Morning Salt

I sit at my desk, breakfast finished, coffee made. It’s the thirty minutes or so before I need to settle into work for the day – about five thousand words and some plotting and planning for May. So I occupy my time on the internet, because why not? Scroll, scroll, I like a post here, reblog there. Maybe I leave a comment.

I come across a post.

I do a double take.

“GUESS WHAT WRITER!? YOU’RE STILL A FUCKING WRITER EVEN IF YOU HAVEN’T WRITTEN ANYTHING LATELY!”

O… okay. I guess I’ll just sit here and stare at my computer screen in a perpetual daze, not writing a thing, but somehow, I’m a writer.

Now, I get it. It’s an affirmation. Motivation. That push to remind you that you’re the thing even if maybe you’re not doing the thing as regularly as you should. It’s supposed to bolster you. Here’s my issue.

To be a writer, you have to write.

I’ll say it again: To be a writer, you have to write. Something. Anything. But you have to do the work to claim the title. This often involves writing even when you don’t want to, or when you’re tired, or when you’re not feeling motivated, or when writer’s block sets in. This is common. Writing doesn’t come without obstacles. You just have to bust them down. By writing. I think it does a great disservice to people who are writers or who want to be writers to foster this idea that going without writing is somehow a thing. That you don’t have to put in effort.

Please note, this is mostly for people who want to be writers for a living. It also doesn’t really pertain to people who have established works and can probably live off those works for the rest of forever. This is for the writers, who are writing now – or maybe not, who knows – who want to claim the title.

Perhaps it irks me more than it should because as someone who writes for a living ‘not writing anything lately’ means that I’m out of a job. It means I’ve let my lack of motivation ruin my discipline – something that you simply cannot do when you claim to be a ‘writer.’ No one is going to take you seriously if you sit around and tell people, yeah, I’m a writer, but I have nothing to show for it. But I’m a writer. In spirit.

That one hundred words back in the early 2000’s qualifies me, indefinitely.

Mostly, I think it’s because it’s rather silly and wrong to claim that you can be something without actually doing the work required to be that something. You are not an artist if you do not produce art. You’re not an architect if you do not design buildings. I think people like the idea of being a writer, but when it comes down to doing the work of a writer, suddenly they’re pulling their shades down and their computer is nowhere in sight and their fingers don’t work.

Writing is enjoyable, but it is also work. It requires dedication. It requires discipline. Motivation is merely an excuse when it is lacking. It’s nice to look at writing as this lofty, I’ll get to it when I’m blessed with mystical inspiration shining down unto myself from between the clouds of an overcast day parting just right – but that’s not how it works. I wish more people understood this. Unless writing is merely a hobby, in which case I think the better distinction is ‘you write’ as opposed to ‘you’re a writer,’ in the same vein that I can tell people ‘I play musical instruments,’ but it’s been years since I’ve dedicated myself to being a musician.’

 

Welcomed Weariness

I’ve never been more pleased with exhaustion. The kind that comes when you’ve worked all day pouring over words and typing pages and pages of story; when you’ve managed to grab a few hours of sleep but you should probably have curled up for a few more because five isn’t technically enough; when you roll out of the bed in the next morning and you’re still so tired you forget that you need your glasses to function, but you let it slide for a few moments until you accept that you really can’t function – then you spend about a half hour trying to find the damned things, because your bed ate them when you didn’t even have time to consider taking them off before you passed out.

It’s throwing back coffee and tea like water and taking five minute naps in between chapters of editing. It’s writing down your half-asleep ideas as they come to you, because you know those are your best but if you don’t jot them now they’ll be gone the next time you blink.

It’s a satisfied sort of constant tired, where you know you probably need to slow down but it feels good when you don’t. Where your motivation outweighs the limitations of your body and sometimes your brain, but you’re a creator and those limitations don’t matter where there’s things to do.

It’s that feeling when you fall into bed at the end of the night and you’re already asleep before you hit the pillow, but you do it again the next day because there’s no other way you could imagine going through life.

