#91 Prison blog books: proving sincerity (retro)

March 12, 2010 at 6:20 pm Leave a comment

Prison Talk: Prison, Books and Me

This particular blog is my way of trying to touch on three different subjects, although in reality they are under the same genre, that being prison issues.

Today as I read my emails I am again very happy to receive them. I am trying to tie my writings down to the responses, not on my whim of writing. A lot of you may not understand what I mean by that, so let me explain:

If you are new to my prison blogs, this is technically NOT the third blog. It’s more like the 600th. Several years ago after I got out of prison in 2001, I got involved in a lot of prison support sites, lending my experience in what prison was about. I spent a heck of a lot of time making posts and thus getting tons of emails from people who needed to hear from a person “who was there” instead of a person “who heard it from”.

You know what I mean?

I’d never thought I would see the day that I was kicked out of both prisons and prison support sites. While I did my time, I got kicked out (transferred is the technical term) for writing grievances and helping other inmates in their problems with prison rules.

Now, as a free man (I use that figuratively, since ex offenders are never truly free by society’s standards) I had contributed to over 20 different prison support sites on the internet…and had been banned from most of them.

Why? Probably because the moderators on those sites don’t really want to hear from ex offenders. Many want to be the “source” of information, even though they never set foot in a prison. So they end up giving false info to people needing help. Nobody gets help that way.

So I started blogging, and my original first blog was called, “Grades of Honor”, named after my series of books. My prison books was actually written because I had gotten so many people who said I should write one. But I didn’t have a publisher or any money to fund it, yet I truly believed that if I wrote a book, there would be support.

So I wrote one, actually 3, and the site I originally wrote it for, Prison Talk Online, turned their back on me. I am actually glad I didn’t get it published professionally because I wrote a very nice approval of the site in my intro, of which I have deleted.

But the blog allowed me to say things that I could not really say on any support site. Sure, they SAY you have a lot of freedom to say what you want about prison, but they don’t really mean that. They are more afraid of prison officials and correction officers than the inmates are. In many cases, a correctional officer on a prison support site can get away with much more than an ex offender talking about prison.

I say that out of experience.

Anyway, the original blog, “Grades of Honor” was my attempt to try to promote my books. Since Prison Talk Online abandoned me, I went to other sites, sharing what I could and trying to build a base to support my books.

I eventually started a temporary books site under the same name, and actually started a second blog to try to get my works out there. At the time I was also making prison cards, and prison encouragement certificates. I was spending a lot of time writing on prison issues because I figured I found a place where I could really contribute. But to contribute I also needed support…afterall, paper, printing and the such isn’t free.

So I sold some books every now and then, and on blue moons I actually got people who sent me a few dollars, but it wasn’t working out the way I wanted. I had so many reading, but so few supporting, so I felt defeated, and pulled everything off the internet.

I gave up.

I figured, who really cares about inmates? I know I am no saint, but I honestly thought that if a guy tried to do his best to help others, he would be blessed. I mean, if I had a dollar for every email where some parent or wife said, “God bless you” I would be living in a nice home, with a nice car and my family’s debts paid off… and plenty left for me to get courtside tickets to a Charlotte Bobcats game.

You get the point.

But it wasn’t working that way, and I felt I failed. I wasn’t getting help from any of the sites, they all seemed to just want my posts, but not me. I walked away from prison writing, thinking I was much better off just getting a minimum wage job at McDonalds.

But after a few months, I came back…I had to.

Something was driving me to go back and start writing again, because there were people that needed to hear what I had to say. Perhaps against my better judgment I went back, and started a new blog, called “The Prison Cell”. I continued to drop a few posts at other sites like PTO, Mothers with Sons In Prison, Prisonforum, Prisonbid, Prisonville, Prisoners of Love and others.

In time I branched off and started another blog on Myspace. I began to simultaneously blog on those two, talking about prison issues and promoting my books, cards and the such. It then grew to three blogs when I added Xanga, then Soulcast, Blogstream, Live Journal and WordPress.

I was now blogging on 7 different sites, and also put up a booksite for my prison books. I was doing what I thought I could to promote my works, which would in turn keep me writing. But shortly after my 500th blog on blogspot, I felt that empty feeling again. It just wasn’t going the way I thought.

So I pulled everything offline again.

I gave up.

