The best article about freelancing – ever

Richard Morgan has written the best article about freelancing I’ve ever read at The Awl.

Excerpt below, but make sure you read the entire bitter-sweet funny-sad melancholy-hilarious magnum opus.

Heroes be damned; a writer should not model themselves after an editor. That is probably the single best realization I have made as a freelancer.

Moss said the thing that all editors inevitably tell all writers—something along the lines of “I really admire your determination, because I tried freelancing and didn’t last six months.” Editors like to talk about how much they need freelancers and how much they envy our freedom and our work ethic and our Rolodex. Whenever a friend loses his staff job at a magazine or newspaper, his ensuing panic reminds me that they put all their eggs in one basket and that I am cushioned because I have my eggs spread across so many baskets (which is a different kind of panic). Freelancing has great rewards, but trajectory is not really one of them. You do not go from being a freelance writer to a freelance editor to a freelance deputy managing editor. Essentially, I’m doing the same thing I was doing in 2003. The market for my vaudevillian sales of wonder tonic can dry up at any moment. An editor leaves. A magazine folds. And poof! Gone.

For the record, I’ve been freelancing for nine years and I’ve liked nearly all the editors I’ve ever written for. Editors are a writer’s best friend!

3 thoughts on “The best article about freelancing – ever

  1. You poor thing! Lance the cyst of your freedom and become an editor if you envy their discretion so much. If you’ve issues with editorial discretion I’ll give you one piece of advice – stop writing. You’ll find they’ve very little to say about your work. Otherwise, captain, stead fast and get back to work! You’re supposed to be the strongest of us, able to take the slings and arrows and sweep them away because your vision, your consistency, your belief is so unshakable that who but an editor can bring your vision into a sharper realization.

    You’re weak. And you’ve already folded. Enjoy your symptom.

  2. And for the record Ben, that arrow was aimed at Richard and not at yourself.

    Nevertheless, the sentiment remains. Editorial bitching should remain in-house. Otherwise it’s just porn: An external realisation of a productive intimacy that is better explained to the lover/editor, not the public.


  3. I take the comment in good spirit, Peter.

    Most editors would not enjoy this article, I suspect. Still, without endorsing it, I do think it captures some of the freedom and insecurity that is the life of a freelancer – and for that reason, I really like it

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