Friday, August 15, 2008

WRONG! of the Week (WOTW)

We ALL know what it’s like to not be paid enough for our writing, but once our site really starts kicking ass, improvements in the money department should follow.

What if the grocery store kicks ass before then?

Words to Starve By

"I don’t think it is possible to give tips for finding one's voice; it’s one of those things for which there aren’t really any tricks or shortcuts, or even any advice that necessarily translates from writer to writer. All I can tell you is to write as much as possible."

—Poppy Z. Brite

Monday, June 23, 2008

Words to Starve By

"I believe that in a good collaboration, the authors bring their strengths to the story; one author’s strength cancels the other author’s weakness, and back and forth it goes."

—Jack Dann

Monday, June 16, 2008

WRONG! of the Week (WOTW)

“You won’t get rich here, but you get a byline and clips. Good opportunity for writer just starting out.”

Who says? First, modest means low (and probably slow). Writers just starting out are worthy of their hire. You, Mr. Employer, still get a story or blog post you consider good enough to use, so pay! This kind of ad is like saying, “Let's all pitch in and make ME money, sound good?” And those clips—often phrased as “exposure”—who is going to go repeatedly to a website full of content worthy of only “modest” payment? And if they do, will they fall over when they hear what market rate is?

Words to Starve By

"You can’t say, I won’t write today because that excuse will extend into several days, then several months, are not a writer anymore, just someone who dreams about being a writer."

—Dorothy C. Fontana

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Words to Starve By

"If you believe everything you read, better not read."

—Japanese proverb

"People on the outside think there's something magical about writing, that you go up in the attic at midnight and cast the bones and come down in the morning with a story, but it isn't like that. You sit in back of the typewriter and you work, and that's all there is to it."

—Harlan Ellison

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Wrong of the Week

"We don't pay deposits. Our company has been around
for years—we are not going anywhere."

Well, it is industry custom to ask for a deposit on corporate
work, and many writers aren't budging without it. As one writer once
said, "If the client does go somewhere and never pays the balance,
you are only half as mad if you had half on deposit." Deposits also
demonstrate check-writing abililty. Good to know.

Monday, June 2, 2008


In an episode of "The Wire" (HBO), the managing editor wakes up and calls the city room—he thinks he may have transposed a statistic in a story. I have lurched awake at night wondering this. I also have had sources tell me they were surprised I called—didn't reporters just make up quotes, รก la The New York Times scandal of a couple of years ago? Being a writer takes training and skill. That's why I steadfastly stand for writers getting a reasonable rate for their work. Those 500 words may stand for 6 to 10 hours of work. They are worth more than $30, as another writing website maintained recently. I was deemed a malcontent and was told no one would hire me. I wear the title proudly. I am worth something and so are my stories. 

Words to Starve By

An artist's career always begins tomorrow.
—James Whistler

A bad review is like baking a cake with all the best ingredients and having someone sit on it.
—Danielle Steel

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Words to Starve By

Exercise the writing muscle every  day, even if it is only a letter, notes, a title list, a character sketch, a journal entry. Writers are like dancers, like athletes. Without that exercise, the muscles seize up.
—Jane Yolen

Cute rots the intellect.
—Garfield the Cat

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Scribbles' Choice

Writers Are So Dreamy

Writers are left alone a lot, and their own devices can get pretty scary at times. Besides all the procrastinating, their thoughts can turn into dreams, and then…

(Cue the sappy music.)

Dream Clients…

Out of the mist comes Dream Client, someone who has located his or her Dream Writer from reading deathless stories by the writer and craving their Yoda-like wisdom and help.

Dream Clients say things like:

"You are my favorite columnist, do you ever write features?"

"You can write and design—you must be some kind of genius."

"How have you managed to work for yourself for so long? I could never take the insecurity and loneliness."

"It is such a plus for me to hire someone with an office, so I don't have to buy a computer or pay rent on office space for someone I only need occasionally."

