Will Write For Money, a true story
One of my friends from grad school who is a talented book designer/editor who has worked for many, including the largest independent press in Southern California and one of the largest in the west coast altogether, is considering moving to Portland from L.A. and asked if we know any job leads. I have two friends who work in publishing, the first is my daughter's softball coach, and he is the online Director of Digital Publishing at Dark Horse Comics. The second is one of my daughter's soccer coaches, and he is the Editor-in-Chief of the Portland Mercury.
Now please allow me back up. When I was Editor-in-Chief of DASH Literary Journal at CSUF, this talented gal did the entire design and made a strikingly beautiful journal (three years in a row), and knowing first hand what she can do (and her work ethic), I decided to endorse her and reach out to these two coaches. I normally wouldn't do this, but I truly believe she would be additive to any editorial team. I haven't heard back from the gentleman at Dark Horse, but the dude at Portland Mercury got back to me immediately. In a humorous response he told me he currently doesn't have any full time positions open but people do get hit by cars, so keep fingers crossed. Then he added, that he is, however, always looking for freelance writers and to send clips because he "loves reading people's stuff." I let him know that she is likely looking for full time, but that I'd let her know. I was going to leave it at that, but then I didn't.
I would have, but an enthusiastic email from the EIC of the Mercury saying that he loves to read "people's stuff" got me thinking. I have stuff people can read. Would he love reading my stuff? I'm not looking for a job, by any means. I'm an unpayed Contributing Editor at NAILED Magazine, but am I facing the opportunity to potentially submit writing that could most importantly reach a much larger audience, and secondly important, provide an occasional income? So I did it. In my reply wherein I thanked him and let him know I'd pass the word on to my friend, I added this clumsily worded tag:
And, well, I just thought I’d throw this out there since you mentioned it… not sure what you’re looking for freelance writers for, but I do do a bit of scribbling myself. If you’re ever in a pinch and looking for someone to take on an article, I’d definitely be interested in taking a stab at it.
After this text, I attached a link to the article I wrote about the search for Bigfoot in the Pacific Northwest. He replied, "Woot! I'll check it out, thanks!", and here we are a day later.
I don't know what will become of this. I don't know if this will open future opportunities for publication. It may or may not be a long shot; I don't know. It may or may not be a shot in the dark; I don't know. I do know it's a shot though, but there are definitely a lot more I don't knows here.
I also know this: I sat there all soccer season thinking about how this guy could be a link to a new success for me as far my writing goes, but I tried so hard not to think about it. I just wanted to be another guy with no ulterior motives. A guy that didn't want to take advantage of this great person who happens to be more than just connected to the industry I've always wanted to be involved in. I wanted to be friends, and though I didn't really accomplish that off the soccer field, that's OK. There are years of seasons to come. But now that I've muddied the waters, I have to wonder how he's going to view me (especially if he doesn't like my writing). I could run through the thoughts I dwell on regarding what someone like the EIC of a large weekly publication would assume about someone like me, but I have to bury those neuroses and simply hope he sees this as what it is: an honest, since you brought it up, and that I truly was just trying to find a job for a friend with no interest in promoting myself. I just saw an open window and threw a wadded up note through it.
I'm still not sure I made the right decision, but I suppose I'll know soon... maybe. I definitely feel as though I've filled out a job application, and I'm in the middle of the interview process as he reads my Bigfoot article, but the uncertainties of if and when he'll get to it make it much more painful. I'm sure I'm overthinking this, but that's just what I do. This isn't the first time I've made a leap like this, and if I hadn't before, I wouldn't have met and interviewed George Saunders, Rob Delaney wouldn't have come to a fundraiser at CSUF, I wouldn't have interviewed Nick Bantock (the author who helped name my second child, Sabine), and Ron Carlson wouldn't have contributed a story to the small magazine I was EIC for. But let it be known that this is the sort of shit that bounces around my mind.
So the point of this is, I guess, that I may actually make some real money with my writing at some point soon. I don't know how good the odds are, but maybe, just maybe, I can pull it off. Now if only I could make enough to pay off my student loans...