Friday, January 20, 2006

Hold On - Life is a Wild Ride

Riding high after releasing my first book, I reveled in the first two months of the attention it was receiving. I especially celebrated the fact that an accomplished screenwriter in Hollywood had requested a copy for review. Well, that was then and this is now. I’ve been shocked into the reality of how hard it is to sell books by the first two month’s sales statements from my publisher. The book is no longer receiving daily or even weekly media attention and the screenwriter sent me a ‘nice’ rejection letter.
The writing business can only be described one way – when you’re up, you’re way up and when you’re down, it’s a very low place. That’s why I have to keep reminding myself how I ended up freelancing in the first place.
When I was JD’d (the internal corporate speak for Job Discontinued), from my lucrative and comfortable corporate job, I probably was the only one rejoicing in my luck at a chance for a second career. Three months later, with the clock running out on my severance package, I found myself at the end of another interview for a staff position at a magazine.
I had been offered a copy editor job at a publishing house in Topeka, Kansas, an hour’s drive from my home. The pay was low, the drive was unappealing and the editor told me the job would afford me limited chances to actually write.
However, my husband was becoming nervous and my freelance writing to that time had only netted me $25. It was Friday afternoon and I told the editor I would let her know on Monday. An hour’s drive on the Kansas plains can offer little opportunity other than thinking and I started weighing the pros vs. the cons as soon as I got into the car.
Finally, half way through the drive, I decided to give my strained brain a break and I turned on the stereo.
The band, “Kansas” had always been one of my favorites and the song, “Hold On,” came on immediately after I turned the dial. I listened to the words of the song… “Hold On, you’re closer than you think. You’re standing on the brink. Hold On, baby hold on, there’s something on the way, tomorrow’s not the same as today.”
I felt like the band from Topeka was speaking to me. I took it as a sign and that’s how I ended up a writer instead of a copy editor/writer-wanna-be at a regional magazine.
The following Monday, I followed up with the editor of the magazine by sending her a thank you and declining her offer. The next day, I had five publications lined up ready to buy articles.
What got me started has always kept me going.
Thank God this Friday is much different than last when I had nothing but a week full of rejections and dreams of a movie made from my book dashed. I have assignments and promises of more reviews for the book.
The song is right, not just about writing, but life in general. There’s always something on the way and tomorrow’s never the same as today.

2 Comments:

Anonymous J.Jones said...

I like this writer sharing both sides of the writing life. Writers can feel more in tune with a writer who talks about the rejection slips as well as the acceptances. Once, I attended a writing conference and the main speaker said she had never received a rejection slip. She was a beautiful young woman with long blond hair. She was a rommance writer. I hated her on the spot. On the other hand, Ted Kooser talks about his collection of hundreds of rejection slips, along with many publications. I feel his compassion. In Kerri's essay she brings her story home by letting the reader get in touch with her passion for writing. Hope and passion are good bed fellows and Kerri has both.

2:44 PM CST  
Anonymous Doris Briggs said...

Kerri,
Thanks for shedding light on all the writing scams out there. I have noticed many since I have started to write. It seems the business world thinks any type of creativity is a snap. "Anyone can do it." Artistic talent of any kind is thought to come cheap. I had a freelance graphic business for 10 years and I had many potential cllients who expected me to do an entire ad campaign for very little or nothing. I am waiting for the day, probably not in my life time, when creative people make as much money as lawyers and accountants. When they start a project the clock is running. I think writers and artists should do the same.

8:34 AM CDT  

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