Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Yin and Yang of Freelancing...telling it like it is!

In addition to my day job as a preschool teacher, I am a freelance writer. I have learned some eye-opening truths about freelancing. All of those cute little kid quips I’ve been jotting down for thirty years with the intention of writing a book about the funny things children have said aren’t worth the paper they’re written on. They have all been published in, Kids Say The Darndest Things. Editors don’t care that kids nowadays say even darnder things. Art Linkletter beat me to the punch. He cornered that market, so I continue to plug away at targeting a variety of writer’s markets and working into the wee hours and spending a fortune on postage.

I have discovered that every positive aspect of being a freelance writer has a negative. Here are some things new writers should know. First and foremost, friends and family do not care that much about your latest and greatest essay, prose, poem or article, at least not in the same way that you do. You can tell when they’ve had enough because their eyes glaze over and roll back in their heads when you ask if they want to hear your most recent musing. I’ve learned not to give them a chance to reply; I begin reading fast and furiously until their heavy sighing begins. I trail them out of the room, and sometimes to the bathroom. Their sense of humor doesn’t even compare to mine; most of the time they don’t even ‘get it’. Oh, but my readers do. Once in a while an editor will contact me or forward a reader’s response. Or a reader will email me.

It’s not the fortune and fame that keeps a freelance writer going. I haven’t made a fortune, and fame has not found me, yet. I haven’t earned enough to buy a daily latte and a pastry. I settle for a pot of warmed over coffee and prepackaged cookies to feed my muse.

Writer’s should cross genre lines; you can be widely-published and broaden your portfolio with a variety of clips. You can also broaden your backside by sitting way too long in that padded desk chair. Send-send-send to a variety of publications, and when the rejections pour in, dump them right back out there. My letter carrier thinks I have a crush on him, poor old fool. He doesn’t realize the only reason I meet him on the street is because I don’t want my tome lifted from the mailbox by some thief looking for a check that isn’t there.

Be forewarned, when you’re writing on deadline, you may become maniacal. My family thinks I’m disturbed, because when they disturb me, I hiss, “Can’t you see I’m writing; what do you mean, ‘dinner’?”

Less noise and interruptions keeps the writer focused. When my hard-of-hearing honey watches television, I ask him to please keep the volume low, and then I scream for him and at the computer when it malfunctions.

Freelance writers have the freedom to choose their work schedule. On the nights when my husband goes to bed without me, I find myself slinking in my nightgown whispering sweet nothings at 1:00 a.m. “Come on baby, you can do it, uh-huh; don’t quit now, you darn printer.”

If you submit a lot, you will receive nice little checks in the mail when you least expect it. In fact, when I least expect it, that’s when my car engine light starts winking at me, the big flirt! And that’s usually when the check is nice, but way too little.

One more piece of advice, your family will be more likely to listen to your ‘latest and greatest’ if you use their name in print in a flattering manner. My husband may not be interested in everything I write, but if I refer to him in print, he’s all eyes and ears. The other night I went to bed early, and HE stayed up late and worked on the computer. He roused me from a sound sleep at midnight. “Honey, wake up.” He sounded very excited. “You have an acceptance on that story you wrote about ME, Goofy Willy.”

I rubbed my eyes, smiled, and patted the pillow. I let him down gently, “Bill, come to bed. Willy was a goofy dog I had forty years ago.”


Julia said...

True, true, true...

Oh, but our friends and loved ones always tend to argue, saying, "No, no, it didn't go like that..."

I say, "Write your own damned essay/memoir, then!"

Linda O'Connell said...

Ha. That is so true. Love your response!

Linda O'Connell said...

Welcome Kim, June Freaking Clever!

Tammy said...

I read every word with interest...because it's all so true! Thanks for the laughs.

Sioux Roslawski said...

Linda---I loved the image of you slinking around and seducing your printer (rather risque, don't you think?).

It is sad when others don't get one's sense of humor. The even sadder thing is when people think you're joking, but you're deadly serious...That's only happened a few times to me, but it's frustrating when I go bat___ over something I'm passionate about, and people think I'm kidding.

Perhaps you need to write a DIFFERENT story about "Goofy Willy," but this time about two-legged Willy? (That one really made me laugh!)

Linda O'Connell said...

HI Tammy,
So, you are stalking your mailman also? Sexless in the city # ????

Linda O'Connell said...

I know exactly what you mean. Funny, an editor told me the same thing about Goofy Willy :)

Susan said...

ha ha ha ha ha That was funny, Linda, and SOOOOO true. Family, particularly, doesn't give two hoots and a holler about my freelancing. ha ha ha Their loss, I ususally humbly think. Then I just keep on writing and I know you do, too! Susan

irishoma said...

This is hilarious--and true. You should submit it as a freelance article to a writer's magazine and get paid for it!
Donna V.

Linda O'Connell said...

It is so true that family does not get as excited as we do. Oh well, I just keep writing, like you do.

Linda O'Connell said...

I did submit it to Writer's Digest; they rejected it,so I posted it on my blog. Maybe I'll try some other publication, though. Thanks for the kick in the pants. Instead of getting discouraged, I am going to get going!

Cathy C. Hall said...

Ah, the freelance writer's life. It's crazy, but we wouldn't have it any other way, would we?

So many truths in there, Linda, mixed in with the funny. Thanks!