"My own living depends on finding the best book to publish or best cover story I can commission. You are making me look good."

"I know you are not a large company and can't wait months for your money."

Wait, some weird green substance is coming over the dream…ick…oh, no, it's Nightmare Time.

Ack, this is horrible….

Whispers Building to Snarls…

"I don't have any money to finance this, so you have your nerve charging. Doesn't your spouse work?"

"It's short and should be so easy for someone like you."

"The faster you work, the closer you come to $15 an hour."

"You'll get paid when I do."

"Ten cents a word is great for people who work at home"

"I don't pay deposits— why should I pay before you do the work?"

"I pay on publication, well, maybe a month after. Be patient."

"Payment is not my department."

"You didn't use our invoice, time to start over. I am attaching it this time."

"Our lawyers won't budge on the contract—it's all legal."

And of course, in a keening wail, "The check is in the mail."

Wake up, Writer! It'll all be okay. Wake up, wake up.

—Star Lawrence

Friday, May 16, 2008

WRONG! of the Week

From an actual ad: "Every director needs a demo reel, every photographer needs a portfolio, every writer needs published work they can point to. Get your work published on our blog now! This is an unpaid, freelance, telecommute position.
Tell us again, why can't anyone get published on their own blog? Darn—you don't benefit!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Words to Starve By

"Only ambitions nonentities and hearty mediocrities exhibit their rough drafts. It's like passing around samples of sputum."
—Vladimir Nabokov

"The secret of becoming a writer is to write, write and keep on writing."
—Ken McLeod

Thursday, May 1, 2008

WRONG! of the Week

Buying writing on the never-never

"We pay on publication." What if the piece gets pushed back an issue? What if you decide not to run it at all? By the way, a kill fee is no substitute for full payment if you kill the piece due to no fault of the writer (say, lack of space). Pay on pub usually means the writer waits more than 30 days—sometimes a lot more, months even. Smart as most writers are, they still use money for essentials like everyone else.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Words to Starve By

"Sometimes you have to go on when you don't feel like it, and sometimes you're doing good work when it feels like all you're managing to do is to shovel shit from a sitting position."
—Stephen King

Words to Starve By

"If the doctor told me I had six minutes to live, I'd type a little faster."
—Isaac Asimov

Words to Starve By

"I read part of it all the way through."
—Samuel Goldwyn

Words to Starve By

"Writing for a penny a word is ridiculous. If a man wanted to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion."
—L. Ron Hubbard

Words to Starve By

"You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus."
—Mark Twain

Words to Starve By

"A writer never has a vacation. For a writer, life consists of either writing or thinking about writing."
—Eugene Ionesco

Words to Starve By

"The brain that doesn't feed itself, eats itself."
—Gore Vidal

Words to Starve By

"Writers definitely make it look too easy. Now everyone thinks they can do it."
—Star Lawrence

Fantasy Gifts for Writers

RELIEF DEVICE—Writers use this to rap themselves in the head repeatedly just for the pleasure of stopping. This one is specially designed for the female scribe. Also useful for applying percussive therapy to computers and peripherals.

Fantasy Gifts for Writers

PREBROKEN PENCILS—Your writer may not have time to break all of his or her pencils. Not breaking them may result in the sharpened end being thrust through the writer's palm. Writers are not allowed to play with sharp things, anyway, at least in most states.

Fantasy Gifts for Writers

POSTURE IMPROVER—Writers tend to slump at their keyboards. Balancing a yummy snack on one's head improves shoulder alignment. Of course, almost any client happily will shoot if off (or aim for it) without even being asked.

Fantasy Gifts for Writers

DICKSHUNAIRY—Many people spell things the way they like. There used to be rules, agreed-upon spellings. This was before craigslist. The writer in your life probably can't remember those anymore. This will help.

Fantasy Gifts for Writers

RUSH DEADLINE AID—When the work comes in a 6 pm, many writers use this handy pants-securing device to lash themselves into the desk chair for the night. This one also comes in dollar-store plastic.

