Friday, March 12, 2010

Will Write For Food (or Free)

Through various avenues, I’ve been introduced to people who make a living from writing. I witness their successes with envy and awe. And while I know I’m a capable writer, my coworkers turning to me for advice when they craft a letter or prepare a document, I’m admittedly paralyzed when it comes to exchanging my talent for dollars.

In the last few years, I’ve had a few pieces published. Southern Women’s Review included one of my stories in their Summer 2009 issue and Indie Ink has used two of my essays. All of these are worthwhile accomplishments in my book. None of them, however, have resulted in payment.

Having worked in the business world for over a decade, I’m the first one to admit you sometimes have to spend money to make money. And this is exactly how I’ve approached publishing. Donating my work means I get a publishing credit to note on my resume. The more publishing credits I can list, the more seriously editors and agents will consider me. But a mere four months shy of receiving my MFA in Creative Writing, I’ve officially tired of writing pro bono.

“Check Craigslist,” Ryane suggested a few months ago.

“Use this list-serve,” a classmate urged.

Everyone has good suggestions. And just like dieting and exercising, at the onset I commit a 100%. I send writing samples, complete applications and attach resumes. But after a few rejections, or in some cases no response whatsoever, it’s hard to keep your chin up. I’m only able to smack my head against a wall so many times. Which explains why, since the start of the year, I took a break from the publishing world.

Then, last week, while reading a review for a friend’s restaurant Delicatessen, a review rife with poorly structured sentences, I came out of retirement. Pens blazing, I perused Craigslist. I came across a few part-time listings for writing positions and decided to submit my personal information to two. And within three days, personalized responses appeared in my inbox.

One place already filled the opening, but the email was friendly and supportive, thereby softening the rejection blow. The other place? They want me. This afternoon I’ll complete a phone interview which appears to be nothing more than an informational session where I’ll be given the specifics of my role as a culinary writer for Joonbug.

It still isn’t paid. I’ll still continue to peddle my words for free. But this marks my first foray into journalism since my publishing debut in 1990 when I co-authored the editor’s note for an issue of Sassy magazine. And if anything, it should help with my resume (sigh).


  1. *claps* Exciting! Congratulations!

  2. And you get to eat with a pad and pen next to you!

  3. Yay Aunt Pay! XOXO Anders & Olivia