#106 $10,000 in prison writing!

March 22, 2010 at 4:06 am Leave a comment

$10,000 in prison writing!

Oh I’m sorry, I was living in Fantasy Island for a moment there…back to reality…

It’s been kinda busy the last few days, which is why I have not blogged as much as I would have liked. One easy reason was the NCAA Tournament, which has been one shock after another. It has been most exciting to watch those games, which has kept me from doing any new blogs.

Another reason was something based on an email I got a couple of days ago. A reader came across my blogs and asked if I could help them with some issues with a son in prison. I didn’t think too much of it and figured that I can do what I can.

She asked me about a few prison issues, some she read on other sites, some she always wondered about. I could have blogged them out, but I figured to just email her back with my answers. She appreciated it and told me how much it meant to have somebody to talk to about prison, someone that has been there, rather than somebody who heard from somebody.

She then asked for a favor, which kinda got me nervous. The last time a reader asked a favor for me was when a lady asked me to look at her loved one’s case to see what I thought. I was strongly against it, because I am NOT a lawyer. But she insisted and I said to her again that I cannot make any rulings or talk about a person’s case, because I am not qualified. But she continued to ask just for me to look at it, and unfortunately I agreed.

I was thinking she would send me maybe 2 pages or so of her loved one’s case…it was over 200!

Two HUNDRED PAGES!!!! What am I supposed to do with that???

And what was ticking me off was that she actually EXPECTED me to give up all my time and effort, while I am sitting here trying my best to create an income in prison writing, but give her case some attention…when she KNOWS I am not a lawyer…and by no means did she imply under any circumstances that I would even get financial consideration.

Folks, do you see how…STUPID this is?

“That’s unfair, you are not being fair to her, you are being selfish”

Oh really? How fair do you think it is to ME? This lady had been reading my blogs for quite awhile, in fact she found me when I used to write for Prison Talk Online (Before the jerks there banned me). She was one of many people that emailed me often about prison issues, since I was one of the very few that was actually making good posts there.

But if you consider what she was asking…you ask yourself who was selfish, and who was being unfair.

Come on, let’s think about this folks. A lot of you are already have me condemned anyway, and regardless of what I just explained, some of you think that I owe it to that lady to read TWO HUNDRED DAMN PAGES of a case I am not qualified to even read!

And remember, I tried to tell her that I cannot and should not do it, but she insisted. Even if it had been one page…better still…half a paragraph, I was STILL not qualified to help her in any way.

Why is it that everybody thinks that ex felons know as much as lawyers when it comes to criminal cases? Sometimes all we know is the time we did. Yet many times I get emails from people asking me about some particulars of a case. Folks…DON’T ask me those questions, that is not why I blog, nor is it what I am blogging about.

Sometimes folks when you ask for a favor, ask yourself if you would have done the same thing. Its kinda like a friend of mine, who is a heavy Duke fan, and hates UNC. He wants us to all root for Duke, and I have no problem with that, but last year he hated on UNC the entire year, swearing they cheated. I asked him today, why do you ask us to cheer for your team, when you refused to do the same for our team last year? Why ask us to do something you yourself refuse to do?

Same with prison issues.

That lady actually expected me to read all those pages and tell her what I thought. I know I wrote a blog on this a few years ago, I would have to find it to see exactly what I did, but I think what I did do was read one page, and stopped. I refused to read any more, and emailed her and told her that I thought it was unfair for her to send me that much info, and then expect me to give her that kind of time to tell her something that CLEARLY was not my expertise.

She had the right to ask for a favor…but I have the greater right to refuse, especially if the favor she wanted was too far great to do.

She did email me back to apologize, and although I kinda felt sorry for her and her loved one, I was not going to allow myself to be burdened with somebody else’s problems that I could not even begin to solve. Had she asked about prison life, or the prison genre, I could have helped there, but not in any legal questions.


Back to the present, where a lady asked me for a favor a few days ago. I told her that it would depend on the favor, and she asked me if I could write a parole letter for her loved one. She didn’t know what needed to be said, or how, and she needed help. Now, I have never had to write a parole letter, but I actually did write a couple a few years ago for a few readers. The lady offered to pay me for my troubles, which I figured could not hurt. I told her to send what she wanted after I sent the letter.

