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    Motivation for Moolah

    Yes, the horrible secret is out. My friends know it. My husband knows it. I even told my cats about it. I Write For Free. There. It's out. I can say it at last. Such a load off my shoulders! You may detect some sarcasm which I'm very good at and which is my aim. Only because there is a hot debate about whether or not a writer should write for free. Some scorn those who write for free. Others think it's a way of getting your name out there. You have to make your own decision about whether to give away your work to gain exposure or demand payment for your article/book/short story.

    First of all, it's tough to get published and paid if you've never written anything at all. The writer/editor conversation would go something like this.

    "What! You've never written anything? Why are you calling us?! How did you get this number?!"

    "I thought maybe you'd give me a chance. I did take English in grade school and I know how to use a dictionary."

    "Don't call us until you've written something that's been published!"

    "How can I get something published if no one will give me a chance?"

    "That is SO not my problem!" CLICK.

    Try not to take it personally, even though our fantasy editor above insulted you to the max. Remember your first job? It was probably a menial job at a small business or a demeaning job in a large business. Okay, you weren't giving away your time, but let's face it, minimum wage is not a thrill ride and it's called menial because it doesn't pay much. And when you applied, the person reading your application was probably chewing an after-lunch toothpick, totally disinterested while you squirmed in your seat thinking about having to slink home and tell your folks you didn't get the job.

    If you got the job, what did you do to convince the owner you should be hired? Did your sparkling personality do the trick or did you just whine a lot? I have a sparkling personality and I whined a lot. I still had to slog through 4 applications before a card shop finally hired me to straighten cards 8 hours a day. They didn't teach me to use the cash register, or re-stock. I was hired as a Card Straightener. I'd never heard of a job like that but it was an actual title. I think they made this one up so I wouldn't feel so humiliated. They were wrong.

    Well, I had to start somewhere, right? It didn't take long before I got the guts to try out something else that paid a little better and had a little more prestige. Something that would utilize my incredible mental skills. Like cashiering for a dime store. You can stop laughing, it was a major step up. The Human Resources director proclaimed that anybody who could do a job like Card Straightener for 8 months must have a lot of staying power, which is why she hired me. I felt it was a dubious compliment at best.

    The whole point is that everybody has to start somewhere. If you get your name out there with a free column or free articles, there's nothing wrong with that as long as you don't do it too long or at least do it while you're submitting queries for paying work. There are a lot of opinions about this, pro and con, so you have to decide for yourself.

    A few caveats to writing for free, now that I've shamed you into finding only paying jobs. If you've given your heart to a favorite charity and you write their newsletter without pay, there's nothing wrong with that. If you write without pay for a dear friend with whom you feel sincere loyalty for giving you your first chance to expose your work, like I have, there's nothing wrong with that either. Just be sure you get queries out for paying jobs at the same time.

    Motivation for moolah is a powerful, almost religious experience.

    Now I need to work on motivating more editors to pay me.

    Copyright © 2001 Lyne Royce

    Lyne Royce is a freelance writer living in the desert east of Phoenix. She lives with her devoted husband and six spoiled and previously stray cats. She's fervent about Native American history and enjoys reading books on the subject when she has the time. After 15 years teaching software classes, and two years doing Web site design, Lyne decided to listen seriously to her muse and has participated in writing workshops and clinics on the Web, including the Writer's Digest Workshops' Fundamentals of Non-Fiction Writing, Focus on the Non-Fiction Magazine Article; WriteRead.com's Query Letter Clinic; Writers.com's workshop Writing and publishing Magazine Articles; the humor clinic, Writing from the Left Side of the Brain with Jane Combs; and Secrets of the Professional Freelancer at Coffeehouse.com. She belongs to several writers discussion groups but her favorite, Writers Pad, is where she enjoys learning from her writer friends on a daily basis that it is possible for a writer to become a published writer.

    The Authentic Self: Journaling Your Joys, Griefs and Everything in Between by Shery Russ



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