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.

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