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Friday, May 16, 2008

Two things I do not do for money

What do I do that is not for money? I write poetry. I'd like to make money at poetry. I've sold some books. I've been paid for doing readings. I've even been paid for publishing poems in journals. But that's not why I write poetry. I'd like to say I make money so I can write poetry, but that's not true either. Not entirely. I do choose the work I do so that I may have the chance to write poetry. And sometimes, it works.

But that's not all. Some of the things I get paid for, I actually do not for the money I make. For instance, I'm an advocate for accessible health information and for clear communication between professionals and non professionals about information that the non professional needs. So in the magazine I edit, I include a regular column about health communication. I've edited patient education and patient information materials to make them more accessible to the intended audience. I've written material for health professionals about active listening or about patient centered communication. I've conducted seminars and workshops for publishing professionals about readability--what it is and what it isn't--and how to achieve it. Sometimes, I get paid pretty well for these things, yes. But sometimes I apply the principles of accessibility even when doing so is not part of the contract, and sometimes I've consulted for free on ways to make materials more understandable. I do that, because like poetry, I believe it's important.

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