Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Getting Paid

That's the goal, right? All the hours we writers spend honing our craft - hours we can't possibly be compensated for (unless, of course, you happen to be in that hallowed 1% of writers who make a living from fiction) - are spent in hope of someday being paid to do it. Yes, there's passion behind it. Yes, when the writing is pure it doesn't feel like work.

I know all that. I feel all that.
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I also know this isn't the business to get into if your goal is to make a lot of money (see 1% comment above). But I'll be honest - it'd be nice to earn a paycheck from my fiction writing someday. I didn't start thinking down those lines until I'd finished the first draft of my first manuscript, but now, during revisions, there's no way to escape those thoughts. After all, what am I doing if not polishing the book to the point that I might one day be able to sell it? And if not this book, hopefully the next. Or the next.
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Or better yet, all of the above.

In the meantime, though, I've been dealing with another issue: getting paid for my non-fiction writing. I've had several instances lately of having to quote my rates to prospective freelance writing clients, and that's a tough thing to do, at least for a novice freelancer. I've been lucky so far to have built a strong roster of writing clients in a relatively short amount of time. Well, it's not actually luck - I've been working as a journalist in my market for more than a decade, so I had a firm foundation to build on. Good contacts. Years of inadvertent networking.

But I digress.... again. I had to quote my rates to a prospective client recently, and for the first time, I managed to spit out a number fairly easily that I felt comfortable with. I'm finally (blessedly, thankfully) in the position of being busy enough that I don't have to take every job that comes my way, so I've figured out a solid theory about how to charge: Charge a rate that, if I get the job, will pay me as much or more as other jobs I could be spending that time on.

So that's what I offered. And I got the job! I meet with the new client Wednesday. Meanwhile, my existing clients are keeping my working hours (and off hours when I'm not careful) full. So full that I haven't had time to spend on fiction in more than a week - but that's OK. The fiction work is a marathon. The non-fiction work is a series of sprints. It's nice to be so busy with paid work right now that I have less time to spend on the unpaid stuff. I know that won't always be the case (it's a feast-or-famine business), so I'll take it while I can.
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Hopefully one day, someone will pay me for my fiction work too. But as it is, I'm happy to be able to say I'm making a living as a writer.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

On Again, Off Again

That's what my relationship with my WIP feels like right now.

I've been really, really busy with freelance (i.e., paid) writing work this week, and when I have this kind of work week, the fiction writing tends to get back-burnered.

Right now it's barely lukewarm.

You know how us writers get told all the time to "write every day?" Well, I do write every day. I write so much I think I even write in my dreams. But I have a feeling that piece of advice has an implied, missing word: "write (fiction) every day." And I'm not doing that. Does it count if I'm exercising my writing muscles by writing newspaper stories? Magazine articles? Corporate copy? Blog posts? Twitter updates? Probably not, right?

I mean, it's not getting me any closer to becoming a published author.

I have manuscripts-to-be churning around in my head, but I can't get them out on paper until I take the time to sit down and feel them out. And I know me, and I won't do that until I finish the work-in-progress that's still in need of much editing ... I can't do two things at once. But I can do one thing at a time really well, so from here on, I have a new goal: Write (fiction) every day. Even if it's just for a little while.

Even if I'm really tired. Even if I wrote four articles today and interviewed for two more. Even if I wrote a blog post and tweeted twelve times and sent more e-mails than I can count. I'm going to fit it into my workday. Or during lunch. Or, if all else fails, at night when the house is asleep and I'm snuggled under a comfy blanket with my computer in my lap. Like I'm doing now.

So now it's off with the blog post, on with the WIP.

Photo courtesy Jim Sneddon

Friday, February 4, 2011

In Her Head

I'm in my main character's funk right now.

Ever had that happen to you? I'm having a perfectly good night, in a perfectly good place. Things are even going perfectly well with my WIP. But I'm in a foul mood, and I just realized it's because my main character is in a foul mood. I just went downstairs, poured her glass of wine and made her hot fudge pudding in place of my dinner.

Still, I'm happy to absorb her bad mood. It's an awesome feeling to be in my MC's head, because for a long time, I wasn't. I concentrated on getting her story out more than I concentrated on getting her character right. It took a long time for us to get to know each other. Then finally one day, after months of editing and at least two new first chapters, things clicked. I was talking to a writer friend about it recently, and I told her I actually felt the moment that I was writing her instead of writing about her.

Obviously I'm all keyed up. I keep using italics for emphasis.

Anyway.

I'm in a bad mood, sort of, but I feel a lot better now that I've realized my bad mood actually comes from a really good place. So now I'm going to go put her hot fudge pudding in my tummy and get back to the manuscript.