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Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Worth Every Penny

I feel like I've been bobbing for air lately. It is very, very hard to write productively in the few spare hours I have after my work day. I go to bed every night like a bowl of whipped cream--beaten to a froth.

Got a maybe from a very high-paying magazine. I hope I pass the next review. That would be a nice feather in my cap.

If all goes according to plan, I should be finished polishing my apocalyptic fantasy in the next two weeks. The short story after that should be done before the end of August, and then I'd like to concentrate on subbing to an anthology or two.

How does everyone else decide how to plan their writing schedule? Do you wait for the opportunity to present itself and write for it specifically, or do you simply write what moves you and hope the right venue comes along?

I have to admit, I prefer to write when the venue presents itself rather than have a trunk full of stories and articles lying around waiting for a home. There have been a couple of stories I have written for exercise or because it moved me to do so, but as a rule they have to have a reason for being conjured. And it has to be compensated.

Anyone who's read me for a while knows that I don't advocate giving work away. If it's good enough to be published, it's good enough to get paid adequately. Part of my hesitation to give work away stems from the idea that a poor paying market who buys "my" work does so because they can't afford the really good writers. I know that's not really the case, but it's the paranoid psychotic in me who believes that.

The other reason is because of my design background. I've seen bad illustrations for magazine and book covers. And I investigate what they pay out of curiosity. Sure enough, the bad art is either poorly compensated or simply donated---just like the story. Which only reinforces my belief that you get what you pay for.

If you donate work, do it out of a sense of altruism. Don't do it just to claim a publishing credit.

Eons ago, when I was at university I took a ceramics class. I love working with clay, but like all newbies, I was pretty bad. My first pots were horrific, heavy monstrosities, but I was proud of making something useful out of mud.

My professor, who remains near and dear to my heart, told me point blank to smash those pots before the semester was over. He said, a bad pot will follow you around like a rash. Years from now, you won't want anyone associating your name with that shoddy piece of workmanship.

I did trash my first pots, but I kept one for sentimental reasons. And you know what? He was right. I found that pathetic-looking pot years later. ---and I couldn't smash it fast enough.

You are your work. Submit only what you'll be proud of.


Anonymous said...

In my opinion, unless the donation is for charity, donating work also undercuts the notion that people should be paid.


Maria Zannini said...

That is so true. I realize that if publishers don't have advertisers or paid subscribers their ability to pay is limited, but that is part of doing business--and staying in business. Attracting good writers takes money.

When writers accept their worth, so will publishers.