The Woods Hold Secrets Twisted and True

While trying to score a new writing gig this weekend, I shared my manuscript idea with another writer (not worried about the idea getting ripped off), and was told I had a way with conveying pain that would probably pay off big-time for me with this one.  That made me pretty darn happy.  Whether or not it will help me secure the writing gig is debatable.  I have a reputation of making deadlines and being honest.  The deadline part is great.  The honesty part sometimes gets me in trouble.  I also don't mind telling an editor I can't do something due to time constraints or whatnot.  Most editors are good with that.  Some editors, like the one that was at our local newspaper, Times-Standard, a few years back, are not so hot when it comes to honesty.

A few years ago I was approached by our local newspaper to cover the all-important jazz festival.  I was working a "regular" job at the time and writing for many publications, including being a regular contributor to Tattoo Savage.  I wanted to get some local stuff under my belt, and while the jazz festival was not my first choice, I wanted to know more about it.  The editor told me I'd be interviewing the acts and doing a general write-up.  We came to the idea that it would be about 14 hours worth of work, which sent money signs spinning through my head.  If this were Savage, I'd be making about $1120.  I didn't expect the Times-Standard to pay quite as much (it wasn't a glossy international publication after all), but I didn't expect to be so insulted by the $25 check they were tossing my way. 

I, of course, explained why there was no way I was doing that.  The editor countered that it would be a way to see my name in print.  I re-countered with the fact that my name was in print all over the place thanks to things like Easy Rider, Savage and a host of other publications and books.  The editor explained that $25 was all the paper could pay its stringers, which I understood and explained it as such.  Again, I was told I could see my name in print.  I was polite when I said, "Give it to someone who needs that.  I already got that under my belt."  (Or some such words.)  Needless to say, the editor ended the call pretty abruptly after proclaiming that she (I think it was a she for the A&E section at the time) couldn't understand why I wouldn't want my name in print.  It was years before I heard from the paper again.

I'll write for free if I believe in the project.  I'll write for little pay, too.  I won't write to get my name in print, and I won't work my ass off on a piece I don't care about for a corporate entity for crumbs.  It just won't happen.  My time with Savage ended in part due to my honesty.  It's cost me many a gig.  But at least I can sleep at night.

No comments: