered to spark social media hate – that I shared it with no one and am not linking to it here.

And I could write a full column about the glitches that turned up in my theatre reviews for The Vancouver Sun when copy editors in Ontario made helpful tweaks to stories about the BC theatre scene.

A couple of my faves…

The editor who decided to use a photo of a Toronto production of a play I was reviewing instead of a photo from the actual Vancouver production.

And the editor who punched up one of my theatre reviews by mentioning a playwright’s work as a writer for The West Wing – which would have been super impressive if he’d actually written for The West Wing and hadn’t simply shared the same name as someone who did.

Both of these editorial fumbles resulted in me receiving numerous angry calls from people involved in the productions. The West Wing incident convinced me that life was too short to keep writing theatre reviews for western Canada’s biggest newspaper for $150 a pop.

So… I started sharing the occasional story on my blog (which required too much effort to promote) and Medium (which was SO easy to use). Then Medium started pay-walling… And I’d already started using Substack for the newsletter for my podcast about life in the oceans – Skaana.

Then I started reading (and subscribing to) the work from so many great writers here – including friends like Linda L. RichardsKathryn MocklerAlison Acheson & Sandy Cumberland and writers I’ve long admired like Kareem Adbul-JabbarNate Silver & Elizabeth Gilbert.

I activated the paid subscription option to see what happened and I’ve been shocked/delighted by the amount of support I’ve received so far. But the original goal was just joining the conversation here to share some stories where any errors, typos and terrible headlines are my fault. And to share my work on a platform where these errors are easy to correct. So, when you spot any glitches, please let me know. And if there are any stories you’d like me to share from my archives (or my life) please ask.

Thank you for your time.

And here’s the link to my Substack.

Mark