 

Dear Writers: Feedback is not Censorship

When you decide to become an author or a writer or whatever ‘free spirited creative thinker’ title you call yourself, you knowingly enter into a pack with the writing gods of old, accepting the fact that anything, everything, and all of the things you write and send out into the world will be analyzed, combed over with a microscope, shot with ultraviolet lights, and whatever else it is those CSI guys keep in the backs of their vans. Your work will be ripped apart, put in a blender, likely incinerated, and probably fed to wolves in the process.

(We call this wildebeest feedback, in laymen terms.)

Many authors welcome this passionate evisceration of their work with open arms. Much like a sadomasochistic relationship, it’s going to hurt you – but you’re going to like it. Feedback is a grueling, though essential, tool to the writer. What we don’t see in our work, others will, and where we fall short, or stand tall, others will find it, too. We need to be able to utilize all of these lovely little nuggets of information. Sometimes, something doesn’t work out quite the way we expect – it happens. Contrary to popular belief, creative types make mistakes all the time. 

So why is it so many authors seem to think we exist in a bubble, where our work cannot be touched, prodded, poked, and opened at the chest cavity to expose all the goop inside? Why, on the flip side, are there authors who go as far as to claim any sort of feedback or editing that points out vital flaws is ‘damming’ to the creative process, claiming that it’s ‘censorship?’

I don’t know. I’m not one of those authors. I actually appreciate when people tell me I’ve, for lack of my caring about propriety this morning, fucked up. 

To put it into context, an article was posted to one of the writing groups I belong to. This article, in fact. The gist of it highlights certain publishing houses hiring what they call ‘sensitivity writers,’and their utilization in the publishing process. The naming could have been done better, but we won’t talk about that. The main point of the article is highlighted at the beginning:

Before a book is published and released to the public, it’s passed through the hands (and eyes) of many people: an author’s friends and family, an agent and, of course, an editor.

These days, though, a book may get an additional check from an unusual source: a sensitivity reader, a person who, for a nominal fee, will scan the book for racist, sexist or otherwise offensive content. These readers give feedback based on self-ascribed areas of expertise such as “dealing with terminal illness,” “racial dynamics in Muslim communities within families” or “transgender issues.”

“What? There’s people that read books specifically to make sure I’m actually portraying things right? To tell me if I’ve incorrectly handled an issue I have no personal experience with? To help me better portray different kinds of people in my books without relying on tropes or insensitive content?! Sign me up! Give me all the feedback!”

^ things no one in that particular writers’ group thread said.

Instead, there were cries of outrage over the censorship of the creative process, how authors are no longer able to write what they want, how they want, how freedom of creativity trumps delicate sensibilities. All from people who claim to be writers (you know, that group of people who made the pact and – you remember, you’ve read this far.)

One woman I engaged with even likened this phenomenon with book burning. Book burning. Being told perhaps you shouldn’t refer to your trans character in a book as ‘a tranny’ is the equivalent to book burning. 

I’m going to let that sink in before I move on.

This is just one, ridiculous, example I’ve seen from people claiming any sort of negative feedback or criticism is censorship. It’s one of the more inane ones, given that these books aren’t even being censored – they are being read, by readers (not altered by editors) to give feedback (not directly change the content of) the books they are given to read. That information is then relayed to publishing companies and the author of the book. This is somehow a problem…?

I don’t think these people understand how writing or reviews work. Boy are they going to be surprised. Let’s break it down: feedback is when people give their opinion and suggestions regarding your work with the intention of improvement. Censorship is when I go through your work with an XL Sharpie and live out my fantasy of being in the FBI on your manuscript.

And I get it. Facing the daunting wall of people telling you that you suck is hard. Being a writer is hard. It’s not pretty most of the time. That’s why you suck it up, understand it comes with the territory, and if you actually give a shit about your content or your writers, you might take something away from services like that. And it’s not about blindly accepting every single piece of feedback as law – that’s just asking for a manuscript that makes no sense. But it is understanding that a lot of feedback is being given for a reason.

I have read countless stories that attempt to write marginalized characters or portray certain situations, and the author could have benefited infinitely from a reader giving them feedback on the portrayal of those characters. It’s not about censoring the creative process, it’s about the collaborative effort between writers and readers to put out good content. Why would you, as an author, want to put out work that is poorly written, with terribly conceived stereotypes? Technically you can, because as a writer you can pretty much do whatever the hell you want, but why would you honestly want to portray certain groups of people badly? Just because you want to write that way? Like… is that your gimmick? Is that just your aesthetic? Are you wanting to make trolling your full time job as an author…?

