where the writers are
Can I get a little respect, please?

Recently a person approached me to help him with his manuscript. He needed editorial work and wanted to get his book in shape for a publisher. I explained what I do and how I work and how thorough I am, and the success I have had with clients. I love doing this work--love to help other writers, plus it helps me in my own work to figure out what is and isn't working in someone else's work, and why. But when I told him my fees (which are way below the market rate, by the way), he had a fit. "Who the hell do you think you are?" he said. "Both my wife and I are appalled! Your fee is what I make per hour!!" OK, so I was stunned. The message, of course is that what he does is infinitely more important than what I do. Out of curiosity, I asked him what he wanted to pay, and he told me there were many people around who would be willing to read and edit a whole manuscript for...the price of a great dinner in Manhattan. Today, I was reading a piece about a 58-year-old man who had lost his job in the financial world and was stressing about finding another. My heart was shattering for him, right up until he brightly quipped, "But I can use this time to write a novel!" Sigh. Is being a novelist the catch-all job that anyone can do if he or she only had the time? (I once dated a Wall Street guy who insisted he was "going to write that novel" when he had banked enough money and could take a break. Um, he had four million banked. I had a friend who loved the idea of being a writer and told everyone that was her calling, but since she could not sit alone in a room for the hours every day she would need to, the best she did was jot down ideas in a notebook she carried around.) I welcome anyone to the writing party, but am I amiss to want those people to take it seriously? Do people really not recognize how terrifically hard (and terrifically rewarding) a job it is? Do they imagine we sit at our desks daydreaming happily, waiting for inspiration, and then when it comes, the words pour out of us and we are giddy with delight?
Writing is a calling, but it is also a really difficult, exhilarating, grueling, terrifying, wonderful job. I just wish people who treat it that way.

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I'm being kind, mind you, so

I'm being kind, mind you, so have those grains of salt ready. However, I think that because a) people can physically 'write' (that is, produce words and sentences and sometimes ideas) and b) when they write a description or conversation or describe something which happened to them, they already know what they are *trying* to say, they thus believe that they have actually said it.

All my kindness aside, it's interesting the person balked at 'what he and his wife make per hour'. How dare the drudge of an author raise above their station. It would encourage me to double my asking price.

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I've yet to see people make money online

I have seen it all. Free is the new norm on the internet. People expect free.

So the trick to getting around free is to price yourself right out of the reach of those who cannot afford you or do it for free. You got two choices. That's it.

Also the internet is a very bad place to get upset. I do but that is me and I can live with it. I don't get emotional about it. You can't or you will feel disrespected.

Oh my when I read this my heart went out to you, and decided to write this to tell you this story. I truly hope you feel better. Been there done that kind of thing you know!

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Caroline, I'm sorry about this...

I remember once a first day of a writing class. The teacher came in and just told us be prepared to write and read, no excuses. I heard two guys right behind me say: "Why is she coming on so strong?"
The other one said, "because she's separating the people who are here to write and the ones who are going to take up space."

Jennifer Gibbons, Red Room

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thank you!

Jennifer, I love that comment!

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If it's any consolation,

If it's any consolation, most people in ANY endeavor are pretty much "placeholders." The internet just makes it a bit EASIER to merely take up space.
For a talented and motivated artist or craftsman....most of what you do will be PBS....pearls before swine. I don't know if it's something that can be fixed. So, one has to just keep on creating excellence and hope that you get noticed....and maybe respected. But don't hold your breath. :)

Eric