Tag Archives: writers

Friday Pix: Recommended Reading For The Weekend

Every Friday I point you to some recommended reading around the blogosphere:

1. Here’s an incredibly well-written account of what it’s like to live through an earthquake from Ben Casnocha, who’s living in Chile.

2. In the department of funny bits about aging, have a look at this post on The Ten Geekiest Ways to Hide Your Age at The Boomer Chronicles. While you’re at it, have a look as well at this thoughtful take on what The Partridge Family might look like 30 years on at Surviving Middle Aged Widowhood.

3. More funny. Sara in Vermont shows us a laugh-out-loud British comedy sketch about a writer pitching an idea to an agent. (Hat Tip: There Are No Rules.) And here’s a very funny four-second video at Formerly Hot designed for those of us who remain technologically challenged.

4. Further to last week’s recommended reading on libraries and librarians, here are some stunning photographs of 20 of the World’s Most Beautiful Libraries, as well as writer Bibi van der Zee’s take in The Guardian on what it’s like for a true bibliophile to go a week without books.

5. Finally, because sometimes you really can’t make this sh!$ up, here’s my post on PoliticsDaily.com today about the new condoms being designed for – gulp – 12 year olds.

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Friday Pix: Recommended Reading For The Weekend

Every Friday I point you to some worthwhile reading around the blogosphere:

1. As someone who blogs about adulthood, I really liked Jacob Weisberg’s analysis in Slate of what’s wrong with American politics right now. (Answer: The voters haven’t grown up.)

2. I absolutely adored Kate Harding’s paean to the LRB personals ads in Salon. Her own two ads are laugh-out-loud funny. And while I’m at it, allow me to plug my good friend Paul Reizin’s memoir of how he met his wife through a personals ad: Date Expectations: One Man’s Voyage Through The Lonely Hearts.

3. With all the gloomy talk of marriage lately (and the real-life implosion of several high profile marriages…I mention no names!), it was heartening to read this account of what makes for a successful long-term marriage in The Wall Street Journal. You gotta love an article that includes the Carters (as in Jimmy and Rosalyn) and the  Osbournes (as in Sharon and Ozzy) under one tent.

4. Here’s a thoughtful piece by author Dani Shapiro in The Los Angeles Times about how publishing has overtaken writing as a goal for writers these days.

5. Finally, I was delighted to discover (via Practicing Writing) this new (to me) blog about the adventures of an expatriate writer called Writer Abroad. For obvious reasons, I was particularly taken with this post on how one can become addicted to living abroad.

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Five Ways To Feel More Legitimate As A Writer

I got a check for $100 in the mail the other day. It was for an article that I wrote more than a year ago and which was published in a women’s magazine in the States. I’ve been chasing that check since last February (which was the deadline for payment according to the contract I signed) and I’ve probably (conservatively) exchanged about 25 or 30 emails on this matter since then.

So what’s the big deal about 100 bucks, you ask? Are things really that tight over here in London?

Well yes…and no. I don’t make a lot of money as a freelance writer, so every payment really does count. But not enough to relentlessly chase down 100 dollars over a nine month period. Of course, that’s not *really* why I “followed the money” (to coin a phrase.) I did it because of what the payment represented to me symbolically.

For me, you see, that check was all about legitimacy.

Feeling legitimate can be a tricky thing in the work world, especially for writers, freelancers, and – in many professions – women. (Yikes! I’m all three!) I remember when I was a kid I once went shopping with a friend and her mother and the owner of a local clothing store denied my friend’s mother a credit card on the grounds that she (a writer) was only self-employed. “I’m afraid you’ll need to bring your husband in,” the owner said. My friend’s mother burst into tears. I was eight years old and had no idea why she was crying.

Now I do.

Because writers and other self-employed people frequently lack the formal trappings of an office – e.g., business cards…a regular paycheck…a door (!), it’s often hard to feel “legitimate” in your chosen profession. Under such circumstances, we self-employeds tend to grasp at anything that offers a soupçon of legitimacy…anything…such as, say, a check for $100!

In that spirit, here are five methods I’ve devised for boosting my sense of legitimacy:

1. Call Your Writing Work. As memoirist Louise De Salvo wrote recently in a memorable post about how to find time to write when you have kids, it’s essential that you always call your writing “work” regardless of how much you’re paid for it (if anything): No one I knows cares if you’re writing.  That’s why you have to call it work.  Because that’s what it is.  Your work.  Your life’s work.” Amen, sister.

2. Call Yourself A Writer. This is a corollary of #1 but surprisingly hard to enact when you’re feeling a legitimacy deficit. I frequently find myself alternating between “journalist,” “blogger” and just plain “writer” but find the latter the hardest to actually utter because I think it sounds…[drumroll please]…illegitimate. But the more I do it, the better I feel. Like the alcoholic who must first admit the problem, I sometimes just force myself to march around the house chanting “My name is Delia and I am a writer….My name is Delia and I am a writer…”

3. Titles Help. I posted a few weeks ago on how to manage your title. Right after I did that, one of the editors at PoliticsDaily.com (where I do work…for money!…she added hastily) referred to me as their “London correspondent” when linking to an article of mine. My usual title is “contributor.” It only happened once but, boy, for the next three hours, I was walking on air. (Sadly, I’ve since then reverted to “contributor.” Oh, how the mighty have fallen.)

4. Diversify Your Portfolio. Another thing I find that really helps is to take on additional jobs or activities in spheres outside of writing – to diversify your portfolio, so to speak. Freelancers often need to do this anyway for economic reasons, but slash careers can confer legitimacy advantages as well. I spent all of yesterday afternoon selling raffle tickets at a Christmas fair to raise money for my daughter’s school. Turns out I’m pretty good at it. But in addition to the positive feelings that ensue from raising money for a good cause, it’s always a huge boost to my self-esteem to know that I’m actually good at something else (even something for which I’m not paid.)

5. Find Your Inner Compass. At the end of the day, of course, it’s all about what one therapist I know calls “finding your inner compass.” How legitimate you feel as a writer or actor or any other inherently freelance profession is really about not giving a hoot what others think (or what you imagine – or project – onto their thinking.) It’s about finding legitimacy…(yes, you guessed it)…from within.

That’s hard to do, though. And speaking of which…I’ve gotta run. I have to chase down that other $100 check from last September that they still haven’t paid me. I’ve got some emails to write…

Image: Vieja Maquina de Escribir by Gonzalo Barrientos via Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

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