I don’t get touting mediocrity as creative freedom in these cases where people snub actual, helpful critique, because that’s what snubbing any form of feedback or constructive criticism as an author is. Mediocrity is not interesting. Mediocrity is not innovative. Mediocrity is not creative. It’s mediocre. It’s what everyone else with a computer and access to Word is doing. Mediocre, unedited, unchecked garbage. As someone who gets paid to beta read and give constructive criticism to authors for a living, I can tell you that manuscripts benefit from these kinds of services. As a reader, I wish more manuscripts had gone through it before publishing.

If, by chance, you’ve made it through this behemoth relatively unscathed, I encourage you to read the article linked in full. I’ll even link it again right here. Happy reading.

 

 

Promotion Commotion

Lai Cathwell is good at keeping secrets. Being a mind reader and feigning insanity for the past two years to escape military service have only improved her ability to deceive others. And as a supernaturally gifted Nyte, feared by the ungifted and shunned, this skill is essential to survival. But when the rebel Nytes’ latest […]

50 Shades & The Public’s Misinterpretation of the Real Problem

I hadn’t intended on writing about this particular topic. I feel like the subject of the 50 Shades of Grey series has been hit at so many different angles and beaten over the head so many times already, that I can’t really say more than what has been by others. We all by now either love it, or hate it; there’s rarely an in between, and everyone has a reason for why they do or do not support the franchise.

Every now and then, though, I come across an article, and it makes me want to say something. [This article,] for example, posted to Fight the New Drug, was one that had me squinting a bit – and that’s saying something considering I actually managed to put my glasses on this morning.

I want to start off and say, that I think the author’s heart was in the right place. 50 Shades of Grey isn’t the best portrayal of a relationship – the story is rife with stalking, abuse, and themes that, by 2017, you would think wouldn’t be so prevalent in romantic literature or even erotic literature. That being said, I think the article ultimately fails to explain the real problem with 50 Shades of Grey, and stories like it.

A large portion of the criticism that I see for 50 Shades of Grey, especially in this article, lies less in criticism that it normalizes an abusive relationship, and more in the criticism of the kind of sexual relationship that’s portrayed, and the demonization of ‘deviant’ sexual relationships by associating them only with abuse.

To break it down. Christian Grey is marketed as a sadist – a person who enjoys inflicting pain during sex. He and the main character, Ana, are written as entering a BDSM relationship – which, for those who are unaware, means bondage, discipline, domination, submission, sadism, and masochism.

Kinky sex, in laymen terms.

This, at the end of the day, wouldn’t be a problem. BDSM, while not for everyone, is a sexual and emotional relationship that requires a lot of trust and care, and most importantly, active consent from all parties involved. 50 Shades of Grey, if it were truly a story about BDSM, revolving around a Dominant and his submissive exploring their desires together in a healthy way, would actually be an interesting story, especially given BDSM is so misunderstood by mainstream society, and mainstream portrayals of it (in books, on T.V., in porn, for example) often don’t touch on the intricacies of what a real BDSM relationship entails.

Unfortunately, 50 Shades of Grey takes elements of BDSM (the sadistic Dominant, a submissive, bondage, etc.,) and wraps them around what is, inherently, an abusive relationship. 50 Shades of Grey is not an accurate portrayal of a BDSM relationship; it’s the story of a man with a slew of personal and mental issues using his desires as a justification for his actions. While BDSM is involved on the surface, yes, the problem is not inherently in BDSM, it’s in the fact that Christian Grey is a creepy scumbag. E. L. James did not do her research, for one, before setting out on her journey to write 50 Shades of Grey, and rather than deliver what could have been an eye-opening story about a BDSM relationship, instead gave something wildly different from what an actual BDSM relationship is.

