The email message usually begins like this: “Dear Fred” — does nobody comprehend that I hate to be called “Fred”? –”This is Heather from glamzinewine.com in London. We’ve been following your blog and really love it! We think you have one of the coolest wine blogs around! How would you like to contribute to our website? We would really be happy to have your words of wisdom about wine on our pages because we’re getting lots of readers that want to learn about wine! We’ll make sure to provide a link and add you to our blog roll. Looking forward to our partnership! Thanks and cheers!”

I get proposals like this, heavily overdrawn from the Bank of Exclamation Points, about once a week. Recently I even got one from China. Here is my reply to all of you out there that want to utilize my hard-earned words of wisdom in exchange for a link and a hallowed place on your sacred blog roll:

“No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money.”

Actually, Dr. Johnson said that, and I would acknowledge my debt to him with a link except that he’s dead.

I realize that we live in a brave new webworld of media, where creativity, marketing, advertising, self-promotion, readership and personality exist in a so-far uneasy (and rather queasy) relationship to the old-fashioned notion of having a job and making a living. Social media are changing everything in terms of communication and interrelationships and the conveyance of knowledge and ideas, as ephemeral as they may be. Even I — yes, even I — who for so long adamantly refused to get involved in social networking am about to hop on the wagon of Facebook and (OMG!) Twitter, because I have come to acknowledge their value as marketing tools.

But, you know, call me a Gin-Soaked Capitalist Drenched in the Misery of the Working Class, but there’s just something about getting paid for what I do that makes me happy. I labored for 17 years in the Halls of Academe, and guess what? I got paid every month for teaching Beowulf and grading all those thousands of awful research papers. For 22.5 years I toiled as an ink-stain’d wretch in the sordid mines of journalism, and, know what? Yes, I received a check every two weeks. When Mr. Mason comes to cut our grass every other Thursday, I hand him money for his effort; I don’t promise him a link and a slot on a blog roll. That’s the way the world of work works.

I devote a great deal of time to this blog because I have a lot to say, there are many wines to review and many issues to comment about and I believe that what I have to express is valuable. My remuneration is in the form of wine samples, which while delightful, do not, as LL points out pointedly, pay the bills. Friends, I was laid-off from my newspaper job back in March. I have to spend every moment when I’m not working on BTYH scrabbling for free-lance writing jobs that pay, you know, money. I mean, the Internet might be wonderful to the extent of miraculousness, but it still runs on electricity, and the utility statement comes without fail.

But more than that, it’s the principle of the thing. For 25 years I have paid my dues in the world of wine, first with a weekly newspaper column that was distributed nationwide, then with a website and, since December 2006, on this blog. Experience, knowledge, maturity, humor, insight, a way with words, an ability to turn a phrase, a fund of poetry quotations in the back of my mind: All of these attributess count for something. So, youngster, you want content for your “collaborative web wine magazine”? Show me the money and I’m your man. You won’t be sorry.

Image by Guerruntz from indypendent.org.