Nobody Needs Another Article by Me

Probably nobody needed any to begin with. 

In the 1990s, I was on the mailing list of an organization in Taiwan that started a quarterly journal. The organization’s leaders thought that since many members had studied at graduate schools or were pursuing part-time postgraduate education. They surmised that there were already a lot of articles sitting in members’ files or that there would be enough demand that writing be done, so an outlet was created.  For the first few years, the journal moved along, publishing things that had quite obviously been intended for professors alone to view. “Good writing” was optional. When a different editorial approach was tried things lightened up, but it became a collection of short pieces by nice young people who wanted to share their experiences. A third editorial team took over, and when scraping the bottom of the barrel, began printing stuff I had written. 

In 2000, I began a job at the Taiwan Church Press. The weekly paper already had enough writers. I served as a translator and foreign language editor. A later leadership change gave me the opportunity to become a columnist. But the job ended late in 2003 and I moved to a college. I began doctoral level study (but crashed out soon enough). I discovered that, though I could write at a Master’s degree level (which I couldn’t do decades earlier when I’d taken Master’s degrees), I am not cut out for scholarship. I eventually found a niche as a writer of lower level academic prose. When I came up with an idea I could knock out an article worthy of publication in a third-rate journal here or there. One was published in Malaysia, a couple in the Philippines, and one in Europe. Most went out through the semi-annual journal of the college where I worked, which meant they really went noplace.

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Then I found www.academia.edu, a site that accepts anyone’s submissions of anything, hoping to lure people into purchasing upgrades, and sending invitations to upgrade almost weekly. I posted most of the articles I had already published and increased their number as I produced more. By selecting titles carefully, I could induce people to at least “view” an article before deciding it wasn’t for them. One such clever titling, which appears to be in the area of Health and Wealth Gospel, regularly attracts clusters of views from places like South Africa and Missouri. Those who click on the title, though, are disappointed, because it’s a critique of a late 20th century mainstream theologian’s methodology. About a year ago I made one list of articles that I’d posted and another of all the articles I could find on various memory disks. That uncovered 4 or 5 that I’d never offered to academia, so I posted them, too, resulting in another short-term ego boost. 

Recently I began thinking about developing some other materials from previous years into yet another article to post at academia. I went to two libraries, poked around in some archives and searched things out on the web. I discovered the source of certain authorial misattributions in a hymnal that’s popular across SouthEast Asia. All of the pieces are now present and in hand. But nobody needs another article by me. Maybe I’m the one who needs it, but not badly enough to write it. And, on reflection, I was probably the only one who needed the 25 or 30 articles I wrote in that previous life in Taiwan.

David Alexander now resides in Holland, MI after 39 years in Taiwan.

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