When people ask me what I do I like to say I’m a “climate activist of the literary kind.” Here’s why:
I’m not a novelist, and I’m not writing any books about climate change. You won’t see me on TV and you won’t see my picture in the newspapers. I like to work quietly behind the scenes.
But since 2006, I’ve been working 24/7, with no days off from my rented internet cafe computer in 12 years, to promote climate activist ideas, novels and movies. I don’t charge anyone any fees, and I’m not in this for personal fame or money. I’m a promoter. It’s my hobby, after retiring from a long and zigzagging career with newspapers in Washington, Alaska, Japan and Taiwan.
My main work so far has been in promoting a new literary term, ”cli-fi,” since 2011 and then to boost its continued popularity in the media as a headline buzzword and an actual literary genre, different and separate from sci-fi.
To get where I am today, I used my informal and self-taught PR skills to “plant” major media articles about ”cli-fi” in dozens, hundreds of media outlets, from NPR in 2013 to The New York Times in 2014 and then to The Guardian in London, the Associated Press, Reuters, and a variety of media outlets worldwide. Based in a tiny kitchen in what I call my ”home office,” I reach out to the world with pixels. I don’t use the phone. I don’t have a phone. I don’t make any calls.
I’m a PR gadfly, on the fly. And I’ve never been so personally energized, although I need to underline that this is a very serious literary business.
This is all I do all day, every day. I’m almosty 80. A happily retired journalist, I run a global website called ”The Cli-Fi Report” and tweet around the clock to other climate activists and literary people worldwide seven days a week. I eat, breathe and sleep cli-fi and hit the hay at night fulfilled and exhilarated. I wake up every morning full of energy and new ideas.
And I don’t make a dime from any of this. I’m paying it forward. Life’s been good to me. I don’t have much time left and in many ways I’m living on borrowed time. There was a near-fatal plane crash in Alaska in 1983, a heart attack in 2009 (with a tiny steel mesh stent now keeping my ticker ticking). Knock on wood, I’ve got a few years left.
Monthly social security “honorariums” are my only income now, and they’re just $300 per check. I live a simple life, far from the large cities of the world. And nobody’s ever heard of me. I like it this way.
I’m not one to humble brag and humble bragging’s not my style. But from a PR standpoint, all this is an interesting story about a lone blogger with no media or literary connections creating an entirely new literary genre to wake people up about global warming.
I’m not really surprised because in a way this is very much where my wandering peripatetic life was always taking me. I always had a direction, but I just never knew exactly where it was taking me. Cli-fi popped into my life in 2011.
Someone once said that to do this and put up with all the naysaying from the climate denialists, I’m ”a force of nature.” No, I’m not a force of nature. I’m ”a servant” of nature. I’m doing this work for the world, not for me. I never put myself at the center of things.
I never studied PR. But hanging around newspapers and newspaper people all my adult life since my college days at Tufts in the 1960s, I learned how PR works, what makes an eye-catching press release, and how to gently pitch and approach editors and reporters.
My work as ”a climate activist of the literary kind” is the most fulfilling thing I’ve ever done. I hope it reaches the people it was intended to reach.
Go little hyphenated word and find your world.