It just didn’t seem like people were willing to support my writing, even though I had thousands and thousands of people reading it. There were times I offered FREE items to anyone who wanted one, and some did take me up on it. I tried whatever I could to get people to see that I was truly sincere in talking about prison, and how you can help a loved one. People loved hearing that, but when I talked about “support”, it was like turning off a television.

I knew I could not do these blogs or any prison writing on sheer “compassion”. I needed my books, or cards or other documents to be financially supported so I in turn could continue to write. All the “God Bless You”s in the world won’t buy me so much as a ream of paper on sale at Staples if nobody supported my writing.

It got very depressing for me, I KNEW I was doing something good, but I just could not see the rewards. People needed help, and I proved over 5 years that I could help, yet all I saw in the aftermath was selfish moderators banning me, ignorant members of sites jumping all over my posts with no real validity and almost no support for my writings, even though I had received tons and tons of emails from people thanking me for my writing, and numerous comments on my posts.

But what good is it if you can’t support yourself?

I had to take a look at myself and ask what I was doing wrong. I am a college grad, with a degree in Radio and Television, minored in Journalism. I won several awards while in college, wrote for a college newspaper, was the Sports Director for our campus radio station. Graduated near the top of my class, worked once for ESPN as a cable grip, taught GED after college, worked for 3 radio stations, once hosted my own talk show on a local television station, wrote scripts, poems and was executive producer of local sports in my town for a year, and much more.

And somewhere in there I went to prison.

And THAT’S what people will remember.

I pulled everything off my blogs on all the sites, and blanked out my booksite, nothing was working and it was damn frustrating. I started getting some emails from some readers asking what was going on. Some of them had questions about prison that they wished to ask me, but at the moment I just could not do it.

I mean, what’s the point?

But deep inside me, there was still something telling me that I needed to write about this. People need to know. Not saying that as if I was THE source, but over the last few years I had clearly drawn a ton of folks to my blogs and posts.

Somebody needed me to explain it to them because they have a loved one in prison, and don’t know what to do.

Who’s supposed to help them? Prison support sites are too caught up in gossip and “girl talk” to address real prison issues, and the moderators there act like they are experts since “their man” is in prison or they can access information that any other person can access.

They forget that DOC shares with you what they WANT to share with you, not what the inmate wants to share. That is where I come in.

And maybe that’s why I came back.

If you asked me about prison pen pals, I can talk about that. If you asked me about canteen in prison, I can talk about that. If you ask me about the spiritual state of mind of an inmate, I can talk about that. If you ask me about chowtime in prison, I can talk about that…but it goes further.

If you ask me about how I felt AFTER prison, I can talk about that. If you ask me about how hard it was getting a job, I can talk about that. If you ask me if I felt like giving up after prison, I can talk about that…but it goes even further.

If you ask me why I no longer post on Prison Talk Online, I can talk about that, if you ask me how I feel about prison support sites, I can tell you about that, if you ask me if these sites are really worth your time, I can tell you about that.

You just have to ask. But that is probably the hard part, because so many people READ my blogs, and often copy them out to share with loved ones in prison… but they don’t ask me anything. If you want me to talk about something, ASK me. Sometimes I will get in touch with you directly, sometimes I will blog it out, but if I blog it, I won’t give your name or personal info out. That is just between me and you.

But just as important, I am also looking for support. No, I am not a non-profit entity, but I have realized that the time I spend writing is worth something. I have a stack of journals about 4 feet high written while I was in prison, ready to share with you. I have over 600 blogs that I have written that might be of some use to you. I have a couple thousand posts I have written that may be able to help you. I have 3 prison books, about 50 different prison cards, about 40 different prison encouragement certificates and many other written documents about prison that I can share. I am not without ammunition.

I can help…or at least try, if you let me.

Anyway, that is kinda an intro to my writings, to let you know that this isn’t a brand new blog, it’s just been started over again. We’ll see how far it goes this time.

Feel free to ask me about my books and other projects, I hope to put back up a booksite depending on the interest, but I do still sell them by request.


Entry filed under: girlfriends with boyfriends in prison, God and prison, inmates, jail, LostVault, mothers with sons in prison, prison, prison abuse, prison blogs, prison books, prison cards, prison food, prison jobs, prison mail, prison pen pals, prison support sites, Prison Talk Online, Prisonbid, rehabilitation, son in prison.

#86 When prison relationships fail #92 Prison requests and thanks

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