The qualities that make me a great employee also ensure that I am a fine boss; I am well-organized, dedicated, hard-working, compassionate, honest and, when necessary, quite plain-spoken. I have no problem filling either role, with gusto and something approaching finesse. The clarity of these cut-and-dried positions is comforting. I’m the boss at ‘A Small Press Life’, an employee at my very part-time day job. Knowing my place, wherever it falls on the workaday spectrum, goes a long way in making bad days tolerable. Under these easy circumstances, motivation is effortless. Then there’s the flip-side to my professional life, where everything is a bit murky and unsafe. Where I am equal parts employee AND boss, one of the worst combinations of anything in the world. Freelancing. Oh, the humanity.
Sometimes, it seems as if all of the stellar attributes listed above melt away as soon as I am in charge of myself in a freelance capacity. Once I have a commission, or have placed a piece, the situation reverts to normal. It’s the leg-work and networking that is tricky and unpalatable. I devote hours to those onerous tasks on behalf of ‘A Small Press Life’ but for my freelance work? Not a chance. I’d rather shoot a nail gun at my right knee. I’ll admit that this entire issue is complicated by a hardened combination of ego and ethical philosophy.
I’m not a journalist for a good reason: although I could, I won’t write about just any assigned topic. I need to be passionate about a subject, or at least find it intriguing or disturbing. You can call it a weakness, and I’m okay with that. When it comes to creativity, I’m also a first-rate, straight-to-the-head-of-the-class control freak. I accept criticism well and appreciate feedback, truly. Artistic growth is otherwise impossible. I just like to do what I like to do, which includes writing on strange niche topics and only working for small press publications- both involving rather narrow (and self-imposed) parameters that don’t make a freelance career a cakewalk. (This is, incidentally, how ‘A Small Press Life‘ was born.)
I spend a lot of time ferreting out forums that meet my criteria, to find publications that are a correct fit. This detailed vetting is frustrating, which is probably why my freelance career goes through wildly divergent phases. Stabilizing it is one of my goals for 2012. I’ll need access to as many resources as I can find, resources that will aid me in my efforts to stay organized and on top of the always-changing market (because even a wordsmith specializing in silent movies, dead writers, the literary life, old books and flappers has a market).
I know that you face your own set of professional challenges. We likely have in common a cross-section of concerns, annoyances and problems. There’s always a universality to this kind of career; it matters not that the details differ. I’m going to start sharing my own resources with you as they come my way. Feel free to reciprocate.
C. Hope Clark-Funds for Writers/FWW Small Markets Newsletters:
C. Hope Clark presides over a mini-empire of (mostly free) ‘Writer’s Digest’ approved e-newsletters. I subscribe to the weekly ‘Funds for Writers’ and ‘FWW Small Markets’. Although she acts as a sort of pep rally leader with words of encouragement, inspirational quotes and feel-good stories, I usually skip right to the meat: the up-to-the-minute resources. You’ll find a list of grants, awards, contests, jobs and markets, with all of the time-saving details in one tidy place. The rest is up to you.
Every time these weekly reminders arrive, I become a little more disciplined, focused and determined. That’s a start.