What articles like the one posted to Fight the New Drug fail to realize, ultimately, is this distinction. BDSM is not inherently sexual abuse, and abuse is not inherently BDSM. What we’re left with is a distraction from the actual problem at the core of what the popularization of 50 Shades of Grey does (the normalization of abuse against women) as well as a lack of understanding the differences between consensual ‘deviant’ sex, and harmful sexual violence. People write stories like 50 Shades of Grey, or who write articles like the one linked, ultimately fail to understand BDSM at its core, and are not equipped to write informed pieces about it.

Further, while 50 Shades of Grey is a very good example of the exploitation of women, and the public’s fascination with the romanticizing of violence and abuse against women, conflating BDSM as inherently exploitative to women specifically, implies that women are the expected ‘victim’ parties, and associates submissiveness within the BDSM relationship as being abused. Submissives, whether they are women or men, or nonbinary, are not victims because they have chosen to be submissive within the realms of their personal relationships between them and their Dominants.

I could easily go into how insulting that entire notion is, not only to women as a whole, but to victims of abuse, especially those who enjoy BDSM in their relationships, but that is another topic for another day.

The bottom line is, when we discuss 50 Shades of Grey and the problems that come with it, we need to understand all aspects of the content we are critiquing. You cannot claim to be against something you do not understand, and this ultimately causes more harm than good.

All You Need Is Love, Question Mark

In the spirit of February and the fact that I’m an editor who’s worked primarily with romance authors, we’re going to discuss a thing today.

No one knows how to write slow-build romance. 

People seem to be very invested in these sudden, whirlwind romances with hot, instantaneous passions, and deep, meant-to-be, single-soul loves, but quite frankly, they make so little sense it’s almost hard to stomach them sometimes. And don’t get me wrong, I like romance stories – I just have to roll my eyes at stories where people are somehow in love after a week, have had little to no real contact with each other but ‘understand the other better than anyone,’ and they trust each other more than that friend they’ve had since childhood. It’s ludicrous to the point where I just have to assume bumping into a stranger and locking eyes with deep, sultry pools of liquid sapphire just did something to their brains. Something stupid.

I get it, it’s fiction, it’s not supposed to be an exact duplication of reality – that would make it boring. But art imitates reality, and there’s something real and engaging about a romance that takes time, that shows that build from acquaintance to friend to interest to love, and it feels like the two people actually know each other intimately before they’re hauling off declaring undying love and affection for each other.

There also, for some God-awful reason, seems to be this conflation between physical attraction equating emotional investments and oh boy, I have a list of stories I have sent back to authors with notes in the margins stating ‘infatuation is not love.’ And it’s really not. That’s why it’s called infatuation. It’s temporary, and often rooted in superficial things like ‘Damn, she was really hot. Like her ass, in those jeans. Shit.’ Not exactly the love story of the century.

Now I’m not saying that quick romances don’t happen. There are plenty of people in ‘real life’ who have found love quickly. But there also tends to be some sort of, you know, process to it. You actually engage with the person. Perhaps you share common interests. Maybe there’s something in your lives that’s making you two (or three or more, polyamory is a thing these days) stick together. I loved an ex after three months of dating. We also spent, quite literally, every single day together and our interests lined up pretty well. The point is, there’s usually more to it than just ‘Woa, that guy was so hot. I suddenly want to marry him and can’t think about anything else other than how hot he was. Also I want his babies. Every single one.’

I think the main problem when it comes to stories like this is one of two things, barring the general ‘this person just can’t write the thing:’ people want the romance and the lust, passion, tension, but they don’t know how to blend these things together well, or they’re trying to make a romance out of an erotica and sometimes a story is just not that kind of level of story where you can take it there.

So, how do you fix it? The initial answer is simple, romance authors: Take your time. Your characters aren’t going to disappear into a void if you don’t make them love each other right this second.

The next is to actually understand that you’re writing about interpersonal relationships and that love – actual love – is something that just doesn’t happen over night and you need to be able to navigate the intricacies of human emotion well if you’re going to portray a romance well. This should also include understanding that in relationships (1) trust is not established overnight and (2) trust is not easily obtained after it is broken (one day I’m going to write more in-depth about this, but it is not this day.) Give your characters their due time to not like each other or not want to be around or with each other.

