My Milk Ain’t Free


Trying to be a writer is hard. 

Actually, scratch that. Trying to be a paid writer is hard. Maybe it has something to do with how hard it is to be a good writer. I guess these things are all dependent on each other.

In the real world, in which I refuse to live, I suppose one would have to pay their dues by either A) writing the stuff they want for free or B) writing the stuff they don’t want to write for money (my current day job) – possibly at the same time. That is, until they garner some kind of leverage so that people pay for their writing (say, celebrity?). Unfortunately, this supposedly wonderful free society that is the Internet makes it so easy to access free writing (free everything), that a girl can’t get paid these days.

Context. I wrote a lengthy travel piece about a mule trek I did on Molokai last summer, which I’ve been shopping around.

Actually, scratch that. I bled, sweated and birthed a lengthy travel piece over many, many weeks and I have desperately been trying to get it published somewhere (and getting less picky by the day).

That being said, I know I’m not in a position to be demanding when it comes to getting published. Lords knows I’m no Les Stroud. But I can’t let go of the idea that I should be compensated for my work, beyond the ethereal joy of having people read my stuff, of course. I’m talking about financial compensation

One magazine said it wasn’t suited to their demographic, but was very helpful. One newspaper said they already had “enough Hawaii stuff.” Another newspaper said they just weren’t buying much travel writing these days, and wished me luck in getting it placed somewhere. Others have yet to respond at all. (By the way, I’m actually quite grateful and somewhat surprised I got responses at all, so I hope this doesn’t come off too bitter.)

But that’s the rub, isn’t it? No one’s buying much travel writing these days, because no one’s buying much of anything, unless it has a little apple on it

Alas, I hope I will summon the patience and maturity to stop my grumbling and accept that I may just not be in a place right now to expect money for my work. (That sounds so sad when I phrase it like that.) I will just suck it up and keep on trucking and… uh, keep my chin up and so forth…

I was reading Diablo Cody’s life story on her Wikipedia page the other day. It’s not that she’s the best writer, or a role model of mine in any sense, but her story’s a good example of what I think it takes to make a name for yourself as a writer. (The kind of name that makes money.) She started out as a blogger, and later wrote bona fide articles, a book and eventually a screenplay that got her a column in Entertainment Weekly. Blogging, eh? I can do that for a while, I guess. Although I may need a gimmick of some kind…

I guess my other option is to keep sending my writing around until someone says, “yes, your work is worth money.” I may cry if that day ever comes.

Even so, my main concern persists… who’s going to buy the cow when they’re getting the milk for free?

5 thoughts on “My Milk Ain’t Free

  1. Hi Zalina

    Nice blog, and really good post. I also think about how hard it is to make a living from writing, especially freelance. My strategy is to hold down a job (copy editing), whilst gradually building up my portfolio. Because of language issues and lack of time since I work 6 days a week, I’m only doing book reviews now. Keep up the good fight.

  2. Oh dear. This is sad but true.

    Hilarious story, James just got hired by Shalomlife as a theatre reviewer. Funny how I’ve been working my ass off for three years trying to get a writing gig and in walks an actor with no writing experience and he gets a job… C’est la vie. lol

    Keep it up friend!

    1. Ha, aw, I’ve actually had a very similar experience with another friend. No worries, you’re gonna’ make it after aaaall….

  3. Great post! I don’t think it’s about getting the milk for free, but it’s about building an audience and a voice. As for the article, I’m sure anything I say won’t be something you haven’t heard before.

    Sure, your work will probably be worth more $$$ when you’re dead. But you’re a talented writer, don’t give up!

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