Day 169: Work things that make me chuckle

Not because they’re hilarious, but because I haven’t found a better response. Freelancing is not without its challenges. A lot of weird things happen that I find hard to explain. I used to pity and berate myself about missing something essential, because I find myself at the receiving end of this rubbish so often. Some experience and a lot of talking to others in the business, in India and around the world tells me stuff like this (and sometimes worse) is passe. It doesn’t make it any less frustrating though.

So these days when something wtf happens I chuckle, quickly remind myself not to expect any more/better and move on as soon as possible.

Sample these real situations:

You pitch a timely idea about a potentially very exciting thing, way in advance. Editor doesn’t concur, turns it down. You move on, find ways to do it for someone else. The perfect time for said exciting thing rolls along and everyone is writing about it. Unsurprisingly. (Because it is exciting, and I told you so, remember?) Suddenly spot multiple links on your fb for the exact same piece you pitched, written by the editor who turned you down.

You pitch ideas to a publication that has fast gained the reputation of being a game-changer. You’re trying to get a feel of what they might be looking for, so you’re expecting a rejection. The rejection comes with a rider about the publication only looking for ideas that have national relevance. In the weeks and months that follow you see multiple pieces published by them that make you wonder what they meant by national relevance. One piece is an 800 word rant about why mangoes suck and apples are better. Another is a self-righteous declaration about why it’s unreasonable to expect internet trolls to be kind. A third was a thought piece mildly mocking people who make videos about things as banal as everything you need to know about flatulence. Yeah, irony went poof, like a fart.

Freelancing is a true test of patience. Because it exposes you to extreme waiting periods. The whole game is basically a test in how long you can wait. Pitch, and wait to hear back. Write your piece, wait for edits. Complete piece, wait for it to be published. Raise invoice, wait to be paid. There is no saying which bits will be easier than others and there are usually a lot of unwanted surprises.

That said, I must say I have had better luck with timely responses, efficient systems of work and smooth, effortless payment processes with overseas publications. Many established

Hey, it’s been a month since I submitted that slightly time-sensitive piece. Publish it maybe? Or at least tell me it won’t work, so I can take it elsewhere?

*deathly email silence for a whole month*

Hey, it’s been <insert disproportionately large number> months since I submitted that piece, are we going to run it ever?

*extremely clever, non committal response that makes me think dayyuummn, I need to learn these skillz*

Hey, it’s been over a month since I raised an invoice (for work I delivered on time). Any idea why this is taking so long?

*this week*

(I still haven’t been paid)

Hey, it’s been over 100 days since I invoiced you for a piece you ran more than four months ago. Pay me? Or tell me why you haven’t?

*it’s being processed*

*one month later: we lost your invoice*

It must say a lot about either the satisfaction writing can bring (or the lack of better opportunities), for so many freelancers to willingly put up with this all around, no?

7 thoughts on “Day 169: Work things that make me chuckle

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  6. After Bubboo, I haven’t really had the heart to go back to full-time work. Took up a part-time job for a few months – part-time pay, but expectations of more than full-time work. I quit, because I felt I wasn’t doing justice to either myself and my family or my job. Now, I am trying to build up a freelancing profile, and am facing the same s** as you. Ridiculous some things are! I wonder why freelancers are treated so very badly in our country – they too work hard, really. :(

    Liked by 1 person

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