Down but definitely not out not

Optimism by Jon Slaby

Optimism by Jon Slaby

The freelance job didn’t extend my gig until next month; my last day is tomorrow. They hired a bunch of interns (for free, of course) so they can make do without me. To be honest, I’m quite relieved simply because this job was boring and drained me. It had no writing or editing involved, only working within the Content Management System and it was meant to be four-six weeks, which didn’t provide me much motivation to work hard.

I followed up with the magazine that I wrote the PCOS article for (it will be appearing in the July issue) and they sent back another small edit. I asked them what sorts of ideas they were looking for for future issues and the editor replied that they were open to anything, but

‘There are a lot of changes with the mag right now, so we aren’t using any freelancers more than once or twice for the time being, just to give us time to see who’s out there and keep the copy sounding fresh.’

I am assuming they didn’t like my writing, although they are publishing my article. To be honest, I couldn’t give it my all because this topic was too close to home–I am struggling with PCOS in a major way and just could not write the article the way I had envisioned it.

So now that one possible market is down and a day job is over, what next? I do have an interview on Tuesday for a copywriting/web writing position but I’m not holding my breath.

As you can tell, I’m feeling a little down, as I always do when one job ends. I’m twenty-five-years old and I’m already tired. All my life, all I wanted to was become a writer and/or editor, and this is what I still want to do but do I want other options for a day job? I can see myself working in marketing, advertising and especially public relations but how feasible is it to get those jobs these days? I know the economy is bad and it’s not particularly my fault, but it’s hard to keep your chin up when your dream career seems to be dwindling away in front of you.

I’m the first-born child of immigrant parents. Parents who have worked blue-collared jobs their entire lives. They’ve managed to secure property, a bit of pension money–but not much else. They worked so hard to put my sister and I through college, is it really that wrong for them to expect us to have successful and baller-status careers? I know they really try to understand my work as a writer and I am still young and in the early stages of my career, but when they see my friends buying cars and houses (yes, in NYC!), how do they deal with the disappointment? I still live at home, under their roof, rent-free, having only my own bills to pay. I would like to be able to buy them nice things once and in a while, send them off to mini-vacations or just give them some money to splurge on anything they want (which they most likely will not do but save it for our futures instead) before I have my own children to worry about. I feel old but am still living the life of a child.

There, I vented. But, as always, I like to keep my to-do list ready. I’m not one to get stuck on the past, I always keep moving.

So, what are my plans?

Improve my writing. Blog, work on a novel idea, personal essays–whatever it is. I feel as though I talk more about writing than writing itself. Somewhere along the way, my writing has turned less passionate.

Find my voice. During my freshman year of college, an a**hole professor told me that my voice was very ‘Indian’, which pissed me off at the time because I thought he was just being racist. Now, I realize what he really meant is that my tone is ‘formal’. I don’t know where I developed this ‘formal yet cheeky’ voice because I am the product of good old New York City public school. But rather than shy away from it, I want to embrace and enhance my writing style.

Develop my blogs. I have some great blog ideas and whether or not blogging is just a fad, it could be a way to improve my writing, work on the topics I’m interested in and develop a niche for myself. Stay tuned!

Pitch, pitch, pitch. So what, that ‘maybe’, one editor didn’t like my writing? I already know I couldn’t give it my all. I have years and years (hopefully) of writing ahead of me and will only get better with time.

Now that that’s all said and done, my summer has officially started! I have extensive (and cheap) travel plans starting May, so I better get to work on it! But, that’s for another post.

Is grad school really not worth it?

I know the general consensus is that if you majored in Journalism in college, getting a master’s degree in Journalism right away is probably a waste and you should be out there working and interning instead. But, what if  you have experience in the industry and would still like to go back to school. Do the rules change?

To be honest, I don’t feel like my B.A. in Journalism really means much. It was heavily newspaper-based and there was only one magazine course as well as one online course that taught me the basics. I’ve worked mostly as a web editor so my experience taught me all that I needed to know. However, I have no clue about videos, podcasts and I know only the basics of Photoshop and photo editing for the web. I realize I can learn all this through work experience or just by fiddling on my own, but somehow a grad degree seems worth it. Not to mention, the networking could be worth it.

I’ve mentioned before that if I do apply, it will only be to CUNY grad school because of the cheap tuition. Although my parents would be more than willing to pay for my grad degree (to immigrant parents, you are nothing without a bunch of diplomas, especially in this day and age when a Bachelor’s degree is easily attainable), but I don’t want to do that to them.

I’m still worried about what my next step is going to be after this job ends next month. Freelancing full-time is definitely the game plan but how successful will I be at that? From what I’m experiencing, it takes time to be a successful freelance writer/editor, so what do I do in the meantime?

So, I plan to study for my GRE’s and apply for grad programs in journalism as well as creative writing and literature for Fall 2010. If by then, my career takes a turn for the better, I can always not go back to school.

How long before you make it as a freelance writer?

womensmagsI love Mediabistro’s How to Pitch guides. It ‘s a great way to learn about what types of stories magazines are really looking for and which sections are pitch-able. Every so often, I like to re-read the guides to all my favorite national magazines, in hopes that one day an idea will strike and I’ll work up the courage to pitch them. But, I haven’t yet. I keep reading and hearing everywhere that the front-of-book is a great place for new writers to break into for most of the national glossies, but nowadays, most of the shorter pieces are being written by Editorial Assistants and Assistant Editors, so how is a new writer supposed to get an in?

