Six Lessons On Getting Paid (On Writing & Editing)

I had two major writing goals this year one was finishing my book Sumer, which is what this blog is mainly about. The other goal was to get paid something for a piece of writing. I recently accomplished this goal for an Interview I conducted over at http://gestaltcreatives.com/Jordan-Clasen.

Here are six lessons I picked up in that process.

Opportunity Comes From Real Contacts-I got the gig through my friend. This was a really nice introduction to the whole thing. It was mutually advantageous. He appreciated the angle and energy I brought to the work, and I got closer to fulfilling my own goal. So much of success depends on cultivating the right relationships with other people. It’s important to note here too that the best way to receive is to give first. Look how you can serve someone else and they may offer assistance in way which you were own aware of. So don’t just look for other writers, look for all types of people and professions and get involved with them. You never know where the story and the work might come from.

Care-So you get the gig but now you got to get the job done. I think it is important to actually care about what you’re writing about. I know for me personally I would have a real hard time generating material for something I wasn’t interested in. So in my case being able to talk to my farmer buddy, about farming was a great time. Finding New Skills in the Work-I want to write great Fiction as my ultimate goal, but I got a deep love for Non-Fiction too, especially the interview. I have a special admiration for how reality can be captured in a quality interview. In a great interview you get to “meet’ another person. This writing project was an interview so I was very excited.

It was the first time I ever recorded a conversation and then tried to transcribe it. That was a very interesting. Catching real speech and translating that too readable prose is a real challenge and an art form. Listening intensely to two people talking and trying to get that right grammatically is a great exercise. I knew the whole time I was doing it, even if my piece was rejected for some reason, working the writing skills alone made it invaluable.

Remember that you are trying to please the Boss-For better or worse if you are trying to sell your work you are going to have to please some buyer. Even stuff that is self-published will need to please the reader. If it is a more commercial type project I suspect this pressure is even greater. You can imagine the business, or other artist in my case, has their own expectations. I like to think of them as “the house.” You need to respect the house, if you want to get paid. Differing ideas on this project almost led me to retract my piece all together. I’ll save you all the torrid details, but the point is make sure that you know what the house wants, and know that if you give the house something it doesn’t want, then there might be trouble!

Trouble is Good!-I think Art and Conflict go hand in hand. I think Art is there to combat boredom, so it seems to me the process of Art ought to be a battle in its own way. I think you want to challenge the House, mother your piece, fight for the vision that you had for it. To me the point becomes why write, why live, in an inauthentic way? What good feeling is enjoyed when we feel our vision has not been achieved, that our dream has been truncated. There is a certain tone out there in media and writing. The “Non-Existent” narrator, as if all these words spill out on the page by some faceless demon somewhere, or maybe even better some non-self aware AI system–wait that is the case exactly in how news. Well, I reject that. I am an I.

Compromise– So after you have started a bunch of shit, it is time to wind things down. I truly believe there is probably a little truth in any criticism. Sometimes the criticisms we want to reject about ourselves, are the exact things we need to assimilate into our understanding. Maturity is the ability to figure this out, to recognize what criticisms are validate and which one’s aren’t. That’s why you have to cultivate the skills of a professional.If you are too stupid or immature to recognize your own failures then the whole project is sort of doomed by that. Personally, I have been doomed by that at times.

This point connects to the first point. If a writing project arises out of a friendship basis it really helps this final detail. Because there was a lot of positivity going in, a shared vision was achieved, which benefited all parties. You have to have an equal love for your own work, but also the project as a whole. I think it is great to have a little tension and dissonance in the construction of the work, but in the end we need to come together to put the show on!

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