Monday, September 24, 2012

When the World Sends Writing Assignments

I've been somewhat amazed at the good writing news coming my way.  Late August and September is usually a time of submissions for me, not a time of getting good news (because I've only just started submitting to journals and periodicals for the Fall reading period).

But since I got the phone call that told me of the restructuring at my school, I've gotten an abundance of good writing news.  I've gotten an assignment from my editor at The Lutheran, my editor of Living Lutheran, and Her Circle.  I've gotten several acceptances of individual poems, some from journals which have never chosen my poems before.  Hurrah!

I've gotten some other positive feedback too.  When brainstorming with people about what might come next, many people have talked about specific writing that I do and asked if I had ever thought about ramping up those efforts.  For example, I've shown that I can write blog posts regularly and about a wide range of topics.  More than one person has asked if I've ever thought about doing more with blogging.

Yes, yes I have.  Right now, I like writing blog posts better than just about anything else that I write.  Could I be paid to do that?

Yes, I know, I hear the negative message that often comes up at this point in the conversation:  no one would want to pay me to write simply what I want to write.

Well, that's not necessarily true, and even if it is, the trick would be finding the people who would want to pay me to write about the topics to which my brain regularly returns:  academics, teaching ideas, theological writing, cooking, reviews, creativity, historical events and figures.  Hmm.  Let me think on that some more.

What kind of sign would I need from the universe?  What kind of sign would tell me that I could make a living with my writing?

I'd need some regular money coming in.  I heard the writer Steve Almond talk at the 2011 AWP convention.  He said that what kept him going as a writer was his monthly column for Martha Stewart Living.  That column paid regular money, good money, money that he could count on.  I want to say that he told us that the column paid $1000.  That would be a good base.

He was writing about topics that delighted him, like the joys of candy.  He didn't have to force himself to write about topics that were horrible to him.

So, although I do have enough paid work that I pay taxes on it, I don't have enough that I do without my day job.  A gig or two that paid $1000, that would be a sign from the universe.

I've often wondered what kind of book contract would offer a similar sign.  What kind of advance would I want to have?  What would I need to have to say, "OK, it's time to leave my office job and commit to the book"?  Several hundred thousand would be nice.  Perhaps not realistic, but if we're going to dream, why not dream big?

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