A Freelance Writer’s Story

Make what you want of this story. I have to tell it to you. It may sound like something you’ve heard before, and you have! Another publication with very very fucky ideas of how to interact with its contributors is my subject once again. If you splain me the woes of the academic wee tender little guy trying to do its bit for the literary what-the-fuck-ever, I will hunt you down and do something you won’t like. I haven’t decided what, so don’t hold me to it. You don’t need to feel sorry for me. I am not a hurt or abject thing. If you are a publication like the one I am going to describe, stop doing this shit. Understand that it is disgusting and stop doing it. If you are a writer who, like me, gets embroiled with these kinds of publications, please abstain from complying with their bullshit. 18 months ago or maybe it was 19, a delightful human asked me if I would write something about a writer who had been an influence on me, something like that. I said sure. The delightful human said, Can you get it in quickly, like a week? Maybe the delightful human said ten days and said the fee was $50. I wrote the piece the next day and sent it. The delightful human was delighted, and then nothing happened. Nothing. After six months I inquired. The delightful human was not in control of the publication in any way and so could not tell me when the piece would run and when, if ever, I would be paid. More than a year passed and I received an email that started with Congratulations! Your piece is going to be published in blah blah issue. I thought, why are you congratulating me? You are congratulating yourself by congratulating me. I didn’t apply for anything. I fulfilled a commission. I was also sent several forms to print out and send back if I wanted to be published and paid. I filled out the forms. Nothing again. Months passed, and I received a proof of the piece. All fine and the bio was fine. Fine, fine, fine. More months passed. Yesterday I received another email saying I had to fill out the forms or else, you know, no money, etc. It also said Congratulations! I wrote back and said I had filled out the forms and sent them back and wasn’t going to do it again. I asked why people in the office could not keep track of this stuff. No one has replied. I considered filling out the forms again for a hair of a second. It was more of a thought experiment to see if it could even entertain that possibility. I thought for the same hair second about not writing this post and looking like the asshole I paint myself to be. But that would be, you know, not me. I feel hatred for these people, who are probably wonderful, all of them, really terrific people who care about lots of stuff that matters except thinking they are a professional entity engaging with professional writers. They don’t think we are professional writers. They don’t think about us at all.

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