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Paying Our Dues

I was forced to think fast when my position as a national event specialist for Borders Group, Inc. in 2005 was eliminated. Did I want to work for someone else again or invest in myself? My independent spirit gave me the answer but indy spirit or not, I had to get busy. After all, I had a mortgage to pay on the new house I’d just bought.

As a publishing consultant and freelance writer, I didn’t have the luxury of picking and choosing, so I took almost any job that came my way. I also trekked into Manhattan from my Long Island base to attend one-hour meetings with people in the business only to trudge back through the city’s congestion, wait for the train and make my way home.

There were times when I questioned the effort, but I knew that the connections I made going through these motions would be worth it.

I took writing gigs where the pay could be insulting to some, but I was not in a place to turn down much. Now, years later, I can be more selective and expend energy on what I want to do and not just what I have to do to pay the bills.

I was reminded of this recently when I got an email from one of my former writing students who was thrilled to tell me of a gig she’d gotten, but downplayed how much she was getting paid.

I immediately responded, congratulating her while also letting her know that the amount was respectable for someone with just a few bylines. She was pleased with my response.

I’ve been down that road already and in the age of the Internet, where most writers don’t get paid to blog, we must realize the benefits of getting our name out there, even if we get a measly paycheck or sometimes no paycheck at all.

In other words, we must pay our dues.


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