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Friday, October 1, 2010

FIT TO BE TIED!! SUCKY SIDE OF FREELANCE WRITING

All right. Freelance writing is a war-torn wasteland where intelligence is deceiving and the smiling bastards are lyin' to ya everywhere. At least, that's how I feel today. I wrote (and re-wrote "9 ways to Sunday" -- actually did about 10 drafts) a 1200-word piece for a local color glossy magazine -- a supplement, actually, to a major newspaper based in New Haven -- because my editor requested it. "Get to me ASAP -- on deadline!" I read her emails. And I rewrote and rewrote. And I went back to the ferrymen (for the piece is on the Chester-Hadlyme ferry in the fall), and I interviewed them. And I transcribed and typed up the interviews. Then I even went back TWICE and took video footage so that I could do a video feature for the website!! (which is done and on YouTube - will try to attach)

I can't count the hours I spent -- happily! -- working away on a quality piece for an editor who has been kind to me. I did favors for her, and for her boss, the General Editor. And on top of that, I begged a friend who's a very high end and in-demand photographer in Chester to do an emergency shoot with the ferrymen, for FREE, as a favor to me and my editor.

This week, I sent several emails to my editor, asking about when the article was coming out. I didn't hear back from her. Well, apparently, no news is bad news: I picked up the publication at the usual place (in the vestibule of the CT River Museum) AND. . . lo and behold, my piece was NOT there.

Now, because my LAST article for them wasn't even mentioned in the table of contents (which I am STILL annoyed about), I had to page through the slippery 41-page publication to be sure. Well, my rage, hurt, disappointment -- so many negative feelings -- welled up in me so fully that I nearly was afraid to get into my car and drive.

But I drove to my favorite (nearby) Canfield Meadow Woods and took a fast, angry walk, fuming, steaming, talking aloud, making a really nasty imaginary phone call to my editor. "THANKS A LOT, BITCH!" was only the start.

And look, even though I am choking-full on vitriol hours later, I STILL can muster up a feeling of compassion for the poor woman who has to work like a dog (bitch, dog -- geddit?), doing the work of many others who were laid off, letting freelancers know they are getting less and less money for their writing (as it happened in August -- my editor had to send an email to all her freelancers -- and there are NO MORE staff writers at her weekly paper). I know she can't be happy, doing that.

And I don't think she was happy, cutting my piece at the last minute. But, hey. She kept asking for rewrites and photos. Why couldn't she just say it didn't make it into the pub at the last minute? And why can't people give KILL FEES any more??

I know at least that my editor is getting a paycheck, and I am not.

Now I am out all that time and getting no money at all for it. Oh well. Live and learn. As Matthew suggests (with his level headedness), I will try to sell it, elsewhere. No reason to cry over unpublished work, and no reason I shouldn't LEARN from this piss-off experience! THANK YOU, UNIVERSE -- help me get those better assignments (for better pay in better places)!! Love, take care, Lauren

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