These are points that I make with the romance authors I work with the most, because the most frustrating thing about these stories is that they feel rushed; there’s no pacing, no subtlety – like the author is in such a hurry to get their mains together that they forget that they actually have to write out the process of getting them together.

That, or they’re lazy, and that’s just bad authorship.

Either way, I have yet to read a good love story that establishes a ‘deep emotional connection’ in the span of a handful of days, riding entirely on the basis of the electricity that flows across their skin when their hands touch.

I’m just saying.

 

An Introduction

There’s a word that scares writers – sometimes outright enrages them. It is the bane of the creative process, the soul-sucking, freedom-leeching, tale-breaking word, that runs all writing into the ground. It is the antithesis for all things good, and wholesome, about the art of novel-writing and story-weaving.

Unfortunately for Stephen King, the word is not, in fact, adverbs.

It’s diversity.

It seems to ring as foul as any other four-letter naughty word, and brings the most vehement of responses when the mere concept of diversity within writing is brought up. I’ve found, in various writing circles, whether they’re groups on Facebook, Tumblr, or speaking with people in person (yeah, that still happens,) that there’s this divide between people who genuinely like diversity in writing, and those who absolutely abhor it. There is always a reason, of course – but I’m coming to find those reasons, while abundant, tend to be rooted in a few sources, many of them from lack of understanding what diversity is, to the general harder-to-fix issues (like those people are actually just assholes.)

Personally, I like diversity in writing. I like characters, whether I’m writing them or reading them, to be as interesting and unique as the worlds they’re placed in. It’s always baffled me that there are a lot of writers and readers who balk or shun the idea of diversifying writing. And, what I mean by that ‘diversifying’ is, is including characters who might be LGBT, who are people of color, characters with mental illness or physical illness – but it’s more than that, even. It’s writing these characters engagingly, and you know, as people, since one of the problems with diversifying tends to be tokenism and tropes standing in for actual representation. It’s writing your female characters as interestingly and complex as your male characters; it’s exploring the fact that you can have characters that belong to minority or marginalized groups and not make the story surround that marginalization or the only focus that character has; it’s about tackling stigmas often associated with certain groups that constantly get hammered into writing without care.

Basically, it’s about applying the same care, attention, and detail to those characters, as you do the white, cis, heterosexual, able-bodied characters you stick to writing. I promise, it’s easier than I’m making it sound.

These are all concepts that I’ve had conversations over, though trying to address these issues in writing usually ends one of two ways: ‘agreeing to disagree,’ or accusations of trying to make writers be too ‘PC.’ (We don’t count the discussions that devolve into senseless name calling and swears; those are outliers, and will not be counted.)

Barring fixing people’s personalities, then, I wondered if there was a more effective way to open a more constructive discussion about diversifying writing, and tackling the misconceptions, fears, and questions a lot of writers whether new to the game or already deep in it may have. Looking at these conversations and seeing the feedback, I knew that it was something that I wanted to do in more than one post – there are so many angles and so many kinds of ‘diversity,’ not to mention issues within diversifying itself, I didn’t feel one catch-all would work.

This series, then, seeks to do just that. What can’t be done in one conversation will be done in many, with the aim being to provide the insight and tools to people who want to diversify their writing but don’t know how, and perhaps show people that doing so isn’t the big bad monster that they think it is.

All I Do Is Plot, Plot, Plot…

So a huge issue that I have when it comes to writing novels is the fact that while I can sit down and write drabbles or short stories with ease, it is almost impossible for me to do the same with novels, because I can’t make myself just go with the flow and freely write. When I write short pieces, it usually starts with a general idea, or an emotion or a tone that I want to capture, and I run with that. I liken it a bit to getting lost in a wood I’m generally familiar with, wondering and running around until I find myself out again.

See. I can’t do that with novels.

I have to plot every single little detail. And then when a detail changes or I get a new idea or the plot bunnies start to run around, I feel like I can’t just keep doing what I’m doing – I’ve quite literally scrapped entire stories because I realize I want to add or change something from the original plan. It’s why I’ve written a lot of short stories – but, exactly zero novels.