I realize I was taking a risk here, because many times I get people who ask me questions, and once they get what they want, they are gone. Not that they are obliged to support me, but lets call it what it is…people find free opportunities and want them. If they can get the best advice for free, they will take it and not think twice about supporting the source it came from, unless they need that help again, and then they come back, expecting that person to help them.

I gotta start dropping people that do that to me….

Anyway, I sit down and write the letter and email it to her for her approval. We discussed what to write about, and she gave me some particulars about her loved one. I sent the letter, she got it, and she emailed me and said she loved it. She seemed to be very thankful for it, so I was happy. And although she said she would pay me, I know the risk I took was that she didn’t HAVE to send me anything. Mind you, I can use the money, but it was up to her.

A few days later I got $50 in a nice card from her.

You cannot know how exciting that was, to see true results in helping. And yeah, I know some simple minded folks will try to rationalize that all I was in for was the money, and you would be foolishly wrong. Remember, SHE insisted to pay me for my efforts, and I insisted that she FIRST get the letter, then decide what she wanted to pay.

I know I’ll get some stuck-up folks criticizing me for making a few dollars, but if you feel that way, get off my blog! That money came in handy, and to that lady, I earned that! So if she felt that I deserved $50, then that is up to her. If she felt I earned $20, that is up to her. If she felt I deserved $5, that is up to her…

If she felt I deserved $300, that is up to her….

Not YOU, but to her!

This is the value we put on one another, and as ex felons we are consistently devalued of anything we do. A week or so ago I got a $3 donation from a reader, a few days before I answered some questions from a reader and she sent me $5. If people put a value on what I do, then I am more than happy to accept it, because I can use the money. I do not sit here and ask you to pay me to help you, but at the same time, I also know that there are people out there who act like they want to help you IF you help them first, but after you help them…they are gone.

Trust me folks, about 8 years of blogging and writing has shown this NUMEROUS times, from many people from all walks of life, from the non-Christian to the Christian, to the grandmother to the wife to the girlfriend, to the moderator of some prison support site to a member that has been a member for a week. Lots of people are like that.

But they get the benefit of the doubt, while I have to raise Lazarus, turn water into wine AND walk on water before I can be considered “a regular citizen”.

So some days are not easy to write, when some emails put burdens on me, but I have this rule I go by now…if it puts pressure on me, I don’t answer it, nor take the favor.

It’s as simple as that.

Some people come across my blog and think I am SUPPOSED to answer their questions, regardless of what they ask, and regardless of what I am able to do. Not true folks. While I do answer a lot of emails, I make it a very personal point to do the ones I feel in my heart I can do. If somebody makes an outlandish request, I can’t do it…nor will I.

I have a wife in New Mexico that asked how much I would charge to be a kinda “coach” for her. She needed somebody she could get in touch with about any issues she might have, and being very new to this prison thing with her husband getting 10 years, she needed someone to help her.

I’ve never been a “coach” on prison matters, but what she explained kinda was interesting. She said she needed someone she could trust, to talk to her about any question (within reason) about prison. If she needed answers about prison or money, she could email me and I would give her immediate or first priority return on her email. If she needed to know about grievances, canteen, parole, probation, fights, showers, anything about prison, then she needed to have a “hotline” to someone who could answer her questions directly.

That means if there were 10 emails in my inbox, and one was hers, I would give her the priority to get back as soon as I could, preferably before I answer the other emails. She would, in effect, be my “client”. Sounds kinda interesting, and I told her I would be interested. She said if I was cool with it, then we could start at $50 a month. Well, I need the money, so why not?

This is our first month with her being my “client”, so I am hoping this works out…would be pretty cool if I could get several more like that, maybe then I can get an account again at the local bank and start saving some money and maybe buy some new clothes, a new computer and Heaven forbid…a few video games.

That does not mean I won’t answer my emails, as much as I love to write, that is not a problem. But the nice thing is that by blogging I am slowly finding people that trust me enough to support my writings with finances, or those who trust me enough to ask about things, and a fraction of those are nice enough to support me after they see that I am sincere in what I do.

So maybe things are going ok, my hope is to get enough supportive readers to get off the ground and really take off and do some really good writing for those with loved ones in prison. Hopefully that will start to materialize soon. Until then…


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.

#105 Prison Fear pt3 Inside out (retro) #107 Prison talking: to criticize or to shut up

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