Fantasy Gifts for Writers

HEALTH INSURANCE—Many writers have heard of this any they want it! Giving your writer his or her own policy means not having to hear about their headaches and anxiety attacks. A bonus: They can now get prescription drugs.

Fantasy Gifts for Writers

WRITER'S COMFORT FOOD—Maybe Hemingway quaffed the Pernod and warfled down the French delicacies, but the writer in your life probably heads for the familiar blue box. Get a year's supply—365 boxes.

Words to Starve By

"It's what you learn after you know it all that counts."
—John Wooden

WRONG! of the Week (WOTW)

"We don't have the budget to pay any more local columnists, but we're always looking for local people interested in submitting material (generally 500 to 600 words). We run a byline, and, when possible, a photo of the writer."
Well, thanks...but I do this for a living, this writing thing. You'd be amazed, though, at how many people think we should not charge because they don't have money to pay.

Words to Starve By

"Writing is a fairly lonely business unless you invite people in to watch you do it, which is often distracting, and then have to ask them to leave."
—Marc Lawrence

Monday, March 31, 2008

Words to Starve By

"We do not write because we want to; we write because we have to."
—Somerset Maugham

WRONG! of the Week (WOTW)

"Pay will range from $20 to $50 per article. Your writing will be exposed to 2.5 million visitors."
If true, that means your ads will probably pull a decent income. Share it. Under a dime a word is a rip. As for "being exposed," isn't that illegal in most states? Is some reader going to say, "Wow, a recycled story! This writer is for me!"

Saturday, March 1, 2008

WRONG! of the Week (WOTW)

"Medical Spa is in need of a female writer age 45+ to do a story tonight about a Charity Event. This person would get free botox, restylane and photofacial along with a makeover."
Gosh, free injections of weird substances. Can we get cash?

Words to Starve By

"We don't just borrow words. On occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary."
—James Davis Nicoll

Monday, February 25, 2008

Words to Starve By

"Any word you have to hunt for in a thesaurus is the wrong word. There are no exceptions to this rule."
—Stephen King

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Wrong of the Week

The document is 30 pages long, about 10K words. You should know Strunk and White through and through. I need to have my works cited properly formatted. This work needs to be done tonight and done by tomorrow morning. Compensation: $125.
Piece of cake. All I have to do is put on my Wonder Woman cape and done deal. On the bright side, this guy or gal thinks owning a Strunk & White makes you an editor. Just one not worthy of being paid.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Words to Starve By

"Life is what happens to a writer between drafts."
—Damon (aka Dennis R. Miller, who spent 25 years completing his novel THE PERFECT SONG)

Monday, February 4, 2008

Words to Starve By

"I am not young enough to know everything."
—Oscar Wilde

Friday, February 1, 2008

Words to Starve By

"I always laugh when I see ads that say, 'Must be an English major.' Does being an English major mean one can write? Read, maybe. Know English, maybe."
—Star Lawrence

Monday, January 28, 2008

Words to Starve By

"If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it."
—Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules of Writing

WRONG! of the Week (WOTW)

Must write at college level for $1.25 a page.
Finally a way to make college pay off and get those Beemers we have been wanting.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Words to Starve By

"We would like to return to work with our writers. If we cannot, we would like to express our ambivalence, but without our writers, we are unable to express something as nuanced as ambivalence."
Stephen Colbert

Thursday, January 3, 2008

WRONG! of the Week (WOTW)

We need to generate sales copy for 8,000 items. We have an Excel file with all the data on it. All we need you to do is generate unique content. Payment is $1000.

Let's see, that's .125 cents for each ad. A little over a tenth of a cent. Even if we had offices in the landfills of Rio, that would be a little on the low side, wouldn't you say? Come on, be a sport, offer at least a dollar an ad. That might come up to $8 an hour.