The problem is, I actually want to write a novel. I want that freedom that I get when I write short stories or drabbles, but it’s very difficult when my brain tells me that unless every single tiny detail and twist is worked out, I can’t do it.

Case in point, the recent story that I started. I realized about mid-way through the first chapter that it shouldn’t actually be the first chapter… it should be the fourth, or fifth, and I have exactly one day left before my ‘deadline’ to completely re-work what I had originally started working on and flesh it out into a line that makes sense and works better.

Hear that? The screaming in the distance? That’s me.

Ironically, it’s not like it’s hard for me to write with just a basic idea in mind. It’s what I do when I ghost write – I don’t have time to plot when I have to have a fully realized short story done by the end of the week. I just… do it. Of course, getting paid for work and doing my own is a lot different than having to appease clients, but it’s not like it’s impossible for me. It’s not like I’m not used to not having every single detail fleshed out before I actually get down and to the point.

The mental block between work and personal projects is astounding.

 

 

Avoiding the ‘Money Isn’t Everything’ Trap

As a freelancer, you have a lot of opportunities for a lot of fun, exciting work – that you get paid for. Likely, if you’re a freelancer or you’re thinking of becoming one, it’s something that you’re interested in or really enjoy; that tends to be why people turn to freelancing to begin with, aside from the freedom of not working in an office setting or having to answer to The Man. One of the problems with this, however, tends to be clients or potential clients that try to bank on the fact that you’re doing what you do because you love it. And, because you love it, that means you’ll do the work for whatever minuscule amount of pay they want to give you.

It’s not about the money, it’s about enjoying your work.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that line in job postings since I became a freelancer. Clients asking for large amounts of work or in-depth jobs for pennies on the dollar, claiming they want to work with freelancers who, quote “aren’t in it for the money, they just want to do this work because they like it.”

Basically, they want your creativity, your time, your talents, but they aren’t willing to pay the money that comes with creativity, time, and talent, so they try to play up the old platitudes of if you like it, you’ll do it regardless, or you don’t actually like your craft.

This tends to be what’s told to people in artistic professions – artists, writers, musicians. I personally am a ghost writer and editor. Most people looking for editors don’t use this line, but a lot of people looking for writers, plot creators, or content creators do. Because, of course, if you’re writing you don’t want to be able to pay your bills – you’re just writing because you love it. Cut the water off, you don’t care.

Suffering is art. Obviously.

Now, I’m not saying you can’t do your work because you love it. I love writing; I’ve been doing so since middle school and making up stories since before computers were portable and I could save them all in one place. That being said, I also like food, shelter, basic amenities. I can’t do that being paid with “the joy of something I love.” You can have both.

As a new freelancer, or someone who is thinking about becoming a freelancer, I think it’s important to understand that you deserve to be compensated for your efforts – fairly compensated. Whether you write, or you create art or music, your talents are not there for other people to take advantage of. At the end of the day, if you’re wanting to make this a career or even if you’re doing it as a part time gig or an occasional bid for extra cash, your work is a part of your livelihood. It’s very tempting when you start out to buy into these sorts of jobs. You want the experience, you want to be able to get your foot in the door – but there are better ways than selling your work for nothing. Ultimately, you want to find jobs where the client respects what you do enough to pay you what you’re worth.

One of the ways to avoid this trap, is to totally avoid applying to jobs like this to begin with. Obvious, I know, but it’s the easiest snag to tackle. They’re usually pretty transparent, and what you want to look for is:

