Friday, July 29, 2011
The theme being “I need to re-invent myself, this isn’t working”.
A good friend who is quite a great writer in New York and I were commiserating about the fact that this business we’re in is not doing well. Actually, what we were saying was-we aren’t making a living, decent or otherwise, and we’ve got to find a way to re-invent ourselves.
At this point, we can see that if we had to support ourselves on our measly earnings, we’d be one of those REAL people on the corners of strip malls holding a sign reading “Please donate, I’m a victim of the social media and today’s publishing world”. We wouldn’t be one of the FAKE people who are on those corners that actually have a full time job who are begging on their days off.
In case you’re wondering, I have seen two people that work in local retail stores as managers doing this little ploy. I even pointed one out to my husband as we were driving by Wal-Mart’s corner last week. “Hey honey, isn’t that the manager of the Target up the street? I know he’s not rolling in it, but really-does he need to ask for donations on his day off?”
Our daughter sent me a job in her new home state of Arizona. It was actually a good job, they encouraged free-lancers, so I went to the link and for once, this newspaper wanted an actual packet sent to them, not an e-mail!
I was so stunned at that line “no e-mails will be accepted” that it took a few minutes for me to move. I don’t remember the last time I saw something even coming close to that. I printed it all up: the resume, the job referral sheet, I included links in the cover letter and copies of 3 different clippings.
Guess what? I didn’t even get a phone call or e-mail telling me “no thanks”! So not only did I not get any assignments, I’m also out for the paper, the ink, the manila envelope and the $1 on postage! Lesson learned in today’s social media only society.
Anyway, back to my IM chat with my friend. She too sees retirement age coming up (although I’m several years older) and no way to attain the lifestyle with our chosen profession. “I’m thinking I’ve got to come up with a way to re-invent myself. After over 17 years, instead of commanding respect and assured decent payment, I’m seeing less and getting burned out.”
I’m nowhere near that in years, but I do feel myself being a bit frazzled as to how I can come up with a new way to write the same old, same old.
Don’t get me wrong-as soon as I’m interviewing someone interesting or writing up a story, I’m happy as anyone can be, but when I send out my invoicing, I can’t help but think-“I wrote until my hands resembled the Wicked Witch from the West for just this?”
In case you’re wondering-it wasn’t just the two of us. Another friend took a job as a senior writer for a very large real estate broker-she’s writing newsletters, mass e-mails, press releases, training sessions, anything that comes under the heading of “writing” per the company. She’s happy though and says this is an excellent fit for her.
We both talked about a certain company that we had been doing some supplement writing for-they were flaky, slightly weird and we weren’t sure they had their customers best interest at heart, but they eventually paid us well-and we were both happy to do whatever we could because that money was in a sum that neither one of us could afford not to have. Yet, we can’t help but wonder how we felt about ourselves for taking the work.
So the theme really is-what else are we old-fashioned writers good for and where shall we go to find it?
I'm discouraged too at the demise of Borders, a large chain bookstore based in Ann Arbor. Locally, they say it's bad for writers if customers can't discover new authors by browsing the book stands. Everything's on-line now.
I do have a blogging buddy who seems to have become a fairly successful author, though I know she's invested lots of time and money into her avocation (travel, seminars, website support etc.). I wonder . . .
But you know who is raking in the dough, fiction-wise? Erotica writers. One woman said she plans to quit her day job and start her retirement because it's so lucractive.
Sorry, but something isn't quite right in our world when the writers who make the money are writing erotica. :)
When I set out to write, I had no idea the rest of the universe had the same idea. Something's gotta give - it seems that people are writing their own books instead of reading others - that is not a good business model. :)