I’ve done the research for a few really good ideas for a women’s national magazine but I’m scared to pitch them because I’m afraid that

(a) my e-mail won’t even get read.

(b) my really good idea will get trashed because of my limited portfolio.

(c) my idea will get stolen, reformatted and assigned to another writer. Although, I’ve read somewhere that sometimes you can get paid for your idea, but the magazine will assign the story to someone else.

Of course, that doesn’t mean I’ll stop pitching these publications, it just means I might have to hold out a little longer to get published in them. Ideally, my plan was to build up my portfolio with smaller magazines and then move on to front-of-book pieces for bigger publications and hopefully start doing some reported pieces after that. But, I’ve learned that when you’re a freelancer, there is no set game plan–you have to go with the flow.

My temp. job at the magazine website was supposed to end either this week or next week, but they’ve extended it another three-five weeks, which is great, even though the work is very tedious and quite boring. I assumed I would start freelancing full-time afterwards because the job market is just impossible, but I’m not going to be able to survive on these low-paying and limited assignments. Not to mention, since I just started, most of my payments won’t be coming in till after the summer. I plane to wade the summer out because I have travel plans that I wouldn’t want to give up and then probably look for administrative work in the fall to supplement my freelancing income. Although, finding those seems to be just as hard these days!

What do the rest of you do for money to keep your writing dreams alive?

Finding time to write

Finding the time to write while working full-time is difficult. No matter how many times I create a schedule for myself, I never seem to stick to it. Here’s when I find myself writing the most;

– during my lunch break. I try to always take my lunch outside the the office so that I can write.

– on the train, going and coming from work. That is, when I can find a seat.

– while watching my t.v. shows. I hate commercials, so it’s the perfect time for me to edit.

– late at night, right before I go to bed.

When do you find the time to write?

Summer Options

writingbybeachI like having a well-laid out plan, even if I don’t always stick to it. My freelance job is about to end in another two-three weeks and I have no idea what I’m going to do afterwards. I got lucky with this job and got it a week after the previous one  ended but summer is on it’s way and I really can’t expect to get so lucky, again. I’ve been juggling a few options;

(a) public relations internship–I always thought I’d be a good PR person because I have the serious gift of gab. But, I have no experience whatsoever. It hurts my journalistic sentiments, though, but it made it might not be a bad experience.

(b) trek up to Toronto to live with my best friend until I start getting some interviews or job offers. I can work on my writing and launch my blogs. Still, no way to generate any steady income, though!

(c) Take a job in the Hamptons for the summer. I am interviewing for a editorial position tomorrow for a new online magazine about the Hamptons. The catch is that there really is no ‘salary’, just a weekly stipend, perks (whatever that is) and a summer stay at an amazing house. Hmm, writing by the beach for a summer? Sounds like a dream, no? It’s something I always read or hear about–taking a few months off to live in a summer home somewhere and just write away. How feasible is it? I guess I’ll find out tomorrow.

The prospect of a full-time job seems very dim right now and who knows how much longer I will have to continue to freelance. I haven’t really been giving my all in terms of pitching stories. I really should be working on that with a full-force right now but writing after a full day of work is something excruciatingly painful. I must admit that I’ve been slacking off though, because of some personal issues I’m going through. The motivation is lacking a little bit, but I’m sure I’ll be on track…

soon.

Goals

I’m on deadline tonight and feeling quite restless. I just can’t seem to get working on any of the articles I have due this week. To revive my writing spirits, I thought I’d write out some near-future goals (I love lists!).

Work up the nerve to finally pitch three feature stories that I’ve done research for. I’m scared that without having an extensive portfolio, my pitches won’t get read, even though every fellow writer or editor I’ve shown them to thinks I should have no problem getting the stories published.

Launch the South Asian bridal blog I’ve been working on for the past few months. I am so excited about this! My two friends and I decided to launch our own site after we realized there are no wedding resources for South Asian-American brides out there. The layout is being designed right now and it should be up for launch next month.

Get back to beauty blogging. I want to start monetizing my makeup blog and update it more often.

Learn how to write for businesses. I need to generate more income and do more than just write for consumer publications and websites. I really have no clue how to do this, though.

What are some of your goals?

Netflexin': Mad Men

If you’re trying to get away from these depressing economic times, put AMC’s Mad Men on your netflix queue. You’ll get a weekly dosage of what New York City was truly like in it’s hey-dey; sexist, racist, ignorant and undeniable glamourous.

The series revolves around an unstoppable Advertising Executive, Don Draper, who is a a notorious jerk yet mysteriously sexy and undeniably charming. He’s married to his work and his mistress, giving an occassional nod of attention to his pretty lil’ wife and children. Other notable characters include Don’s perfectly imperfect wife, Elizabeth (an ex-model),  the buxomy Office Manager, Joan (the fiery redhead is quite possibly my favorite characters so far!), Draper’s earnest secretary, Peggy (who turns out not to be that dumb or innocent after all), the overambitious Account Executive, Pete, and a bunch of others that I just don’t care about yet.

America’s ignorant attitude towards smoking, women, Blacks, Jews and homosexuals are the prevalent themes in this series and while all that definitely keeps me watching, this is why I really watch;

1. Christina Hendricks’ unlimited ass and boobage

Frankly, I’m tired of the obsession with being skinny and I miss seeing women with real body parts on television. Not to mention, her perfect, perfect, features.

Bosom-licious!

This is what we should all really look like!

2. real red lipstick

3. Menken’s Department Store ( Bergdorf Goodman)

4. $30,000 apartments on the UES

5. A booming media industry

6. Happy Hour–all day, everyday