Monday, February 15, 2010

#34 Saint or Sinner (RETRO)

Saint or Sinner

I had not planned on making a blog tonight, since it is just after midnight, and in fact I took some Tylenol PM for some aches, so my time before I really get sleepy is thinning down. But I had to watch the two games tonight. Didn’t think Washington would beat Cleveland, and I figured that Boston would beat Atlanta.

But I was reading something online and it kinda scared me. I felt I needed to blog some thoughts out on it because I try to share from my heart with all my readers, and this is no exception.

I was looking up some stuff online and ran across a site called “Rip-Off Report”, and it mentioned a site I used to write for, Prison Talk Online. As you guys know, I was banned from the site because a wonderful reader from Canada dared to take up for me on the site. They banned her, then banned me and a few of the moderators were making very negative comments on my blogs.

Anyway, I was reading the site where people were roasting the owner of the site for something about not returning newspaper fees for something. The actual article was apparently written in February of 2006 and talks about the newspaper that Prison Talk started, but later went under. The argument was that many of those people that had purchased a subscription did not get their money back, which in effect makes the owner of Prison Talk look like a scam artist.

The article also says that when people tried to ask about it, they were banned from the site. There are some very STRONG accusations about PTO and the idea that it may be run by a scam artist, especially since the owner (Fed-X) is a former inmate.

I read some of the comments, and the owner of PTO himself makes a comment, trying to defend his side while discrediting one of the people who made comments. He was then countered by a few other people who did not believe anything he said.

I read that and thought, “My God, what if my readers think that of me?”

It scares me that someone would think that, and I have tried everything I could to convince readers that I am trying to help. Sure I ask for support, but I also sell books, cards, certificates and other documents. It was never, ever, my idea to try to con anyone out of any money.

But for me to dedicate myself to writing, it simply means I have to be supported financially. One of the people on that site made a comment that implies that an ex con ought to get a job and stop scamming folks.

But what if this IS my job?

What if it IS what I want to do, and create a job from it?

Does that then make me a con artist? Am I conning readers to give me money so I can take off to Hawaii…(don’t answer that).

I finished reading that site and wondered if I am doing the same thing those people are accusing PTO of doing. Granted that was 2 years ago, but there is no question that PTO has had many problems. I will be honest and tell you that they are not on my list of friends either, the way they kicked me out.

So for all purposes, I am no ally of PTO or Fed-X. My issue with him was that when I asked him to look into some of the questionable posts made on my posts, he never got in touch, but the moment I was banned, he found my blogs and tried to make a comment. Where was that attention when I needed his help?

So I might be inclined to believe the idea that he is conning folks.

But there is another side. Is it possible that the idea of a prison support site needing money is valid enough to need money? Nothing is free, and anyone who thinks a charitable effort is free is only fooling themselves. Prison Talk serves a lot of people, and I can imagine it requires money to do it.

If the site did nothing at all, then I can side with the idea that it might be a scam, but before you decide that, look at the fruits of the tree. Has the site helped people? If it has, then the effort should count for something. I wrote for that site for a few years, and I don’t think there are many people that wrote as much as I did. Sure, there were folks with like 10,000 posts, but 99% of that wasn’t worth anything but copy and pasted sentences about “hi and welcome to PTO”.

Make no mistake, I don’t like the site, nor do I endorse it for any reason, because they treated me like garbage after the thousands of comments I got, and the thousands of emails I got from people saying, “God bless you”.

But the site DOES have value. And because of that, I can also see how people are just too quick to condemn an ex offender trying to do right. I am no ally of Fed-X, not anymore, but part of me says that the site was an attempt to help others.

So do I believe the report? I am sure there may be some truth to it. Funny though, when I originally started “Grades of Honor” I actually wanted to incorporate Prison Talk in my books, to help promote them. I even made mention of them on my acknowledgement pages…but after what happened, I took them out of my book.

Yet all this has me wondering…does anyone reading my blogs think I am trying to con them? That scares me because it is just too easy to say, “he’s an ex offender, so you KNOW he’s trying to scam you”.

That hurts.

I cannot do any more than I can to help, and I have done my best to share prison issue experiences and my thoughts to help those who are having a tough time coping. These blogs are my heart to you, and I will give you my best if I thought it would help. But I also sell stuff too, if that justifies me making financial support. There are some that send me gifts, and I am eternally grateful for that…trust me it helps.

But if I am going to help, if I am going to blog, I have to be smarter about this. The idea of working my butt off on a 9-5 and then coming here to blog is the fastest way to fail. Me working anywhere else will sap my strength and mentality, and I would not, COULD not be able to give you my best.

Think about that, if I worked at McDonalds, I’d be too tired to really give you an honest blog of 3-6 pages. I would feel burdened to even write, and might give you a paragraph. And answering emails might be a no-go, because I just would not have the time.

Who then wins with that?

Now, I DO have a small mail order with fragrances, and I do work part time in radio, but I am really trying to make prison writing a priority. I believe that if I give you my best, then there will be financial venues in it. If that means selling 500 books a month, or people supporting my writing, I truly believe it can be done.

But trust me, I won’t do this if I thought I was cheating you. If I thought that I am conning a nice person their last $20 or last $200, I could not do this anymore. I try to lay down believing I did my best in my blogs, but sometimes I wonder if I did enough.

This all may sound like I am making a mountain out of a molehill, but it is a concern. I asked you guys to let me win you over in my writing, if I am a fake, you will see it in my writing. But if you see compassion then I hope you will believe in me. I never said I was perfect, I never said I knew it all. I am not saying that every penny I get will be spent buying materials for my publishing…heck, I’d like to go to Kings Dominion this summer or something like that. But every bit of support I get helps me remember that I owe you guys my best writing.

I hope you understand what I am sharing here, I know I won’t change everybody, because no matter how much I will try, someone is going to spit in my face. It happened while I was in prison, getting kicked out of several prisons for helping other inmates. It happened for one Christian radio station when I tried to get the legal minimum wage. It happened on Prison Talk Online when someone was brave enough to question why so many so called members of this site were not supporting the guy who has written the most on prison issues.

I know you can’t please everyone, and in that, some will call you “con artist” and “scammer”. It happened before when I tried to offer FREE prison encouragement certificates for a prison support site. It happens.

But I am asking you to read my works, and decide if I have been cheating you or not. If my blogs have helped you understand a little about prison, or give you ideas or encouragement to get through another day, the I will stand by that, knowing I am doing what I can to help.

And if I believe in it, then I can feel comfortable knowing that a person who sends me a gift is saying to me, “God bless you”. If a person is buying my books or cards, they are saying, “I believe in you”.

That won’t make me a saint…but it sure makes me feel like one.

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