Begging to Differ

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Happy Summer! This is by far one of my favorite days of the year. It’s the longest (go on, check it out), and it marks the start of my birth season, the time when I’m most in tune with everything around me. I celebrate today more than I celebrate the shortest day, which to me marks the end of those short days and dark nights. I love all seasons, but I don’t do well without sunlight. I’d have made a lousy vampire.

For a Monday, I got a lot of work done yesterday. I managed three client projects and got some writing done for our course handouts. Anne and I spent some time in email brainstorming, plus I managed to read a few blogs, which appears to be a luxury for me anymore.

As I was browsing the Internet, I noticed some talk going around that I just can’t agree with. Here are some things that just don’t add up for me:

It takes ten years to make it as a full-time writer. Honey, I don’t have ten years. I need to make it now. So forgive me for not believing this. It takes as much time as you decide it will take. No one has that magic formula. For me it was a few years. For you, it may be a few months. What matters is you learn, grow, and work hard at it.

What are people paying for this type of writing? I think what I object to with this one is the passive nature of the question. What are they paying? Shouldn’t the question be what am I charging? It’s okay to want to understand the average rate of the industry (and if that’s what you’re after, say so). It’s not okay to accept someone else’s idea of what you will be earning.

Resumes are passe. I can’t recall where I saw this, but it’s completely untrue. Resumes, portfolios, CVs, whatever you want to call them are indeed necessary. You’re showing a client a snapshot of your experience. How else will you do that if you’re not listing at least your published clips or your client projects?

Ghostwriting is selling out. Wow. So not true. Ghostwriting is taking someone else’s idea and helping them find their voice with it. Let me repeat – Someone else’s idea. It’s not as though clients are stealing your ideas and forcing you to write them. I’ve done some ghostwriting (still ghostwrite articles and blog posts). I’m compensated to help someone who’s not a writer write something. I see nothing wrong with that.

What are you begging to differ on lately?

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  • Cathy Miller June 21, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    I did a lot of ghostwriting (and still do) at the beginning of my freelancing. I was blown away when I 1st heard the sentiment. You nailed it-it's not our ideas-it's using our skill to help our clients express their ideas.

    I beg to differ with anything that suggests it is the only way to do something. Even proven methods may not be right for my business. Thanks for sharing, but I'll decide.

    Reply
  • Devon Ellington June 21, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    I don't think ghost writing is selling out at all. However, I do have a problem with celebutards running around saying they wrote a book when, at best, they talked it to someone else. "As told to" or "with" in the byline does not bother me. But pretending someone wrote a book when they didn't — it's a form of lying. Yes, the writer should be VERY well compensated for having to deal with some of these wastes of food, but the celebutard is still a liar. My problem is not with the writer, but with the person who pretended to be a writer. Writing is a very specific set of skills.

    Where do I beg to differ?
    –that novels work well in the present tense. I have yet to read one that pulled it off, and it seems to be the latest trend in lit fiction. All it does is push me farther out of the story, especially if it's set in an historical period.
    –that punctuation doesn't matter. Paragraph structure and punctuation are a road map for the reader, so the reader can focus on the content. Every choice of punctuation or lack thereof changes the meaning. I can't read what you meant — I can only read what's actually on the page.

    Reply
  • Wade Finnegan June 21, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    Lori I really appreciate the sense of independence you instill through this blog. I have been searching advice throughout cyberspace, but at times there seems to be too much of it, and there are contradictions everywhere.

    I beg to differ that just because you're new at freelance writing that you have to work for pennies. "You have to pay your dues." So if I was an electrical apprentice I have to earn below the poverty line? Yeah right! Hopefully, more writers will stick to their guns, and work for respectable wages.

    Reply
  • Jake P June 21, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    Want some empirical evidence of your second point? Check out this Newsweek link that I stumbled across yesterday: "The Real Minimum Wage". Freelancers *chose* to take these jobs; no one forced them, protestations by huffy Huffposters notwithstanding.

    Word of the day is "celebutard"!

    Reply
  • Lori June 21, 2011 at 2:42 pm

    Devon, you've just coined a wonderful new word. And you've made my day. LOL

    Cathy, amen. The words "always", "only" and "never" should not show up in advice to anyone, in my opinion. Unless of course the person saying it uses the "in my opinion" caveat. How's that for covering my butt? LOL

    Wade, go forth and be independent. 🙂 And you're right – it's not as though anyone new to a career is expected to work for nothing. Ridiculous. New contractors charge like veterans. So do plumbers, landscapers, dentists…..

    Jake, the link didn't work for me, but I'll dig on their site for it. Thanks!

    Reply
  • Lori June 21, 2011 at 2:44 pm

    And one more thing that's scratching at me like a rash – can someone Justin Beiber's age REALLY tell their life story? Really? Going to be about as long as a Geico commercial….

    Reply
  • Jake P June 21, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    Ack, old nimble fingers put an extra " in the code after html. If you can fix it, please delete this 🙂

    Here's the correct link:
    The Real Minimum Wage.

    Reply
  • Paula June 21, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    Celebutard. Love it, Devon.

    I also agree 100% with Cathy about the absurdity of absolutes.

    I beg to differ with clients who keep assigning work, but when it's time time pay start in with excuses about their "cash flow problems." Um, did you ever thing you wouldn't have cash flow issues if you weren't assigning more work that you know you can pay for?

    Unlike you Lori, I'd make a good vampire – except for their, um, dietary habits. And I couldn't give up garlic. But my Nordic skin just doesn't get along with sunlight, I despise sweating, hate hot weather (especially when combined with humidity), and I'm not a very outdoorsy person – bugs, dirt, ick. (However, I do appreciate good soil.)

    Reply
  • Lori June 21, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    I found it, Jake. Can't edit comments, so I'll just leave them both. And I'm linking to you tomorrow. 🙂

    Remind me not to do a sleepover with you, Paula. I bleed to well. LOL Cash flow – lousy excuse, isn't it? It's why contracts are an absolute must.

    Reply
  • Paula June 21, 2011 at 8:37 pm

    Lori a week or so ago you asked to let me know what my next TOR:CON was. Today..we're at 6.

    Jim Cantore is in Chicago. When he tweeted that I nearly tweeted back, "Oh, crap!"

    Reply
  • Devon Ellington June 22, 2011 at 12:12 pm

    I'd love to take credit for the word "celebutard", but someone else used it first. Wish I could remember who, so I could credit it properly! But it fits the meaning!

    Reply
  • Lori June 22, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    SIX? Paula, that's nuts! I heard you had some heavy storms. Hope everything is still where you left it.

    Devon, it's like that kid who does the John Williams tribute on YouTube – he didn't create it, but he popularized it. That's what you've done. It's a word I'm going to use going forward. 🙂

    Reply
  • Paula June 22, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    We got lucky – the storms just nicked us on their way to Chicago & the northern 'burbs. We were at Tor:Con 7 for the storm that broke my windows last month…3 or 4 small tornadoes (EF1s) skirted town that evening. That's scary enough – I can't imagine an EF3,4 or 5 bearing down.

    Reply