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Saturday, October 31, 2015

Rainy day story

This week, driving back to the city in the rain, I was telling my husband that I might need to completely change my line of work, maybe even go back to school. That's how low I was feeling about what was ahead of me, the hoops to navigate to secure continuing work. I just didn't have the heart for it, and while I love the work itself, the writing and the editing, the helping someone else achieve a heartfelt dream, I just don't have the right constitution for the sales conversations. The story I have been telling myself is this: Most people don't really understand what I do; they think it's little more than placing commas. They have no idea how long it takes or how all consuming it can be. When I tell them the fee, I imagine they think I'm tripping. My super successful ghostwriter friend says I just need to get comfortable sitting with the gulp of silence that follows as they digest what's real. This is my livelihood, after all. She says I have to trust that people who know the value of my work will find me. But the thought of having this money conversation again and again just leaves me depleted. I know it's a necessary aspect of a freelancer's life, but I dreamed of escape. Then I arrived home and checked my email and a wonderful writer who has numerous YA books and a raft of awards and even a TV series made of one of her books, was asking me to edit her new book, and another writer wanted to hire me to edit a proposal she has to craft; "I need your eye," she said. I have another coaching project in the wings, and another prospect as well, so I thought, well maybe I'm supposed to stay where I am for a while longer, see how things go. I'm not on the other side yet, however. I'm still in my head, making up stories that stick pins in me, which might explain the slow leak, the brooding insecurity, which is not, but feels like despair. I need to tell myself a new story, one that corrals my free floating anxiety about the future and settles me peacefully in the present moment. Because, as I noted to my husband, in this moment we are actually okay.



14 comments:

  1. Dear lord, girl, did this ring a bell! I am a freelance medical editor, and people always assume all I do is correct an author’s spelling (it is slightly more involved than that). But I try not to take offense; I have no idea what other jobs actually entail. I can relate so much to your thought process. I think the idea of freelancing is so different from what it actually is. I have the same issues; what work will come, will it overlap with other offers, can I hit the turnaround dates. It is not the fairy tale type of job people think it is. And we don’t work in a vacuum, do we? Freelancing can only be sustainable in certain situations (mainly ones in which money or benefits are not an issue!). And unfortunately, my situation has changed, and this will no longer be possible…

    I’ve read your blog for eons and have always enjoyed your writing; just wonderful. I can actually picture the people and places you write about. And your children! Lovely they are, inside and out.

    I hope your career path takes you where you wish!

    Elle

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    1. Elle, I so appreciate your commenting so that I can know you. I suppose my stress is that money is definitely an issue, as it really takes two to make this New York life with kids work. It helps so much to know I'm not alone in this freelance struggle to name a fair price for the work we do. I hope you will keep weighing in here. xo

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  2. Why, oh why, do we have so little faith in ourselves? Does it come with birth or is it trained into us? As you do more and more work, word of mouth will be your best selling point. This is true for almost any business. And that saying, "The universe is abundant?"
    No. Your TALENTS are abundant. And your work ethic impeccable.

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  3. i so empathize with the money part of freelancing. especially when i venture more into your realm, the non-medical editing, where i do see that what you do is not valued. people have no idea. with medical editing, they kind of get it (they think it's about the "big words." ha!) but in fiction or something that's "fun" to read, some seem to think you/we should do it for free, or close to it. the more accomplished writers, though...as i think you're finding...appreciate the difficulties in nuance, in time, in space, in rhythm--all that stuff that has no real easy language. i know you, know what you do. youre the best. you deserve to be paid for it. have you considered getting an agent--at least for the preliminary money talks?

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  4. Oh yes, the thing about money. It has taken me years (!!!) to drum up the confidence of stating my fees into the face of a new client. I am still more comfortable doing this via email. I have been editing and translating for 20+ years and if you ask me today whether I feel like a fraud, I will answer, of course.

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  5. This is one of my pet peeves. People want me to edit their manuscripts or as people in the poetry biz like to say can you put your eyes on my manuscript which is such a passive aggressive way of asking if I can do hours of work for free. And they are always shocked at my prices! OH MY GOD THAT MUCH FOR A PAGE FOR ONE POEM??? I won't even critique/edit one poem at a time anymore. I will edit ten poems for $500 period. And I'm worth it. It's work for fuck sake it's hard and precise and deliberate work and if you're good at it (and you are) then we should not be made to feel shame for doing work which is separate but still connected to art. I run into this all the time. Ugh. When I taught my workshop students always sent me their revised drafts thinking I should critique and edit that draft as well as the original but for free. No no no no no. And also hey artists CHARGE MORE. Seriously. Don't give it away.

    xoxoxox in solidarity,
    Rebecca

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  6. You are very okay. And most people don't get what we do, but they all admire.

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  7. Lately I am disliking my profession more and more. I love the caring for people aspect of my job but it starting to become more people who are very capable of doing for themselves but are either lazy or live with a sense of entitlement. It would take hours to explain but most of my coworkers are feeling the same way. We are burnt out. Sometimes I wish I had a Monday - Friday desk job. I am still working on getting my palliative accreditation, That is what I really want to do.

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  8. What timely validation! I'm so glad the work is coming in. I cannot imagine having to have that discussion with clients. I am low on the totem pole at work so it is my boss who has to have those talks. Wishing you well. Talk to yourself as if you are talking to a good friend. What would you say?

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  9. My last sentence or two were referring to the new story you will tell yourself (not a new sales pitch!)

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  10. I hear you. I think it's a woman thing -- I wonder how many men balk at giving value for their work. I'm sure you're worth every penny, and I'm glad that you're getting this work although I totally understand how reluctant you are to do the actual "transactions."

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  11. So many "mmhmms" as I read this and felt connections!

    I worked as a labor doula and always struggled to charge enough to actually cover my services. The truth is, there are people out there that will pay and people that won't, but I didn't believe that they would pay that much for me-though I'm a friggin amazing doula!

    It sounds like you are pretty amazing yourself, it's okay to hate the transaction part. I wish you could have an agent or something to save yourself the anxiety, but even more so I hope that one day you can boldly state your fee and know, really know, that you are worth every penny and know that what your potential clients think is on them, not on you.

    Hope you feel better in your "actually okay" place, I have a hard time settling into peace and not finding trouble for myself/worrying, if that 's what you were saying (I'm a bit foggy brained today) :)

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  12. It is difficult to be both creative and businesslike. I think that is why actors have agents to take care of negotiations. Writers do too. Any chance of engaging their services or is that something you've considered and decided against?

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  13. I feel the same when it comes to pricing any art I create and envy those who can put a price on their work without blinking an eye. Therefore I dont't sell much of anything and do not have a flourishing career in the arts. However, you are a writer and people are willing to pay for your services do to your past experience and knowledge. I have paid for services and peices of art in full and with payment plans in the past. I have a friend thats a self emplyed beautician that has a chalk board up on the wall with her prices so people know up front what it will cost, and she is not cheap, but she is VERY talented. You get what you pay for.

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