I have been known for calling a spade a spade in Marine Café Blog, for being so candid at times as to sound irreverent. This is not an enviable reputation in a conservative shipping world. But I wear it as a badge of honour, like a tattoo etched on the forearm of an old mariner.
The choice before me, as I believe it is for any maritime writer, is to write safely and be in the good graces of the many — or to speak one’s mind and be true to one’s self. I have long ago chosen the latter. Doing so has carried a price, but there have also been some rewards. Let me tell you about the upside and downside:
The greatest reward of writing candidly on maritime matters is the thought that you have not sold yourself out. You can look at yourself in the mirror and say, “I have preserved my integrity.”
Integrity…what a precious thing! It flies off to the horizon the moment a writer ingratiates himself or herself with the powerful and influential. Yet, some don’t mind if it vanishes into thin air; kissing ass can bring many benefits.
The greatest reward of writing candidly on maritime matters is the thought that you have not sold yourself out.
There is another important upside to being a candid writer, at least for me personally. You come to know who your true friends and supporters are. They may not always compliment you, but you know that they are following you on social media and continue to read your blog. They may disagree with some of your views, but they don’t shun you and treat you as a pariah.
Maintaining a blog for more than 12 years is no cruise on a yacht. It does not pay the bills. And there is the cost of bandwidth to reckon with. Life is less favourable if you express your views with too much candour.
You risk losing, not only the support of advertisers, but the support of some readers who don’t take kindly to maverick views. You could earn some real enemies, not just a bunch of detractors. At the very least, you would be disliked.
Fortunately, Marine Café Blog continues to enjoy a world-wide readership that includes active and retired ship officers. A Filipino ship officer recently told me that he had been reading the blog since he was a cadet. He said he was grateful for my articles. Some readers have given small donations through Buy Me a Coffee. I am very grateful to these kind-hearted individuals.
In the end, it all comes down to a question of values. I have a passion for art and literature, and I feel a kinship with those who work at sea. This, together with the words of encouragement from readers, is what has kept Marine Café Blog going.