Mark Terry

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Working Writer

August 22, 2013
I'm going to try to get back into blogging again, but in a limited way. So, I will plan on blogging every Thursday and see how it goes.

I was having a discussion with my oldest son, Ian, who will soon be returning to Michigan State University for his sophomore year as a Professional Writing major. One of the things I was talking about was how, had I liked my job (that I left 9 years ago to write fulltime), I might have better off keeping the job and writing my fiction and some other things for extra money on the side.

But . . . I didn't. I really didn't like the job and wasn't terribly well-suited for it and I'm far happier being a freelance writer.

That said, I don't think this is a life for everybody. The financial insecurity can be hard to deal with and there are definite ups and downs, both financially and mentally. It can be a very isolating gig and not everyone's set up for it.

Which is not really what I wanted to speak to today. What I wanted to speak to was how in order to make a living as a writer, I have to write a lot of different things, often all at the same time. Here's a partial shot from today's to-do list, skipping the workout times and chauffeur the youngest kid items:

-JAGT #3
-Pod Mgt art
-update calendar
-Ag... gig
-Crystal Storm

And frankly, I don't feel like I'm very busy. The reason for that is there's a certain amount of spec work on this list. But let me describe them.

-Oswald is a book I'm ghosting/collaborating on. It's the big project this year, lucrative and time-consuming, but I'm basically acting as the writer and the client (Tom) is acting as the editor. It's an interesting project and I feel like Tom's pushing me to dig deeper and really come up with a great book, but Tom's writing/editing pace and approach is very different from mine (i.e., slow), so it often goes in fits and starts. And there's a lot of research involved.

-Vengeance. The title of my next Derek Stillwater novel. Just getting going.

-queries. Because I spend a chunk of every work day looking for work unless I'm so swamped and facing deadlines that I don't have time. Otherwise, I'm always ALWAYS looking for work. (A word of caution for would-be freelance writers, think about this. Every day is like facing the unemployment line. You're constantly looking for work. It's not the most enjoyable part of being a freelancer).

-JAGT #3. I'm the editor of a technical journal and we're between the 2nd and 3rd and final galley of the third issue. I'm awaiting corrections from the graphic artist.

-Alliance. I've got a website copywriting gig ongoing. I went as far as I could, turned in all the materials  and spoke with my client and they're getting around to it, re-evaluating the site map, blah, blah, blah. I'll be touching base early next week if I haven't heard anything from them.

-Pod Mgt art. I write regularly for a publication called Podiatry Management. But they're a pay-on-publication gig rather than pay-on-acceptance, so I get passive-aggressive sometimes if I run too far ahead and they dick around to publish articles, and won't send them any more until my earlier articles get published and I get paid. So I'm ready to write an article, but I'm waiting for payment on one that just came out and there's another one they've had for a few months.

-update calender. Because sometimes you have to do some bookkeeping and keep track of what's going on in your life.

-Ag... gig. I've been doing website copywriting for a technical client (a huge client) for a couple years off and on (they're revamping something like 14,000 web pages). I hadn't heard anything from them in a while, but I was contacted last week about doing some work, and am waiting for the actual materials to arrive sometime next week.

-Crystal Storm. A tech thriller I've been working on off and on for a couple years. I'm back at it, trying to write a couple pages a day on it.

-MS3. The next Monster Seeker book that I'm co-writing with Ian. He just sent me his latest segment, so my job is to write the next chapter.

So anyway, time to chauffeur a kid. When I get back, time to address the queries.

Mark Terry


Anonymous Eric Mayer said...

Hope you can get back to blogging. I keep telling myself I ought to. I just got burnt out.

A professional Writing major sure sounds more useful than my English Lit major.

You're a lot busier than I am right now. I'm impressed that you can juggle several books at once. I've never even tried to write more than one book at a time. Just doing it that way is difficult enough. Trying to keep track of everything going on in one novel taxes my memory. I might end up sticking characters into the wrong novel or something!

8:42 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

The Professional Writing program at MSU is pretty impressive. Ian started in Digital Media, thinking he wanted to work in TV or film, but realized he liked writing scripts, but didn't like the production end of things much. So he looked at the PW program and found you could go into areas like editing/publishing, technical writing, but also focus on your own interests, i.e., in his case, TV/film/Manga/Anime, but it's very practical oriented.

In terms of multiple books at the same time, I didn't use to do it, and there tends to be a major book with the secondary one in the background that I tinker with at off times. In terms of the Monster Seeker 3, Ian writes 3 chapters from the main character's POV, then I write one chapter with all the other stuff, and we go back and forth. So I can sort of do my thing, then forget about it for a couple weeks.

8:50 AM  

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