Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Freelancers can't afford a cleaning lady.

Just the other week -- to bring you back to the present day -- I had two interesting freelance experiences. The first one, an outlet that I had contributed with frequent regularity, reconnected with me after an internal staff restructuring caused us to lose touch. Being that most of my words, if not all of them, appear on the web, the prospect of writing for a print magazine again excited me. It's strange, right? Years ago, you could walk into any newsstand and you would inevitably find one or two magazines at any given time with my name printed in it. Usually it would be spelled incorrectly.
Now, with Heeb focusing exclusively on our website, and DIW's phoenix-like resurrection into self-titled magazine, contributing to a print magazine is an old folk's coveted opportunity. Only the select few get to do it, and those poor bastards have to hustle and contribute to multiple outlets in an effort to scrounge a decent salary together. That being said, if they were still paying, there's a chance I would love it. There's something so non-blogger about print. But alas, the aforementioned magazine, like all of them, really, wants me to pitch them and them write for free.

The story with the second outlet is exponentially more frustrating. This is a casual friend who is also an editor. We have talked multiple times over the last half-year about me contributing to her outlet and judging by her enthusiastic response, this is really something she would like to see happen. Yet every time I respond, there is a ghost town-like disappearance. I'll hear back weeks later and then I'll write back. And again, another disappearance. This is the norm. Maybe she's been kidnapped. Probably not.

Now, idealistic writer, why would you want to do this to yourself? If you had asked me today whether you should be a freelance writer, I would tell you, sure. Just make sure you have a great full time job. After years and years of service, I've finally allowed for my disenchantment to take over. Yeah, writing is amazing. But it will never be your best friend.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010


This morning, I read a truly heartbreaking article on The Awl titled Seven Years as a Freelance Writer. Richard Morgan, an impressively motivated former freelancer, spent seven years in New York pitching stories to editors and magazines and tried to make a living by doing something he loved. His story would have motivated me had I still been an idealistic and eager recent Journalism grad, but instead it brought back a ton of memories for me from my life as a freelancer, mostly bad ones.

But first, my experience as a freelancer is one of the motivating factors behind my decision to go back into advertising. After September 11th, when the ad industry first felt both uncertain and unnecessary--who was buying anything then? The world was coming to an end--I decided to give the freelance world a serious chance. Besides, this was right before the blogosphere practically consumed the newsstand to only then regurgitate it back onto the Internet--People were reading magazines still.

The first outlet I pitched to was Time Out New York. I had a connection through a connection and boldly emailed Elizabeth Vincentelli, the Arts and Entertainment Editor at the time, with some pitches and some sample reviews that I had written for a few indie zines. She wrote back telling me that my reviews read more like press releases. Her response was critical, nonconstructive, and ultimately, discouraging.
Six years later, a story I wrote was included in DeCapo's Best Music Writing compilation alongside one of Vincentelli's. In fact, one night at a DeCapo reading event at the Housing Works, she read an excerpt from her piece right after I had. I didn't introduce myself that night.

[To be continued]