How To Make a Living Writing, Part II
- Wednesday, January 16, 2008
This is a continuation–Part Two, as it were–of my recent post, “How To Make a Living Writing.”
(A quick note to the reader who asked what I meant by incoming freelance work being "clean and useable." Those aren't industry terms, or anything: I only meant to describe work submitted to an editor that's ... well, clean: no typos, no weird formatting or attachments, has a good title and subtitle (that's the dream!), is the right length, is the right tone, is written anywhere near well. You simply wouldn't believe how rarely that sort of work comes in.)
Which brings me to a point, actually. I've been amazed at how many people have asked me to continue "How To Make a Living Writing." (That's funny: It looks like my Tip #1 is: "Put a lot of links to other stuff you've written!") That piece had a lot to do with, specifically, magazine writing. Writing for magazines is a real particular discipline. There's all kinds of writing, of course: poetry, mainstream journalism, magazine writing, short stories, plays, novels, book-length nonfiction. Apparently lots of people want to write for magazines. Cool! It's an insanely voracious, wide-open market. I am a freak for magazine journalism; I can't express how much I love writing in that style (um, which I'm pretty much doing right now). I quit working in magazines because, frankly, there's a lot more money in books -- and, in truth, I wanted something beyond the temporal nature of magazine publishing. But magazine writing is still, to me, Le Bomb Deluxe. Many of you apparently feel the same way.
So I'll say a bit more about that. But if people keep ... well, caring what I have to say about any of this, I'd like to maybe next time move beyond the specifics of magazine writing, and talk more about writing generally: What it is to be a writer, what it really means and entails; what it is about being a writer that so many people tend to get pretty darn entirely wrong. If anyone's up for it, I'd kind of like to talk about stuff that applies to just about anyone who feels driven to express their thoughts and feelings in any of the writing idioms. But we'll see how it goes. Maybe I'll just talk forever about magazine writing. Maybe I'll do a four-week rant about the critical difference between writing like you think a writer should write, and writing in your own voice. And how (if you'll pardon my intrusive obnoxiousness) unlikely it is that you have any idea what your own writing voice really is. And how you can go about discovering what that voice is. And how (assuming you're sane) absolutely unlikely it is that you'd be willing to pay the price for discovering what your own writing voice is.
Anyway, we'll see what you guys want. I don't care. I'm good for all of it.
So, back to magazine writing. Yes! Do it! Magazine writing is great, because doing well in magazines opens doors to just about any other kind of writing you would ever want to do. If you want to write books, for instance, magazine credits will automatically separate you (in the eyes of literary agents, and then publishers) from the umpteen zillion people who want to write books who haven't ever been published magazines. Whoo-hoo! You're in! Plus, the great thing about magazine publishing is that it lives on ideas. It needs ideas like elephants need food. In the world of magazine publishing, ideas are the Big Currency.
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