Saturday, November 29, 2008

Information, Links, and Personal Thoughts on freelance writing.

One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was, “Writers write. A lot. All the time. In their free time.” It seems pretty self-evident, but it was good for me to hear at that point in life.

So start a journal (I have 20+ spanning the last 10 years).
Or record your dreams (I have 15 little notebooks of nightmares… some day I’ll break into the horror genre).
Get a pen pal, or a couple.

People will talk:
Don’t underestimate the willingness of people to share information.

From the forensic artist I met when I accidentally interrupted a law-enforcement convention to the Klezmer-music-playing entomologist I bumped into in a junk shop while on vacation, I’m learning that people will really open themselves up when you’re interested.

I have found the same to be true when it comes to contacting authors. If you have a favorite author or writer, send them some fan mail. Seriously. I can’t believe these people even open their mail, let alone write back to lowly peons like myself. BUT THEY DO.

One guy was totally pumped about giving me advice on how to land a book contract. My favorite author/illustrator of all time (Lauren Child, UK), just wrote me back a year and a half after I sent her a letter. My letter got lost, she recently found it, and sent back a nice little reply with doodles and an offer to write again. That is commitment.

Seriously people, it doesn’t hurt to try!

Simultaneous Submissions:
There are convincing arguments for both sides of the simultaneous submissions debate. One of my successful articles was a simultaneous submission, so I know it can happen. However, it’s important to note that A) it wasn’t a big time magazine, B) it didn’t pay a whole heaping lot and C) they did a lot of pre-publication correspondence with me via e-mail, so I suspect that they aren’t as formal as some publishers.

Are like poop. They happen. It’s a normal part of life, not anything to dwell on. Don’t let the thought of rejections keep you from making submissions.

Besides, there is always that editor who balances out others’ rejections by sending Christmas cards.

Remember Anniversaries:
Paper's 1900th birthday was 2005. Big deal right? Well, an editor of a children’s magazine thought it was worth a look. I submitted a dense, plodding manuscript, and she edited it down to cute little statements that dotted the magazine pages in cheerful bubbles. Works for me.
Do a quick Internet search to see what anniversaries are coming up.

Staying creative:
I have a bunch of very creative and fascinating friends: writers, artists, military men, health care personnel, teachers, missionaries, outdoor enthusiasts, and musicians. They keep me on my toes with a constant flow of information and ideas from around the U.S. and around the world.

Freelancing is a tricky thing.
John Hewitt has some great advice if you’re trying to turn this into a career.

Just another little epiphany.

(I like the idea of Becky’s epiphany book. I’ve been having thousands of epiphanies recently.)

There is something behind that saying, “You don’t appreciate it until you lose it.”

This struck me in an especially violent way yesterday.
I should mention that yesterday was the worst day of my life. Physical pain, emotional unhinged-ness, intense sleep deprivation, and a slew of mental maladies graced my day.

That being said, I obviously didn’t get much accomplished. Oh, I tried, of course. But at some point my brain totally fizzled out… and letters and words ceased to make sense. I sat there a) not comprehending anything on the screen and b) realizing that that was a very, very bad thing. It was frustrating and scary.

So as slow as my brain is functioning this morning, I am extra thankful that these little pixilated letters mean something to me.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Note to self:

For COMM 337 Still need to finish:

1) Feature analysis

2) Feature story :o)

3) Final: out of class. Get assignment on Mon. Due on the 3rd via e-mail. Probably better to come to class and hand in hard copy version, too--> Noon on the 3 (Wednesday) OR PRIOR. 1,000 words. May contain quotes. Would prefer to have both hard and electronic copy. Handing material out at Meuller Hall.

4) Add to blog thoughts/ideas/suggestions about freelance writing.

Friday, November 14, 2008

On Doc's IT article

A response to Doc's Illinois Times commentary piece:

I know you can't indefinitely subsidize the state of IL but thanks for donating your time, Doc. I'd be out there if I could; for a while my sister and I were volunteering at the Sam Hill House.
It’s disheartening to see closures and cutbacks of historical venues like Lincoln’s New Salem, the Dana-Thomas House and Fort Kaskaskia.
Thanks for reminding us of the seriousness of these decisions.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Are people allowed to pick their own nicknames?

I’d been reading through some of this material yesterday in a moment of functionality. There is some interesting stuff here, made possibly more interesting that I don’t agree with many of this guy’s political views.

But, that clip we just heard in class was incredibly refreshing. I can’t remember whether I’ve mentioned in class discussion or posted to my blog (probably both) my loathing of the word “objective”. And wouldn’t you know it, there’s an audio clip where Terkel said everything I have been thinking, except he said it better. That’s a relief. I especially liked the part where he suggested that a person without an opinion has some kind of deficiency and is better compared to a robot than a flesh-and-blood person.

It’s neat to me that he was invested in learning about the “little people”. I love talking with so-called normal people, who rarely turn out to be normal after an hour’s discussion. It’s funny where you can end up after accidentally intruding on a law-enforcement convention or a find a silver clarinet grimy little junk shop on a Florida island. Those “little people” seriously have the best stories.

From what I’m reading about his personality, it seems a little odd that he died, “quickly and peacefully” as his son put it. But hey, that’s how I’d like to go.

I did a quick search through my public library database to find what kind of material there is out there related to him. Doc, you weren’t kidding when you said he was prolific. I think I found where to go with my old-timey music bent, and I want to pick up a copy of Working.

Good stuff.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Don't take ice cream from PETA

So one of my major weaknesses in life is ice cream. Love the stuff.
I'm a little bit of an ice cream snob, I'll admit it. But normally I'll even eat the refrozen-five-times generic brand if I'm desperate.

I've often wondered where I would draw the line with my love of ice cream. I'm not into the double-churned, light, super-creamy stuff because it relies very heavily on corn syrup and soy protein--ingredients I'm allergic to.

I'm searching for a good feature story on which to do my analysis, and I came across this little gem. It brings up some decent points. The last couple sentences would have been especially appropriate for discussion in the law and ethics class.

AND, I totally know where I draw my ice cream-addiction line, now.