Getting published is a real be-yatch! Hear about my ups, downs and a few random rants in between.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Too soft...Too ripe...Just right

As I peruse the produce aisle that has become my career, I'm waiting to thump the melon that will be the perfect match for my fickle, fickle taste.

Too Soft
I started out doing PR and development - fancy moniker for fundraising - for non-profits. At first, grant writing appealed to the creative writer in me. Yes, creative, I said.

If you've ever written a proposal outlining exactly what need your program fills, how it will be implemented and most of all what the budget will be for a program that doesn't yet exist outside of the grantwriter's mind - you get my meaning.

Grant writing is about the highest form of professional creative writing. Outside of the stats you need to prove there is a need for said program, all the rest is purely drawn from your imagination. How else could you explain how many employees the program takes to run, what those employees will do day-to-day and to the letter how much money you'll need for salaries on down to paper clips?

Alas, all the inane details stifled my creativity. Let's just say delving through submission guidelines, and federal regulations and instructions wasn't P-friendly. Did you know that when submitting a grant to the Feds they will actually throw your grant out of consideration if it's not stapled in the proper area (umm...left hand upper corner) or copied in quadruplicate? Facts easily missed in their fafillion page RFP (request for proposals).

On top of all that, I did all of the marketing for the organization's programs. You'd think educating young minds and helping people keep a roof over their heads would be a great soft and fuzzy for the news outlets. But er-ah, no.

In the end, non-prof PR challenged my patience but not my mind. Never enough money to get the job done - including my pay - and way too much brown-nosing for someone who is a celebrity in her own mind.

Most times I came off far too hard-nosed and reasonable. In other words I stuck out like Three Six Mafia at the Oscars. Too loud, too willing to shake up the status quo and only willing to conform but so much.


Too Ripe
I was just another ambitious cog in the machinery when I tried Agency PR and Corporate PR. The long hours, cut-throat politics and big-time budgets were right up my Type A first.

I thrived in both environments, short term. Really felt like I was rolling with the big dogs - stock options, expense accounts and all.

But any writing I did went through a core of team members and partners for approval and write-off. So creativity was an absolute no-no. And individuality was unheard of.

True, in order to get noticed, you had to fine tune your unique traits - stand out. The flip side? With someone always gunning to be CEO's pet, what was great about you for one project could be a detriment for the next.

Unable to change my Paulatude on a project-by-project basis and sick of churning out template releases and articles, the burn out settled in pretty fast. That and being on-call 24-hours a day - vacay, day off, weekends included.

I was once a Crackberry addict - uh Blackberry for those who've never had one. Think it took me about six months before I banished that baby to the back of my briefcase come 10 p.m. week days(had to stay in touch until our West Coast offices went off line) and all weekend.

It was that overly ripe scene of young, professional zealots that turned my head back to writing.

So here I am, feeling my way through the pickin's.

There's freelancing - the grapes of the writing world. Dozens of publications are there for me to pluck from the bunch.

The challenges:
* Contributing to enough pubs to add up to income
* Creating the perfect pitch to grab an eddy's attention.
* The hustle! Pitch development is tiresome to say the least. It really saps your creative energy.

What's yummy about freelancing:

* Why, the variety of course. Someone with professional ADD like me, thrives on being able to switch gears on a whim. Music reviews one day, profiles the next.
* Dealing with eddy's until the article is done beats working with a Supervisor eight hours a day any time.

Or, I could always start anew and try to get a full-time gig with a newspaper or magazine. This would probably be a solid mix of my soft and ripe experiences in PR. But it would also be like eating bananas. I love them but don't want to eat 'em every day.

Of course there's writing novels full-time. It's the coveted fruit that's sweet and supple when picked at just the right time. Not quite a delicacy but something that's only really good one time a year. Ummm like cantaloupe.

Obviously, this is the fruit I'm aiming to throw in my cart but can't afford, right now. Have you priced loupe these days?

* Without a six-figure deal, this is a special occasion fruit. Or in my case, something I'll have to work my way toward.
*I'll still have to divide my time between writing, marketing and promoting (not such a bad thing - so this is more like a yummy challenge).

Yummy factors:
* No boss, just an editor who takes great pains and satisfaction in pulling your best work out of you.
* There's that whole going to work in my pajamas thing.

In the end, I'll probably pass on the bananas, pick at a couple grapes and work on saving enough money to buy me the perfect in-season, cantaloupe.


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