Be a writer for 24 hours

Being a writer is, in a lot of ways, like winning a dollar in the lottery. (To quote Calvin and Hobbes.)

Last night, I mentioned to my daughter’s horseback riding instructor that if I could sell a piece here and there, I’d love to take riding lessons on occasion. Most places I sell to would pay about enough for me to get one lesson. And working around horses would be like a dream.

The riding instructor gasped, and it turns out that writing freelance would be like her dream. Go figure. I gave her a couple of suggestions (HINT: if you want some writing credits, write nonfiction how-to articles with six bullet points) and on the drive home, thought of a couple of terrific articles she could write. For example, send a story to Byline about “The top ten mistakes beginning writers make when writing about horses.”

I needed to phone my agent, who hadn’t been returning my emails. This is par for the course with a writer (do not become a freelance writer if you can’t stand being ignored) but after 20 days, even I’ve had enough. I wanted to call him, but Kiddo#4 had been a complete grinch all day. I put it off to the next day.

I toodled around with an idea for my novel, didn’t write anything. Baby wanted to be held. Again.

Next day: I mucked around waiting for my agent to be up so I could call him. (He’s three time zones away.) In the meantime, I looked over a new market and jotted down a 500 word piece for them. They have two of my pieces submitted already, by the way, one since April. They’ll “get back” to me on that one. No response on the second piece. (The first got rejected in 24 hours! Believe it or not, I liked that.) The third one is in draft mode still.

Checked out the website of a publisher I submitted a story to; they have an anthology in process, and an illustration from my story suddenly appeared on their composite cover the last time I’d checked. No word on the publisher’s blog page, but the anthology page is down. Bad sign.

After lunch, did grocery shopping. Messed around with the story idea for my novel while driving. Made sure to replenish supply of Nutella. Returned home. Set up 4-year-old in front of the television, hold the cranky baby, and call the agent. Found out he doesn’t plan to be able to submit my manuscript at least until December.

Remember, all this is par for the course for a writer.

Let friends know about the agent’s response, since they were praying for me not to have a nervous breakdown on the phone. While responses to that came in (see, my friends actually email me back), got a response from the anthology publisher.

Yay! My story was accepted!

Boo! The anthology got cancelled!

It’s like winning a dollar in the lottery, you see. But criminy, that story is good. I knew which market I wanted to send it to next, regardless, so I went to their website, reformatted it for them, and hit send.

And I didn’t even get an auto-response.

So I blogged about it.

This is the life of a freelance writer. Are you sure you wouldn’t rather ride horses all day?


  1. Dr. Tom Bibey

    I am a physician bluegrass fiction writer. I tell my friends if you want to make money, pick up cans on the side of the road, try the lottery, or even play bluegrass mandolin, but for Heaven’s sake, don’t be a writer.

  2. philangelus


    No, I think very few writers are in it for the money. At least, not for longer than about ten hours.

  3. Amy

    Everybody I know who sticks with writing does it because they are DRIVEN. It’s terrible. If you can do anything else, do it. Actually, it’s not the writing itself that’s the problem, it’s getting published. Good luck with this continuing saga — I’m looking forward to getting your book on amazon 🙂

  4. philangelus

    Yeah, pretty much. Because if we didn’t write, we’d die.

    Which puts us at the mercy of the editors, of course.

    But hey, one of the pieces mentioned in the entry? Got accepted already! Cool, huh?

  5. Cricket


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