  1. Job postings with very low budgets for high-budget jobs. If a person is only willing to pay five dollars for a fifty-thousand-word piece, for example, don’t bother. They might not tell you that you should be doing your work because you like it and not for the money, but the implication is there in the fact they don’t feel like paying anywhere close to industry standard for the kind of work they’re asking for.
  2. If a job posting contains phrases like “work for experience,” “creative minds in it for the love of the craft,” “money is not a motivator,” or has similar wording basically saying you don’t care how little you’re paid for your job, don’t bother.
  3. Jobs that offer under the industry standard – steeply under the industry standard. It’s very easy to look up the professional going rates for editing and ghost writing, for example, and I tend to compare those industry standards to what clients offer in relation to (1) how much experience and education I have in comparison to those working professionally in my industry and (2) how much time and how many resources it takes to complete this job. While I generally work below the industry standard of pay for ghost writers and editors, I factor in my experience level and education, and it tends to even out with the clients I choose to work for. If a client is offering the equivalent of less than minimum wage in your industry, you probably don’t want to bother with them.
  4. Other job postings or listings by that same client, and feedback from other freelancers regarding that client, if available. It’ll give you a good idea on how that client operates, how much they’re willing to spend, and how they treat freelancers that they’ve hired in the past. Upwork, where I get my freelance contracts, for example, gives you client ratings as well as the feedback that other freelancers have given that same client, the amount of money that client has spent in total on paying their freelancers, as well as other open jobs posted by that client. It’s a lot of useful information, and if the site or agency that you’re contracting your work from provides that information openly, use it.

Sometimes, however, potential clients aren’t quite so transparent, and you realize after you’ve applied and been accepted that your client was, for lack of a better term, bullshitting you. A job might seem like it takes into consideration your experience, the time it takes to complete the work, as well as the difficulty of the work, but a client will try to weasel out of paying you properly, usually with post-hire catches or stipulations that weren’t lined out in the original job posting.

I haven’t had that happen to me yet, but it’s unfortunately something that does happen to freelancers. A lot of times, freelancers will accept this, because work is work. However, you’re putting your time, talent, and resources into a job. When you’re not properly compensated, all that does is waste those sources, and at the end of the day, you’re the one that has to shoulder that, especially when you could have been using that time to do something that actually gets you paid decently.

Usually, you’re able to dispute this. Sites and agencies often have protections in place for their freelancers so that they can’t be cheated out of their work or be hit with unexpected stipulations of a contract. In some cases, you’re not. If you’re able to resolve the issue with the original contract terms, then you should – it’s work, after all, and sometimes we have to play ball even when we don’t want to. However, if your client continues to try impose sudden stipulations that are unfair and change the agreed rate of your pay, it’s generally better to terminate the contract and cut your losses – you’re always able to give feedback for potential future freelancers looking into the same client.

Knowing all of this, what to look for before you apply to a job or how to handle the situation post-hiring, can save a lot of the undue scraping together pennies while doing your freelancing work, and feeling like that’s how it has to be simply because you’re a freelancer doing the kind of work that you enjoy and want to do.

No, it’s not always about the money – but it is nice to be able to do what you love while also supporting yourself in something better than a gutter.

February Plans!

With January as a surprisingly productive prep month, I have some announcements to make! While I intend to get back to writing regularly outside of work related things and posting them here, I also wanted to do more… well blogging, as well. This includes random thoughts, daily journals, as well as more ‘structured’ pieces that I actually proofread before throwing into the void of the internet.

So. Unveiling the current line-up beginning this month:

1) Freelancing for Newbies

freelancing-for-newbies

It’s not a new series, but it is getting a re-vamp along with weekly postings. The aim for this is to give relaxed, hopefully useful information and advice on freelancing for people who haven’t been in the game long – by someone who hasn’t been in the game that long. A lot of it can be applied generally, but I will be talking about freelancing for writers and editors, since that’s what I do.

2) REVIEWS!

book-review-banner

I tell myself far too frequently that I’m going to read more – which usually ends up translating into ‘I’m going to binge this one book for a day and then never pick it up again as the spiraling cluster fuck of my responsibilities are used as an excuse to not pick it up again. But no more!

The goal is to get through at least one book a month and write a review on it. Less dissertation style, more casual conversation about the book, my thoughts, its problems, and most importantly – if I’d recommend it.

3) Diversity in Writing

diversity-in-writing

This series has taken up most of my time in its planning through January, predominantly because it’s one that I have found is a huge topic among writing circles and groups that I’ve joined – often for the wrong reasons. I’ll be putting up an introductory post this week, but the series aims to explore diversification in characters of fiction, specifically how minority or marginalized characters are handled (or not) in fiction, and challenging the portrayals of them and writers’ disdain over ‘having’ to write them.

 

I’ll be rolling out a couple other series over the next few months, pacing it out based on how much work I have as well as how well those guys up there do. It’s gearing up to be an exciting year.