Monday, December 21, 2015

Seasons Grumblings

As we creep steadily closer to the holidays and nightmares of how much money isn't in my bank account dance through my mind, I'm turning my focus instead to trying to break into the writing field -- big honking surprise there, I know, but it's that or resign myself to a Christmas season spent celebrating by gnawing on a straight-jacket in a padded room somewhere. What makes this most recent spate of determination different from all the others that have burned bright in my heart and then withered into nothingness is that I finally decided to quit lying to myself about how I want to go about a writing career. I figured I would do the adult thing with my writing passion and go the route of copyediting and technical writing, and doing freelance blog submissions. No big, right? It'll be easy to snag one of those, right? They probably don't even need you to have a bunch of experience or education in the field, right?

Ha frickin' ha. I signed up for an email newsletter to tell me about shiny new freelance gigs hanging out in the ether, because tracking them down myself was a sure-fire way for me to never accomplish anything. And it was cool for awhile. Every couple of days I'd go through several of these newsletters and cull out the jobs that seemed like a thing I could do, and sit down, write a cover letter of sorts and email it off to the good folks at whereeverthehell.com and hope they got back to me. Can you guess how many did? I'll give you a hint: it was less than 1, but more than if I had fallen into a wormhole that created a time vaccum in which I somehow submitted negative applications.

Zero. The answer is zero people got back to me. I can't even really blame them, is the worst part. Most of these websites calling for writers on a freelance basis still want the applicants to have a minimum of 2 years experience, which I don't and can't even embellish with half-truths because a literal second spent Googling me would bring up all the many articles I haven't written. So that was starting to look like a big steaming pile of wasting-my-time and I was getting bummed, and as tends to happen whenever I am feeling the slightest bit insecure about my writing, up pops a well-meaning adult to give me all the wrong advice and make me feel even crappier despite their best intentions, assuming of course that they had good intentions to start with. I guess I appreciate where everyone's heart is when they try and counsel me, but all anyone wants to talk about is applying for jobs and writing gigs that are in no way suited to me and my personality and why I even got into writing, which is to make myself happy and create ridiculous and often-depressing stories that are utterly fictitious. I didn't start writing with the intent of becoming a leading political pundit or a star marketing rep and making oodles of money while siphoning off pieces of my soul with every paycheck and bathing in the blood of children, or whatever PR execs do.


"Teresa, make sure I have time after my 2 o'clock for the ritual goat slaying in honor of our Lord, Satan. And get Sanderson on line 3."


After finally confessing this to the last adult who wanted to offer me succor -- and receiving the by-now familiar blank look of someone trying not to make it obvious that they think I'm a naive child -- I decided, y'know what? To hell with freelance. To hell with copyediting. To hell with writing about other people's causes or feigning an interest in their hobbies or writing technical copy for a major company who manufactures appliances. God. I can't think of anything more gross. And then one day not long after coming to this realization I was combing through another of the freelance newsletters and noticed that at the very end of the list, the guys who puts all this together had started adding submission calls for ezines and creative writing publications. Not all of them work for what I write, or they had deadlines I couldn't possibly make, but I felt a burgeoning sense of hope anyway. Here's something I can do. I have ideas for short stories. At least, like, five. And I feel like I never had a chance to do anything with those ideas because I'm always dedicating my time to my stupid novel that stupid isn't stupid done yet because it's stupid. So here's my chance, yes? I'll just push my energies into this, and anyway, this makes more sense. Authors always talk about how they got their start writing pieces for newspapers and magazines and what-have-you. That's one of the ways in which you build an author-platform for when you launch your big project: get your name out there with smaller pieces and get people talking about you. People are more likely to spend money on a name they already know they like, so get them to know and like your name and you're in. Theoretically. You think the jacko's at Uline Tech. are gonna give a crap about the fact that someone in their technical writing department published a fiction novel? No. No they will not.

I realize that I can still get rejected just as easily as I had been turned away from the freelance jobs, but the difference here -- for better or worse -- is that these editors have to actually read what I give them, instead of dismissing me out of hand based on my lack of experience, without a thought given to whether I have any talent. And while it seems like this wouldn't  be any more encouraging, I find I look forward to getting rejections because it will sure as hell beat hearing nothing at all and feeling like I'm yelling myself hoarse into a mosh of voices where no one will ever hear me. At least now they're listening, even if they still don't want what I have to offer. I can always come back with a better story; I can't do anything productive with silence.

So here's to someone out there reading one of my stories and agreeing to publish it and maybe also giving me money. 'Tis the season, after all.