Mark Terry

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Only A Fool Writes For Money

December 28, 2006
Or so the old expression goes. And I note from yesterday's blog that Joe Campbell had a thing or two to say about writing for the market.

Today was supposed to be part of a day off, you know, what in the real world is called a vacation, but one of my clients felt otherwise and I am left wishing I was on a tropical island with no telephone or Internet connection so I really COULD be on a vacation. You see, they have QUESTIONS.

I guess in TV or film writing this would be "Notes" and this is a project I thought I was done with, but they keep coming back with "notes" and "updates" and I am being constantly reminded that this was a job I maybe should never have taken in the first place except that they waved a huge amount of money in front of my face and I started salivating. And having grabbed this particular tiger by the tail, I feel rather unable to let go... except this tiger apparently has a long tail and is relatively agile, so it appears I'm going to get eaten whether I let go or not.

Let's be clear. I love my job.

But somedays... I hate my job.

Here, let's quote something from Stephen King, from an essay he wrote called: "On Becoming a Brand Name," which appeared in FEAR ITSELF, edited by Tim Underwood and Chuck Miller.

"There is no particular danger in writing what I will call, for want of a better term, 'serious fiction.' In writing popular, commercial fiction, there is nothing but danger. The commercial writer is easy to bribe, easy to subvert, and he knows it."

I would add, perhaps even more strongly, that a nonfiction freelancer is even easier to bribe and subvert, that we will often pursue writing jobs in areas we detest just simply so we can make enough money to pay our mortgage payment.

Mark Terry


Anonymous spyscribbler said...

Awww. I'm definitely a fool. And unless I get on a plane and DH wrestles the laptop out of my hand and forces me to leave it at home, then it's very rare I take an entire day off.

12:33 PM  
Anonymous Eric Mayer said...

Well, I know what you mean. I just took on another job for March. Now I have a job for February and March. But the way it went was that this work pays well, and first I was offered an article to be due the end of January and said yes. The material was supposed to be delivered by mid-December and 6 weeks seemed kind of borderline to do the job but probably sufficient. But, guess what, the material only arrived a couple days ago. So now I'm wondering if I can meet the deadline and they're already offering more, for a period when I already have some work anyway. But, I figure, what if this first job isn't perfect due to them getting the material to me late? They might not offer more work. But if I already have a second contract with them signed....It is just really hard to turn down money....

5:34 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

Yes, it is, Eric. And the phrase "word whore" has crossed my lips a couple times before.

5:43 AM  
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