Thursday, November 17, 2005

Attention All Freelancers: Mea Culpa

I could never be a freelance writer. Yeah, there's the talent writing thing, but I'm speaking specifically here of the psychological makeup necessary to be a freelancer. I could never do it. I know some folks who are freelancer writers, my wife included, and I listen to their stories about slow paying clients, writing PR copy for schmucks, etc., and I just couldn't do it. I wouldn't last a week without either killing somebody or setting fire to a building (preferably one in which all my editor clients were tied to business chairs in a bizarre series of ropes, chains and duct tape while Africanized fireants crawled over their honey-covered faces & mouths propped open with sharply pointed toothpicks...not that I've thought this through or anything).

The bottom line for knowing I couldn't be a freelancer is the bottom line. I'm just one of those small-minded folks who autistically requires the monotony of the regular paycheck. Part of this condition is that I have a complete phobia about asking people for money, asking people where my money is, demanding my money, threatening people with ropes, chains and duct tape to get my money, etc. When far younger, and professionally lost in that special way peculiar to those who have Master's Degrees in Political Science, I actually tried to work in sales. Simply put, I was the single worst salesperson in the history of commerce. I admire, while also loathing, salespeople and their ability to stay persistent in "closing the deal". My "method" of closing went something like this:

Me: Hi, Mr. Person!
Mr. Person: Hello.
Me: Mr. Person, I'm selling Life Insurance, do you want some?
Mr. Person: No, I do not.
Me: Oh, okay, thanks for your time!

In a hideous former life that requires me to immediately shower every time I think about it I made tons of "cold calls" that were exactly like the exchange above. Sometimes hours of them. Well, honestly, only about once did I spend hours doing them before I (with some help from my bosses) figured out that I did not have much of a future in sales.

I relive my inadequacy from time to time with viewings of "Glengarry, Glen Ross" and then take a long shower.

Which gets me to freelance writing in Albuquerque. About the only published writing I do these days (besides this blog, which is not only paying the bills but also providing me with a healthy 401k plan) is writing little bits for a totally unnamed local publication. I'm not going to tell you the name..no, not even if you ask real nice. No, chocolate will not help either. Anyway, this little unnamed local publication is kinda famous in the freelancing community for, uh, taking forever to pay you what scant pittance you are paid. It's basically a local version of a vanity press.

Of course such publications are anathema to real freelance writers, such as my wife. Every time I admit I'm writing something for them she gives me that look...the look that says "you aren't a very good salesman, are you?", the same look you give someone when they say something like "I know it's a penny stock, but shale oil is coming back, really". Especially as the husband of a real freelance writer, I know I should dig in my heels and refuse to write for a low paying, slow paying outfit. That's when my phobia about asking for money kicks in.

So, I officially apologize to all real freelance writers out there. No, my wife is not holding a gun to my head. Really, I'm sorry that I'm supporting in some way the financial ruin of your profession. I promise to stop...really, just as soon as my genetic structure is re-engineered sufficiently to turn me from an utter sales wimp to someone who could be one of those QVC jewelry pitchmen hawking "Gem-encrusted spoons of the 50 States". That could take some time, however. Until then, I'll be the one saying "that's okay" and "whenever you get around to it" ad infinitum.

1 comment:

Esereth said...

Get outta that shower.

Showers are for CLOSERS!!!