I’ve been contacted by the temp agency where I worked a couple of years ago with the opportunity to write-for-hire at three times what I was paid in 2010, which is, after you calculate the time and effort researching, interviewing, writing and rewriting, only a few steps above pennies on the hour. The economy has picked up a little, at least for nonfiction, and I don’t feel the same pressure to sell all rights to my writing in exchange for the privilege to keep the electricity on. That means I am choosing to forgo a sure-bet for a gamble. I have, over the last few weeks, started pitching stories I want to write for markets I want to write for without a guarantee of payment or publication.
I think most creative professionals struggle to balance the projects they are passionate about with the projects that pay the bills. Yes, a handful of us get to do what we love all the time and get paid for it all the time, but a majority of us have to endure some sort of downsize and compromise if we are the ones our family looks to for provisions and we don’t want to surrender to the corporate jaws of death. Augusten Burroughs worked in advertising before his novels and memoirs were picked up by major publishers. Others of less fame have worked in other industries until being able to finally say goodbye to the steady paycheck. And still others, like me, continue to live a double life.
So while the offer to work-for-hire was tempting for the instant gratification of guaranteed work and guaranteed pay and guaranteed publication, I am for the moment going to pass for what appears to be the better hand.